Study Guide: Revelation 2:8-11 (Smyrna)
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 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. one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’
In times of suffering and persecution, Christians are called to remain faithful by looking to the person, work, and promises of Jesus.
Smyrna was a harbor city famous for its renowned temples to Mother Goddess and Emperor Tiberius. He addresses them concerning the severe tribulation, persecution, and slander they are experiencing at the hands of the very people who claim to love and serve God – the Jews. Jesus begins his address by rooting his commands and promises in his deity and work as the risen Lord. Then, despite intense persecution, he commands them not to fear. He implores them to remain faithful, even unto death, that they might be rewarded by God and saved from his wrath.
- What promises are mentioned in this passage? How might our lives and especially our relationships look different if we genuinely believed them?
- Jesus knows the church at Smyrna’s circumstances. Why should this bring much comfort in times of suffering and persecution?
- Why are they experiencing persecution? Why does it matter?
- How does the deity of Christ and his resurrection change how we experience suffering and persecution?
- For the church in Smyrna, what does it mean to be faithful? How does our definition of faithfulness tend to compare with that of Jesus?
- Read 1 Peter 4:12-19. Even though intense persecution is rare for modern American Christians, should we expect it? If so, how might we prepare for such trials that we might endure them faithfully?
- Do you know any Christians experiencing severe persecution? What are a few truths you can take away from this passage to incorporate in your prayers for them? (If you do not know who to pray for, visit opendoorsusa.org and select “World Watch List.”)
Take a moment and pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are experiencing persecution. Pray that we would remain steadfast under trials and that God would be glorified through his people’s joyful suffering.