The second angel is one of the seven angels mentioned in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. The seven angels each represent a message from God and play important roles in the events described in Revelation.
What is the Book of Revelation?
The Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse of John, is the final book of the New Testament and describes a series of prophetic visions seen by John, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Revelation depicts the ultimate victory of good over evil and the establishment of a New Heaven and New Earth.
Revelation is filled with vivid imagery and symbolism. The seven angels are part of this symbolism, each representing divine authority and conveying an important message or meaning.
Who are the seven angels in Revelation?
Here are the seven angels mentioned in Revelation:
- The angel who appeared to John bearing the revelation of what was to come (Revelation 1:1)
- The angel of the church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:1)
- The angel of the church of Smyrna (Revelation 2:8)
- The angel of the church of Pergamon (Revelation 2:12)
- The angel of the church of Thyatira (Revelation 2:18)
- The angel of the church of Sardis (Revelation 3:1)
- The angel of the church of Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7)
Each of these angels delivers a specific message to one of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation. The second angel in this list is the one who bears the message to the church of Smyrna.
What message does the second angel deliver?
Let’s take a closer look at the message brought by the second angel:
To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Revelation 2:8-11)
This message commends the church in Smyrna for remaining faithful despite poverty and persecution. Some key points:
- Christ reminds them He has overcome death
- He knows their struggles and that they are spiritually rich
- He warns them of coming persecution and imprisonment
- He encourages them to remain faithful even to death
- He promises eternal life to those who overcome
The message emphasizes endurance during persecution and gives hope of eternal rewards.
Why is the message to Smyrna significant?
The message to the church in Smyrna contains some important themes:
- It reminds believers that Christ understands and cares about their suffering.
- It warns that persecution and testing may intensify.
- It calls believers to remain loyal to Christ despite hardships.
- It encourages the church to look beyond temporary trials to eternal victory.
Persecution and poverty was a real danger facing the early church. This message would have offered comfort and hope by reminding them of Christ’s sovereignty, presence, and promise of eternal life.
The themes of this message remain relevant for believers today who face persecution, poverty, slander, imprisonment, and other hardships because of their faith.
What is known about the church in Smyrna?
Smyrna was a city on the west coast of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Some key facts about the church there:
- Smyrna had a large, active Jewish community that was hostile toward Christians.
- The church faced slander and persecution from local Jewish leaders and citizens.
- They suffered severe poverty, likely due to socio-economic exclusion.
- Despite this, they remained faithful to Christ and were spiritually rich.
- Polycarp, an early Christian martyr and Bishop of Smyrna, was executed in the city around 155 AD.
The Book of Revelation would have provided encouragement to this beleaguered but spiritually vibrant community.
Persecution in Smyrna
The persecution and poverty mentioned in Revelation matched historical reality for Christians in Smyrna:
|168 BC||Smyrna participates in the massacre of 20,000 Jews|
|26 AD||Smyrna granted the right to build a temple to the goddess Roma and Emperor Tiberius by Rome|
|155 AD||Martyrdom of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna|
|178 AD||Irenaeus records a letter from the church of Smyrna recounting the martyrdom of bishop Pothinus in Gaul|
This history helps explain the persecution and slander Christians faced from Jews, idol worshippers, and Roman authorities in Smyrna.
How does this message point to Christ?
There are some key ways the message to Smyrna highlights the person and work of Christ:
- Highlights Christ’s sovereignty – He is “the First and the Last,” eternal God who is over all things.
- Reveals Christ’s presence – He says “I know your afflictions” showing His intimate knowledge and care for His people.
- Shows Christ’s sacrifice – “Who died and came to life again” reminds of His atoning death on our behalf.
- Offers Christ’s promise – “I will give you life as your victor’s crown” points to salvation and eternal life through Christ.
The message centers around Christ’s nature, presence, sacrifice, and promises to reassure His followers facing trial.
How does this message relate to spiritual warfare?
The message hints at ongoing spiritual warfare:
- “The slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” – implies Satan’s influence over the persecutors.
- “The devil will put some of you in prison to test you” – directly names Satan’s role in their trials.
But it gives hope that remaining faithful to Christ overcomes the damage of spiritual warfare:
- “Do not be afraid…I will give you life as your victor’s crown” – promises eternal victory despite temporary defeat or death.
The message reminds believers that persecution is ultimately driven by Satan, but Christ has won the victory.
How should Christians today respond to this message?
Here are some important applications from the message to Smyrna for believers today:
- Remember Christ’s sovereignty, presence, and sacrifice when you face trials.
- Don’t be surprised by increasing persecution – expect and prepare for hardship.
- Rely on the Holy Spirit’s help to remain faithful to Christ despite challenges.
- Keep an eternal perspective – your trials today are temporary but victory in Christ is forever.
- Look to Christ’s return and the final defeat of evil – Satan is already defeated though evil persists for now.
No matter what difficulties come, Christ holds ultimate power and believers can have confidence in His promise of eternal life.
The second angel in the book of Revelation bears an important message to the church in Smyrna. It commends them for their spiritual vitality despite poverty and persecution. The message calls them to persevere in faithfulness and offers hope through reminders of Christ’s sovereignty, presence, sacrifice, and promise of eternal life. This would have encouraged the early church during their trials and continues to help modern Christians facing hardships for their faith. Though evil persists for now, we can trust that Christ has secured the ultimate victory.