Blog 8: Smyrna

Smyrna was forty miles north of Ephesus and was a prosperous and large port city. It was a centre of science, medicine and fine wine. Homer, the greatest of Greek poets, reputedly was from Smyrna. It had temples of worship to Roman emperors and other gods. Jesus introduces himself to the church in Smyrna as the one who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.

Jesus warned the Christians that although they would suffer and some would be imprisoned, this would not last long. They were to be faithful, even to the point of death, and then Jesus would give them life as their victor’s crown.

Smyrna was famous for its athletic games, so the concept of a victor’s crown would have had resonance.  Twenty years after this letter was written, we have a record of a thriving church in Smyrna in a letter written by Bishop Ignatius of Antioch to the Bishop in Smyrna, Polycarp. Polycarp was martyred in Smyrna in AD 156.

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