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Some interpreters, who hold this view and wish to support it, appeal to 1 John ; ; and , where John referred to his readers as overcomers. However, in 1 John and , John said his readers had overcome the world, not that all Christians are overcomers. In 1 John he wrote that only believers in Christ can overcome the world, not that every believer in Christ does overcome the world. Therefore, I believe that these verses in 1 John, while in harmony with the ones cited in Revelation, are not sufficient proof that all believers are overcomers.
Nevertheless, all believers are overcomers in the sense that they have overcome the world by their saving faith in Christ. Some students of Revelation have concluded that the overcomers are not all Christians but only faithful Christians. Similarly, other New Testament writers wrote of our blessings as believers in Christ in order to motivate us to live in harmony with our calling.
A third view is that overcomers are faithful Christians, and the unfaithful will lose their salvation.
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Promises that God will complete the salvation that He began in every one of His elect make this option unlikely e. In the nature of the case the promises afford inspiration for faith and fortitude in all who may be called to lay down their lives for Christ, and they are intended to do so. John prefaced the promise with a special exhortation to give attention "he who has an ear, let him hear".
The time when Christians will enter into these promises must follow the time set forth in chapter one—Christ appearing as Judge in the midst of the seven Churches. The Church must first be brought into judgment, and then overcoming Christians will realize that which has been promised. The promise itself is that those who "remember," "repent," and "repeat do the first works" v. Adam in his unfallen state had access to this "tree," but when he fell, God kept him from it Gen.
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In the future, believers will have access to it again cf. This promise suggests that overcomers will experience the fellowship with God that Adam and Eve enjoyed before the Fall. Levi ; Apoc. Elijah , and this metaphor continues to be used by Christian authors T. Jacob … The tree of life is not simply a symbol for eternal life alone but also represents the cosmic center of reality where eternal life is present and available, and where God dwells….
The "tree of life" appears four times in the Book of Proverbs, and its use there helps us understand its presence in Genesis and Revelation. Solomon referred to "wisdom" Prov. These are all the fruits that would have provided Adam, and will provide the overcomers, with what they will need to flourish in the millennial kingdom and beyond. Both the "tree of life" in Eden, and the "tree of life" in the New Jerusalem Rev. In church history, conditions described in this letter characterized the apostolic age especially.
John penned this letter to commend its recipients for their endurance of persecution and poverty for the sake of Jesus Christ. He also did so to exhort them to be fearless and faithful "even to death. Smyrna was another seaport on the Aegean Sea; it was about 40 miles north of Ephesus.
Late in the first century it was a large, wealthy city with a population of about , It still thrives today—as "Izmir"—with a population of about , Jesus Christ described Himself to this church as the eternal One "the first and the last" who had died and then experienced resurrection. It becomes very fragrant when someone crushes it. These believers would have found encouragement, that even though the prospect of death threatened them, resurrection and eternal life with Christ were certain.
Smyrna had died as a city on several occasions, because of invasions and earthquakes, but each time it had risen again to new life because the residents kept rebuilding it. In Smyrna, many residents worshipped a goddess named "Cybele," whom they regarded as the personification of the yearly rejuvenation of nature.
Her devotees claimed that she arose from the dead every spring. Jesus Christ knew the afflictions "tribulation," lit. Evidently their persecutors were cutting off some of their incomes. It had been exposed to constant persecution. In spite of their physical poverty, the Christians in Smyrna were "rich," spiritually. Evidently some of the persecutors were "say they are" "Jews," who both slandered the Christians cf.
Acts and cursed Jesus Christ cf. They apparently claimed to be committed to God, but were not true believing Israelites. They came from Satan's camp "the synagogue of Satan"; cf. Acts ; , The name "Satan" Gr. Another less probable view, I think, is that these opponents were not Jews but antagonistic, unbelieving Gentiles. Jesus Christ had no rebuke for the saints of Smyrna.
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Evidently, in their trials, they had remained pure in belief and behavior. These persecuted Christians did not need to "fear" their adversaries or death, since they would live forever with Jesus Christ.
Job 1. This would be a trial Gr. The "ten days" of trouble may refer to a period of relatively brief duration, specifically the "days" of persecution under 10 Roman emperors cf. Other interpreters view the "ten days" as symbolic. Some interpret these days as undefined short periods of trial. Of these, some view the days as a longer period of time.
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The citizens of Smyrna had a reputation for being "faithful" to the emperor because of their previous acts of fidelity to him. Smyrna had secured from Tiberius and the senate, after keen competition, the coveted distinction of possessing the second temple decreed by the province to the Imperial cultus. The "crown of life" is probably the fullness of eternal life as a reward cf. This appears to be a victor's crown Gr.
It is not the gift of eternal life itself, but the fullness of that life cf. John , et al. The person who endures these trials will receive the "crown of life" after Jesus Christ has approved him or her. This approval will take place when the Lord evaluates that believer's works at the judgment seat of Christ 1 Cor. He will award the crown at this judgment 1 Cor. For shepherding God's flock faithfully. The Greeks called Smyrna "the crown of Asia Minor" because of its beauty as a city.
Moreover, every year a few city administrators, rulers, and priests each received a "crown of leaves" for his faithfulness to his duties. Christians will not ever a double negative in Greek: "not in any way" suffer injury or harm Gr. It follows the first death, which is separation of the soul from the body. But since the second death is actual banishment from the presence and life of God Rev.
Examples include, "I am not amused" meaning "I am very annoyed" , "I won't forget that" meaning "I'll remember it" , and "That test was no snap! For some biblical examples, see Acts ; ; , 12; ; and The point of the Lord's promise is that those who remain faithful will experience eternal life to the utmost in the life to come. The first death might hurt them briefly, but the second death would not hurt them at all.
Historically the church experienced intense persecution during the post-apostolic era, until Constantine elevated Christianity to the official religion of the Roman Empire. As mentioned before, some interpreters have correlated the 10 days of persecution v. The purpose of this letter was to encourage the Christians in Pergamum for their past and present faithfulness to Christ, and to urge them to reject the false teaching in their midst.
Pergamum modern Bergama lay about 55 miles north of Smyrna, inland a few miles from the Aegean coast.
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The meaning of the name "Pergamum" is "citadel. Third, it was the leader and center of the production of parchment, which derived its name from the city. Jesus Christ described Himself as "the One" who judges with His Word "the sharp two-edged sword"; cf. God's Word both separates believers from the world, and sinners from God.
This is perhaps its double-edged quality. Or perhaps life and death are in view. Roman officials who had the right to carry this sword Gr. The Christians in Pergamum were thus reminded that though they lived under the rule of an almost unlimited imperium , they were citizens of another kingdom—that of him who needs no other sword than that of his mouth …" . The Pergamum Christians had held firmly to their commitment to Jesus Christ and their witness for Him, even though they lived in one of Satan's strongholds.
He was condemned to death and was shut up in a brazen or copper bull, which was then heated until it was red-hot. This made Pergamum "the Lourdes of the Province of Asia. Swete referred it to the rampant paganism of Pergamum that included emperor worship.