Revelation of John 2:8-11 (Smyrna)

‘Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna and say, “Here is the message of the First and the Last, who was dead and has come to life again:

I know your hardships and your poverty, and — though you are rich — the slander of the people who falsely claim to be Jews but are really members of the synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of the sufferings that are coming to you. Look, the devil will send some of you to prison to put you to the test, and you must face hardship for ten days. Even if you have to die, keep faithful, and I will give you the crown of life for your prize.

Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches: for those who prove victorious will come to no harm from the second death.”

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2 responses

  1. Revised Standard: “I know your hardships and your poverty (but you are rich.)”This group started off with James, and had some of the usual confusions, re Why is poverty considered a good thing, being rich bad?Rich people (this applies to most everyone with “more than I need”) are often disturbed by this: “I’m not really rich!” or “Poor people aren’t any better than anyone else!” These are true but off-the-point.Poor people are vulnerable; they know they’re vulnerable; they experience their helplessness and fear. Then, they may turn to God, beg for help, experience God’s care in a way that can only come to rich people through suffering some calamity. This doesn’t mean our society should impoverish people as it does; it does suggest that when we recognize our relation to God we will find the will and the means to eliminate poverty.”Being Jews” is here a good thing. When this is written, the church is still largely Jewish.”Satan is a Persian word that refers to the role and function of a secret service agent whose task is to test loyalty to the king by putting forward probing questions and then reporting the disloyal to the king for punishment. The Greek name for this tester of loyalties is ‘diabolos,’ from which comes our ‘devil’ or ‘accuser.’ Originally this ‘Satan’ was merely one of the cosmic sky servants about the throne of God doing God’s work (as in Job 1:6-12)… The mention of Satan here relates to ‘the accuser’ and to ‘being tested’ ” [Bruce Malina, _Social Science Commentary_]Walter Wink’s chapter on Satan (in _Unmasking the Powers_) is one of his best, highly worthwhile though too long for here. He tends to describe Satan as still God’s servant, performing the task of being a sort of last-ditch agent of repentance. Even Jesus couldn’t help “the good”, but if Satan leaned on them, it could do wonders for their attitude. We’re back (unexpectedly!) to the value of poverty!

  2. Why is poverty considered a good thingSomewhere in the gospels Jesus said, truly they have receieved their reward. Prophetic reversal is a a theme — mountains made low and the valleys raised up — last shall becoem first — that sort of thing.

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