S.S.S. Study The 7 Churches of Revelation
Family School at Faith Baptist Church
Week 3: The church at Smyrna
Visitors Guide: Smyrna was a great trade city, 25 miles north of Ephesus it was home to a large harbor which was able to be completely sealed in times of war. Up until 1900 it was the commercial center of the levant and was made a train hub in the early 20th century. Known as the "Glory of Asia" it was built in the fourth century B.C. Smyrna was home of the famous "golden street" which had temples all along it and at the sea end it ran to the temple of Cybele, at the inland end the road stopped at the temple of Zeus. The town was also home to a large theater and many monuments.
Problems facing the Christians of Smyrna:
Caesar worship- Smyrna was highly devoted to Rome and the worship of Caesar. Rome was very accepting of many religions but no matter what your religion once a year individuals were required to burn a pinch of incense on the altar of the godhead of Caesar and proclaim "Caesar is Lord". They would then be given a certificate to show the Romans that they had fulfilled their yearly duty. If someone refused they would be considered a disaffectioned citizen and an outlaw subject to persecution at any time.
The Jews Smyrna was home to a large population of Jews who hated Christianity and often worked as informants for Rome against the Christians.
What does the bible say?
Vs 8 A fitting image of Christ to those facing death for their faith,
1st Corinthians 6:14, 2nd Corinthians 4:14
Vs 9 God knows our troubles- 2nd Corinthians 8:9, Hebrews 4:15,
God knows our enemies Romans 12:19-21
Vs 10 Fear not- Isaiah 44:8, the phrase "fear not" is in the bible 62 times!
Shall suffer- 2nd Timothy 3:12, 2nd Timothy 2:11-12, John 15:18-19, Luke 6:22-23.
Faithful unto death- Philippians 2:8
Vs 10-11 A crown and eternal life! (Note: the one who overcomes according to 1st John 5:4-5 is the believer, persecution is not a prerequisite to salvation.) In Smyrna there is a hillside called the hill of pagus, this place is where polycarp, and many thousands of Christians fulfilled this verse by becoming martyrs of the faith. 1,500 Christians were killed at one time in this spot, 800 another time, and countless others, and today you can still go there and stand on that hill.
Note: verse 10 clearly shows us who our adversary is, (see also 1st Peter 5:8) I believe that it would do us all good to remember that there's only two options in the bible, Gods way, or Satan's way. If you choose not to go Gods way, you have by default chosen the path the devil laid for you. It is better to be poor and in Gods path than rich in Satan's.
Our lives: God does not put any burden upon us that we cannot bear (with His strength) so for this church there is no rebuke, the only thing that a church or Christian facing death for their walk with God is asked to do, is stand, continue, press on for God.
Homework: Read Revelation chapters 1 and 2 three times this week.