The Seven Churches

The Church of Smyrna

The city of Smyrna was north of Ephesus at the mouth of the Smyrna Gulf. It had a great harbor known for its exports. It also was know for its schools in science, medicine, and philosophy. The word Smyrna means “bitter,” which is a fitting name because there was a struggle between the Christians, Jews, and Romans in this city. Smyrna is derived from the word Myrrh which was an oil used to prepare the dead for burial.

Revelation 2:8-9 – ‘And to the messenger of the assembly of the Smyrneans write: These things saith the First and the Last, who did become dead and did live; I have known thy works, and tribulation, and poverty – yet thou art rich – and the evil-speaking of those saying themselves to be Jews, and are not, but [are] a synagogue of the Adversary. (YLT)

The church of Smyrna claimed to be Jews, but were actually against God. They wanted God’s power, but did not want to submit to God. In the Old Testament, this is seen when Korah rebelled against Moses:

Numbers 16:1-2 – And Korah, son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, taketh both Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, and they rise up before Moses, with me of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty, princes of the company, called of the convention, men of name, (YLT)

Numbers 16:28 – And Moses saith, ‘By this ye do know that Jehovah hath sent me to do all these works, that [they are] not from my own heart; (YLT)

Numbers 16:32 – and the earth openeth her mouth, and swalloweth them, and their houses, and all the men who [are] for Korah, and all the goods, (YLT)

Korah launched a rebellion against Moses. Moses tells them that it wasn’t his own desire to lead, but God’s desire. It is true that all men can hear God’s voice, but God also chooses leaders such as Moses to help those who are spiritually immature. God gave Moses authority to rule the Israelites, and Korah refused to recognize this authority. Therefore, God punished Korah by swallowing them up. I mentioned this passage in my article on Hell.

Prophetically, the Age of Smyrna is referring to a period of time when Christians were persecuted, and died for their faith, as see in this verse:

Revelation 2:10 – ‘Be not afraid of the things that art about to suffer; lo, the devil is about to cast of you to prison, that ye may be tried, and ye shall have tribulation ten days; become thou faithful unto death, and I will give to thee the crown of life. (YLT)

The ten tribulation days represent ten Roman Emperors who persecuted Christians. Their names and periods of rule are below:

1. Nero – 54-68
2. Domitian – 81-96
3. Trajan – 98-117
4. Hadrian – 117-138
5. Marcus Aurelius – 161-180
6. Septimius Severus – 193-211
7. Maximinus Thrax – 235-238
8. Decius – 249-251
9. Valerian – 253-260
10. Diocletian – 284-305

Although there were Emperors in between these ten, these were ten that were well know for their persecution of Christians. This gives us an age from 64 A.D. to 313 A.D., when Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christianity, and therefore ending government persecution of Christians.

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