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;
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.
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.
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.

"These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;"

Assurance is given to this messenger concerning Who Jesus is.

He is the First and the Last.

This doesn't only mean that He is the First from the beginning of the Creation…and that He knows the end of all things from the beginning…I believe it also means that He was there with this messenger at the beginning of his ministry, and He will be there to the end.

Jesus assured His disciples of this very thing when He said "lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world" (Matt. 28:20).

He also reminds this messenger that He was dead, but now is alive. The resurrection of those who believe in Him is true, and He wants them to have this understanding deep in their hearts. We are not to fear what man can do to us:

Matt 10: 28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

But having this knowledge, and actually walking in it, are two different things.

We have a great Hope, and Assurance that we will someday be resurrected, and will be in His Presence. We need to hold this truth in our hearts. Those martyrs through time who have given their lives for the sake of Christ have held on to that hope.

1 Cor 15: 12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Just as He was dead, but is now alive, so every Christian can hold on to that confidence, that although he or she may die, and may put off this mortal body, that Christian will be resurrected in the glorious light of Christ.

1 Cor 15: 48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

Because of the nature of this messenger, encouragement must be given him.

He has resolved to serve the Lord uncompromisingly. He lives a godly life in simplicity before men and before God. Because he does this, he opens himself up to persecution and tribulation:

2 Tim 3: 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

This one has not allowed himself to be entrapped by the things of the world.

This one has not let his first love slip.

This one doesn't love the world. His eyes are on Jesus.

Concerning this messenger, compromise is not an issue. As a result, because of his faithfulness, Satan cannot cause him to fall or to be rendered ineffective in ministry. His fruit will last, and will endure.

Since Satan can't cause him to fall by temptation, he will attempt to silence him through physical torment or death. But just as Jesus' faithfulness and words, and the words of Paul, Peter, Stephen, James and John have not been silenced through time, so Satan cannot silence those who give their lives willingly for the sake of the Gospel.

Anyone can speak of their love for God.

Anyone can declare their faithfulness to God.

Anyone can make a show. But remember that Jesus walks in the midst of the churches. He knows our motivations and our hearts. And He speaks to this messenger (as he does to all) from that knowledge:

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.

Only four things are mentioned here concerning this messenger's ministry; his works, his tribulation, his poverty, and the evil speaking of a certain group of people.

"I know thy works, and tribulation"

I believe that the tribulation spoken of here is the direct result of the ministry (works) that this messenger is involved in.

I believe this person preaches a gospel of no compromise. He preaches separation from the world. He preaches obedience to the Word of God.

His love for God supercedes anything else.

He is pure in heart. His life is a reflection of the Psalmist's words when he prayed:

Ps 4: 1 Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.
2 O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame? how long will ye love vanity, and seek after leasing? Selah.
3 But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.
4 Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD.
6 There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.
7 Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.
8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.

This person understands the Truth in the words: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" He understands that the Grace of God is sufficient for whatever He needs.

Most people don't like him because his very life convicts them of their lack before God. His life preaches the TRUTH of God.

Satan wants to silence this one. So he raises up people to persecute him and to cast him into tribulation.

TRIBULATION: 2347 thlipsis- 1) a pressing, a pressing together, pressure 2) metaphorically, oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits

The fact of the matter is that when one sells out for God just because he loves God, he will undergo great pressure from those around him to compromise. This pressure may take the form of physical persecution or mental oppression.

Most young Christians who have walked with the Lord for only a short time, will burn with zeal for the things of God. They will want to tell everyone they can about Jesus. Nothing else will matter to them except their love for Christ.

Sooner or later, they will encounter a "seasoned" Christian who will pat them on the back and say condescendingly, "I remember when I was like you…but as I grew older and more experienced in the things of the Lord, I mellowed out!"

These well meaning Christians will try to make them understand that they don't have to be a "fanatic" for the Lord.

...and poverty, (but thou art rich)

On the external appearance, this one has very little in the area of possessions or wealth.

Since the things of the world don't impress him, and the furtherance of the Kingdom of God in this world is his primary focus, he doesn't set his affection on them. So in the natural, it would seem that he lives in poverty.

But Christ commends him even more because he has heaped up for himself the true riches. This is in contrast to the Laodocean messenger, who thinks he is rich, but he is actually poor.

The seed this one plants is on good soil, not on the thorny ground of a gospel based on vanity and materialism.

Matt 13: 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

Luke 8: 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.

He can find peace and joy living on a garbage heap, if the Lord calls him to do so. Present circumstances don't move him. He can say with Paul,

Phil 4: 11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

James 2:5 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

"…and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan."

Because of his uncompromising devotion to God, there are those who profess to be in the faith who speak ill of him. Blasphemy isn't just words uttered against God.

988 blasphemia- 1) slander, detraction, speech injurious, to another's good name 2) impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty

Because of his position with God, this one may be accused by others who profess to be in the faith as being caught up in legalism.

Those who have possessions may hold him in disdain, and may even accuse him of having a "spirit of poverty.

Others might say that he lacks the faith that is needed to have the "finer things in life".

Others may call him a "fanatic", or a "Holy Roller".

They may speak evil of him behind his back. They may defame his name. But these things do not move him, because he is mindful of Jesus' words:

Matt 5: 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

This one doesn't even bother to defend his name, by rendering railing for railing.

Unlike the messenger to the church of Ephesus, this one has not forsaken his first love. He still loves his God with all his heart, and all his soul and all his might. And he loves his neighbor as himself, having compassion on even those who speak evil of him. He doesn't wish any ill on anyone.

He walks in the admonition of the exhortation that Peter gave to the church.

1 Pet 3: 8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
9 Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.
10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
11 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. 12 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

Whatever he does, and however he reacts to a situation, is done in such a way as to give glory to God because of his love for God.

1 Pet 3: 15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
16 Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.
17 For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.
18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

For his faithfulness, he is assured that the Lord sees him, and is very aware of what he is going through. He can put his trust in Jesus.

He is not alone, and despite the fact that it may seem like he is alone, Jesus wants to encourage him to stand strong. Jesus sees the end from the beginning. He is the Author of Eternal Life. He is our All Sufficient One.

Those who have been martyred for the sake of Christ have walked in this Light. And they have preached the Truth. Those who have sat under the teaching of these blessed men of God have learned not to love the things of the world. They have learned to give their all to Jesus.


This messenger walks in the simplicity of the gospel, and in the simplicity of his love for God.

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.

The messenger of this church instructs his people to endure persecution and tribulation.

What a far cry from the majority of Christians in America, who think that the definition of persecution is when people ridicule them for their stand in the gospel or the definition of "tribulation" is when their car is repossessed because they cannot pay the bills! (Never mind the fact that the Lord may be moving them out of debt!)

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.

The Word of God says it is appointed once for a man to die, (THIS IS THE FIRST DEATH) and after that, the Judgment. If a man is found to have rejected God in exchange for the pleasures of sin, he will be cast into the lake of fire.

This is the second death.

Those who have remained faithful to Him through all the tribulations that life may bring, will spend eternity with God, and will not taste the flames of eternal torment.

The Love we have for the Lord determines if we are willing to give our lives for Him.

John 15: 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

Jesus proved that He was our friend by laying His life down for us. How good of a friend are we to Him?

The True servant of God will be faithful unto death. He won't compromise his stand with Jesus, regardless of what comes his way.

Peer pressure, popular opinion, persecution, opposition, and even death will not deter his faithfulness.

The true messenger of God will strive to equip his flock to walk godly even in the midst of great opposition. He will prepare those who have been entrusted to his care to lay down their lives for their Lord.