Revelation 2:8-11 Part 3



8)    And write the message for the Church in Smyrna:  The First and The Last Who having been dead and did live says these things.

9)    I know your distress and poverty (but you are rich) and the blasphemy from those who declare themselves to be Jews and are not but a synagogue of Satan.

10) Fear not the things that you are about to suffer.  Lo!  The traitor is about to cast some from you into prison in order that you might be put to the proof, and you will have affliction ten days.  Remain faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

11) Let the one having an ear hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.  The one who overcomes shall not be unjustly treated by the second death.


“I know the blasphemy… from those who say they are Jews but are not but a synagogue of Satan.”  Jesus prophesied it back in Matthew chapter twenty four; and now he knows it’s happening to the Church at Smyrna.  And He makes it explicit in His message as to exactly who their opposition is!  It is judaists from Israel, and judaists in the local synagogues.

“Blasphemy” means vicious vilification of the Messiah and of His “little ones” who worship Him.  There were all manner of denunciations and slanders and accusations against Christ and His Church among the people of Smyrna, and accusations about them to the Roman Government in Smyrna.

The Acts of the Apostles is full of instances in which judiasts incited Jewish mobs in Israel, by satanic false witness, and Gentile mobs in the nations against Christians and Christ’s Church. 

Hear this from Acts chapter six… this in Jerusalem:

8)    And Stephen, full of grace and power, wrought great wonders and signs among the people.

9)    But there arose certain of them that were of the synagogue called the synagogue of the Libertines, and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and Asia, disputing with Stephen.

10) And they were not able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake.

11) Then they suborned men (to suborn is to bribe to give false testimony), who said, ‘We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God’.

12) And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and seized him, and brought him into the council,

13) and set up false witnesses, who said, This man ceaseth not to speak words against this holy place, and the law:


Here’s another… this from the city of Thessalonica:

5) But the Jews, being moved with jealousy, took unto them certain vile fellows of the rabble, and gathering a crowd, set the city on an uproar; and assaulting the house of Jason, they sought to bring them forth to the people.

6) And when they found them not, they dragged Jason and certain brethren before the rulers of the city, crying, ‘These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

7) whom Jason hath received: and these all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus’.

8) And they troubled the multitude and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things.


These are just two of many examples all through the New Testament of the blasphemous acts of judaists against Jesus’ apostles and members of His Church.

 What was happening in Smyrna was exactly the same.  “I know… the blasphemy from those who declare themselves to be Jews and are not but a synagogue of Satan.”

“Fear not the things that you are about to suffer” (verse ten).   At the instigation of diabolos, the slanderer, the traitor, some of those from the Church were going to be thrown into prison!  And the judaists were the willing participants in the slander and accusations against the worshippers of the Christ.  Once again, all of this having been prophesied by Jesus Himself in Matthew chapter twenty-four; and all of it happened again and again throughout the thirty-five years between the resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the writing of John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ.

But Jesus tells the Church at Smyrna not to fear these things!  How can they NOT fear these things?

Flo and I stood right in the middle of the center city of Smyrna – the marketplace and the Roman forum where the governance of the city took place, and where the center-city marketplace was.   Amidst all the judaists and their synagogues, and among all the pagan idol worshippers, and surrounded by the (then) 175 year old Roman city and it’s rulers, there was this vibrant and poor – but “rich” – Church of Jesus Christ which worshipped the newly crowned King of the nations.  And we “marveled” that we were in the very spot where all of this took place.

What was happening that the Church shouldn’t “fear” what it was about to suffer?  Should the believers united to the Christ not be afraid of the slanders and accusations of the judaists to the Roman governors? … and the suborning of testimony – as with Stephen, and with Jesus before him, and with Paul after him?  Should they not fear that the Romans, under the leadership of the vicious and crazed Nero in Rome, would see the Church as full of troublemakers, and throw them all into prison – and even kill them, or feed them to animals in that Smyrna forum?

Exactly what did Jesus mean when He sends the message to the Church: “Fear not the things you are about to suffer…!”

Well, please remember that this Church, being close to Ephesus, had had the benefit of the preaching and ministry of at least two of Jesus’ apostles, and a number of their assistants.  And these newborns would have been solid in their understanding of what was going on here.  They would have been well prepared – even in advance of this message from Jesus.

First, there would be been first-hand eyewitness teaching of the slander, accusations, and suborning of testimony against Jesus Himself before the ruling Sanhedrin in Jerusalem.  He, before them, had been incarcerated, humiliated, beaten, nailed to a tree until dead, and buried – all by Roman authorities – at the instigation of judaists.  And since these Christians in Smyrna were IN HIM – united to Him in His death, burial, resurrection and ascension – should they think that they shouldn’t suffer in Him?  Would they think that they shouldn’t also be “put to the proof” as He was?  Would they think that they were somehow better than He?  Certainly not, since they had been taught by the two apostles!  Besides, once more, Jesus had prophesied it there on the Mount of Olives in Matthew twenty-four.

And secondly, and equally as important, is the fact that the First and the Last and the Living, the One Who was dead and was now living forever more, had been crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords; and He had been given the nations as His inheritance!   And His Parousia was near… the Presence of the One with the double edged sword protruding from His mouth, coming in judgment against the adulterous nation.

The covenant with the nation of Israel would be terminated, and she would be executed; and the central location for worship would be cast into the sea of Gentile humanity; and the ones pursuing Jesus’ Church would receive the judgment due those who have persecuted the righteous from the beginning.

And the One Who had inherited the nations would bind Satan and his minions from having free reign, while the gracious rivers of salvation ran ever wider and deeper into the arid, godless regions of the earth.

So you see, this is God’s doing!  The Living One is binding the householder/strong man, and He’s taking his goods – his possessions!  Diabolos, the original slanderer, is seen here thrashing around and doing his very best to stop the Living Water from flowing into the nations where he has had, up until now, free reign among the pagans and barbarians of the earth.  And he, along with the judaizers of the whore of Babylon, is pursuing the Church of Jesus Christ with his slanders, his accusations, his suborning of witnesses, his imprisonments, his tortures, his killings and his genocides… and all with the blessings and assistance of Caesar and his armies, as Rome had done with the Christ Himself.

But you see, this “cosmic warfare” has, as its focus, the bodily ascension of Jesus Christ to the throneroom/judgment seat of Almighty God.  He is the “Living One”; and He is now King of all the nations.  The mountain of God is, with the enthronement of the God-man, over all the mountains of the earth (i.e. over all its kingdoms)!  And at His Parousia, the covenant is taken from Israel and re-established with the elect of God – Jews and Gentiles throughout all the world.  This being the “defining” event in the history of the creation!

But, once more, this cosmic warfare isn’t a fight to the death between two mighty foes.  For the Lord Jesus Christ has been given all authority in the heavens and on the earth.  “All authority” means exactly what it says:  all men, all nations; all kings; all angels (including Satanos – the accuser) and his many fallen creatures… everything comes under Jesus’ authority.

The mighty Satanos (the accuser), the mightiest creature in all of creation, is a creature!  As much as he wishes to be, he is not a god.  He is not Jesus’ equal.  He is under authority!  He does only the sovereign will of Jahveh of Hosts.  And as hostile as he is to the Lord of Lords, and as much as he struggles and resists and contends against the Christ and His Church, he is no more than a creature under authority.

In his frantic attempts to retain his own perceived authority, and his free reign in the Gentile pagan nations, he is desperately waging a losing battle against the King of Kings.

The trials and testing of Christ’s little ones is a divinely ordained purpose; therefore the wicked activity of Satanos and all the other fallen angels is also divinely ordained.  They are not ordained by Satan!

The great Puritan Theologian and warrior, Samuel Rutherford, wrote: “the devil is but God’s master fencer, to teach us to handle our weapons”.  The outcome of Christian trials and tribulations is not destruction, but faithfulness and purity.  They are ordained of God.  Although the persecutions inflicted upon Christians by judaists allied with the Roman Empire have their origin in diabolos (the slanderer), they are ultimately ordained by the One Who has been given all authority.  So this “devil” can’t do a thing against a nation of kings and priests united to the Christ.  They are all secure in Him – even unto death.  They are united to the Christ; and the devil can’t have them.  He is bound (since all he is and does is ordained of God) (he is bound) from reversing the procession of Christ’s Lordship.  The nations of the earth belong to the God-man.  The nations of the earth will bow before Him.  (That’s a prophesied inevitability; and it’s demanded by the One Who has received them as His rightful inheritance.)

As Jahveh said to Isaiah (Isaiah 2:2-4):


2) And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jahveh's house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

3) And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jahveh, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jahveh from Jerusalem.

4) And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.


And in the resurrection, every single one of His ordained “little ones” will be justified (vindicated); and none of them will have been taken from Him by the evil accuser.  No matter how vicious and accusatory the devil is, he can’t have even ONE of those who are united to the Christ.

You see, as the accuser fought, all through history, to stop the birth of Messiah, he was doing all that was ordained of him.  As he fought mightily, once Messiah was born, to cut him off and to eventually have him crucified, it was the crucifixion, death, burial, ascension and enthronement of Jesus the God-man that was ordained of God through Satan’s efforts!

It was the vile, despicable and perverted activities of Satanos, through the equally reprehensible and disgusting judaists that sent Jesus to the cross by the nations – through the Roman government!  Otherwise our sin and our sins would not be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God; and we would not be justified in our union with Him.

So, in effect there was a divine double-cross of the devil.  Using his inherent wickedness, God ordained the salvation of His creation; and the mightiest reprobate in all of God’s created realm is a manipulated, foolish “tool” in the ordination and ordering of all things.

And it’s still that way.  Satanos the accuser, ever in constant denial of the absolute authority of the Christ, continues his attempt to prevail.  He is the ultimate liar – and the father of lies.  And he continues his self-conceived purpose of cutting off the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.  He tries to transcend his ordained purpose by thrashing around cursing and buffeting and slandering Jesus and His Church.

But it is now the same as before.  The “fix” is in, and it always has been.  He is under the authority of the God-man; and that authority is Christ’s alone.  The apostle Peter in his letter to the refugees from Israel in the nations says that even the archangels in the heavens won’t belittle or condemn Satan; he doesn’t belong to them!  He belongs only to the Christ.  And Jesus is Jahveh of old Who has always double-dealt this originally wicked creature and victimized him into doing what God has ordained.

And this will be the case until our Lord finally crushes the devil’s head and sends him to the lake of fire forever.  That “crushing” was definitively accomplished at the resurrection and ascension of Jesus; but it will be finished in our historical context.  Until that time, Satan will try his hardest to transcend his ordained purpose, which is to assault the Christ and His Church, and halt the spread of His Kingdom on earth.

So, you see, there is no cosmic warfare of equals.  No matter what the popular novels and movies portray, there is no battle between “good” and “evil”.  There is no “battle-royal” between rulers... no combat, or competition between royal identities or reigning sovereignties.  But only ONE King of Kings Who uses the deception of the self-deceived Satanos as originally ordained of God.

And that’s the reason that the well-taught Smyrnan believers should “fear not the things that they are about to suffer.…”  The First and The Last Who having been dead and did live says these things… “fear not the things you are about to suffer”.


19) As you go, make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit:

20) teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.


“Lo!  The traitor is about to cast some from you into prison in order that you might be put to the proof, and you will have affliction ten days.  Remain faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Verse 10)


The traitor is diabolos – the slanderer (devil); and the slanderer is about to do his dirty work through the judaists.  And the slanders would be enough for the Roman government to imprison (at least) some from the Church in Smyrna.  That was about to be the case, according to Jesus.

It wasn’t enough that those belonging to the Christ had already suffered greatly; they had to be “tried” or “put to the proof”, which is what the word means.  The affliction was going to get a lot worse... they were going to be imprisoned!

The slanderer, through the judaists, was going to raise enough stink with accusations and suborned witnesses that the Roman city government would consider the Church of sufficient troublemaking that a number of them would be thrown into prison – all of which is being revealed in advance by Jesus, in order that the Church be “put to the proof” – the trial by fire “vindicating” them, and bringing glory to the King of Kings!   For nothing that the devil can do – and nothing the pagan Roman government can do – can overcome the ordained purpose of our Lord; and nothing they can do can separate the Lord’s elect from Him.

As the apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Church (chapter eight):


35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

36) Even as it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

37) Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

38) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

39) nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Jesus said, also in verse ten, that the affliction was going to be short-lived – “ten days”, He said.  This is an immediate, and spectacular, allusion to the “putting to the proof” of Daniel and his friends in the prophecy of Daniel, chapter one.  (Remember, Daniel is the prophecy of the eternal reign of the King of Kings, having executed the covenant sanctions against judaistic Israel.)  Daniel was “tried” for ten days, eating only gruel rather than the wonderful food and wine from the king’s table.  And he and his friends, at the end of their “testing”, were healthier and fatter than any who ate the king’s dainties (all, of course, by the grace of God).

This trial for the Church in Smyrna would be similar, in that it is the prophetic “fullness” of the Daniel event; and it would be “short” in duration; and the Lord’s people in Smyrna would be vindicated, held onto, and kept by the Lord of the Church.

“Even unto death” He would keep them; and nothing that happened to them could separate them from Him.  And the glory of the King of Kings would be magnified in them.

And as the letter to the Churches from James says (chapter one):


“Blessed is the man that endures testing; for when he hath been approved (or vindicated), he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to them who love him.”


As Jesus Himself said, in Matthew 10:22:


“You will be hated by all on account of My Name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved”


The Crown of Life is salvation itself.  For the faithful believer who overcomes opposition and trials, having been “put to the proof”, “shall not be hurt by the second death” (verse eleven).

In his letter to the Ephesian Church (certainly read and carefully followed by this Smyrna Church, only thirty five miles away) the apostle Paul, with certainty and clarity, speaks of the first death and our first resurrection in Christ.  Here’s what he says:


1) And you did he make alive, when ye were dead through your trespasses and sins,

2) wherein ye once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience;

3) among whom we also all once lived in the lust of our flesh, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest:--

4) but God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,

5) even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved),

6) and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.


So those of us, as with the Smyrnans, who were dead in Adam – yet resurrected in Christ at His resurrection – are priests and kings in Christ.  That’s a present reality, and one that assures us that the “second death” won’t hurt us.  The one IN CHRIST “has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).