(A Persecuted Church.)
2. THE PERSECUTION--"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'."
3. THE EXHORTATION--"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."
4. THE PROMISE--"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 Church in its "Ephesian Period" having lost its "First Love," the Lord is now about to "chastise" it, so as to cause it to return to Him. Smyrna has for its root meaning "bitterness," and means "Myrrh," an ointment associated with death, and we see in the meaning of the word a prophecy of the persecution and death which was to befall the members of the Smyrna Church. They were told not to "fear" the things that they should be called on to suffer, but to be faithful "unto" death, not "until" death. That is, not until the end of their "natural" life. They were not to "recant" when called upon to face a Martyr's death, but remain faithful until death relieved them of their suffering. The reward would be a "Crown of Life." This is the Martyr's crown.
They were told that the "author" of their suffering would be the Devil, and its duration would be "ten days," which was doubtless a prophetic reference to the "Ten Great Persecutions" under the Roman Emperors, beginning with Nero, A. D. 64, and ending with Diocletian in A. D. 310. Seven of these "Great Persecutions" occurred during this "Smyrna Period" of Church History. Or it may refer to the 10 years of the last and fiercest persecution under Diocletian. This Period extended from A. D. 170 to Constantine A. D. 312.
See the Judgment of Reward Chart.