'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.'Revelation 2:11(NASB)
Bitter suffering and significant poverty had to be endured by the persecuted believers in the church at Smyrna, but unlike His letters to the other six churches in the book of Revelation, Christ gave no rebuke to this little Christian community.
Smyrna means 'myrrh', which refers to the sweet-smelling perfume used to embalm the dead... and like their suffering Saviour, these believers in Smyrna were going through some of the worst persecution that any Christian community had faced.
The Lord Jesus knew the deep distress they were facing and the shocking persecution that they were going through, and His letter must have given them much comfort and encouragement - enabling them to hold fast to their faith during this time of extreme oppression.
Christ warned that even more suffering and persecution was ahead. Some would be cast into prison and some would face death... but they were not to be fearful. Rather, they were encouraged to be faithful - even to the point of death - and were reminded that Christ, Who died and was risen, had already secured for them eternal life.
What encouragement to discover that enduring suffering and faithfulness to the point of death, would also secure for them the coveted Crown-of-Life - which the Lord has promised to all that love Him. The wonderful Crown-of-Life is not to be confused with eternal life. Eternal life is a free gift to EVERYONE who believes in Jesus for salvation... and cannot be earned or maintained by good works. However, the Crown-of-Life is an earned reward for special acts of consecrated service and perseverance under trial.
The Lord concluded His letter to the Smyrna Church with the words, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death." Jesus is the One Who has overcome. In John's gospel, He told us, "I have overcome the world." All believers should listen carefully to these words of Christ and take them to heart. We are to take courage and find peace in these words. And truly ALL who are saved by grace through faith, have overcome because of their position in Christ.
In his first epistle, John outlines the qualifications for an overcomer, "he who overcomes the world, is he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God." Indeed, the Bible teaches that ALL who believe on Christ are those that overcome... for Christ's victory over sin and death is our victory over sin and death, too. It is because He lives, that we shall live also. Because Christ died we are forgiven, and because He lives, we too will live... and therefore need not fear the second death.
No-one who believes on Christ will be hurt by the second death, not even one - because the second death is that terrible Lake of Fire into which all the unbelievers, who have not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God, will one day be cast.
All believers are overcomers because of our identification with Christ. All who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ will certainly receive eternal life. However, like the saints in Smyrna, we are not only saved by grace through faith, but as believers, we are also called to live by grace through faith. We are to walk in spirit and truth and to suffer persecution and even death, for the sake of Christ - and when this is done as outlined in this epistle to the church at Smyrna, it will qualify us for an additional reward - the glorious Crown-of-Life!
May we be those that not only trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting, but continue to trust him throughout our Christian life and love Him with a holy love... prepared and willing to take up our cross and follow Him in spirit and in truth - no matter what difficulties and dangers we may face.
May we be those who are faithful to our calling and heed the words of Jesus, "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the Crown-of-Life."
Heavenly Father, how I praise and thank You that I am an overcomer in Christ and have been given eternal life by grace through faith in Him. Thank You that I will not be hurt by the second death, because I am covered in His righteousness. I pray that in Your strength, I may overcome any difficulties, dangers, persecution, and pain I may face, knowing that His grace is sufficient - and I pray that I may be faithful to the point of death, so as to win the Crown-of-Life for Your honour and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.