Revelation 2:8
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.

New Living Translation
"Write this letter to the angel of the church in Smyrna. This is the message from the one who is the First and the Last, who was dead but is now alive:

English Standard Version
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

Berean Study Bible
To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the First and the Last, who died and returned to life.

Berean Literal Bible
And to the messenger of the church in Smyrna write: These things says the First and the Last, who became dead and came to life.

New American Standard Bible
"And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:

King James Bible
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

Holman Christian Standard Bible
"Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna: "The First and the Last, the One who was dead and came to life, says:

International Standard Version
"To the messenger of the church in Smyrna, write: 'The first and the last, who was dead and became alive, says this:

NET Bible
"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write the following: "This is the solemn pronouncement of the one who is the first and the last, the one who was dead, but came to life:

New Heart English Bible
"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: "The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life says these things:

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And to The Messenger of the assembly of Zmurna, write: “Thus says The First and The Last- he who was dead and lives:”

GOD'S WORD® Translation
"To the messenger of the church in Smyrna, write: The first and the last, who was dead and became alive, says:

New American Standard 1977
“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write:

      The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this:

Jubilee Bible 2000
And unto the angel of the congregation {Gr. ekklesia – called out ones} of Smyrna write: These things, saith the first and the last, who was dead, and is alive:

King James 2000 Bible
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things says the first and the last, who was dead, and is alive;

American King James Version
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things said the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

American Standard Version
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These things saith the first and the last, who was dead, and lived again :

Douay-Rheims Bible
And to the angel of the church of Smyrna write: These things saith the First and the Last, who was dead, and is alive:

Darby Bible Translation
And to the angel of the assembly in Smyrna write: These things says the first and the last, who became dead, and lived:

English Revised Version
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and lived again:

Webster's Bible Translation
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna, write; These things saith the first and the last, who was dead, and is alive;

Weymouth New Testament
"To the minister of the Church at Smyrna write as follows: "'This is what the First and the Last says--He who died and has returned to life.

World English Bible
"To the angel of the assembly in Smyrna write: "The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life says these things:

Young's Literal Translation
'And to the messenger of the assembly of the Smyrneans write: These things saith the First and the Last, who did become dead and did live;

Study Bible
To the Church in Smyrna
7He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will grant the right to eat of the tree of life in the paradise of God. 8To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of the First and the Last, who died and returned to life. 9I know your affliction and your poverty—though you are rich! And I am aware of the slander of those who falsely claim to be Jews, but are in fact a synagogue of Satan.…
Cross References
Isaiah 44:6
"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.

Isaiah 48:12
"Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.

Romans 14:9
For this reason Christ died and returned to life, so that He might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

Revelation 1:11
saying, "Write in a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea."

Revelation 1:17
When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. But He placed His right hand on me and said, "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last,

Revelation 1:18
the Living One. I was dead, and behold, now I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of Death and of Hades.

Revelation 22:13
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."
Treasury of Scripture

And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things said the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

the angel. See on ver.

Revelation 2:1 To the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things said he …

the first.

Revelation 1:8,11,17,18 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, said the Lord, …

(8) Smyrna, the modern Ismir, now possessing a population of about 150,000. Its mercantile prosperity may be measured by its trade. In 1852 the export trade amounted to 1,766,653--about half of this being with England. The imports in the same year were 1,357,339. It has always been considered one of the most beautiful cities in Asia. It was situated in the ancient province of Ionia, a little north of Ephesus--next it, as Archbishop Trench says, in natural order, and also in spiritual. Its position was favourable for commerce. In olden times, as now, it commanded the trade of the Levant, besides being the natural outlet for the produce of the Hermus valley. The neighbourhood was peculiarly fertile; the vines are said to have been so productive as to have yielded two crops. There are indications that intemperance was very prevalent among the inhabitants. Servility and flattery may be added, for the people of Smyrna seem to have been astutely fickle, and to have been keen in preserving the patronage of the ruling powers. In one of their temples the inscription declared Nero to be "the Saviour of the whole human race." The city was specially famed for its worship of Dionysos. Games and mysteries were held yearly in his honour. Its public buildings were handsome, and its streets regular. One of its edifices used as a museum proclaimed, in its consecration to Homer, that Smyrna contested with six or seven other cities the honour of being the birthplace of the poet.

The angel of the church in Smyrna.--We have no means of determining certainly who was the person here addressed. Many who accept the Domitian date of the Apocalypse argue that Polycarp was at this time the bishop or presiding minister at Smyrna. Even on the supposition that this is the true date, it seems exceedingly doubtful that this was the case. It can only be true on the supposition that the episcopate of Polycarp extended over sixty years. Polycarp was martyred A.D. 156. We know from Ignatius, who addresses him in A.D. 108 as Bishop of Smyrna, that his ministry lasted nearly fifty years. It seems too much to assume that his episcopate commenced eight or ten years before. Of course, if we adopt the earlier date of the Apocalypse, the Epistle must have been written before Polycarp's conversion--probably before his birth. But though we are thus constrained to reject the identification which we would willingly adopt, it is well to remember that Polycarp is the living example of the language of the epistle, and that, as Professor Plumptre has said, "In his long conflict for the faith, his stedfast endurance, his estimate of the fire that can never be quenched, we find a character on which the promise to him that overcometh had been indelibly stamped."

The first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.--Or better, who became dead, and lived again. From Revelation 1:17-18, we have selected the title most fitted to console a church whose trial was persecution. In all vicissitudes, the unchanging One (Hebrews 7:3; Hebrews 13:8), who had truly tasted death, and conquered it even in seeming to fail, was their Saviour and King. Some have seen in these words, "dead and lived again," an allusion to the story of the death and return to life of Dionysos--a legend, of course, familiar to Smyrna.

Verses 8-11. - The epistle to the Church at Smyrna. Verse 8. - The metropolitan, setting out from Ephesus to visit the Churches of Asia, would naturally go first to Smyrna. It ranked as one of the most beautiful cities in Asia; but its magnificence must at times have seemed poor compensation for the neglect of the architect, who, in planning the city for Antigonus and Lysimachus, omitted the drains. In time of floods the streets became open sewers. For its fidelity to Rome against Mithridates, it received exceptional privileges, but suffered heavily when Dolabella laid siege to Trebonius, one of Caesar's assassins, who had taken refuge there. When eleven cities of Asia competed for the honour of erecting a temple to Tiberius, the senate decided in favour of Smyrna. This temple was no doubt standing in St. John's time. But just as Artemis was the great goddess of the Ephesians, so Dionysus was the great god of Smyrna. Dionysus represented the mysteriously productive and intoxicating powers of nature - powers which are exhibited most abundantly in the vine, which in the neighbourhood of Smyrna is said to have borne fruit twice in a year. He was regarded as the dispenser of joy and fertility, the disperser of sorrow and care. Hence the myth of his death and resurrection, which was frequently rehearsed and acted at Smyrna - a fact which gives special point to the greeting in this epistle - "From him who became dead, and lived." The priests who presided at this celebration were presented with a crown; to which there may be allusion in the promise, "I will give thee the crown of life." Not long after the martyrdom of its first bishop, St. Polycarp, Smyrna was destroyed by an earthquake, in A.D. , and was rebuilt by Marcus Aurelius. Earthquakes, fires, and pestilences have always been common there. But in spite of such calamities, it continues to flourish. From the large proportion of Christians there, it is known among Mohammedans as "the infidel city." Christianity seems never to have been extinguished in Smyrna, which shares, with Philadelphia, the honour of receiving unmixed praise in these epistles. "Down from the apostolic times a Church has existed here, and she has repeated, with more or less boldness and distinctness, the testimony of her martyr bishop, 'I am a Christian'" (R. Vaughan). The stadium in which he suffered may still be seen there. We have already (see on Revelation 1:20) decided that "the angel" of each Church is probably not its bishop. But, even if this were the meaning, this epistle could not be addressed to St. Polycarp, if he was martyred A.D. , in the eighty-sixth year after his conversion, and the Apocalypse was written in A.D. . The First and the Last, who became (e)ge/neto) dead, and lived (see notes on Revelation 1:17, 18). As in the epistle to Ephesus, the words of the address are taken from the titles of the Christ given in the opening. It is no mythical deity, with his mock death and resurrection, but the absolutely Living One, who indeed died, and is indeed alive forevermore, that scuds this message to the suffering Church of Smyrna. In the epistle to the Church in Thyatira we have what seems to be an allusion to the worship of Apollo, similar to that to the worship of Dionysus here. And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write,.... Of the city of Smyrna; see Gill on Revelation 1:11. That there was a church of Christ here is not to be doubted, though by whom it was founded is not certain; very likely by the Apostle Paul, who was in those parts, and by whose means all Asia heard the Gospel of Christ, Acts 19:10. Some think the present angel or pastor of this church, was Polycarp, the disciple of John. Irenaeus (f), who knew him, says he was appointed bishop of Smyrna by the apostles. Here he suffered martyrdom, and was buried: the large amphitheatre, in which he was put to death, is still to be seen, and his sepulchre is yet preserved in this place (g): a very famous epistle, sent by this church at Smyrna to the churches at Pontus, giving an account of the martyrdom of Polycarp, and others, is extant in Eusebius (h). According to the Apostolical Constitutions (i), the first bishops of Smyrna were Aristo Strataeas and Aristo the second, and Apelles, of whom mention is made in Romans 16:10; and who is reckoned among the seventy disciples; See Gill on Luke 10:1; and is said to be bishop of Smyrna before Polycarp; who succeeded Polycarp, I do not find; but it is said there was a church at Smyrna in the "third" century; and so there was in the beginning of the "fourth", since there was a bishop from hence in the council at Nice: and in the "fifth" century, mention is made of several bishops of this place; as of Cyrus, a native of Constantinople; and Protherius, who, it is thought, succeeded him, and was present in the synod at Chalcedon; and Aethericus, who assisted at three synods in this century, at Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon: and in the "sixth" century, there was a bishop of Smyrna in the fifth synod held at Rome and Constantinople: and even in the "eighth" century, one Antony, a monk, supplied the place of the bishop of Smyrna in the Nicene synod (k). The Turks have in this place now thirteen mosques, the Jews two synagogues, and of the Christians there are two churches belonging to the Greeks, and one to the Armenians (l). This church, and its pastor, represent the state of the church under the persecutions of the Roman emperors. Smyrna signifies "myrrh", which being bitter of taste, is expressive of the bitter afflictions, and persecutions, and deaths, the people of God in this interval endured; and yet, as myrrh is of a sweet smell, so were those saints, in their sufferings for Christ, exceeding grateful and well pleasing to him; wherefore nothing is said by way of complaint to this church; not that she was without fault, but it was proper to use her tenderly in her afflicted state: and, as Dr. More observes, as myrrh was used in the embalming of dead bodies, it may point to the many deaths and martyrdoms of the saints in this period, whereby their names and memories are perpetuated and eternized,

These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive. Of these characters of Christ; see Gill on Revelation 1:8, Revelation 1:11, Revelation 1:17, Revelation 1:18; and they are very appropriately mentioned, to encourage the saints under their sufferings of death; since Christ, who is the eternal God, had in human nature tasted of the bitterness of death for them, and was risen again; suggesting, that though they were called to undergo the bitterest deaths for his sake, they should be raised again as he was, and live with him for ever. The Ethiopic version reads, "thus saith the holy Spirit"; but it cannot be said of him that "he was dead",

(f) Adv. Haeres. l. 3. c. 3.((g) Vid. Smith. Notitia septem Eccles. Asiae, p. 164, 165. (h) Hist. Eccles. l. 4. c. 15. (i) L. 7. c. 46. (k) Hist. Eccles. Magdeburg. cent. 3. c. p. 2. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 3. c. 10. p. 595, 596. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 4. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 4. (l) Smith. Notitia, p. 167. 8. Smyrna—in Ionia, a little to the north of Ephesus. Polycarp, martyred in A.D. 168, eighty-six years after his conversion, was bishop, and probably "the angel of the Church in Smyrna" meant here. The allusions to persecutions and faithfulness unto death accord with this view. Ignatius [The Martyrdom of Ignatius 3], on his way to martyrdom in Rome, wrote to Polycarp, then (A.D. 108) bishop of Smyrna; if his bishopric commenced ten or twelve years earlier, the dates will harmonize. Tertullian [The Prescription against Heretics, 32], and Irenæus, who had talked with Polycarp in youth, tell us Polycarp was consecrated bishop of Smyrna by St. John.

the first … the last … was dead … is alive—The attributes of Christ most calculated to comfort the Church of Smyrna under its persecutions; resumed from Re 1:17, 18. As death was to Him but the gate to life eternal, so it is to be to them (Re 2:10, 11).2:8-11 Our Lord Jesus is the First, for by him were all things made; he was before all things, with God, and is God himself. He is the Last, for he will be the Judge of all. As this First and Last, who was dead and is alive, is the believer's Brother and Friend, he must be rich in the deepest poverty, honourable amidst the lowest abasement, and happy under the heaviest tribulation, like the church of Smyrna. Many who are rich as to this world, are poor as to the next; and some who are poor outwardly, are inwardly rich; rich in faith, in good works, rich in privileges, rich in gifts, rich in hope. Where there is spiritual plenty, outward poverty may be well borne; and when God's people are made poor as to this life, for the sake of Christ and a good conscience, he makes all up to them in spiritual riches. Christ arms against coming troubles. Fear none of these things; not only forbid slavish fear, but subdue it, furnishing the soul with strength and courage. It should be to try them, not to destroy them. Observe, the sureness of the reward; I will give thee: they shall have the reward from Christ's own hand. Also, how suitable it is; a crown of life: the life worn out in his service, or laid down in his cause, shall be rewarded with a much better life, which shall be eternal. The second death is unspeakably worse than the first death, both in the agonies of it, and as it is eternal death: it is indeed awful to die, and to be always dying. If a man is kept from the second death and wrath to come, he may patiently endure whatever he meets with in this world.
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