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Revelation 2:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Unto the angel - This was probably the famous Polycarp. See below.

These things saith the first and the last - He who is eternal; from whom all things come, and to whom all things must return. Which was dead, for the redemption of the world; and is alive to die no more for ever, his glorified humanity being enthroned at the Father's right hand.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write - On the meaning of the word “angel,” see the notes on Revelation 1:20.

These things saith the first and the last - See the notes on Revelation 1:8, Revelation 1:17.

Which was dead, and is alive - See the notes on Revelation 1:18. The idea is, that he is a Living Saviour; and there was a propriety in referring to that fact here from the nature of the promise which he was about to make to the church at Smyrna: “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death,” Revelation 2:11. As he had himself triumphed over death in all its forms, and was now alive forever, it was appropriate that he should promise to his true friends the same protection from the second death. He who was wholly beyond the reach of death could give the assurance that they who put their trust in him should come off victorious.

Uriah Smith
Daniel and the Revelation, 351

Verse 8

It will be noticed that the Lord introduces himself to each church by mentioning some of his characteristics which show him to be peculiarly fitted to bear to them the testimony which he utters. To the Smyrnian church, about to pass through the fiery ordeal of persecution, he reveals himself as one who was dead, but is now alive. If they should be called to seal their testimony with their blood, they were to remember that the eyes of One were upon them who had shared the same fate, but had triumphed over death, and was able to bring them up again from a martyr's grave.DAR 351.4

Poverty and Riches. — “I know thy poverty,” says Christ to them, “but thou art rich.” Strange paradox this may seem at first. But who are the truly rich in this world? — Those who are “rich in faith” and “heirs of the kingdom.” The wealth of this world, for which men so eagerly strive, and so often barter away present happiness and future endless life, is “coin not current in heaven.” A certain writer has forcibly remarked, “There is many a rich poor man, and many a poor rich man.”DAR 352.1

Say They Are Jews, and Are Not. — That the term Jew is not here used in a literal sense, is very evident. It denotes some character which was approved by the gospel standard. Paul's language will make this point plain. He says (Romans 2:28, 29): “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew [in the true Christian sense] which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Again he says (chapter 9:6, 7): “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel; neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children.” In Galatians 3:28, 29, Paul further tells us that in Christ there are no such outward distinctions as Jew or Greek; but if we are Christ's, then are we Abraham's seed (in the true sense), and heirs according to the promise. To say, as some do, that the term Jew is never applied to Christians, is to contradict all these inspired declarations of Paul's, and the testimony of the faithful and true Witness to the Smyrnian church. Some were hypocritically pretending to be Jews in this Christian sense, when they possessed nothing of the requisite character. Such were of the synagogue of Satan.DAR 352.2

Tribulation Ten Days. — As this message is prophetic, the time mentioned in it must also be regarded as prophetic, and would denote ten years. And it is a noticeable fact that the last and most bloody of the ten persecutions continued just ten years, under Diocletian, from A. D. 302 to A. D. 312. (See Buck's Theological Dictionary, pp. 332, 333.) It would be difficult to make an application of this language on the ground that these messages are not prophetic; for in that case only ten literal days could be meant; and it would not seem probable that a persecution of only ten days, on only a single church, would be made a matter of prophecy; and no mention of any such case of limited persecution can be found. Again, apply this persecution to any of the notable persecutions of that period, and how could it be spoken of as the fate of one church alone? All the churches suffered in them; and where, then, would be the propriety of singling out one, to the exclusion of the rest, as alone involved in such a calamity?DAR 352.3

Faithful unto Death. — Some have endeavored to base a criticism on the use of the word unto, instead of until, as though the idea of time was not involved. But the original word, ????, rendered unto, signifies, primarily, until. No argument, however, can be drawn from this for consciousness in death. The vital point for such an argument is still lacking; for it is not affirmed that the crown of life is bestowed immediately at death. We must consequently look to other scriptures to learn when the crown of life is given; and other scriptures very fully inform us. Paul declares that this crown is to be given at the day of Christ's appearing (2 Timothy 4:8); at the last trump (1 Corinthians 15:51-54); when the Lord shall himself descend from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17); when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, says Peter (1 Pet. 5:4); at the resurrection of the just, says Christ (Luke 14:14); and when he shall return to take his people to the mansions prepared for them, that they may ever be with him. John 14:3. “Be thou faithful until death;” and having been thus faithful, when the time comes that the saints of God are rewarded, you shall receive a crown of life.DAR 353.1

The Overcomer's Reward. — “He shall not be hurt of the second death.” Is not the language Christ here uses a good comment upon what he taught his disciples, when he said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell”? Matthew 10:28. The Smyrnians might be put to death here; but the future life, which was to be given them, man could not take away, and God would not; hence they were to fear not those who could kill the body, — to “fear none of the things which they should suffer;” for their eternal existence was sure.DAR 353.2

Smyrna signifies myrrh, fit appellation for the church of God while passing through the fiery furnace of persecution, and proving herself a “sweet-smelling savor” unto him. But we soon reach the days of Constantine, when the church presents a new phase, rendering a far different name and another message applicable to her history.DAR 354.1

According to the foregoing application, the date of the Smyrnian church would be A. D. 100-323.DAR 354.2

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Our Lord Jesus is the First, for by him were all things made; he was before all things, with God, and is God himself. He is the Last, for he will be the Judge of all. As this First and Last, who was dead and is alive, is the believer's Brother and Friend, he must be rich in the deepest poverty, honourable amidst the lowest abasement, and happy under the heaviest tribulation, like the church of Smyrna. Many who are rich as to this world, are poor as to the next; and some who are poor outwardly, are inwardly rich; rich in faith, in good works, rich in privileges, rich in gifts, rich in hope. Where there is spiritual plenty, outward poverty may be well borne; and when God's people are made poor as to this life, for the sake of Christ and a good conscience, he makes all up to them in spiritual riches. Christ arms against coming troubles. Fear none of these things; not only forbid slavish fear, but subdue it, furnishing the soul with strength and courage. It should be to try them, not to destroy them. Observe, the sureness of the reward; "I will give thee:" they shall have the reward from Christ's own hand. Also, how suitable it is; "a crown of life:" the life worn out in his service, or laid down in his cause, shall be rewarded with a much better life, which shall be eternal. The second death is unspeakably worse than the first death, both in the agonies of it, and as it is eternal death: it is indeed awful to die, and to be always dying. If a man is kept from the second death and wrath to come, he may patiently endure whatever he meets with in this world.
Ellen G. White
Gospel Workers 1915, 13

“Ye shall be named the Priests of the Lord: men shall call you the Ministers of our God.”

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 194

The Saviour is still carrying forward the same work as when He proffered the water of life to the woman of Samaria. Those who call themselves His followers may despise and shun the outcast ones; but no circumstance of birth or nationality, no condition of life, can turn away His love from the children of men. To every soul, however sinful, Jesus says, If thou hadst asked of Me, I would have given thee living water. DA 194.1

The gospel invitation is not to be narrowed down, and presented only to a select few, who, we suppose, will do us honor if they accept it. The message is to be given to all. Wherever hearts are open to receive the truth, Christ is ready to instruct them. He reveals to them the Father, and the worship acceptable to Him who reads the heart. For such He uses no parables. To them, as to the woman at the well, He says, “I that speak unto thee am He.” DA 194.2

When Jesus sat down to rest at Jacob's well, He had come from Judea, where His ministry had produced little fruit. He had been rejected by the priests and rabbis, and even the people who professed to be His disciples had failed of perceiving His divine character. He was faint and weary; yet He did not neglect the opportunity of speaking to one woman, though she was a stranger, an alien from Israel, and living in open sin. DA 194.3

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Ellen G. White
Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1, 157

Never Manifest Rudeness or Unkindness—Do you never manifest rudeness, unkindness, and impoliteness in the family circle? If you do manifest unkindness at your home, no matter how high may be your profession, you are breaking God's commandments.—The Review and Herald, March 29, 1892. 1MCP 157.1

Friends Not to Meddle in Homelife (counsel to a young man)—The home circle should be regarded as a sacred place, a symbol of heaven, a mirror in which to reflect ourselves. Friends and acquaintances we may have, but in the homelife they are not to meddle. A strong sense of proprietorship should be felt, giving a sense of ease, restfulness, trust. 1MCP 157.2

But your association with other women and girls has been a source of temptation to them, leading them to take liberties and overstep the restraint which the marriage relation imposes on every man and woman. You have not perceived it, but your love of amusement and the spirit you have encouraged has not impressed others with the sacredness of the marriage relation. 1MCP 157.3

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