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 dark shades of coming sorrow gather about a Church already distinguished by tribulation and poverty and rude reviling. "The devil is about to cast some of you into prison;" so saith he "which was dead, and lived again." Even death in bitterness of persecuting violence will fall upon some. The All-seeing One discerns the coming storm, and cheers his faithful people to stand firm in the day of their suffering, and to be "faithful even unto death." Great is that fidelity which can remain unimpaired, even though life be forfeited in the struggle. The Lord of life promises life to them who fall in the great cause; and though they be hurt severely in the present or the coming afflictions, yet shall not "the second death" "hurt" him that overcometh. The watchword of this epistle is "Fear not." This rallying word of the great Captain is strengthened, and the heart of the Church is assured -
I. BY THE CHARACTER OF HIM WHO UTTERS IT. "The First and the Last, which was dead, and lived again." The assurance from the revived Lord, who had conquered death and proved himself superior to it, would be the most cheering to them who were threatened with death. If they suffer with him, they shall also reign with him.
II. BY THE ASSERTION THAT ALL IS ENDURED IN VIEW OF THE LORD OF THE CHURCH, "I know thy tribulation." The eye of the sympathizing Lord is upon them. They are not forgotten - forsaken. Jesus is near.
III. BY THE TEMPORARY DURATION OF THE AFFLICTION. "Ye shall have tribulation ten days." It is a measured time, and a brief one. It is not forever. The Lord, who placed bounds to the sea, has put a limit to the sufferings of his Church. It shall pass away. "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."
IV. BY PROMISE OF THE FINAL REWARDS OF ETERNAL LIFE, and by assurance of exemption from the "hurt of the second death." The first death may conquer them and lay them low, but they shall ultimately triumph. If fidelity be maintained even unto and in spite of death, the highest rewards shall be given. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." - R.G.
Parallel VersesKJV: And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
WEB: "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: