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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 2


1. Epistles to the Four Angel-Stars of the Ecclesias in
Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, and Thyatira.


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"And to the Angel of the Ecclesia of the Smyrneans write: These things saith the First and the Last, who was dead and lived: I have known thy works, and the tribulation, and the poverty, though thou art rich; and the blasphemy of those who say, that they themselves are Jews, and are not, but a synagogue of the Satan.

"Fear not the things which thou shalt suffer. Behold the Diabolos will cast of you into prison, that ye may be tempted; and ye will have a tribulation of ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give to thee the coronal wreath of the life.

"He that hath an ear let him hearken to what the Spirit saith to the ecclesias: he who overcomes shall not be injured by the Second Death" (verses 8-11).


SMYRNA is a city of Ionia, in Asia Minor, situated on the Archipelago and having a fine harbor. It is still a place of great consideration, having a large foreign trade, and a population of about 140,000. The present city is on lower ground than the ancient one, and lies about forty-five miles northward of Ephesus. It is called Esmir by the Turks, and is celebrated not so much for the splendor and pomp of the buildings, which are rather mean and ruinous, as for the number, and wealth, and commerce of the place. The Turks have here fifteen mosques, and the Jews several synagogues. "Among these enemies of the Christian name," says Bishop Newton, "the Christian religion also flourishes in some degree!" But this is a great mistake. His episcopal lordship mistakes the Nikolaitan Apostasy, of which his own communion is an influential part, for the Christian religion. The religion of the Bible has long since been exterminated from Smyrna, and nothing remains there now but "the abominations of the earth."

Smyrna still retains an ecclesiastical pre-eminence, being a metropolitan see of the Greek church, which has two congregations. But besides these, there is a great number of Nikolaitanes of all nations, sects, and languages. The Latins have a monastery of Franciscans. The Armenians have a church. But the English, who are the most considerable number, are said to have only a chapel in the consul's house. Frequent plagues and earthquakes are the great calamities of the place.

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We have no special notice of Smyrna in any other book than the Apocalypse. The gospel was most probably introduced to the notice of the Smymeans by Paul during his three years' residence in Ephesus. Though not much noticed in the scriptures, it appears to have been a conspicuous congregation in the middle of the second century, through its connection with Polycarp, a member of its Star-Angel, who was burnt at the stake, because he would not call Caesar "Lord," and sacrifice to his divinity. This occurred about A.D. 167, some seventy years after the Apocalypse was revealed.

Ignatius, who had been an episcopal in the Star-Angel of the ecclesia at Antioch for thirty-seven years, twenty-six years of which he was officially contemporary with the apostle John, came to Smyrna on his way to Rome A.D. 107, whither he was sent by order of Trajan, "to be thrown to the wild beasts for the entertainment of the people." While at Smyrna he wrote a letter to the Ephesian ecclesia, in which he says, "Onesimus exceedingly commends your godly order; and that you live according to truth, and that no heresy dwells with you." The thing referred to as "heresy" at that crisis, was Nikolaitanism. Hence the words of Ignatius are equivalent to saying, that Onesimus testified that "no Nikolaitanism dwelt with them." It had not then as yet got into the Ephesian ecclesia, as the Spirit testified some eleven years previous, saying, "thou hatest the deeds of the Nikolaitanes, which I also hate."

But in the same letter he says, "Some indeed with much ostentation, make specious but fallacious pretensions, whose works are unworthy of God, whom you ought to avoid as wild beasts. For they are raging dogs, biting in secret, whom you should shun, as being persons very difficult to be cured. One physician there is, bodily and spiritual, begotten and unbegotten, Deity appearing in flesh, in immortal true life, both from Mary and from Deity -- first suffering, afterwards impassible." These "raging dogs," alluded to by Ignatius, were the "wicked men," and "those who said they were apostles, and are not," referred to by the Spirit. The Ephesians "could not bear them:" and on examining their "specious but fallacious pretensions," as Ignatius terms them, "found them liars." It appears from this letter, that some of these pretenders to apostleship, and teachers of Nikolaitanism, went to Ephesus from Smyrna: "I have known" says he, "some who went from this place, whom you did not suffer to sow tares among you: you stopped your ears, so that you should not receive their seed, as being stones of the temple of your Father." "Without Christ think nothing becoming; in whom may I be found at the resurrection through your prayer, that my lot may be cast among the Ephesian Christians, who

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have always (to A.D. 107) harmonized with the Apostles in the power of Jesus Christ!"

"Ye are partakers of the mysteries with Paul the holy, the renowned, the blessed, whose footsteps may I follow!" "Neglect not assemblies for thanksgiving and prayer; for when you assiduously attend to these things, the powers of Satan are demolished, and his pernicious kingdom is dissolved by the unanimity of your faith." "Remember me, as Jesus Christ also does you," as evinced by the apocalyptic epistle. "Pray for the ecclesia in Syria, whence I am led bound to Rome -- the meanest of the faithful who are there."

In regard to "the Angel of the Smyrnean ecclesia," the exposition already before the reader, in relation to the Seven Stars, and the Angel of the Ephesian congregation, makes any further remark unnecessary. The Spirit, in his exordium, does not repeat what he said to the Ephesian Star, but selects another characteristic of the Son of Man similitude. "These things (that follow), saith the First and the Last, who was dead, and lived." Jesus, when anointed with holy spirit and power, after resurrection, is styled by Paul, "the Lord the Spirit;" and "the Last Adam was made into a Life-imparting Spirit;" for, as Jesus said, when in the flesh, "that which has been begotten out of the Spirit, is spirit" (2 Cor. 3:18; 1 Cor. 15:45; John 3:6). Upon this principle, the Spirit says, "I was dead" that element of the Spirit-speaker, who had become spirit, died therefore, the become-Spirit could say, "I was dead." Thus, "the First" was dead, and lived by resurrection; and when all the Saints shall have been begotten out of the same Spirit, and so also have become spirit, the Spirit-speaker will have a still larger element of the once-dead, and lived, constituting him who spake to John in Patmos, "the Last," or "the Last Ones," according to Isaiah.

Such is the divine speaker who testifies to the excellency of the Smyrnean believers, A.D. 98, or thereabouts. Though in tribulation and poverty, the Spirit said, "Thou art rich." They were, therefore, the type of the approved; for no evil is laid to their charge. They were a congregation of such believers as James says, God has chosen; and he was a very competent judge in the case. "Hearken, my beloved brethren," saith he, "hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of that kingdom, which he hath promised to them that love him?" And as to "the tribulation," Paul says, it is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). "Blessed the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed they which are persecuted,

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for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens" (Matt. 5:3-10). These were "the consolations of religion," imparted in the instruction of Jesus and the apostles. "The Spirit anointed them to preach the gospel of the kingdom to "the poor in spirit," or, as Isaiah styles them, "the meek" to honest and good-hearted people of childlike disposition (Isai. 61:1; Luke 4:18; Matt. 11:5; 18:3; Luke 8:15). The Smyrneans were such; a poor, meek, persecuted, and richly faithful people. They were "HEIRS of that kingdom," in which they believed; and, as every intelligent person, who is not spoiled by the clerical traditions of the Nikolaitanes, knows, an heir is one who is to obtain possession of a thing after the present possessor dies; so the Smyrneans were not present possessors of the kingdom, but living in hope of some time or other coming into possession of "the kingdoms of this world," when "the Satan," the present and actual possessor of them shall be forcibly ejected. They were heirs of these kingdoms patiently waiting to possess them, when they shall become "the kingdoms of Yahweh and of his Anointed" -- that is, of Jesus and his Brethren, illimitably anointed with the effluence of the Eternal Spirit; and thereby constituted "THE YAHWEH ELOHIM ALMIGHTY;" who, having conquered them in the war of his great and terrible day, shall reign over them during the Aions of the Aions, or the thousand years (Apoc. 11:15; 16:14; 20:4,6).

The Smyrneans did not entertain the silly and absurd notion, so characteristic in our day of clerical craziness, that they were either the kingdom itself, or in the kingdom! Not having been Nikolaitanized, they did not believe that "the church" was "the kingdom of grace," and transkyana "the kingdom of glory above," where "immortal souls" sing and dance to the hundredth psalm! This teaching of the Nikolaitanes, or vanquishers of the people, the Spirit says, "I hate." The Ephesians hated it; and all scripturally enlightened people of the first century, and of the nineteenth, and of all intervening centuries, despise it and hate it also, with a hatred most perfect and cordial. It is nothing but Gnostic Heathenism, contemptible and hateful to Deity, and all the saints. The Smyrneans had no sympathy with "oppositions of science falsely so called;" but were rich in faith, "the substance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen" (Heb. 11:1).




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