The city of Smyrna was about thirty-five miles north of Ephesus. It too was a wealthy city, second only to the afore mentioned city south of it. Today though Smyrna still exists yet under a new name. It is the third largest city in Turkey and is called Izmir. It was a commercial center at that the end of the first century since it had a good harbor.
Revelation 2:8 – and to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: “The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.”
CHRIST THE ETERNAL ONE. When the Glorified Christ called Himself “the first and the last” He identified Himself with God, who in the first chapter of Revelation was referred to as “the Alpha and the Omega.” This statement showed that not only was He the Son of God, but was as well God even though He has taken human form as is denoted in the next part of the salutation. He was the one “who died and came to life.” This shows that even though He took human form He has always been and always will exist since he rose from the dead upon the third day.
By Him dying and rising also shows God’s love for all, by the fact that Christ came down and suffered for our sins and became our replacement for the death we all so deserve. However, He rose from the dead as we are promised to stand alive before His Father the Lord God, clean and unblemished by the sacrifice of His blood.
Revelation 2:9 – “I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the lander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan”
Those that followed Christ in the city of Smyrna were under persecution. To the point that they had been denied the ability to possible work within the city making them destitute. They most likely resorted to menial tasks to get by and survived, but still stayed loyal to their belief in God and His Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
Amongst those that were against them were those that were once of Jacob, but had abandoned their belief in God to a belief in the world and all that includes and so they embraced their new master Satan.
Revelation 2:10-11 – “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.”
This persecution they were experiencing was only the beginning of their trials. They would strife and hold onto their faith and become strong in their belief that God and His Son are both real.
It is recorded that approximately sixty years later the bishop of Smyrna named Polycarp was burned alive on a Saturday, for the historian and commentator Ryrie states that the wood gathered was in part was provided by the fallen away Jews that gathered this wood on the Sabbath.
Even though under persecution Jesus exhorts them to stand fast to their faith and belief in Him. For by doing so even though it may last their entire life upon this planet it is remember that this life here is like the blink of an eye to what the rest of our true life will be like in length. For Jesus promise them the “crown of life” another reference to eternal life. All life that will last billions of years.
The persecution the church as a whole was also in the process as it was for those at Smyrna. It continued until Constantine granted Christians the freedom of worshiping within the Rome Empire in the early part of the fourth century.