“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” Revelation 2:9-10 (NKJV).
The Apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos during the brutal reign of Domitian. The Roman Emperor reigned from 81-96 AD. John’s crime was that he proclaimed and shared the saving message of the Lord Jesus (Revelation 1:9). On Patmos, John received a prophetic revelation that included seven letters to seven churches that existed at that time in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). These letters contain both correction and encouragement, which are relevant not only to the believers of that time but also to us today. In this series of articles, we will examine each church to explore their significance.
Exhortation to Remain Faithful
The second church addressed was the church in Smyrna, which was a seaport city about 40 miles north of Ephesus. Smyrna is often referred to as the persecuted church.
Some of their difficulties were due to it being “a center of the imperial cult of Rome and emperor worship.” Much like the church throughout history, often it finds itself in an ungodly society and culture. Additionally, the word Smyrna has an interesting meaning that helps us better understand their situation.
“The word Smyrna is related to the word myrrh, which in turn is symbolic of death. Smyrna’s history has been one of successive sackings, fires, destructions. Polycarp, one of the most famous of the earlier martyrs, was Bishop of Smyrna. This city is the only one of the seven still in flourishing condition.”
Despite the difficult circumstances, the church is one of only two churches that did not receive a rebuke from the Lord. Instead, He exhorts them to continue to remain faithful to the Lord. One reason that they could do this was knowing that the Lord was fully aware of their situation. In Revelation 2:9, Jesus states that He knew exactly what they were going through in terms of trials and poverty.
“Christ’s knowledge of their plight was more than theoretical knowledge. He knew firsthand the kind of suffering and pain they were enduring as rejected outcasts in the hands of sinners. The Christians in Smyrna were experiencing tribulation, which could include physical, economic, social, or religious persecution. Christians in the ancient city were ostracized, verbally assaulted, boycotted, and mistreated.”
The Lord Knows All
What a great comfort to know that the Lord knows everything that we are dealing with. Nothing is hidden from him that we may be going through. The Lord sees all that we are dealing with, whether good or bad (Proverbs 15:3). It also reminds us that nothing can separate us from the Lord’s love for us (Romans 8:35).
“Fear not, He knows; My soul why fret and tremble? Fear not, He knows; Your life is in His hands. Fear not, He knows; And you know He is able to care for You, So trust the best is planned!”
The Lord knows what we are experiencing, and that should bring comfort to us during the hard times of life. Like the church at Smyrna, we need to remain faithful to the Lord even during difficult situations in life. The One who knows is the One who is always there.
Dr. Steven F. Pace
Decatur Bible Church
 The Ryrie Study Bible. NASB 95 Edition.
 The Wycliffe Bible Commentary: New Testament, Revelation.
 Charles Swindoll. Revelation, pg. 41.
 “He knows, He knows” lyrics by C.Z.