Revelation (5 of 24) Letters To The Churches Of Smyrna And Pergamum

2:8-17 Letters To The Churches Of Smyrna And Pergamum

Memory Verse: Revelation 2:10

2:8 Jesus Has A Message For The Church Of Smyrna

  • 2:8a Jesus tells John to write unto the second church, Smyrna, by addressing the letter to the angel (pastor) who will deliver it to the churches. This church is only mentioned here in Revelation. The city was an ancient city devoted to Rome and had pagan religions.
  • 2:8b Jesus starts His letter by clarifying it is He who is speaking: “These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.” We know this is Jesus because He is continuing the conversation from above (1:17-2:8) and the description can only describe Him (1:18). Jesus is the first and the last, meaning He is the eternal one. He died on the cross for mankind, but three days laters he rose from the dead defeating sin and proving He is God. He is alive today and has a message for His church, we should listen carefully.

2:9 Jesus Praises The Church Of Smyrna

  • 2:9a Jesus praises the church for enduring tribulation. This church was persecuted because of their faith in Jesus. They couldn’t pledge full allegiance to Rome or participate in all the activities of the pagan religions activities.
  • 2:9b Jesus praises the church for enduring blasphemy. The church was accused of doing wrong and slandered by unbelieving Jews. When the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah then they became a tool of Satan. Today, any church that preaches a false gospel can be considered a “synagogue of Satan” and they may speak against the reputation of genuine churches.
    John 8:44; Romans 2:28-29
  • 2:9b Jesus praises the church for enduring poverty. The believers in this local church were financially poor, most likely due to following Jesus. Jesus not only mentions that they were poor, but that they were rich. He isn’t contradicting Himself, but He is noting that even though they might be financially poor, they are spiritually rich. As Christians, we have different priorities. It doesn’t matter how much money we have, but it matters how much of Jesus we have, how much we know Him, and how much we are living for Him.
    2 Corinthians 6:10

2:10-11 Jesus Challenges The Church Of Smyrna

  • 2:10 Jesus does not criticize the church, but instead He warns that more persecution is coming. They will be cast into prison for ten days and may even face death. He advises them to “fear not” and to be “faithful unto death.” A reward for enduring this type of persecution is the “the crown of life,” which probably refers to eternal life or a literal crown, either way it would be a just reward from Jesus Himself.
    John 16:33; 2 Corinthians 12:9–10
  • 2:11 It is the responsibility of individual believers to hear this message. All true believers (one who conquers) will not be hurt by the second death, even though they may experience the first death as a result of persecution.
    1 John 5:4-5; Revelation 20:13–15

2:12 Jesus Has A Message For The Church Of Pergamum

  • 2:12a Jesus tells John to write unto the third church, Pergamum, by addressing the letter to the angel (pastor) who will deliver it to the churches. This church is only mentioned here in Revelation. Pergamum was the ancient capital of Asia.
  • 2:12b Jesus starts His letter, first by clarifying it is He who is speaking: “These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges.” This is Jesus, who speaks the Word of God, has a message for His church.
    Hebrews 4:12; John 17:17; 15:3, 11; 16:33

2:13 Jesus Praises The Church Of Pergamum

  • 2:13 Jesus praises the church for being faithful even though they lived in an extremely hard place to live. They held fast to Jesus’s name and didn’t deny the faith. One of the believers (Antipas) was even killed for being a faithful witness of Jesus. The place they lived was referred to as “where Satan’s seat is” and “where Satan dwells.” This could mean this was (1) a horrible place filled with sin, (2) a place for worshipping false gods, or  (3) a place the contained anything that is against God.

2:14-17 Jesus Criticizes And Challenges The Church Of Pergamum

  • 2:14-15 Jesus criticized the churches for holding to the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. First, Balaam (a prophet) taught Balac (the King of Moab) to trick Israel to intermarry with the Moabites and follow their false religion (eat things sacrificed unto idols, and committing fornication). Second, the Nicolaitans’ teaching seemed to be similar, teaching that believers could be involved in idolatry and immorality. The scripture is clear that all immorality, idol worship, or participation in pagan practices are sinful for believers. We are called to be separated from the world and devoted to God.
    Numbers 22-25; 22:31; 25:1–2; Acts 15:29; James 4:4; Romans 12:2
  • 2:16 Jesus advises the church to do one thing: Repent. They should change their mind about tolerating or participating in these sinful doctrines, forsake it, and start doing right. If they refuse to repent, Jesus says that He will come quickly unto them and fight against them with the Word of God, meaning Jesus will bring judgement upon the church.
  • 2:17 It is the responsibility of individual believers to hear this message and if their own heart is convicted through the Holy Spirit, they need to listen to its message and repent. All true believers (him that overcometh) will be given spiritual nourishment and blessings (hidden manna), and a white stone with a new name written on it. The stone probably symbolizes the Roman custom of giving a stone to the winners of athletic competitions as an award or invitation to a banquet. Therefore, it symbolizes that, in Christ, we have the victory and heaven is the celebration feast.
    1 John 5:4-5

Review Questions

  • Who is writing the letter to the churches?
  • Why does each church receive praise?
  • Why does each church receive criticism?
  • What was the challenges to the churches?
  • Who are overcomers and what will they be given?

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