Revelation 2:8-11 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does the Lord Jesus inform the church that He knows about their present condition? See Revelation 2:9a (printed below)

I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, but they are not; rather, they are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)

The Lord Jesus declares, “I know your tribulation and your poverty.” The Greek word translated “tribulation” literally means “a crushing weight,” or “an extreme pressure.” In John 16:21 the word is used to describe a woman’s labor pains. In the New Testament the word is most frequently used to describe persecution or opposition suffered for the sake of Christ. “Poverty,” is literally, “destitution,” the most extreme form of poverty. Apparently the church suffered economic discrimination resulting in severe financial hardship, leaving them destitute—all because of their allegiance to Christ.

2. What lies in store for the church in the immediate future? See Revelation 2:10b (printed below)

Do not fear the things you are about to suffer. Listen; the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, in order that you may be tested, and you will suffer tribulation for ten days. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (Revelation 2:10)

The Lord Jesus not only assures His church that He knows their situation, He also reveals what lies in store for them in the immediate future: “the devil is about to throw some of you into prison.” That is to say, in the near future there was going to be a government reprisal against the church: the authorities would take legal action against the Christian community, “throwing some of you into prison.” The real force behind this government oppression is the devil: “the devil is about to throw some of you into prison.”

3. What is the purpose of this impending trial? See Revelation 2:10c (printed above under question #2) What will be the duration of this trial? See verse 10d (printed above under question #2)

To encourage and fortify the church, the Lord Jesus reveals the purpose and the duration of this demonic assault. He informs them that some of them will be thrown into prison “in order that you may be tested.” The Lord declares that His church in Smyrna “will suffer tribulation for ten days.” This coming period of tribulation is of a relatively brief time, “ten days,” it is not indefinite, it will be terminated when it has finished its divinely-intended purpose.

4. What command does the Lord Jesus give to His church? See Revelation 2:10a,e (printed above under question #2)

Having revealed to His church what they are about to encounter, the Lord issues two commands. First He instructs the church, “Do not fear the things you are about to suffer.” Consider the word of comfort recorded in Isaiah 41:10 that the Lord provides for His people when we encounter trial: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; surely, I will help you; surely, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Secondly, the Lord Jesus exhorts His church, “Be faithful unto death.” Throughout the New Testament our Lord Jesus Christ makes clear to us His demand for absolute faithfulness (note Matthew 10:37-38). In making this demand the Lord Jesus is asking nothing more than what He Himself has willingly done for us (note Matthew 26:28).

5. What promise does the Lord Jesus make to His church? See Revelation 2:10f (printed above under question #2)

Together with His command, our Lord Jesus issues the promise: “I will give you the crown of life.” “The crown” referred to here is the victor’s wreath (not the kingly crown), the crown awarded to the victors in the Olympic games—this is the crown that is awarded to those who persevere and triumph by grace (note James 1:12). This crown is identified as “the crown of life.” What the Lord is teaching us is that the reward for faithfulness—faithfulness that is accomplished by grace—is sharing in the eternal life of the Son of God Himself.