Study Lesson 2
A So-Called Persecuted Church
A Spiritually Rich Few
Scripture To Consider:
“And to the angel [messenger] of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.’” Revelation 2.8
Something To Consider:
John, the writer of Revelation began his gospel by declaring, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And in verse 14 of that same chapter John revealed, “And the Word [Word of God] became flesh [in the person of Jesus] and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Jesus was the first with God and yet according to the Word of God Jesus was and is God. He is indeed the First and He is indeed the Last.
The apostle Paul writing to the Philippian church in chapter 2 verses 5-8, admonished all who have ears to hear; “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation [coming to earth in the flesh], taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He [Jesus] humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Paul followed up in 1 Corinthians chapter 15, by further stating; “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He [Jesus] was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep [died]. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He [Jesus] was seen by me [Paul] also, as by one born out of due time.”
Therefore, according to the Scriptures and many New Testament eyewitnesses the biblical preserved record is that this revelation of Jesus to the church in Smyrna and to every generation of churches since, proves that Jesus is the First and the Last. Therefore also, these things dictated by Jesus to John are true and extremely relevant for every age of truth seekers. Yes, Jesus lived, died, and rose again, and is according to Scripture, coming again. Will we therefore be found anticipating Christ’s coming or among those declaring falsely that He is delaying His coming?
More Scripture To Consider:
“I [Jesus] know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” Revelation 2.9
Something Else To Consider:
This persecuted church in Smyrna and also the faithful church in Philadelphia, are the only churches, a few among many, that Jesus does not have a correctional rebuke for. To this persecuted church Jesus reminds them that He intimately knows their works, their tribulation, and the blasphemous false statements made against them. Jesus reminds the church in Smyrna that He is fully aware of their physical poverty, but He reinforces their true spiritual state of their being spiritually rich.
What would Jesus declare today of the majority of the so-called American churches? Would He agree with their self-proclaimed status of being Christian? Or would He also label some or many as a synagogue of Satan? In Matthew chapter 7 Jesus warned in verse 15, “Beware [be warned] of false prophets [false religious pretending leaders], who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous [dangerously destructive] wolves.” Let us therefore, not be deceived in these last days. Let us study the Word of God for ourselves!
And in the same chapter beginning in verse 21, Jesus also revealed; “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he [or she] who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many [not some but many] will say to Me in that day [day of judgment], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied [preached] in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them [the many deceived], ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness [practice sin]!’” Sin not only separates us from God, but if not repented of sin disqualifies us from entrance into the kingdom of heaven, according to Jesus!
More Scripture To Consider:
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death [endure to the end], and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2.10
Something More To Consider:
Jesus is not accustomed to proclaiming itching ear messages! But Jesus, throughout the gospels declared the truth of the Word of God and the will of God as He clearly does here in these seven letters to seven churches. To this much persecuted but spiritually rich church in Smyrna, who I believe represents true Christians in every generation especially true enduring to the end Christians of this 21st century, Jesus warns them and us to not be fearful of the future coming of end time tribulation, even as it leads to the death of many righteous!
But that true message and biblical warning of suffering and tribulation has been replaced by a deceptive and dangerous false doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture mantra-style message. This false doctrine is not supported by Scripture, Daniel, Peter, Paul, James, Jude, John, and most importantly, it is not taught by Jesus. But the pre-tribulation false theory is heavily supported by those indoctrinated by the many false teachers who have infiltrated so-called Christian organizations of higher education.
These disillusioned but highly educated so-called religious individuals and institutions proclaim the pre-tribulation rapture in total opposition to Old and New Testament Scripture and Jesus’ teaching in the gospels and here in the book of Revelation. In our text Jesus warns in advance of tribulation, in advance of persecution, and in advance of even death due to faithfulness to Christ. It is not until after the tribulation that Jesus teaches of the rapture or the gathering together of the end time servants of God in Matthew’s gospel chapter 24.
We will close this something more to consider section with the words of Jesus from Matthew 24.28-31. “Immediately after the tribulation of those days [not before as many falsely teach, but after the abomination of desolation] the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then [after much deception] the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then [after the tribulation not before] all the tribes [peoples] of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man [Jesus] coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
When will we see Jesus coming? “Immediately after the tribulation of those days.” Jesus then and only then declared, “And He [Jesus, the Son of Man] will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together [rapture] His elect [enduring to the end overcoming true believers in Jesus] from the four winds [four corners of the earth], from one end of heaven to the other.” And yet, Jesus admonishes us to be faithful even unto death if that is God’s will!
A Few Final Words:
“He [or she] who has an ear, let him [or her] hear what the Spirit says [is saying] to the churches. He [or she] who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Revelation 2.11
Again, Jesus reiterated the eternal importance of true Christians overcoming. Later in Revelation we are told that the saints overcame the enemy of our souls by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus, and by the word of their testimony. It is a shame that these biblical truths are not preached much in this 21st century. But the blood of Jesus and our personal testimony of faithfulness to Christ and His Word are most important spiritual weapons at our disposal to be used against the onslaught of evil and of the end of the age wide-spread lawlessness.
The act of our overcoming is nothing more or less than our enduring to the end of our lives or enduring to the end of this age. And that is according to Jesus! Jesus instructed His true Christian followers to endure to the end to thereby be saved. He actually repeated Himself three times in Matthew 10.22, Matthew 24.13, and again in Mark 13.13. Jesus attached great significance to enduring to the end during end time lawlessness that would abound and is abounding according to Jesus.
Therefore, Jesus declared in Matthew 24.13-14, “But he [or she] who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel [the gospel of enduring to the end] this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then [not before] the end will come.” Are we enduring to the end or are we enjoying our involvement in too much sin for a season rather than obeying the Word of God and especially the Word of Christ? Jesus knows our heart’s desires. He knows whether we are part of His enduring to the end elect or not. And if not, then who are we fooling but ourselves?
If we are proven by Jesus to be among His end time persecuted Smyrna-like church, then we are also spiritually rich, according to Jesus! Therefore, let us be found sowing greatly the spiritual riches of His warnings and truthful promises.