Revelation 2:8–11 (NKJV)
After offering corrective words to a hard-working but loveless church (Ephesus), John now pens words from Christ to the church in Smyrna, persecuted for their faith in God and their witness of Him.
8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write,Revelation 2:8-11
‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life: 9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’
This message to the angel, or messenger, of the church in Smyrna begins with an identification of the giver of the vision, “the First and the Last,” a now-common moniker for Jesus Christ. He then offers praise for Smyrna, applauding their works, recognizing their tribulation, and their poverty, all the while characterizing them as rich in the things that matter. He further acknowledges that there are blasphemers who claim to be Jews, but are actually servants of Satan, even worshipping at his altar. Jesus simultaneously warns them and comforts them concerning the events that are to come in their near future. He then further explains what some of them are about to face: imprisonment, testing, tribulation that may last ten days at a time. He calls them to be faithful until death, following Christ for a lifetime. If they complete that type of lifelong commitment, they will receive the crown of life. Although they are to be tested fiercely, and face untold trouble, they will receive the eternal reward of God’s approval and recognition. The Spirit speaks again, and those who recognize the powerful message given will overcome death, suffering no harm from the second death. Eternal life is promised to those who hear and believe.