The Persecution of Smyrna

Smyrna was prophesied to have persecution for ten years.

Revelation 2:10 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 tribulation ten days [years]: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Many in today’s Assemblies misdate the ten year persecution of Smyrna claiming that it occurred during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian.

There was indeed a great persecution in the reign of Diocletian which seems to have lasted about nine years, but Diocletian’s persecution covered the entire Roman Empire and was not limited to Smyrna; and it set the stage for the triumph of the sun worshiper Constantine over the professing Christian religion.

In 303 A.D. Diocletian rescinded Christians’ legal rights and demanded that they comply with traditional Roman religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods.

After nine years of intense persecution during which many were martyred, nearly all faithful persons had fled beyond the bounds of the Roman Empire.  Those professing Christians which remained were Christian in name only, and were quite comfortable compromising with the Roman religions. 

Then Constantine became co-ruler in 306 and played a major part in persecuting the Christians until Diocletian died and Constantine struggled to take sole control of the throne.  He played an influential role in the proclamation of the Edict of Milan in 313, which declared religious tolerance for Christianity in the Roman empire

In fact that edict far from legalizing Christianity only legalized those Christians who were willing to accept and adopt sun worship by renaming the things of the sun god with Christian sounding names. 

Only Nicene Christianity [with the further changes established under the other Councils like that of Laodicea which outlawed the Biblical Sabbath] which forced Easter replacing the Passover and made other changes was permitted; all other Christians were to be considered heretical (Beard et al., vol. 1, 225: citing Pliny the Younger, Letters, 10.96.8, & Beard et al., Vol. 2, 11.11a: citing Tacitus, Annals, 15.44.5).

For these professing Christians Sunday was renamed the Sabbath, Passover was changed to Easter and so on, while any brethren remaining faithful to the scriptures were heavily persecuted, now by the professing Christian church as well as the sword of Rome.    

Yes the Diocletian persecution was terrible and in fact it resulted in the complete subversion of the visible “Christians” remaining within the boundaries of the Roman Empire for hundreds of years; But it was NOT the prophesied Smyrna persecution!

Some day I will have to do a more extensive study on the birth of modern Christianity and the transition in Rome, here is what I have available at this time. 

Smyrna was prophesied to have persecution for ten years.

Revelation 2:10 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 tribulation ten days [years]: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

That prophesy must be fulfilled by a ten year persecution specific to Smyrna. Was there ever a ten year persecution specific to Smyrna? Yes there was!

The faithful in Smyrna suffered a great persecution for ten years during which Polycarp was killed about 157 A.D.  Polycarp had known and was ordained bishop of Smyrna by the apostle John. In his youth Polycarp also personally knew many other witnesses of the resurrection. Here is an English translation of Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians which very much resembles Paul and John.

 

The message to Smyrna

The message to Smyrna is a message to those who are physically poor yet faithfully following every Word of God, they are spiritually rich.  Jesus reminds us that he died for us and is now alive by the power of God the Father; implying that we too as flesh will die, but if we are faithful to God the Father and live by every Word of God as Christ does. we will also be resurrected to eternal life.   

2:8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive [Jesus Christ];

Those who are faithful in their godly actions [works of faith] to zealously KEEP the whole Word of God may suffer physical poverty and persecution in this world, but they will become spiritually rich and will have riches in the world to come.

Those who claim to be Christians [spiritual Jews] and then follow men away from and contrary to the Word of God, are of Satan.  This includes the Church of God groups who idolize men and reject zealous obedience to live by every Word of God. 

Does this seem harsh?  The Spirit of God leads us into an enthusiastic passion to become like God, by learning and keeping the whole Word and Will of God; which is TRUTH. 

It is the spirit of Antichrist, the spirit of Satan, which leads people to follow idols of men and to leave our first love of godliness to reject any zeal to follow the whole Word and Will of God. 

Those who know better and even stoop to LYING to themselves and others, to justify idolizing men and the false traditions of men are not of God.  Neither are those who call God’s Sabbaths holy and then routinely and deliberately pollute them, or those who reject the truth to maintain their false traditions. 

2:9 I know thy works [works of faith], and tribulation [trials], and [physical] poverty, (but thou art [spiritually] rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are [converted spiritual New Covenant faithful] Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

The faithful to God and his Word,will suffer in this life; even from the hands of their families and friends in their beloved Church corporations.  God allows us to be tried so that we may grow in godliness and bring forth much fruit (John 15). 

Jesus Christ encourages us that our trials will bring forth much fruit and are for our ultimate good; revealing that through patient endurance of trials we shall inherit a crown of eternal life.  

2:10 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 tribulation ten days [years]: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Yes the prophets told the truth and the Word of God was fulfilled.  The faithful in Smyrna suffered a great persecution for ten years during which Polycarp was killed in 157 A.D.  Polycarp had known and was ordained bishop of Smyrna by the apostle John. In his youth Polycarp also personally knew many other witnesses of the resurrection. 

 

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