The Church at Smyrna: Power to Persevere in Persecution
Luke 11:1-4; Revelation 2:8-11
The church at Smyrna is the second church that Jesus addresses in Revelation Chapter 2. It is one of two churches out of the seven which receives only praise and no criticism from Christ. (Philadelphia is the other.) This church can be characterized by three Ps:
We know very little about the beginning of the church, but we do know its latter history. The pastor of the church of Smyrna was a former student and disciple of the Apostle John named Polycarp.
Polycarp's ministry and life came to a noble end in A.D. 156. Polycarp was marched into a 20,000-seat amphitheater where a mob anticipated a final showdown. As he stood before a hostile blood-thirsty proconsul, he was commanded to renounce Christ, but he replied, ''Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He never did me any harm; how then can I blaspheme my King and Saviour?'' The Governor of the province shouted, ''I will have you destroyed by fire, unless you change your attitude.'' Polycarp answered, ''You threaten me with fire which burns for an hour and after a little is extinguished, but you are ignorant of the fires of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment reserved for the ungodly. But why do you delay? Bring on what you will.'' The mob gathered wood and torches and cheered as the old man was led to the stake. As the flames consumed his body, Polycarp prayed this prayer, ''I thank you that you have graciously thought me worthy of this day and of this hour, that I may be a part of the number of martyrs to die for Christ.''
Some have said that ''the blood of martyrs became the seed of the church.'' By the time that Revelation was written, emperor worship was a demand not an option. The churches and individuals were persecuted because they would not burn a pinch of incense and say Kaiser Kurios, Caesar is Lord!
This period was undoubtedly ...
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