How intense, as the speaker put the scroll down. You thought, “Well at least we got that out of the way.” Then the reader began talking about the letter to the angel at the church in Smyrna.
Your wife Syntyche sat up in her seat and clamps your hand. She zoned in and heard the speaker.
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
9 “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander[a] of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death (Revelation 2:8-11 ESV).’
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(A Look into Syntyche’s head)
Syntyche sat in her chair struck with dread. She knew that the church in Smyrna was in trouble. There were those who were calling themselves Jews but had little to do with being Jewish. They had become a persecuting people of the church in Smyrna. It is funny how the Jews are exempt from burning incense to the genius of Ceasar, but believers in Christ are considered to be atheist and godless because we worship someone who died (even though we claim he rose from the grave).
Syntyche thought, “I have forgotten all about my sister Claudia.” She had just went and visited her sister in Smyrna. It is only a days journey away, but they don’t have the prosperity of Ephesus. She helped them with some things and took them some supplies. “I have been focused on my husband and daughter, I have been focused on our safety. But, as things were looking like they would get bad I came back about a month ago to be in Ephesus. It was safer here, and more diverse. But how could I just leave them?”
But, Claudia has a husband and three children. Her husband Aticus is a brand new convert and she is basically teaching the family, which includes teaching him how to lead the family. This creates and interesting dynamic. He really is a changed man. God is truly doing a work in him.
“But, what is this message for them? This message can’t be right. What about the kids? Two of them are still little. But, what about Lucious? Lucious is only 12, but has been a follower of Jesus for the past 5 years. You were there at his baptism. His faith is enourmous. In fact he now goes by Luke because of his faith. He didn’t want to identify with Rome, but rather our old friend Luke who taught us so much but is no longer with us.
What does this mean when Jesus is asking the people over in Smyrna to be faithful unto death? Is it true for the child too? He is as much of a believer as anyone there. He probably knows the faith better than both of his parents. Be faithful even to death? So you will not be hurt by the second death?” The thought of loosing her sister’s family overwhelmed Synthche and she grabbed on to you. You hug her with one arm.
Both of you noticed that Smyrna didn’t have any rebukes. They are faithful, they haven’t abandoned their first love like we have. Maybe it was the comfort and diversity of Ephesus, but these believers have endured much and are unwilling to compromise. God even called them rich. “No one would call them that,” you thought. You had been there many times. But, when it comes to the riches of the Kingdom they definitely have something we now lack. However, you didn’t realize it until you heard this letter. Claudia’s family is included in this special group that Christ mentions by name. You don’t know what will happen, but just like in Ephesus Christ got an angel involved.
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