SMYRNA (Currently Izmir - Revelation 2:8-11)

The history of Smyrna goes back to the 3rd millenium B.C. In the 10th century B.C. Ionians occupied the city. The famous geographer Strabo tells us that as that of Ephesus, the Amazons were the founders of the city. Lydians conquered and devastated the city in the 7th century B.C. The city was re-established after Alexander the Great expelled Persians from Western Anatolia. Then the control of the city was shifted to Pergamum and finally to Rome. This was when a number of majestic buildings were erected in the city.

178 A.D. became the year of destruction for Smyrna; a major earthquake destroyed nearly every building in the city. Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius reconstructed Smyrna. The worst time in the history of the city was when the Arab raids started in the 7th century. The Seljuk period and crusaders followed this. Finally, in the 15th century Ottomans took over. The commercial activities flourished again. The city was considered as an important port-city of Asia Minor during Ottoman period and attracted many European traders. Now, it is still one of the most important port-cities of Turkey.

The famous bishop of Christian church, Polycorp served in Smyrna between 115 to 156 A.D. He and eleven other Christians from Philadelphia were burned at the stake in 156 A.D. during the persecution of Christians in Smyrna. He was a good transmitter and follower of the early traditions of Christian faith.

In his letter to the Christians of Smyrna, 60 years before Polycorp's massacre, St.John wrote :

"(Revelation 2:8) To the angel of the church in Smyrna write :
This is the message from the one who is the first and the last, who died and lived again. (2:9) I know your troubles; I know that you are poor but really you are rich! I know the evil things said against you by those who claim to be Jews but are not; they are a group that belongs to Satan! Don't be afraid of anything you are about to suffer. Listen! The Devil will put you to test by having some of you thrown into prison, and your troubles will last ten days. Be faithful to me, even if it means death, and I will give you life as your prize of victory. If you have ears, then listen to what the Spirit says to the churches! Those who win the victory will not be hurt by the second death."

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