1. Exposition

Were the difficulties the church in Smyrna was experiencing unique to them?

Revelation 2:9 (ESV)

9 “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty ( but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Certainly not. Just before his own arrest and crucifixion Jesus had told his disciples, If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you, and added, “The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God” (John 15:18–16:4). Peter and John were arrested shortly after Pentecost (Acts 4:3; Acts 5:18); Stephen was stoned (Acts 7:54–60); persecution scattered the church in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1, Acts 8:3); etc. Paul told Timothy that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). There have been periods in church history when Christians were not persecuted, but freedom from tribulation (with its resulting poverty and slander) is not the norm for the church of Jesus Christ.