TO THE CHURCH IN SMYRNA
To the church in Smyrna
“The words uttered where not alone for John on the Isle of Patmos, they were not for the churches alone, but through these churches was to come the inspired message for the people, to have its powerful impression in every age to the close of this earth´s history.”
“The application of the various messages to the seven churches to seven consecutive periods of church history naturally suggests the utility of a series of transition dates to facilitate the coordination of the several messages with their respective historical periods.”
The historical period of the Smyrna church is from A.D. 100 to A.D. 325. The reign of Constantine the Great, 306-337, the first so-called Christian emperor of Rome, marks such a transition. Prior to his famous Edict of Milan in 313, Christianity was an illegal religion and experienced repeated periods of severe persecution by the state. The edict decreed equal rights for all religions throughout the empire and restored confiscated Christian property.
Rev 2:8. And to the angel of in the Smyrna church write, “These things says the First and the Last, who became dead and lived.
The “First and the Last – who became dead and lived” refers to Christ. He died on the cross on Calvary and was resurrected on the third day. Matt 27:45-50. 28:1-6.
Rev 2:9. I know your works and the tribulation and the poverty, but you are rich, and the blasphemy of the ones saying Jews to themselves and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
What does the term mean, “Jews to themselves?”
Romans 2:28.29. For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; a circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.
This text is referring to a Christian Jew whose life has been transferred by the love of Jesus Christ our Savior.
The Jewish nation shall be not saved as a whole nation as promised to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai in Exodus 19:1-8. Why? Because in the parable of the wicked vinedressers in Matt 21:33-41, Christ taught that when the wicked vinedressers representing the Jewish leaders, will stone the landowner´s son representing Christ; he the landowner will destroy these wicked men? The landowner represents God. He will destroy these wicked men representing the Jewish leaders of the Jewish nation as a whole, because they rejected his Son. In matt 21:41 it says he will lease his vineyard out to other vinedressers who will render him the fruits in their seasons. The other vinedressers represent all persons individually, whether they are Jews or Gentiles, who give their lives to Christ.
So these Christians in Smyrna who say they are Christians but are not. Why? Because they are a synagogue of Satan.
What does the term Synagogue of Satan mean from the Bible?
First we need to find out what synagogues were used for.
Matt 4:23. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people.
Mark 1:39. And he was preaching in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and casting out demons.
Luke 4:16.17. So he came to Nazareth where he had been brought up. And as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And he was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he opened the book, he found the place where it was written:
Acts 18:4. He (Paul) reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
If a synagogue was for the teaching of God´s word from the Bible, then a synagogue of Satan was used for the opposite teachings. Which kind of teachings?
Matt 4:3. Satan´s temptations. He demands worship.
Matt 4:6. Satan misinterprets the scriptures.
Matt 4:8.9. Satan gives material wealth to anyone who worships him.
1 Thess 2:18. Satan hinders Paul in witnessing to the Thessalonians believers.
2 Thess 2:9. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan with all power, signs and lying wonders.
Rev 12:9. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the world.
Rev 12:17. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
A synagogue of Satan is related to the following: Satan demands worship; he misinterprets scripture; he gives material wealth; he hinders people in witnessing; he is the lawless one who does not obey God´s law. With signs and lying wonders Satan deceives the whole world and makes war with those who keep the commandments of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Rev 2:10. Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Behold, indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, so that you maybe tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful unto death and I will give you the crown of life.
What does “tribulation for ten days” mean?
Should it be taken as symbolic or literally?
Much of the language used in the book of Revelation is both symbolic and literal. The word ten which is δέκα in the Greek is only used in relation to the dragon nor the beast with ten horns. However, the rest of the Bible uses this word as a literal figure or in a roundabout figure and not symbolically. e.g.
Ecclesiastes 7:19. Wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten rulers of the city.
Isaiah 5:10. For ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath.
Amos 6:9. Then it shall come to pass, that if ten men remain in one house, they shall die.
Matthew 25:1. Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
So the tribulation for ten days can be both a roundabout figure or it can be taken literally as in the history of the church during the time of Smyrna. E.g. From A.D. 303-313 when under severe persecution the emperors Diocletion and his successor Galerius tried to wipe out Christianity from their empire.
Rev 2:11. The one having an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.
What is the second death?
There are two kinds of death in the Bible with the exception of the resurrection of those who pierced Christ in Rev 1:7. These men will experience three deaths.
The first death
Ecclesiastes 9:5.6. For the living know that they will die; but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, their hatred, and their envy have now perished; nevermore will they share in anything done under the sun.
John 11:11-13. Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up – – -. However, Jesus spoke of his death. Verse 14. Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.” (This is the first death on earth).
John 11:23.24. Jesus said to her (Martha), “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
When is this resurrection?
John 5:28.29. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice and come fourth–those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18. (This first resurrection occurs at the Second Coming of Christ). For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.
The second death and the second resurrection
What happens after the second resurrection with those who have done evil?
Rev 20:5. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.
Rev 20:7.8. Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison (on earth) and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth.
Rev 20:9. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city (Jerusalem). And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. (This is the second death reserved for all those who have done evil and do not believe in God and his ten commandments. There is no burning hell. God does not delight in suffering. The fire from God is over and done within a short period of time)
 Ellen G. White, Ellen G. White Diary 1888, 779.3 (Washington D.C.: December 27, 1890).
 Francis D. Nichol, Edit., The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7 (Washington D.C.: Review & Herald Pub., Assoc., 1957), 752.
 Ibid., 753.