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Church of Smyrna
Revelation 2: 8
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 
  2:9   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. 
  2:10   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. 
  2:11   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. 
  2:12   And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 
  2:13   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. 
  2:14   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. 
  2:15   So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate. 
  2:16   Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 
  2:17   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].

Smyrna was the next city and church of importance in the province of Asia, and was the nearest to Ephesus, being about forty miles to the north. For this reason the church of Smyrna was the second of the seven to receive the Apocalypse. It was probably delivered to the minister or elder of the church in Smyrna by some member of the church of Ephesus after it had been read there. A copy may have been made and kept in Ephesus for further study. This epistle also has a threefold application, namely, to the city, to the local church, and to the Smyrnean period of the universal church of Christendom.

Smyrna is synonymous with myrrh, which was an aromatic substance used sometimes as a healing ointment but more especially for embalming the dead. According to Psalms 45:8 and Canticles 3:6, myrrh seems to have been the special perfume of Christ as King and Bridegroom. One of the chief ingredients of myrrh was made by crushing and bleeding a plant of the same name. This thorny plant, or tree, grows about eight or nine feet high, and is found in Arabia and to some extent in Palestine. It is very bitter to the taste but has a fragrant odor, and the more the plant is crushed and bruised the greater the fragrance. The name Smyrna, therefore, indicates suffering and persecution which prove a blessing. Smyrna would be crushed by cruel persecutions, but as a result of her sufferings would be anointed for a death and burial that would end in a resurrection and renewal of life. Although the afflictions would be bitter to the victim, they would result in releasing to the world the perfume of heaven.

In the introduction to this epistle Christ identifies Himself as "the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive." "He who died and has returned to life," is another translation. (Revelation 1:17,18.) This introduction is well suited to a church that has passed through bitter persecution. To the church of martyrs was sent a message of cheer from the One who had triumphed over death and the grave, and had the keys of the tomb in His keeping. By His death and resurrection triumph, Jesus had robbed death of its sting and the grave of its victory. In identifying Himself, Jesus uses the attributes that would bring courage and support to His people during persecution and martyrdom. If they would be "faithful unto death," they would be given "a crown of life."

The church of Smyrna would be crushed but not permanently killed. There would come a new life more glorious than the first. The severe trials would prove a blessing in disguise. Jesus intimates that this was true in His own experience, for He too had been persecuted and slain, but now he is "alive for evermore." It was persecution and suffering that made manifest the beauty of the character of Christ and made Him a worthy example of patience under tribulation. (John 15:18-20; 1 Peter 2:20-23.) "From the desert to Calvary, the storm of Satan’s wrath beat upon Him, but the more mercilessly it fell, the more firmly did the Son of God cling to the hand of His Father, and press on in the blood-stained path. All the efforts of Satan to oppress and overcome Him, only brought out in a purer light His spotless character."- The Desire of Ages, Page 759.

                                                   The City of Smyrna

Smyrna is one of the oldest cities of the world, with a very eventful history. It is located at the head of a beautiful bay, or arm, of the Aegean Sea about thirty miles from the coast line. On ancient coins have been found the inscriptions "First of Asia in size and beauty" and "The Ornament of Asia." Its size, location, and magnificence made Smyrna one of the finest cities of Asia, rivaling Ephesus to the south and Pergamos to the north.

Smyrna was said to ‘be the birthplace of Homer. It was celebrated not alone as a center of wealth and prosperity but also as a center of learning and religion. It was famed for its schools of science and medicine, for its fine library, magnificent temples, sacred festivals, and athletic contests. On the slopes of Mount Pagus was a theater seating twenty thousand people, the ruins of which are still visible. In AD 23 a great temple was built by and dedicated to the worship of Emperor Tiberius.

Mount Pagus is a conical-shaped mound more than five hundred feet high, and was located in the center of the ancient city. Its summit was crowned with a shrine dedicated to Nemesis, a Greek goddess who was supposed to be a form of Artemis. Because of its splendor and its garland of magnificent buildings, this hilltop was also known as The Crown of Smyrna. Circling the base of the mount "like a necklace on a statue" was one of the finest streets of the ancient world, called The Street of Gold. When Apollonius visited the city he advised the proud citizens to prefer a crown of splendid men rather than a crown of beautiful buildings. The city itself was sometimes called The Crown of Ionia. This historical background gives significance to the promise of Jesus, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." The promise had a forceful and peculiar meaning to the suffering members of the church of Smyrna.

All through her long and eventful history the city of Smyrna has suffered from besieging armies, massacres, earthquakes, fires, and plagues. About 600 BC the Lydians captured and almost completely destroyed the city. It lay in partial ruins for four hundred years. It was crushed almost to death but was rebuilt by the Greeks and again became a flourishing city. It was restored to life and prosperity. The city was destroyed by a terrible earthquake in AD 178, only eighty years after the church received the Apocalypse. It was again crushed to death but was destined to recover, for it was "the city of life." The city was restored to more than its former beauty and glory by Emperor Marcus Aurelius. There has seldom been a period of two years without an earthquake. The city was almost completely destroyed by a severe quake in 1688, when the earth opened and swallowed up five thousand people. In 1758 a plague almost depopulated the city, and in 1922 the Turks captured and partially destroyed the modern Smyrna.

Smyrna is the only one of the seven cities of Asia which retains anything of its ancient standing. It is today the largest city of Asia Minor, and is the commercial center of the Levant. The population was recently reported to be 154,000. The present name under Turkish rule is Izmir. More than seven thousand ships of all nations visit the beautiful harbor of Smyrna each year, and its annual trade is valued at many millions of dollars. One of its chief exports is the famous Smyrna figs. Large quantities of woolen cloth are also exported. Thus has the city of Smyrna often risen from apparent death "to become one of the first stars in the brilliant belt of the cities of Asia Minor."

Read more about the  Local Church at Smyrna  and  Smyrna Period  and more.
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