The letter to the church at Smyrna is recorded in Revelation 2:8-11. It was addressed to the angel of the church at Smyrna. John recorded the words of Christ Himself. Christ's message was "Do not fear but be faithful unto death!" Christ will reward those who overcome!
One, Christ rose from the grave. Our hope is in the risen Christ!
According to John, the speaker is "the first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life." This can be none other than Christ Himself. It is the Christ who was crucified, who was buried, and who rose again that speaks. The Christ that rose from the dead speaks with great resurrection power. He who rose from the dead has the power to fulfill His promises to us.
Many of you are facing problems. Some of these problems may be of your own making, but others may come from without. Sometimes you may face great opposition and even persecution. You may wonder how you will be rescued from your difficulties. Christ has a word for you! Because He is the risen Christ, that word is especially meaningful!
Two, your opponent is Satan. He has no power over you!
The Jews who persecuted the Christians in Smyrna rejected Christ. They claimed to be Jews, but they really were under the control of Satan. The phrase "synagogue of Satan" reveals that the ultimate source of the persecutions was Satan himself. Jesus rejected them and in very strong terms said they were not true Jews. Compare Romans 2:28-29.
Our opponents have many names and faces. Sometimes our opponents are sincere Bible believing individuals who have a different opinion that we do. However, many times the real source of the opposition is Satan Himself. When Satan opposes, He will not stop until he has tested us to the limit.
No matter how serious the opposition, Satan has no ultimate power over us. Christ defeated Satan at the cross. Over time, his defeat will be obvious. And in the end, Christ the victory of Christ will be evident in every aspect of life. We can have confidence in the future!
Three, because Christ is Victor, do not fear!
Apparently, the tribulation caused the saints to be afraid. So Jesus encourages them not to fear. For sure, the saints would suffer. Jesus did not hold out any false hope. Some would even die for their faith, but physical death would not rob them of their life in Christ.
The suffering was only temporary. Jesus points the saints to the future and to the crown of life that they would receive. As Horton (pp.43-44) writes: "Beyond death a 'crown of life' would be waiting for them. This would be the victor's crown, which consists of life. The word 'crown' in verse 10 is not a king's crown, but a crown, or wreath, placed on the head of the victor, or winner, in a race or athletic contest. So even if Christians die, they are victorious."
Four, we will not be hurt by the second death! Believe in God!
In verse 11 the Spirit says, "'He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.'" The message of the Spirit has to do with overcoming and avoiding the second death. There is something worse than physical death; it is the second death. The "second death" refers to the final separation of unbleivers from God (Revelation 20:11-15; 21:8).
All who believe in Christ will not suffer the second death. Instead of being separated from God, we will be in constant fellowship with Him. He has a place prepared fro us. We will experience His love and grace in wonderful new dimensions.
Although the letters in Revelation were written specifically to ancient churches, they apply to us today. It is the risen Christ who speaks to the church in Smyrna. He tells the believers that their opposition is from Satan. They must not fear, but keep on believing. Christ has won the victory and the believers will not experience the second death.
This should encourage us. We can overcome all our problems. And even when it may seem that we have suffered a defeat, the defeat is only temporary. In the long run, the victory of Christ will be ours.