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things saith the first and the 9 I know thy works, and last, which was dead, and is tribulation, and poverty, (but alive;
thou art rich,) and I know the
for many centuries; but sunk under in fact, whatever they had felt, or the common catastrophe of maritime had done, was all known to him. Asia in the 14th century. Having Their tribulations, all that they had continued a mart for European traf- suffered, was known to him. Their fic, it is to this day a city of consid- poverty was known to him. They erable population, and contains peo- were not rich in this world's goods ; ple of many nations. The angel but there was a very important sense of the church. This officer has been in which they were rich. They were described under ii. 1. The word “rich toward God;" Luke xii. 21. angel is usually understood to sig. The poor may be “ rich in faith ;" nify a heavenly messenger, a super- Jas. ii. 5. A man who believes in human being. Some have thought, Christ, and who does his duty faiththerefore, it were better to translate fully at all times, is rich, whatever the Greek word by messenger here. his worldly condition may be. Take But Dr. Campbell has shown that Moses as an example. He was rich messenger would render the expression toward God. He" refused to be ambiguous, if not improper. The called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; messenger of societies (in like man- choosing rather to suffer affliction ner as of individuals) is one sent by with the people of God, than to enjoy them, not to them. In this, and some the pleasures of sin for a season ; other instances, the Greek angelos is esteeming the reproach of Christ to be understood as denoting a min. greater riches than the treasures in ister, or servant employed in any Egypt : for he had respect unto the charge of importance and dignity, recompense of the reward;" Heb. xi. though not a message. It would, 24–26. T I know the blasphemy. therefore, be no deviation from what The Son of man, after having stated is included in the Hellenistic sense that he knew the works of the church, of the word, if in all the cases in proceeds to say that he knew the which we read of the angel of the works of their enemies also. He church it were rendered president. knew the blasphemy of the false | The first and the last. — The same Jews. Blasphemy is the worst kind glorious personage addressed the an- of evil speaking. It is railing against gel of the church in Smyrna who had God. The blasphemy against the addressed the angel of the church at Holy Spirit was the attributing of the Ephesus, only different titles are em miracles of Jesus, which were perployed. — See i. 17, 18. It was evi- formed by the agency of that Spirit, dently the Son of man, whose death to Beelzebub; See Mark iii. 29, 30. and resurrection were both referred | It was the Jews who committed this to. How must that church have been sin, though we know not that it is the impressed with the words, coming, as sin which is specially referred to in they did, from such a source how the verse before us. Which say much must they have been comforted they are Jews. — These were probably by them in view of the persecutions Jews in the outward sense, for there by which they were threatened. were many in Smyrna; but they were
9. I know thy works. - Jesus not Jews in the true sense. They knew their works, as he did those of kept up the worship of the synagogue, the Ephesian church; ii. 2. He but it was so polluted, that the synknew all that they had done. Their agogue was called the synagogue of zeal, their remissness, their fidelity; Satan. They are not all Israel, who
blasphemy of them which say 10 Fear none of those things they are Jews, and are not, but which thou shalt suffer. Beare the synagogue of Satan. hold, the devil shall cast some
are of Israel; Rom. ix. 6; neither Jews. The Jews were scattered because they are the seed of Abra- throughout all cities; and, as has ham, are they all children; 7. Na- been said, were the instigators and thanael was an Israelite indeed, in ringleaders in all persecutions. See whom was no guile; John i. 47. 2 Thess. ii. 14, 15; and especially St. Paul says, “For he is not a Jew, Acts xvii. 5, 6, 7, 8, 13. They had which is one outwardly; neither is always been instrumental in casting that circumcision, which is outward the Christians into prison. They imin the flesh: but he is a Jew which prisoned Peter and John ; Acts v. 18, is one inwardly; and circumcision is 19, 21. Saul, before his conversion, that of the heart, in the spirit, and was a zealous Pharisee, and assisted not in the letter; whose praise is not in haling the Christians to prison ; of men, but of God;" Rom. ii. 28, 29. | Acts viii. 3; xxvi. 10. The severity The Jews in Smyrna were Jews by of the Roman officers towards the birth and profession, but they were Christians was greatly pleasing_to not what Jews ought to have been the Jews; Acts xii. 3, 4. | The They were banded together in the devil shall cast. — And what devil was service of Satan, and hence were this which should cast the Christians said to be “the synagogue of Satan,” into prison, other than the Jews, the as Christians are said to be the house, synagogue of Satan, who had been or church, of the living God. They mentioned in the preceding verse? were the instigators in all persecutions The word diabolos, here rendered against the Christians. They stirred devil, signifies accuser, slanderer. It up the people of heathen cities against is put for any adversary; and is ofthe primitive preachers of Christian- ten used metaphorically in the New ity. In the most of cases, where we Testament. The heathens believed read of the persecutions of the apos- in a principal leader among their tles, we find that the Jews were the spirits of darkness; and their notions instigators and ringleaders in the on this subject, especially after the matter. Nevertheless, they were very return from the Babylonish captivity, punctual in their observance of the infected the Jews. The metaphors rites of the synagogue. It was a of the Apocalypse, in some cases, are strange mixture of synagogue service drawn from these opinions; not to with the service of Satan ; they were, recognize the opinions as true, any therefore, called the "synagogue of more than Isaiah meant to acknowl. Satan.”
edge the heathen notions of hades to 10. Fear none of those things. be true, in his sublime apostrophe to The Lord Jesus refers to the sufferings the king of Babylon; xiv. 9 et seq. that were about to come upon Chris- Dr. Macknight, in treating on the tians. These wicked Jews, the syn- parable of Dives and Lazarus, says, agogue of Satan, it was well known “If from these resemblances it is would persecute them. The Jews thought the parable is formed on the had been the persecutors of the Chris- Grecian mythology, it will not at all tians from the time the gospel was follow that our Lord approved of what first preached ; and after the death the common people thought or spake of the Lord Jesus, when the apostles, concerning those matters, agreeably to under the great commission, went out the notions and language of the to preach the gospel in all the world, Greeks. In parabolical discourses, they were met and buffeted by the provided the doctrines inculcated are of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have strictly true, the terms in which they affection, truce-breakers, DEVILS (diare inculcated may be such as are aboloi ;)" 2 Tim. iii. 3. In the commost familiar to the ears of the vul- mon version it is translated false acgar, and the images made use of cusers; and in Titus ii. 3, the word such as they are best acquainted diaboloi is translated, not devils, but with.” — (Par. and Com. on Luke false accusers. We have said before, xvi.). The principle of interpretation that the opposers of the early Chriswhich Dr. Macknight here lays down tians were called the devil. So in the is evidently sound; and we shall verse before us : “Fear none of those have occasion to refer to it again in things which thou shalt suffer; bethe course of this work. The word hold, THE DEVIL shall cast some of you diabolos is often put for a human ad into prison, that ye may be tried; and versary in the New Testament, and ye shall have tribulation ten days." is sometimes used as a metaphor for Now this is HO Diabolos, THE a ruling, persecuting power. Let DEVIL; and this is the designation the following facts be considered : given by the revelator to the leading Jesus called Judas, diabolos, a devil. persecutors of the church. So the “ Have not I chosen you twelve, and great dragon, that old serpent, called one of you is a devil?” John vi. 70. the devil and Satan, is nothing more Wicked people are called the children than exalted human wicked power, of the devil, in the same sense that - the exalted enemies of the church; the poor and sorrowful are called the and when that devil is chained in the children of sorrow and want. Thus bottomless pit, it represents the reElymas was the child of the devil; straining of that power.—
See Rev. Acts xiii. 10. The word diabolos is xii. 9, 12; xx. 2, 10. From the put for the opponents of the Christian whole, it seems evident, that by the religion in the days of Christ and his devil is intended the leading perseapostles. Hence, when Paul exhorted cuting power; or, as Paul hath it, the Ephesians to “put on the whole the persecuting principalities and armor of God, that they might be powers, and the spiritual wickedness able to stand against the wiles of in high places; Eph. vi. 11, 12. In diabolos,” he explained immediately what other sense can we understand his meaning, by saying, “For we the word devil in the case before us? wrestle not against flesh and blood, He cast the Christians into prison ? but against principalities, against Did not the leading persecuting power powers, against the rulers of the dark- do' this? It may be said, in reply, ness of this age, against spiritual wick- truly the Jews, the persecuting power, edness in high places ;" Eph. vi. 11, were the devil's agents. He tempted 12. Paul exhorted the wives of them to do it; and for that reason he Christians to be grave, not (diaboloi) is said to do it. To this, we reply : devils, but sober, faithfuì in all We learn from St. James, that when things; 1 Tim. iii. 11. The trans- men are tempted, they are not to lators of the common version have ascribe the temptation to anything rendered the word here, not devils, beyond themselves. “Every man is but slanderers. The word devil sig- tempted when he is drawn away of nifies a wicked human being. Hence his own lust and enticed;" Jas. i. 14. Paul says in another place, speaking If men will have due guard over their of the prevalence of wickedness, that own appetites and passions, they need "men shall be lovers of their own not, according to St. James, fear any selves, covetous, boasters, proud, other source of temptation. Lust blasphemers, disobedient to parents, bringeth forth_sin, and sin bringeth unthankful, unholy, without natural forth death. That ye may be tried.
tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will
That is, proved, whether ye are rewarded with a “crown of life.” It able to endure affliction. The Chris- is an interesting question, what is intians were referred to the prophets as tended by the “crown of life?” The exain ples of patience in the midst of expression occurs twice only in the affliction ; James v. 10. The church Scriptures, viz., in James i. 12, and in Smyrna was, by God's permission, in the passage before us. By careto suffer much affliction. God al- fully consulting the Scriptures, it will lowed this to try them, as gold is be seen that the figure of the crown tried by being melted in the furnace. is used to signify dignity, honor, Job said, “When he hath tried me, I glory. When Job was stripped of shall come forth as gold;" xxiii. 10. his glory, he said, “ He hath taken See also Dan. xii. 10; Zech. xiii. 9. the crown from my head ;" Job xix. “The fire shall try every man's work, 9. Solomon says, Wisdom shall “ give of what sort it is;" 1 Cor. iii. 13. to thy head an ornament of grace; a Peter speaks of this rial, in his epis- crown of glory shall she deliver to tle to the strangers scattered through thee; Prov. iv. 9. Here the crown the provinces of Asia Minor. “That was the glory which Wisdom conferred. the trial of your faith, being much So “a virtuous woman is a crown to more precious than of gold that per- her husband,” (Prov. xii. 4,) i. e., she isheth, though it be tried with fire, confers dignity and honor upon him. might be found unto praise, and hon- See also xiv. 18, “The prudent are or, and glory, at the appearing of crowned with knowledge,” and xvi. Jesus Christ;" 1 Epis. i. 7; iv. 12. 31, “ The hoary head is a crown of See also Rev. iii. 10. | Ten days. glory, if it be found in the way of
– That exactly ten days are here righteousness." No one will think meant, we should not suppose would of looking exclusively to the immorbe contended for by any one.
The tal state to find the crown mentioned word days is used indefinitely in the in these instances. In the Grecian Scriptures, and numbers are certainly games, from which Paul drew his so used in the Apocalypse. We un- figure of the crown, (see 1 Cor. ix. derstand by this phrase, “You shall 25,) the victor was crowned with have a brief season of tribulation.” | flowers or foliage. This was a corTen seems to be put for a small ruptible crown, e., it would fade number. “And her brother and her away ; but the Christian's crown is mother said, Let the damsel abide with incorruptible, and fadeth not away. us a few days, at the least ten ; after Now, what is the Christian's crown? that she shall go ;" Gen. xxiv. 55. It is his Christian virtues and graces; The evident import of the phrase is, a for it is these surely which are his short time. See Daniel ‘i. 12–15. honor, dignity and glory; and such
Unto death. - But notwithstanding things can never fade. And where the time was short, it might result in does the Christian have this crown? death. The early Christians were - Answer : Wherever he is found frequently called on to suffer death for faithful. His faithfulness is a crown the cause of Christ; but neither life of glory to him. Paul had his crown nor death could separate them from in this life, as every other good man the love of God; Rom. viii. 38, 39. has. He said to the Philippians, Paul says, the apostles, as it were, ye are “my joy and crown, so stand were appointed to death ; 1 Cor. iv. fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved ;" 9. Crown of life. — To encourage iv. 1. He asked the Thessalonians, the members of the church at Smyrna on one occasion, what his crown was; to be “faithful unto death," the reve- and let us look well to the answer : lator promises them that they shall be “ For what is our hope, or joy, or give thee a crown of life.
11 He that hath an ear, let
crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye rest of the apostles, Stephen, and sour crown] in the presence of our many others, wear this crown of life Lord Jesus Christ at his coming ?” now. We see it on their heads; it is He then answers, “Ye ARE our glory radiant with glory, like a crown of and joy."
See 1 Thess. ii. 19, 20. stars; it can never fade away. Paul The converts made to Christ through tells us explicitly when he expected Paul's instrumentality were an honor to have this crown. “ Henceforth and glory and joy to him — they were there is laid up for me a crown of HIS CROWN. When he drew towards righteousness, which the Lord, the the end of life, he reflected more righteous Judge, shall give me deeply upon this crown. Christ, he (when ?) at that day; and not to me thought, would confirm it to him ; only, but unto all them also that love and sanction his claim to honor in his appearing." Here are two cir. the church. “I have fought a good cumstances which assist us to a right fight, I have finished my course, I understanding of the subject, viz., the have kept the faith : Henceforth, phrase that day, and the appearing of there is laid up for me a crown of Christ. He says, in another place, righteousness, which the Lord, the that God shall judge the quick and righteous Judge, shall give me at the dead (i. e., those who were dead that day, and not to me only, but in sins and those who had been unto all them also that love his ap- quickened out of their sins; see Eph. pearing;" 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. His ii. 1) “at his appearing and his crown was his faithfulness and the kingdom ;" 2 Tim. iv. 1. Does not success of his labors in the church this language evidently apply to these were glory and honor to him. Christ's appearing in power to set up He could not be deprived of that his kingdom at the end of the law ?
True, it was not then so It was then that Christ was to judge generally acknowledged an honor to men; see Matt. xvi. 27; Mark viii. be a faithful Christian as it was af- 38; ix. 1. And that event certainly terwards, when Christ came to exalt was to take place during the lifetime his church, and cast down his foes; of some who were on the earth when
- and hence it is said, the Lord the Saviour spake; Matt. xvi. 28. would give it to him at that day. His appearing then took place. “Then Peter said to the elders, “When the shall appear the sign of the Son of chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall man in heaven;" Matt. xxiv. 30. receive a crown of glory that fadeth And in order to impress on those who not away.” This was certainly on listened, the solemn fact that the apthe earth, where the chief Shepherd pearing would take place in that genappeared, and when he came, the eration, Jesus adds, ver. 34, “Verily, merits of his followers were made I say unto you, this generation shall manifest. The term “crown of life” not pass till all these things be ful. is to be explained on the principles filled.” Peter connects the crown here laid down : it was the dignity, with Christ's appearing, in the same glory, honor of the Christian life; which manner with Paul. “When the chief would be made to appear to be truly Shepherd shall appear, ye shall reglorious and honorable at the coming ceive a crown of glory that fadeth of the Lord, when every man should not away ;" 1 Peter v. 4. We have be rewarded according to his works. now put these facts into a form in And if any man died before the com- which they will, we think, be undering of Christ, he would not lose the stood. The crown was certainly to be crown, provided he remained faithful conferred at the appearing of Christ ; unto death. Paul, Peter, and the land the appearing of Christ was at