Christ’s message to Smyrna
Revelation 2:8, “And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, Smyrna means ‘Myrrh’ which is a perfume. It was an ingredient of the holy anointing oil (Ex. 30:23). It was the valuable gift brought by the wise men to baby Jesus (Mt. 2:11).
Although it has an agreeable smell, it has a bitter taste. Vinegar mixed with gall was offered to Jesus as He hung on the Cross (Mt. 27:34). In the gospel of Mark it was called wine mingled with myrrh (Mk. 15:23). Myrrh signifies suffering and is very significant of the saints in the Smyrna church, for they suffered much. Just as the poured out obedient life of Christ was a sweet smell to the Father (Eph. 5.2), so are the lives of these saints a sweet fragrance to the Lord, suffering for Christ’s sake.
The address of the Lord to this assembly is so fitting – “the first and the last which was dead and in alive.” Because of their suffering He would appear this way to them. We will read how they were persecuted unto death, but He comes to them as the resurrection and the life, “which was dead, and is alive.”
V. 9, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.” The Lord knows it all, that they not only suffered physically, but they were poor in this world’s riches. Christ calls them “rich.”
True riches really consist of what we possess spiritually and is the only wealth we can count on. The wealth of this world can vanish away so quickly. The persecutors were professors of the Jewish religion of works. Many today profess to be Christians, and are not. For if they don’t believe in the shed blood of Jesus for their sins, then they trust in their own works. Jesus says they are the synagogue of Satan.
V. 10, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” The Lord could say, “fear none of those things, because they only worked good for them, they shall come forth as gold. Ten days of tribulation is a representative number, for it was actually 10 years they suffered.
The number 10 in scripture speaks of responsibility according to ability. They were tested and proved by the full measure of suffering. The Lord uses anything to work His purposes in us. Sometimes He can work faster in suffering than some other way.
V. 11, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” The Lord has nothing against this church at all. In fact He encourages them. Saints might suffer death, but it will not be the second death, which is eternal punishment (Rev. 20:14). “Be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life.”
Christ’s message to Pergamos
V. 12, “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” This assembly is quite a contrast to Smyrna, for it is worldly. Pergamos means ‘much married.’ They needed the sharp sword with two edges.
V. 13, “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” They dwelt where Satan’s seat is. II Cor. 4:4, Satan is the god of this world, they were dwelling in the world. They still held fast to Christ’s name, saying they were Christians, but they were much married to the world. Lot of the Old Testament is an example of this condition. II Pet. 2:8, “that righteous man vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds, “Antipas also called Polycarp was martyred for Christ’s sake, so there were same overcomers in Pergamos that overcame those worldly conditions.
V. 14, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” The evil “doctrine of Balaam” was in their midst. Balaam, was a false prophet hired by the king of Moab, Balac, to curse Israel. But every time he opened his mouth to curse them, the Lord made him bless them. Then Balaam gave his advise how Balac could defeat God’s people. Make friends with them and the people will intermarry, The Moabite women would get their Jewish husbands to worship their idols and sacrifice to them. It worked and practically defeated Israel. The devil still works in this way. You cannot fellowship the world and win them to Christ.
V. 15, “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.” The doctrine of Nicolaitanes was also found in this assembly, which is clergy lording it over laity (the people), which the Lord said “I hate.” Ephesus was commended because they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitanes (V. 6).
V. 16, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” If they do not repent, they will experience His judgment and it would come upon them suddenly (Quickly).
V. 17, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” The overcomers in Pergamos get hidden manna to eat, (not the tree of life as to Ephesus. He will give them a white stone and a new name written in it. In other words they are saved, but that is about it. I Cor. 3:10, Paul said, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth…Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble…the fire shall try every man’s work…If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss
(of reward): but he himself shall be saved…”.
Next issue: Thyatira