Rev 2:10 – 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.
The book of Revelation is full of stories about martyrs. One of the passages that haunts me is found in Revelation 15, I call it the song of the martyrs. “And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.”
These are those who gave their lives for the testimony of Jesus during the Great Tribulation. They were worshipping God for the privilege of dying for His Name.
Who better to encourage martyrs than Jesus, the One who gave His life for us. Today’s verse is a word of encouragement to future martyrs in the church in Smyrna. The bishop himself, Polycarp, would give his life in several years. Here are some observations on this verse from Adam Clarke.
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. This may be addressed particularly to Polycarp, if he was at that time the bishop of this Church. He had much to suffer; and was at last burnt alive at Smyrna, about the year of our Lord 166. We have a very ancient account of his martyrdom, which has been translated by Cave, and is worthy of the reader’s perusal. That account states that the Jews were particularly active in this martyrdom, and brought the sticks, by which he was consumed. Such persons must indeed have been of the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer.”
The head of the church in Smyrna was Polycarp, disciple of John. It is from Polycarp that we know that John authored Revelation. These early Christians had a different perspective of eternity and dying. Some of the early church fathers were known to request prayer that they would be chosen to die for Christ. I haven’t heard prayer requests like that lately. What can we learn from these early Christians? First, there is a grace that is bigger than anything, even death. Secondly, that eternity is real and should be in the forefront of our thoughts. Finally, that we have a cause worth living for and worth dying for. Until we see that for ourselves we haven’t really begun to live.