The Christians at Smyrna were being persecuted by pagan Gentiles, hostile Jews, and by Satan himself. Smyrna, a large city that reached metropolitan proportions during the period of the Roman Empire, was rebuilt by Alexander the Great. Since it was located in a strategic point near the coast of what is today Izmir Turkey, it rose to prominence as a wealthy and famous city. But as described in Revelation 2:8-11, the Christians there faced persecution because of their allegiance to Jesus.
Christ’s description of himself as the ONE who is the First (with God from the beginning) and the Last (the judge of all); who died and came to life again (v. 8) brought comfort to the church at Smyrna. Even in persecution, there was always hope and a confidence because of the help that was gained from the Holy Spirit. This same hope and confidence is available to us today to confound the enemy.
In verse 11, the concept called the second death is mentioned. This type of death is much worse than the first death because it is eternal death in the lake of fire. Patiently enduring whatever challenges this world dispenses is worth it when the reward is with Christ and eternal happiness with Him.
The church at Smyrna was persecuted but they had a powerful testimony and set their site on the “Crown of Life”. The lesson from the Christians at Smyrna is to have the courage to stand even when everything seems to be against you. This day with God can be incredible because we have history to fall back on with great examples of courage like the one in today’s passage inspiring us toward God and His high purpose.