Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer - This may be addressed particularly to Polycarp, if he was at that time the bishop of this Church. He had much to suffer; and was at last burnt alive at Smyrna, about the year of our Lord 166. We have a very ancient account of his martyrdom, which has been translated by Cave, and is worthy of the reader's perusal. That account states that the Jews were particularly active in this martyrdom, and brought the fagots, etc., by which he was consumed. Such persons must indeed have been of the synagogue of Satan.
Ten days - As the days in this book are what is commonly called prophetic days, each answering to a year, the ten years of tribulation may denote ten years of persecution; and this was precisely the duration of the persecution under Diocletian, during which all the Asiatic Churches were grievously afflicted. Others understand the expression as implying frequency and abundance, as it does in other parts of Scripture. Genesis 31:7, Genesis 31:41; : Thou hast changed my wages Ten Times; i.e. thou hast frequently changed my wages Numbers 14:22; : Those men have tempted me now these Ten Times; i.e. they have frequently and grievously tempted and sinned against me. Nehemiah 4:12; : The Jews that dwelt by them came and said unto us Ten Times, i.e. they were frequently coming and informing us, that our adversaries intended to attack us, Job 19:3; These Ten Times have ye reproached me; i.e. ye have loaded me with continual reproaches. Daniel 1:20; : In all matters of wisdom, he found them Ten Times better than all the magicians; i.e. the king frequently consulted Daniel and his companions, and found them more abundantly informed and wise than all his counsellors.
Some think the shortness of the affliction is here intended, and that the ten days are to be understood as in Terence, Heaut., Act v., scen. 1, ver. 36, Decem dierum vis mi est familia. "I have enjoyed my family but a short time."
Be thou faithful unto death - Be firm, hold fast the faith, confess Christ to the last, and at all hazards, and thou shalt have a crown of life - thou shalt be crowned with life, have an eternal happy existence, though thou suffer a temporal death. It is said of Polycarp that when brought before the judge, and commanded to abjure and blaspheme Christ, he firmly answered, "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never did me wrong, how then can I blaspheme my king who hath saved me?" He was then adjudged to the flames, and suffered cheerfully for Christ his Lord and Master.
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer - He did not promise them exemption from suffering. He saw that they were about to suffer, and he specifies the manner in which their affliction would occur. But he entreats and commands them not to be afraid. They were to look to the “crown of life,” and to be comforted with the assurance that if they were faithful unto death, that would be, theirs. We need not dread suffering if we can hear the voice of the Redeemer encouraging us, and if he assures us that in a little while we shall have the crown of life.
Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison - Or, shall cause some of you to be cast into prison. He had just said that their persecutors were of the “synagogue of Satan.” He here represents Satan, or the devil - another name of the same being - as about to throw them into prison. This would be done undoubtedly by the hands of men, but still Satan was the prime mover, or the instigator in doing it. It was common to cast those who were persecuted into prison. See Acts 12:3-4; Acts 16:23. It is not said on what pretence, or by what authority, this would be done; but, as John had been banished to Patmos from Ephesus, it is probable that this persecution was raging in the adjacent places, and there is no improbability in supposing that many might be thrown into prison.
That ye may be tried - That the reality of your faith may be subjected to a test to show whether it is genuine. The design in the case is that of the Saviour, though Satan is allowed to do it. It was common in the early periods of the church to suffer religion to be subjected to trial amidst persecutions, in order to show that it was of heavenly origin, and to demonstrate its value in view of the world. This is, indeed, one of the designs of trial at all times, but this seemed eminently desirable when a new system of religion was about to be given to mankind. Compare the notes on 1 Peter 1:6-7.
And ye shall have tribulation ten days - A short time; a brief period; a few days. It is possible, indeed, that this might have been literally ten days, but it is much more in accordance with the general character of this book, in regard to numbers, to suppose that the word “ten” here is used to denote a few. Compare Genesis 24:55; 1 Samuel 25:38; Daniel 1:12, Daniel 1:14. We are wholly ignorant how long the trial actually lasted; but the assurance was that it would not be long, and they were to allow this thought to cheer and sustain them in their sorrows. Why should not the same thought encourage us now? Affliction in this life, however severe, can be but brief; and in the hope that it will soon end, why should we not bear it without complaining or repining?
Be thou faithful unto death - Implying, perhaps, that though, in regard to the church, the affliction would be brief, yet that it might be fatal to some of them, and they who were thus about to die should remain faithful to their Saviour until the hour of death. In relation to all, whether they were to suffer a violent death or not, the same injunction and the same promise was applicable. It is true of everyone who is a Christian, in whatever manner he is to die, that if he is faithful unto death, a crown of life awaits him. Compare the notes on 2 Timothy 4:8.
And I will give thee a crown of life - See the notes on James 1:12. Compare 1 Peter 5:4; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. The promise here is somewhat different from what was made to the faithful in Ephesus Revelation 2:7, but the same thing substantially is promised them - happiness hereafter, or an admission into heaven. In the former case it is the peaceful image of those admitted into the scenes of paradise; here it is the triumph of the crowned martyr.
It was through one who declared himself to be a “brother, and companion in tribulation” (Revelation 1:9), that Christ revealed to His church the things that they must suffer for His sake. Looking down through long centuries of darkness and superstition, the aged exile saw multitudes suffering martyrdom because of their love for the truth. But he saw also that He who sustained His early witnesses would not forsake His faithful followers during the centuries of persecution that they must pass through before the close of time. “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer,” the Lord declared; “behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation: ... be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10. AA 588.1
And to all the faithful ones who were striving against evil, John heard the promises made: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.” Verse 7; 3:5, 21. AA 588.2
John saw the mercy, the tenderness, and the love of God blending with His holiness, justice, and power. He saw sinners finding a Father in Him of whom their sins had made them afraid. And looking beyond the culmination of the great conflict, he beheld upon Zion “them that had gotten the victory ... stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God,” and singing “the song of Moses” and the Lamb. Revelation 15:2, 3. AA 589.1Read in context »
It pains me to say, my brethren, that your sinful neglect to walk in the light has enshrouded you in darkness. You may now be honest in not recognizing and obeying the light; the doubts you have entertained, your neglect to heed the requirements of God, have blinded your perceptions so that darkness is now to you light, and light is darkness. God has bidden you to go forward to perfection. Christianity is a religion of progress. Light from God is full and ample, waiting our demand upon it. Whatever blessings the Lord may give, He has an infinite supply beyond, an inexhaustible store from which we may draw. Skepticism may treat the sacred claims of the gospel with jests, scoffing, and denial. The spirit of worldliness may contaminate the many and control the few; the cause of God may hold its ground only by great exertion and continual sacrifice, yet it will triumph finally. 5T 71.1
The word is: Go forward; discharge your individual duty, and leave all consequences in the hands of God. If we move forward where Jesus leads the way we shall see His triumph, we shall share His joy. We must share the conflicts if we wear the crown of victory. Like Jesus, we must be made perfect through suffering. Had Christ's life been one of ease, then might we safely yield to sloth. Since His life was marked with continual self-denial, suffering, and self-sacrifice, we shall make no complaint if we are partakers with Him. We can walk safely in the darkest path if we have the Light of the world for our guide. 5T 71.2
The Lord is testing and proving you. He has counseled, admonished, and entreated. All these solemn admonitions will either make the church better or decidedly worse. The oftener the Lord speaks to correct or counsel, and you disregard His voice, the more disposed will you be to reject it again and again, till God says: “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all My counsel, and would none of My reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer; they shall seek Me early, but they shall not find me; for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of My counsel: they despised all My reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” 5T 72.1Read in context »
Under the fiercest persecution these witnesses for Jesus kept their faith unsullied. Though deprived of every comfort, shut away from the light of the sun, making their home in the dark but friendly bosom of the earth, they uttered no complaint. With words of faith, patience, and hope they encouraged one another to endure privation and distress. The loss of every earthly blessing could not force them to renounce their belief in Christ. Trials and persecution were but steps bringing them nearer their rest and their reward. GC 41.1
Like God's servants of old, many were “tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” Verse 35. These called to mind the words of their Master, that when persecuted for Christ's sake, they were to be exceeding glad, for great would be their reward in heaven; for so the prophets had been persecuted before them. They rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to suffer for the truth, and songs of triumph ascended from the midst of crackling flames. Looking upward by faith, they saw Christ and angels leaning over the battlements of heaven, gazing upon them with the deepest interest and regarding their steadfastness with approval. A voice came down to them from the throne of God: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10. GC 41.2
In vain were Satan's efforts to destroy the church of Christ by violence. The great controversy in which the disciples of Jesus yielded up their lives did not cease when these faithful standard-bearers fell at their post. By defeat they conquered. God's workmen were slain, but His work went steadily forward. The gospel continued to spread and the number of its adherents to increase. It penetrated into regions that were inaccessible even to the eagles of Rome. Said a Christian, expostulating with the heathen rulers who were urging forward the persecution: You may “kill us, torture us, condemn us.... Your injustice is the proof that we are innocent .... Nor does your cruelty ... avail you.” It was but a stronger invitation to bring others to their persuasion. “The oftener we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.”—Tertullian, Apology, paragraph 50. GC 41.3Read in context »
Study the life that Christ lived while on this earth. He did not disregard the simplest, smallest duty that fell to Him. Perfection marked all that He did. Look to Jesus for help, and this will enable you to perform your daily duties with the grace and dignity of one who is seeking for a crown of immortal life.... TSB 52.1Read in context »