Revelation 2:10
Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: be you faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(10) Fear none of those things.—Though Christ proclaimed His yoke to be easy, He also said that His followers must expect tribulation (John 16:33). He never conceals the difficulties or dangers of His service. (See Matthew 10:16-31; Acts 9:16.) So here He proclaims, “Behold, the devil shall cast some. . . .”

The devil.—The LXX. translation gives this name to Satan, regarding him as the “accuser.” (See Job 1:6; Zechariah 3:1-2; and comp. Revelation 12:10, where he is described as the “accuser of the brethren.”)

Tried.—On the part of the adversary, the intention was that they might be tempted from their allegiance to Christ. The real effect would be that they who endured would come forth tested and approved. The suffering would be for “ten days.” This is variously explained. Some think it applies to the periods of persecution; others understand it to mean a long persecution of ten years; others take it literally; others again view it as expressing completeness: the test would be thorough. The exhortation, “Be thou faithful (even) unto death,” seems to favour this last; while the mention of “ten days” was, perhaps, designed to remind them that the period of trial was limited by Him who knew what they could bear, and would be but a little while when compared with the life with which they would be crowned.

A crown of life.—Rather, the crown of life. A crown was given to the priest who presided at the Dionysian Mysteries, which were celebrated with great pomp at Smyrna. A crown was also given at the Olympian Games, which were held at Smyrna. If there is any allusion to either of these, the latter would be the most natural. Some hold, however, the crown—though the word is Stephanos, not diadema—is rather that of royalty than of victory. It is interesting to note that the narrative which tells of the death of Polycarp closes with words which it is difficult not to believe to be an allusion to this promise—“By his patience he overcame the unrighteous ruler, and received the crown of immortality” (Smyrn. Ep.).

Revelation 2:10-11. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer — Probably by means of the false Jews. Behold — This intimates the nearness of the affliction; the devil — Who sets all persecutors to work, and those more particularly who persecute the followers of Christ, to imprisonment, torture, and death; shall cast some of you — Christians at Smyrna, where, in the first ages, the blood of many martyrs was shed; into prison, that ye may be tried — Which God will permit, for the trial of your faith and patience, to your unspeakable advantage, 1 Peter 4:12; 1 Peter 4:14. And ye shall have tribulation — Either in your own persons, or by sympathizing with your brethren; ten days — That is, a considerable time: for, as Lowman observes, It is not to be understood literally, which would have been a short time of affliction indeed, and hardly agreeable to such a description of that tribulation as this prophecy seems to have been intended to prepare the church for. Bishop Newton supposes that these ten days mean ten years, according to the usual style of prophecy; and that the persecution of Dioclesian is referred to, which lasted that time, and was the greatest persecution that the primitive church ever endured, most grievously afflicting all the Asian, and indeed all the eastern churches. This persecution, he thinks, and none of the other general persecutions, answers the character here given, none of the others lasting so long as ten years. Be thou faithful — Our Lord does not say, till I come, as in the other letters, but unto death — Signifying that the angel of the church should quickly after seal his testimony with his blood, fifty years before the martyrdom of St. Polycarp, for whom some have mistaken him. And I will give thee a crown of life — The peculiar reward of them who are faithful unto death. He that overcometh — That is victorious unto the end; shall not be hurt of the second death — Though he may encounter the first death in this world for my sake, he shall not be injured by the second, namely, the lake of fire, the portion of the fearful, who do not overcome, Revelation 21:8; but he shall rest in everlasting security and peace, while those who desert the cause of Christ, and renounce their duty, for the preservation of this transitory life, shall be consigned to that state of misery where they shall seek death, but it shall for ever flee from them.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.Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer - He did not promise them exemption from suffering. He saw that they were about to suffer, and he specifies the manner in which their affliction would occur. But he entreats and commands them not to be afraid. They were to look to the "crown of life," and to be comforted with the assurance that if they were faithful unto death, that would be, theirs. We need not dread suffering if we can hear the voice of the Redeemer encouraging us, and if he assures us that in a little while we shall have the crown of life.

Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison - Or, shall cause some of you to be cast into prison. He had just said that their persecutors were of the "synagogue of Satan." He here represents Satan, or the devil - another name of the same being - as about to throw them into prison. This would be done undoubtedly by the hands of men, but still Satan was the prime mover, or the instigator in doing it. It was common to cast those who were persecuted into prison. See Acts 12:3-4; Acts 16:23. It is not said on what pretence, or by what authority, this would be done; but, as John had been banished to Patmos from Ephesus, it is probable that this persecution was raging in the adjacent places, and there is no improbability in supposing that many might be thrown into prison.

That ye may be tried - That the reality of your faith may be subjected to a test to show whether it is genuine. The design in the case is that of the Saviour, though Satan is allowed to do it. It was common in the early periods of the church to suffer religion to be subjected to trial amidst persecutions, in order to show that it was of heavenly origin, and to demonstrate its value in view of the world. This is, indeed, one of the designs of trial at all times, but this seemed eminently desirable when a new system of religion was about to be given to mankind. Compare the notes on 1 Peter 1:6-7.

And ye shall have tribulation ten days - A short time; a brief period; a few days. It is possible, indeed, that this might have been literally ten days, but it is much more in accordance with the general character of this book, in regard to numbers, to suppose that the word "ten" here is used to denote a few. Compare Genesis 24:55; 1 Samuel 25:38; Daniel 1:12, Daniel 1:14. We are wholly ignorant how long the trial actually lasted; but the assurance was that it would not be long, and they were to allow this thought to cheer and sustain them in their sorrows. Why should not the same thought encourage us now? Affliction in this life, however severe, can be but brief; and in the hope that it will soon end, why should we not bear it without complaining or repining?

Be thou faithful unto death - Implying, perhaps, that though, in regard to the church, the affliction would be brief, yet that it might be fatal to some of them, and they who were thus about to die should remain faithful to their Saviour until the hour of death. In relation to all, whether they were to suffer a violent death or not, the same injunction and the same promise was applicable. It is true of everyone who is a Christian, in whatever manner he is to die, that if he is faithful unto death, a crown of life awaits him. Compare the notes on 2 Timothy 4:8.

And I will give thee a crown of life - See the notes on James 1:12. Compare 1 Peter 5:4; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. The promise here is somewhat different from what was made to the faithful in Ephesus Revelation 2:7, but the same thing substantially is promised them - happiness hereafter, or an admission into heaven. In the former case it is the peaceful image of those admitted into the scenes of paradise; here it is the triumph of the crowned martyr.

10. Fear none, &c.—the oldest manuscripts read, "Fear not those things," &c. "The Captain of our salvation never keeps back what those who faithfully witness for Him may have to bear for His name's sake; never entices recruits by the promise they shall find all things easy and pleasant there" [Trench].

devil—"the accuser." He acted, through Jewish accusers against Christ and His people. The conflict of the latter was not with mere flesh and blood, but with the rulers of the darkness of this world.

tried—with temptation by "the devil." The same event is often both a temptation from the devil, and a trial from God—God sifting and winnowing the man to separate his chaff from his wheat, the devil sifting him in the hope that nothing but chaff will be found in him [Trench].

ten days—not the ten persecutions from Nero to Diocletian. Lyra explains ten years on the year-day principle. The shortness of the duration of the persecution is evidently made the ground of consolation. The time of trial shall be short, the duration of your joy shall be for ever. Compare the use of "ten days" for a short time, Ge 24:55; Nu 11:19. Ten is the number of the world powers hostile to the Church; compare the ten horns of the beast, Re 13:1.

unto death—so as even to endure death for My sake.

crown of life—Jas 1:12; 2Ti 4:8, "crown of righteousness"; 1Pe 5:4, "crown of glory." The crown is the garland, the mark of a conqueror, or of one rejoicing, or at a feast; but diadem is the mark of a KING.

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer; thou art like to suffer yet sharper things than thou hast suffered, the persecutions are but begun; but pluck up a good courage, fear not your enemies, Matthew 10:28.

Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison; you shall be cast into prison, by Jews and pagans, who are the devil’s instruments, and execute his malice against you; which should both encourage you, that your fight is with the common enemy of mankind, and teach you to pity and pray for your persecutors, who are but the devil’s instruments, whose hearts he hath filled with malice against you.

That ye may be tried; that your faith, love, patience, obedience, may be tried.

And ye shall have tribulation ten days: interpreters are divided about these ten days, what space of time is meant by them; some think the whole time of the ten persecutions, but they lasted above two hundred years; others will have them the ten years of Trajan’s persecution, from the year 99 to 109. Others observe, that in ten days are two hundred and forty hours, which make up the number of years from 85, when the second persecution began, (under which John at this time was), to 325, when all the persecutions ceased. But to let these fancies go: it is either a certain number put for an uncertain; or, it signifies many days; as in Genesis 31:42, Thou hast changed my wages ten times, that is, many times; so 2 Samuel 19:43 Job 19:3. Or else it signifies a little time, as in Genesis 24:55 Amos 5:3 6:9. If we understand this epistle as only concerning the church of Smyrna at that time, it may signify a small time. If we understand it prophetically, describing the state of all churches, till the pagan persecution ceased, (which was more than two hundred and forty years), ten days signifies a long time.

Be thou faithful unto death, hold fast to thy profession of faith and holiness to the end of thy life here,

and I will give thee a crown of life, and I will give thee eternal life and salvation, which shall be a great reward. It is called a crown of righteousness, 2 Timothy 4:8. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer,.... God's people undergo sufferings of various sorts, as the Christians of those times did, scourgings, imprisonment, confiscation of goods, and death itself in various shapes; and these are certain, they shall suffer them; they are all known beforehand to Christ, and he sometimes gives his people previous notice of them, nor should they indulge a slavish fear about them. It is reported of Polycarp, bishop of this church at Smyrna, in a letter written by the church itself (n) that three days before he suffered, he dreamed his pillow, on which he laid his head, was on fire; upon which, awaking, he said to those that were by him, that he should be burnt for Christ; and when he came to suffer, as he was led along, a voice was heard by the bystanders, Polycarp, be strong, and play the man,

Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison; which has been the lot of many of the saints, and was of some, even of the faithful ministers of the word in this interval; in which Satan had an hand, instigating their enemies to prevent and stop the progress of the Gospel, and deter others both from preaching and professing it: the end was in the permission of it,

that ye may be tried; that their graces might be tried, their faith, love, zeal, courage, faithfulness, and constancy. Suffering times are trying times, whether men are real Christians or not; whether they have the true grace of God or not; and whether the principles they hold are right and true, and are worth, and will bear suffering for:

and ye shall have tribulation ten days: meaning it may be the ten persecutions under the Roman emperors; the "first" was under Nero, in the year 64 or 66; the "second" was under Domitian, about the year 93; the "third" was under Trojan, in the year 104; the "fourth" was under Hadrian, in the year 125; the "fifth" was under Marcus Antoninus, in the year 151; the "sixth" was under Septimius Severus, in the year 197; the "seventh" was under Maximinus, in the years 235, 236, 237; the "eighth" was under Decius, in the year 250; the "ninth" was under Valerianus, in the year 257; and the "tenth" was under Dioclesian, in the year 303. Austin (o) reckons the ten persecutions thus: the first by Nero, the second by Domitian, the third by Trojan, the fourth by Antoninus, the fifth by Severus, the sixth by Maximus, the seventh by Decius, the eighth by Valerianus, the ninth by Aurelianus, the tenth by Dioclesian and Maximianus. Others, inasmuch as Nero's persecution was before this vision, reckon the ten persecutions thus: Domitian, Trojan, M. Antoninus, Verus and Lucius, Severus, Maximinus, Decius, Valerianus, Aurelianus, Dioclesianus, Licinius: the Dioclesian persecution lasted ten years almost throughout: and some think that this last persecution, which held ten years, is here particularly meant, and not without some good reason; since it is usual in prophetic writings, and in this book of the Revelation, to put days for years; so that these ten days may be the ten years the last persecution held, and at which time the period of this church state ended, and that of Pergamos took place,

Be thou faithful unto death: which is an address to the ministers in this interval, to be faithful in preaching the pure and unmixed Gospel of Christ; in a constant administration of the ordinances, as they were delivered; in watching over the souls of men under their care, reproving, exhorting, &c. with all longsuffering; continuing in the discharge of duty, though in continual danger of death, and though it issued in it. And also to the churches and the members of them, to continue believing in Christ, professing his name, striving for his Gospel, attending on his ordinances, and following him whithersoever he went; though this should expose them to sufferings, even unto death, which it became them cheerfully to undergo: and to which they are encouraged by what follows,

and I will give thee a crown of life; which may refer not only to eternal life, which is so called, James 1:12; because of the glory of that state, and its everlasting continuance, and is in the possession and gift of Christ; but to the deliverance of the Christians from persecution, by Constantine; who coming to the imperial crown, that became not only a crown of glory to him, but of life to the church, and was as life from the dead unto the saints: to dead men is promised a crown of life, in allusion to the Gentiles, who crowned their dead (p),

(n) Apud Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 4. c. 15. (o) De Civitate Dei, l. 18. c. 52. (p) Vid. Minut. Felix, p. 42.

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 {8} tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

(8) That is, of ten years. For so commonly both in this book and in Daniel, years are signified by days: that God by this might declare, that the space of time is appointed by him and the same very short. Now because John wrote this book in the end of Domitian the Emperor's reign, as Justinus and Ireneus do witness, it is altogether necessary that this should be referred to that persecution which was done by the authority of the emperor Trajan: who began to make havock of the Christian church in the tenth year of his reign, as the historians do write: and his bloody persecution continued until Adrian the emperor had succeeded in his stead: The space of which time is precisely ten years, which are here mentioned.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Revelation 2:10. In reference to the θλῖψις which is to follow the present (Revelation 2:9), an exhortation to fearless, faithful perseverance unto death, and a corresponding promise of life, are made. Troubles of many kinds ( plural) impend; especially mentioned is imprisonment[1061] for some of the church,[1062]—the chief thing in all the persecutions in which the civil authorities were active,[1063]—and a view of the same is disclosed, even unto death for Christ’s sake.[1064] The mention of imprisonment shows, still more than that of death, that the assault of heathen magistrates who, according to Revelation 2:9, were incited by the Jews, is here contemplated. The Lord therefore comprises both forms of antichrist. As the proper author of the afflictions, Ὁ ΔΙΆΒΟΛΟς is therefore mentioned,[1065] the personal first enemy of Christ and his kingdom,[1066] who uses Jews and heathen as his instruments. The significance of the name (slanderer) is not here to be emphasized:[1067] otherwise we should expect in Revelation 2:9 ὁ διαβ., and in Revelation 2:10 ὁ σατ.

ἵνα πειρασθῆτε καὶ ἔχητε, κ.τ.λ. Both the temptation and the oppression[1068] belong to the intention of the Devil. Thus the ΠΕΙΡΑΣΜΌς appears not as a divine trial,[1069] but[1070] as a temptation intended on Satan’s part for their ruin,[1071] in connection with which, of course, it must be firmly maintained,[1072] that the Devil’s power is exercised only under the Divine control.[1073] Under this presumption, to the ΚΑῚ ἜΧΗΤΕ ΘΛΊΨΙΝ, which as the ΠΕΙΡΑΣΘῆΤΕ is entirely dependent on ἽΝΑ, the ἩΜΕΡῶΝ ΔΈΚΑ is added. For the Lord fixes a limit of duration to the troubles which are to come upon his believers.[1074] Only a few expositors have understood the ἩΜΕΡ. ΔΈΚΑ of ten actual days,[1075] but even these in the sense that the short period of the calamity is intended as a consolation. But the number is purely of a schematic nature,[1076] and signifies not a long[1077] but a short time.[1078] [See Note XXX., p. 156.] The entire period of the universal tribulation is schematically represented by forty-two months.[1079] The chief misinterpretations are known already by N. de Lyra: that the ten days are ten years, in which are reckoned the persecution under Domitian[1080] and that under Decius;[1081] that the ten persecutions of Christians are meant;[1082] that the ten days correspond to and signify the Ten Commandments, and that the persecution of the entire Church will continue as long as the Ten Commandments are in force, i.e., until the end of the world, etc.

Without any external combination, the admonition ΓΊΝΟΥ ΠΙΣΤΌς follows, which in the limitation ἌΧΡΙ ΘΑΝ. reaches farther than has been thus far represented by the ΘΛῖΨΙς. With reference to the still future maintenance of fidelity, the ΓΊΝΟΥ and not ἼΣΘΙ properly stands.[1083]

The promise, having its pledge in the Lord’s own life after death (Revelation 2:8), has essentially no other meaning than that which is given the victor in Revelation 2:11, as the victory is won only by fidelity unto death.

The ΚΑῚ which introduces the promise places it in connection with the preceding requirement.[1084]

Τ. ΣΤΈΦΑΝΟΝ Τῆς ΖΩῆς. Appositive genitive,[1085] so that life itself appears as the crown.[1086] The expression ΣΤΈΦΑΝΟς does not mean here the crown of a king, neither in the sense that the coming kingdom of the faithful is indicated,[1087] nor in this, that the king’s crown designates in general only “something exceedingly precious and glorious;”[1088] but the figure of the victor’s crown[1089] is derived from the games, and in the mouth of the author of the Apocalypse, as well as of the Apostle Paul,[1090] is open to no objection whatever.[1091]

[1061] Incorrectly, Heinr.: φυλ., as a part for the whole, designates misery of every kind.

[1062] ἐξ ὑμῶν, Winer, p. 343.

[1063] Acts 12:3; Acts 16:23. Ew.

[1064] ἄχρι θανάτου, Revelation 12:11; Acts 22:4; Php 2:8; Hebrews 12:4. N. de Lyra, Calov., Heinr., Ew., De Wette, Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[1065] Cf. Revelation 2:9 : συναγ. τ. σατανᾶ.

[1066] Chs. 12 and 13.

[1067] Against Züll. and Hengstenb.

[1068] See Critical Remarks on the modified var. ἕξετε. According to this, the latter was proclaimed as, in general, only impending.

[1069] “They may be tried in order, that, amidst the greatest dangers, their faith may be tested, and thus they may show their virtue to be complete” (Ew.). Cf. also Grot., Bleek, De Wette.

[1070] Cf. Eichh., Heinr.

[1071] In which the Lord preserves and delivers, Revelation 3:10. Cf. Luke 22:31.

[1072] Cf. Beng., Hengstenb.

[1073] Matthew 4:1.

[1074] Cf. Matthew 9:22.

[1075] Grot., Herder.

[1076] Klief: “The number of systematic completeness.”

[1077] Beda, C. a Lap., etc., according to Job 19:3; Numbers 14:22; 1 Samuel 1:8.

[1078] Andr., Alcas., Calov., Heinr., Ew., De Wette. Cf. also Hengstenb., Stern; Genesis 24:55; Daniel 1:12 sqq.; Numbers 11:19.

[1079] Revelation 13:5.

[1080] Cluverus, in Calov.

[1081] Vitr.

[1082] As Ebrard infers by regarding the ten days as “a symbol of ten special sections or periods in the persecution.”

[1083] Matthew 10:16; Matthew 24:44; Luke 12:40.

[1084] Luke 11:9; Ephesians 5:14; Jam 4:7. Cf. De Wette, Winer, p. 406.

[1085] Winer, p. 494 sqq.

[1086] Revelation 2:10. μη. φοβοῦ, κ.τ.λ. “Thou orderest us to endure, not to love, trials. A man may love to endure, but he does not love what he endures” (Aug. Conf. x. 28). Ill-treatment, as well as misrepresentation, is traced back to a diabolic source, in the common early Christian manner (Weinel, 13 f.). The Imperial authorities (διάβολος as in 1 Peter 5:8), although often instigated by the Jews, had the sole power of inflicting imprisonment, in this case for a refusal to worship the emperor’s image; the prophet here predicts an imminent persecution of this kind (compare Acts 9:16, and above Introd. § 6) lasting for a short and limited time (δέκα ἡμ. see reff., originally due to the rough Semitic division of a month into decades). The local intensity of feeling upon the Imperial cultus may be gathered from the fact that in 23 A.D. Smyrna had secured from Tiberius and the senate, after keen competition, the coveted distinction of possessing the second temple decreed by the province to the Imperial cultus. Hence the struggle anticipated here is desperate (ἄχ. θ.); martyrdom is no remote contingency. Compare Ep. Lugd., where the martyr-crisis is taken as an anticipation of the final persecution (cf. Revelation 3:10; Revelation 13:7-15): “with all his might the adversary assailed us, giving us a hint of what his unbridled advent would be like at the end”; the martyrs “endured nobly all the assaults heaped on them by the mob. They were shouted at, struck, haled about, robbed, stoned, imprisoned; in fact they suffered all that an infuriated mob likes to inflict on enemies and opponents.”—Then follows a commandment with promise: γίνου (not ἴσθι), “show thyself” throughout all degrees of trial and in any emergency. It is more than doubtful if this is a subtle local allusion to the loyalty and local patriotism upon which Sardis prided herself and which she had urged as her plea to Tiberius (Tacit. Ann. iv. 56). On the honours subsequently paid to martyrs in Smyrna, cf. Mart. Polyk. xvii. τοῦτον μὲν γὰρ ὑιὸν ὄντα τοῦ θεοῦ προσκυνοῦμεν, τοὺς δὲ μάρτυρας ὡς μαθητὰς καὶ μιμητὰς τοῦ κυρίου ἀγαπῶμεν (also Euseb. H. E. iv. 15. 46, 47), with the contemporary cry of 4 Ezra 8:27 : “Look not at the deeds of the impious but at those who have kept Thy covenants amid affliction” (i.e., the martyrs), also the subsequent Christian honour paid by Hermas (Vis. iii. 1, 2), who reserves the right hand of God for the martyrs who have “suffered for the sake of the Name,” enduring “stripes, imprisonments, great afflictions, crosses, wild beasts”. For καὶ, with fut. after imperative, see Ephesians 5:14, Jam 4:7.—στέφ. ζ. Life, the reward assigned in Revelation 2:7 to the triumph of faith is here bestowed upon the loyalty of faith. To hold one’s ground is, under certain circumstances, as trying and creditable as it is under others to win positive successes. The metaphor of στέφ. with its royal, sacerdotal, and festal (Song of Solomon 3:11, Isaiah 28:1, Herm. Sim. viii. 2) associations, would call up civic and athletic honours to the local Christians, the latter owing to the famous games at Smyrna, the former from the fact that στ. frequently occurs also in inscriptions as = public honour for distinguished service (paid, e.g., to Demosthenes and Zeno), whilst the yearly appointment of a priest at Eumeneia to the temple of Zeno was termed παράληψις τοῦ στέφανου (C. B. P. ii. 358). Compare, with the ἄξιοι of Revelation 3:4, the sentence in Ep. Lugd. upon the martyrs: ἐχρῆν γοῦν τοὺς γενναίους ἀθλητὰς, ποικίλον ὑπομείναντας ἀγῶνα καὶ μεγάλως νικήσαντας, ἀπολαβεῖν τὸν μέγαν τῆς ἀφθαρσίας στέφανον, and the Greek phrase for noble deeds, ἄξια στεφάνων (Plut. Pericl. 28).10. Fear none of] Read simply Fear not.

those things which thou shalt suffer] Probably refer primarily to a persecution immediately impending; but they are no doubt meant to apply also to the subsequent persecutions of the Church there, especially to the famous one, under the Antonines, in which Polycarp the Bishop suffered martyrdom, in a.d. 155. It will depend on the date assigned to this Book, whether Polycarp can have been Bishop at the time of this message. It is to be noted that the Jews were specially active in urging his execution, though officially it was the act of the pagan magistrates.

that ye may be tried] Or, tempted: it is probably rather the Devil’s object in raising the persecution than God’s in permitting it that is meant. Cf. Luke 22:31.

ten days] Possibly a half proverbial expression for a short time, as we might say “a week or two.” And no doubt the notion of a short and definite time is intended: but from the important significance in this book of definite numbers, and not least of definite measures of time, it is probable that something more is intended too—whether that the persecution would last ten years, or what, it would be rash to say.

be thou] Lit., become—not implying that he was not perfectly faithful now, but= “prove thyself,” “quit thyself as.”

a crown of life] i.e. eternal life as a crown; so St James 1:12. The phrase is like “the crown of glory” in 1 Peter 5:4, and probably “the crown of righteousness,” 2 Timothy 4:8. As in the parallel promise, Revelation 3:21, the throne is in the fullest sense a royal throne, the crown here is probably a royal crown (so Trench Synonyms), not a mere garland of victory. Throughout this Book the imagery is Jewish not Gentile, and all who are finally redeemed are Kings, Revelation 5:12. Both the thrones and the crowns of the elders, Revelation 4:4; Revelation 4:10, might be ensigns of dignity less than royal, but not the crown of the Rider on the White Horse, Revelation 6:3. Moreover the Crown of Thorns for which all the Evangelists use the same word as here was certainly a counterfeit of royalty. On the other hand in Revelation 19:12 the King of Kings and Lord of Lords has on His head many diadems, the unmistakeable technical name for royal crowns, and there are diadems on the heads of the Dragon, Revelation 12:3, and on the horns of the Beast, Revelation 13:1.Revelation 2:10. [31] Βαλεῖν, to cast) Understand, some one, or rather some persons.

[31] τὴν θλίψιν) Others, τὰ ἔργα καὶ τὴν θλίψιν. More recent writers have obliterated, from a parallelism, the elegant diversity of many passages. See presently ver. 13.—Not. Crit.

Rec. Text has τὰ ἔργα καὶ τὴν θλ. with B and Syr. But ACh Vulg. Memph. omit τὰ ἔργα καί.—E.Verse 10. - Fear not the things which thou art about to suffer. We must bring out the difference between "to be about to" (μέλλειν), in the first two clauses, and the simple future (ἔξετε) in the third; compare "I will show him how many things he must suffer for my Name's sake" (Acts 9:16). The devil, who inspires the "synagogue of Satan," is to be allowed to afflict them, as he afflicted Job. (For "behold," see note on ver. 22.) The expression, "some of you" (ἐξ ὑμῶν), is an interesting link of style between this book and the Fourth Gospel and the Second Epistle; we have a similar construction in John 1:24; John 7:40; John 16:17 2John 4. (For a warning of like import, but to the persecutors, not the persecuted, comp. Matthew 23:34.) That ye may be tried. The common meaning of πειράζειν, as distinct from δοκιμάζειν, is here conspicuous; it is "to try" with the sinister intent of causing to fail. But what is temptation on the devil's side is probation on God's side (comp. 1 Peter 4:12-14). Ten days. It is unwise to make anything either mystical or rigidly literal out of the number ten, which here is probably a round number. The question is whether the round number denotes a small (Genesis 24:55; Numbers 11:19) or a large number (Numbers 14:22; 1 Samuel 1:8; Job 19:3). The former seems probable. It is not impossible that some analogy between their case and that of the "four children" (Daniel 1:12, 15) is suggested by the ten days' probation. Be thou faithful unto death; literally, become thou faithful; show thyself to be such (γίνου πιστός). Note how completely the angel of the Church is identified with the Church. In this one verse we have complete mixture of the two modes of address: "Thou art about to suffer... some of you... ye shall have... I will give thee." "Unto death" does not merely mean "to thy life's end," but "even if fidelity involves death;" compare "becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:8). The crown of life. The Authorized Version, by ignoring the article ("a crown of life"), sadly detracts from the meaning. It is the well-known crown, the crown which is truly such, in contrast to earthly crowns, and perhaps with a special reference to the crowns given at Smyrna to the priests of Dionysus at the expiration of their year of office. The word στεφανηφόρος has been found in inscriptions at Smyrna in this connexion (comp. James 1:12, where the same phrase occurs; also 1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Peter 5:4). Excepting Revelation 12:3; Revelation 13:1; Revelation 19:12 (where we have διάδημα), στέφανος is the regular word for "crown" in the New Testament. "Of life" is the genitive of apposition; the life is the crown, just as in "the Word of life" (1 John 1:1) the life is the Word. It is impossible to determine whether St. John has in his mind the crown of a king, of a victorious athlete, or of a triumphant warrior. The XII. Tables provided that he who had won a crown might have it placed on his head when his dead body was carried in the funeral procession. St. John, both at Rome and in the East, would have seen this ceremony, possibly in the case of a crowned priest at Smyrna. "The crown of life" would be the exact opposite of that. The narrative of the martyrdom of St. Polycarp draws to a close with these words: "Having by his patience vanquished the unjust ruler, and having thus received the crown of immortality," etc. The writer seems to have had Revelation 2:10 in his mind. Fear not (υηδὲν φοβοῦ)

Lit., fear nothing. For the verb, see on Luke 1:50.

Behold (ἰδοὺ δὴ)

The particle δὴ for certain, which is not rendered, gives a quality of assurance to the prediction.

The Devil (διάβολος)

See on Matthew 4:1. The persecution of the Christians is thus traced to the direct agency of Satan, and not to the offended passions or prejudices of men. Trench observes: "There is nothing more remarkable in the records which have come down to us of the early persecutions, than the sense which the confessors and martyrs and those who afterwards narrate their sufferings and their triumphs entertain and utter, that these great fights of affliction through which they were called to pass, were the immediate work of the Devil."

Shall cast (μέλλει βαλεῖν)

Rev., rightly, is about to cast.

Prison (φυλακὴν)

See on Acts 5:21.

May be tried (πειρασθήτε)

Tempted. See on 1 Peter 1:7.

Tribulation ten days (θλῖψιν ἡμερῶν δέκα)

Lit., a tribulation of ten days.

continued...

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