Revelation: Smyrna Under Pressure

Revelation 2:8 And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:

The first and the last…The idea of the Messiah being the first and the last goes back to the Old Testament prophets. The phrase is the calling card to identify the Messiah. Jesus identifies Himself as the first and the last in Revelation 1:17.

Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me”.

Isaiah 48:12 Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last.

At the last of the book of Revelation and the Bible closes with this reminder.

Revelation 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. -Jesus

…who was dead, and has come to life… The gospel message is simply stated in the first sentence to the church at Smyrna. We know Jesus died on a cross. We know He was buried. We know He resurrected. Jesus is the person talking. Christ proclaims His good news.

Revelation 2:9 ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

The English word “tribulation” is the Greek word τηλιπσισ/thlipsis. Per Strong’s Concordance it is defined as:  pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaphorically it means oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits.

In other words, as believers in Jesus Christ, we are going to come under pressure from the world. This life promises stress and oppression. What we believe will come under affliction.

“Tribulation” or τηλιπσισ/thlipsis is not the same word used for God’s “wrath”. The Greek word for “wrath” is οργε/orge. The word is defined as: wrath, indignation; anger exhibited in punishment, hence used for punishment itself; of punishments inflicted by magistrates.

A couple of example of God’s wrath are noted below.

1 Thessalonians 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ…

Romans 5:9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.

The church does not come under God’s wrath. But the body of Christ was, is, and will be pressured during our earthly lives.

…(but you are rich)…The church at Smryna was materially poor of wealth and worldly possessions. The reality, they were wealthy in an eternal sense. The Greek vocabulary says these folks were people of virtue and character. And they believed in Jesus Christ, their Heavenly possession.

…but are a synagogue of Satan. This is the first of four references to Satan in the book of Revelation.

The Greek word for “synagogue” is not the same Greek word used for “church”.

The word for “synagogue” is the transliterated word συναγογε/sunagoge. Two points about this word. One, it is a physical structure or building. Two, it is an assembly of men.

The Greek word for “church” is εκκλεσια/ekklesia. It means: a called out group of Christians; the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth. The church is not a building.

Satan’s synagogue is different than Jesus Christ’s church.

Satan’s crew, the so called Jewish congregation had some character issues. They used the Lord’s name in vain and they were liars.

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