The church in Smyrna signifies the church under the persecution of the Roman Empire during the first few centuries of the church’s existence. The Greek word smyrna means myrrh. Myrrh signifies suffering in the Bible. This was a time of persecution and martyrdom in the church. What this epistle shows us is that the church needs to know the Lord as the First and the Last, the ever-existing, unchanging One, and the resurrection. There are critical points in this epistle that show us the way to suffer persecution, a way that profits us both personally in our spiritual life and corporately for the building up of the church.
The Greek word pergamos means marriage and fortified tower. The church in Pergamos prefigures the church wedded to the world. The world first slanders and persecutes us, as seen in the church in Ephesus. But if this proves unsuccessful, the world then welcomes us, causing us to eventually lose our testimony. This church can be summed up in one word— compromise. The spirit of Pergamos is the spirit of compromise. The master stroke of the enemy against the church is the world. Hidden manna is the most important point in this epistle. Hidden manna stands in opposition to the world. Our sweet, intimate fellowship with the Lord, signified by the hidden manna, is versus the world. If we eat the hidden manna, we will eventually become the white stone, a transformed material good for God’s building.
(Note: This is the second in a six part series on the seven churches in Revelation)