Smyrna was the persecuted church, one of the seven churches of Asia. Smyrna, as a port city, possesses one of the prettiest sea fronts on the west coast of Asia Minor. It is situated at the head of the gulf into which the Hermus debouches, a well protected harbor, and the natural terminal of a great inland trade-route up the Hermus valley. Modern Izmir is 40 miles N of Ephesus. The city was called the "glory of Asia" because of its planned development, beautiful temples and ideal harbor. It was a center of Caesar worship and included a large Jewish community.

Ignatius first used the word catholic in letter to Smyrna. Again in letter from church on the martyrdom of Polycarp.

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. Revelation 2:8-11.

The word "days" mentioned here is often used in the Bible as speaking of certain, periods of time. The age of church persecutions by the Roman Empire is divided into ten persecutions and may be taken to fit this age but there have also been persecutions since. Smyrna signifies "myrrh," a fit appellation for the church of God while passing through the fiery furnace of persecution, and proving herself a "sweet-smelling savor" unto him.

The Jews of the "synagogue of Satan" were Jews nationally but not spiritually, so can also be taken to include false Christians. The Jews of the flesh bitterly blasphemed Christ as "the hanged one" and opposed Christianity, so that in rejecting the truth their synagogue became that of Satan. Christians who oppose and persecute the true sanctified ones are in the same position. Smyrna had erected a temple to the goddess Roma, and from the time of Tiberius, when permission was granted to found a temple to the emperor, it had been a center of the Imperial cult. The implication of this for the Christian who was wavering in his devotion and loyalty to Christ because of increasing pressure by the Roman authorities is evident. Jews at Smyrna and elsewhere in the Empire, displayed hostility toward the Christians, slandered them, and at times were delators. It is one of the cities which have claimed to be the birthplace of Homer. It has been destroyed by earthquake and sacked by hostile armies. After the time of Alexander, the city became one of the principal commercial centers of the world.
[23, Revelations, 294, 338, 339, 352, 359, 377]

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