Read verses 9-10
Q: What is absent from this shortest of all the letters to the seven churches?
A: Jesus does not correct them due to issues of bad behavior or loss of faith
Q: What is the “bad news”?
- “…you are about to suffer…” (v.10)
- “…cast some of you in prison…” (v.10)
- “…tribulation for ten days…” (v.10)
Point: Unlike other churches, the “bad news” is not about shortcomings in their behavior or faith, but putting events into their proper perspective. It is really only “bad news” from a certain viewpoint.
Q: How are these hardships collectively characterized by Christ?
A: “…you will be tested…” (v.10)
Application: While sin incurs deserved consequences, we are not the source of what comes because of trials or tests.
Q: To whom is this testing specifically attributed?
A: Satan. (v.10)
Point: This is established in the account of Job and even when the devil tested Christ near the beginning of His ministry; Satan is the actual protagonist.
Q: What is the proposed solution to their problem?
A: “…do not fear…” and “Be faithful until death”. (v.10)
Q: What is attained by such behavior?
A: “…the crown of life”. (v.10)
Application: This is how one overcomes persecution and passes the test.
Q: What is the promise to all believers provided by Christ to all overcomers?
A: “…will not be hurt by the second death”. (v.11)
Point: Scripture only mentions the “first resurrection” of believers and the “second death” meted out to unbelievers at the great white throne.
Q: How does this specifically relate to this particular church?
A: They are encouraged to endure in this life even to death knowing they aren’t going to suffer a second death but live life eternal with Christ.
Q: What is the dramatic contrast between Smyrna and Laodicea?
A: Of Smyrna, the poorest church, He says, “…but you are rich”, but of the materially wealthiest in Laodicea He says, “you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”. (Rev. 3:17)
Q: What is the information Christ reveals that is specific to Smyrna?
A: This period of persecution is going to be limited to “ten days”. (v.10)
Q: How did this play out historically?
A: There are many theories, all of which seem to fall short scripturally in some way. The Bible is usually quite literal when it comes to such labels of time as “days” or “years” and specifies when it is applying something out of the ordinary. Many have tried to assign this to ten consecutive reigns of Roman emperors but it cannot be overlooked that it may have simply been ten literal days in the life of this individual church.
Q: What may be significant about the number “ten”?
A: Whereas God often works directly organizing His time of trials around a “forty”, satanic efforts are most often limited to a “ten”.
Q: Does Christ guarantee they will safely pass through this “ten”?
A: He specifies they need to be “faithful unto death”.
Q: What is His personal promise to those who persevere in this manner?
A: “I will give you the crown of life”.
Q: How does Christ say we should face this situation?
A: “Do not fear what you are about to suffer”.
Application: God sets the limits on Satan’s activities so that although it can be overwhelming, it cannot overcome us.