Peter Barnes : Revelation 2:8-11
(26 November 2017)
SERMON NOTES : SMYRNA: FAITHFUL UNDER PERSECUTION (Rev.2:8-11)
– only Smyrna (2:8-11) and Philadelphia (3:7-13) are not criticised by Christ. Smyrna was a centre for emperor worship – one had to obtain a certificate which stated one had sacrificed to the godhead of Caesar. Pliny accused Christians of ‘obstinacy and unbending perversity’.
1. Christ is triumphant over death.
– 2:8; see 1:17-18. Here is God incarnate, who has died and risen again.
2. Persecution from religious people.
– 2:9. Being a Jew did not mean one was automatically a child of God – Rom.2:28-29.
– opposition to Christ’s people is often religious – John 16:2-4.
3. We are to be faithful under persecution.
– 2:10-11. We are not to fear the world – Matt.10:28. We are not promised to be kept from the suffering – although that happened in Daniel 3 and Daniel 6 – but through the suffering.
– in A.D. 155 or 156 Polycarp of Smyrna was brought before the proconsul, and ordered to say ‘Caesar is Lord’. He refused: ‘Eighty and six years I have served him, and he never did me an injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?’ Then the proconsul threatened to burn Polycarp at the stake. Polycarp: ‘You threaten me with fire which burns for an hour, and after a little while is extinguished, but are ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly.’ Note Rev.21:8.
Know who Christ is, know what He has done. Christ will keep you from the second death, and give you the crown of life.