And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death. (Rev. 2:8-11)
The church in Smyrna faced the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews (Rev. 2:9). Slander is something that all of Gods faithful children have to face. Notice here that the slander and opposition that this church was facing was from those who called themselves Gods people - those who say they are Jews, but are not, but are a synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9).
Those Jews were religious people, who studied their Bibles (Genesis to Malachi). Yet the Lord called them a synagogue of Satan, because they were hypocrites. That is why they persecuted the true disciples of Jesus.
Many a synagogue that was started by God-fearing Jews degenerated into a synagogue of Satan over a period of time. In the same way, many churches that were started by God-fearing believers, have also degenerated into churches of Satan, in Gods eyes, today.
Opposition for the true disciples of Jesus today, comes not just from heathen religions (which is understandable), but also from those who say they are Christians, but who are not, but are a church of Satan.
Today, if we said that a so-called Christian church was a church of Satan, many would accuse us of being un-Christlike. But they forget that it was Jesus Himself Who rebuked Peter saying Get behind Me, Satan (Mt.16:23), and that it was Jesus Who called this group of religious people a synagogue of Satan. He would use exactly the same strong language today to rebuke churches that have drifted from their calling.
Jesus warned His disciples, They will make you outcasts from the synagogue; but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. And these things they will do, because they have not known the Father, or Me. (Jn.16:2,3).
What He said then that the people in a synagogue would do to His disciples, was in later centuries done by churches too. In the middle ages, God fearing disciples of Jesus were killed by Christian inquisitionists.
This hatred of the disciples of Jesus will reach its peak during the time of the Antichrist and the Babylonian world church. We must be prepared to face it when it comes. That is why we must not be afraid of the little slander and opposition that we face from so-called Christians these days.
We must never be afraid of being slandered - for Jesus Himself was maligned. He was called a gluttonous man, a false teacher, a blasphemer, an insane man, a demon-possessed man, a half-breed and one who had Satanic power (Lk.7:34; Jn.7:12; Mt.26:65; Mk.3:21,22; Mt.12:24; Jn.8:48).
He told His disciples, A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become as his teacher, and the slave as his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul (a Jewish title for Satan, the prince of demons), how much more the members of his household! (Mt.10:24,25).
Peter exhorts us saying, Keep your behaviour excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Pet.2:12).
Gods promise to us is, No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. And their vindication is from Me. (Isa.54:17). So we need not fear slander. The Lord Himself will vindicate us at the right time. Until then we can afford to keep quiet and ignore what ungodly people say about us.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon