We read in Revelation 2:9, “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty,
(but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are
Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”
“I know thy works.” What a comfort this is to the church of Smyrna. The
Lord knows all things. All things are written in His book. And apparently,
knowing their works is no reason for rebuke. All because of their faith in
Jesus Christ. Their works are, without any doubt, done in Christ. “And
tribulation.” There are serious troubles, crushing burdens for the church at
Smyrna. These people are pilgrims and strangers and have learned by
experience that “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom
of God.” (Acts 14:22). As all believers will learn, although the type of
tribulation may vary from time to time, from place to place, and from
situation to situation. One of the immediate results of that tribulation for
Smyrna was poverty. They could not participate in the imperial cult, and
that had far-reaching consequences. “But thou art rich.” Although they
belonged to the lower classes, they were, in fact, rich. There is the comfort
we read about in 2 Cor 8:9, “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye
through his poverty might be rich.” Nowhere does the Lord promise wealth
for this life, but He promises imperishable eternal wealth, stored up in
heaven. But there was also another form of tribulation, we read, “and I
know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are
the synagogue of Satan.” Christ assures his people in Smyrna that he knows
of the slander of those who claim to be Jews but are not! “Jew”, means
“One who praises God.” The ethnic Jews pretended to be the real ancient
people of God, based on the covenant made with Abraham. But they denied
the Christ. The “real Jew” is he or she, whether ethnic Jew or not, who
believes in Jesus and praises God. “They are the synagogue of Satan.” The
true synagogue (meaning: “gathering together”) is the church that honors
Christ (James 2:2). The Jews are not even given the designation of “people”
(Greek: “laos") or “congregation” (Greek: "ekklesia"). Behind their
rejection and enmity is Satan. What a sharp statement this is! But it is said
so, to open the eyes. Apparently, the Jews in Smyrna are very fanatical.
What a comfort it is for the church of all times that the Lord knows His
people and their circumstances. Only one thing counts: who is Christ to us?