1. Illustrations

Some Church History

Revelation 2:8–11 (ESV)

8 “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: ‘The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.

There is no record in Scripture or elsewhere of a persecution happening in Smyrna in the months or years shortly after Jesus sent this letter to Smyrna. But church history does tell us of Polycarp, the first known minister (or bishop) of Smyrna, ordained by John himself to be minister in this church. He was arrested as a very old man (probably in the year 156) and required to deny the faith on penalty of death through burning. He gave the following reply to his persecutors:

Eighty and six years I have served Him, and He has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King and Savior? You threaten me with a fire that burns for a season, and after a little while is quenched; but you are ignorant of the fire of everlasting punishment that is prepared for the wicked.

Then he calmly went to the stake and let his body be burned. He died, and received the crown of life as he shared the blessings of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead; the second death did not hurt him. His confidence was rooted in his Saviour’s identity as the first and the last, who died and came to life. Over the centuries our Lord has not changed.