Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 2:9

‘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.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Afflictions and Adversities;   Blasphemy;   Church;   Hypocrisy;   Persecution;   Satan;   Synagogue;   Scofield Reference Index - Repentance;   Satan;   Thompson Chain Reference - Blessings-Afflictions;   Poverty;   Poverty-Riches;   Riches, Spiritual;   Trials;   Tribulation;   The Topic Concordance - Endurance;   Faith/faithfulness;   Giving and Gifts;   Knowledge;   Life;   Righteousness;   Suffering;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Blasphemy;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Satan;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Poor;   Satan;   Smyrna;   Synagogue;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Satan;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Patience of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Smyrna;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Church;   Satan;   Smyrna;   Synagogue;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Blasphemy;   Jews in the New Testament;   Letter Form and Function;   Persecution in the Bible;   Revelation, the Book of;   Smyrna;   Works;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Asia;   Magi;   Nicolas;   Smyrna;   Synagogue;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Blasphemy ;   Church;   Devil ;   Divination;   Genealogies;   Jew, Jewess;   Jezebel;   Lying ;   Smyrna ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Jew;   Smyrna ;   Synagogue;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Sepharvaim;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Smyr'na;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Rich (and forms);   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Nicolaitans;   Smyrna;   Synagogue;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Blasphemy;   Poverty;   Revelation of John:;   Satan, Synagogue of;   Smyrna;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I know thy works - As he had spoken to the preceding Church, so he speaks to this: I know all that ye have done, and all that ye have suffered. The tribulation here mentioned must mean persecution, either from the Jews, the heathens, or from the heretics, who, because of their flesh-pampering doctrines might have had many partisans at Smyrna.

And poverty - Stripped probably of all their temporal possessions, because of their attachment to the Gospel.

But thou art rich - Rich in faith, and heir of the kingdom of Christ.

The blasphemy of them which say they are Jews - There were persons there who professed Judaism, and had a synagogue in the place, and professed to worship the true God; but they had no genuine religion, and they served the devil rather than God. They applied a sacred name to an unholy thing: and this is one meaning of the word blasphemy in this book.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-2.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I know thy works - The uniform method of introducing these epistles, implying a most intimate acquaintance with all that pertained to the church. See the notes on Revelation 2:2.

And tribulation - This word is of a general signification, and probably includes all that they suffered in any form, whether from persecution, poverty, or the blasphemy of opposers.

And poverty - It would seem that this church, at that time, was eminently poor, for this is not specified in regard to any one of the others. No reason is suggested why they were particularly poor. It was not, indeed, an uncommon characteristic of early Christians (compare 1 Corinthians 1:26-28), but there might have Been some special reasons why that church was eminently so. It is, however, the only church of the seven which has survived, and perhaps in the end its poverty was no disadvantage.

But thou art rich - Not in this world‘s goods, but in a more important respect - in the grace and favor of God. These things are not infrequently united. Poverty is no hindrance to the favor of God, and there are some things in it which are favorable to the promotion of a right spirit toward God which are not found where there is abundant wealth. The Saviour was eminently poor, and not a few of his most devoted and useful followers have had as little of this world‘s goods as he had. The poor should always be cheerful and happy, if they can hear their Saviour saying unto them, “I know thy poverty - but thou art rich.” However keen the feeling arising from the reflection “I am a poor man,” the edge of the sorrow is taken off if the mind can be turned to a brighter image - “but thou art rich.”

And I know the blasphemy - The reproaches; the harsh and bitter revilings. On the word “blasphemy,” see the notes on Matthew 9:3; Matthew 26:65. The word here does not seem to refer to blasphemy against God, but to bitter reproaches against themselves. The reason of these reproaches is not stated, but it was doubtless on account of their religion.

Of them which say they are Jews - Who profess to be Jews. The idea seems to be that though they were of Jewish extraction, and professed to be Jews, they were not true Jews; they indulged in a bitterness of reproach, and a severity of language, which showed that they had not the spirit of the Jewish religion; they had nothing which became those who were under the guidance of the spirit of their own Scriptures. That would have inculcated and fostered a milder temper; and the meaning here is, that although they were of Jewish origin, they were not worthy of the name. That spirit of bitter opposition was indeed often manifested in their treatment of Christians, as it had been of the Saviour, but still it was foreign to the true nature of their religion. There were Jews in all parts of Asia Minor, and the apostles often encountered them in their journeyings, but it would seem that there was something which had particularly embittered those of Smyrna against Christianity. What this was is now unknown.

It may throw some light on the passage, however, to remark that at a somewhat later period - in the time of the martyrdom of Polycarp - the Jews of Smyrna were among the most bitter of the enemies of Christians, and among the most violent in demanding the death of Polycarp. Eusebius (Eccl. Hist. 4:15) says,. that when Polycarp was apprehended, and brought before the proconsul at Smyrna, the Jews were the most furious of all in demanding his condemnation. When the mob, after his condemnation to death, set about gathering fuel to burn him, “the Jews,” says he, “being especially zealous, as was their custom - μάλιστα προθύμως, ὡς ἔθος αὐτοῖς malista prothumōshōs ethos autois- ran to procure fuel.” And when, as the burning failed, the martyr was transfixed with weapons, the Jews urged and besought the magistrate that his body might not be given up to Christians. Possibly at the time when this epistle was directed to be sent to Smyrna, there were Jews there who manifested the same spirit which those of their countrymen did afterward, who urged on the death of Polycarp.

But are the synagogue of Satan - Deserve rather to be called the synagogue of Satan. The synagogue was a Jewish place of worship (compare the notes on Matthew 4:23), but the word originally denoted “the assembly” or “the congregation.” The meaning here is plain, that though they worshipped in a synagogue, and professed to be the worshippers of God, yet they were not worthy of the name, and deserved rather to be regarded as in the service of Satan. “Satan” is the word that is properly applied to the great evil spirit, elsewhere called the devil. See the Luke 22:3 note, and Job 1:6 note.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-2.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

I know thy tribulation, and thy poverty (but thou art rich), and the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

This verse is a commentary on the situation at Smyrna at the time John wrote. Despite the claims of many commentators to the effect that no provincial persecution against the church by the state of Rome existed until the times of Domitian, hence supporting a late date for Revelation, there has recently come to light a great corpus of facts which point squarely to the times of Nero for just such an outbreak. The impact of the Neronean terror was mentioned both by Clement and by Tacitus, the fact of "thousands being put to death" in all probability being no exaggeration but possibly an understatement. Nero's being honored at Smyrna as "the Saviour of the whole human race" is evidence enough that any contradiction of this by Christians would have been proscribed and have resulted speedily in their death. As for the allegedly great persecution in the times of Domitian, "Recent studies have been strongly in the direction of showing that the evidence for a widespread persecution under Domitian is late and probably exaggerated"[47] Sir William Ramsay's extravagant elaboration of the Domitian persecution is followed by many writers; but, as Robinson said, "However, (it is) largely drawn from his own imagination, playing on evidence in Revelation already interpreted as Domitianic material."[48]

And are a synagogue of Satan ... This, along with "them that say they are Jews, and they are not" shows that John has preempted the glorious titles of the once chosen people for the Christians. Christians are the real Jews, the true sons of Israel, as in Romans 2:28. The Jews' meeting place is here designated "a synagogue of Satan." Although James used "synagogue" as designating a place of Christian worship, this was probably quite early, or possibly a name used only in Jerusalem. From the first, Christians preferred the word "church," which in time came to stand for the place of assembly also.

[47] John A. T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1976), p. 233.

[48] Ibid.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

I know thy works,.... Good works, as before in Revelation 2:2,

and tribulation; this is Christ's legacy to his people, and which lies in their way to heaven; and never was the way of any to heaven more strewed with it than was the way of the saints in this period. But Christ took notice of it, and of them in it; he knew their souls in adversity, and remarked their patience under it, and their constancy, and close adherence to him:

and poverty; which was true in a literal sense, through the spoiling of their goods, to which they were exposed for the profession of Christ: nothing is more contemptible among men than poverty, yet Christ takes notice of it, and owns his people in it; for this poverty came not by sin, but by sufferings for his sake:

but thou art rich; they were rich, in faith, and heirs of a kingdom, though poor in this world; they were rich with the riches of Christ, with the blessings of the covenant, with the graces of the Spirit, and in good works; they were kings and priests unto God, had a kingdom of grace here, and a right to the kingdom of glory hereafter; and were heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ,

And I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not; who asserted themselves to be the true Israel of God, Jews that were so inwardly, regenerate persons, or truly Christians; for the Christians, baptized personsF13Vid. Arrian. Epictet. l. 2. c. 9. , were by the Heathens called Jews; but these were not, they professed Christianity in words, but in works denied it; they were men of bad principles and practices, and both blasphemed the ways and doctrines of Christ themselves, and caused them to be blasphemed by others also; they were false Christians, nominal professors, and shunned persecution for the Gospel; who were not what they would be thought to be: these were the broachers of heresies in this period of time, in which there was a multitude of them, and which chiefly respected the doctrine of the Trinity, and the person of Christ; and they were introducers of Pagan and Jewish rites into the church, and were men of flagitious lives and conversations, and paved the way for the man of sin:

but are the synagogue of Satan: were the children of the devil, imitated him, and were influenced by him, and were the forerunners of antichrist, whose coming was after the working of Satan,

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-2.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

7 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but [are] the synagogue of Satan.

(7) The proposition of praise is in this verse, and of exhortation joined with a promise, is in (Revelation 2:10).
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-2.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

thy works, and — omitted in two oldest manuscripts, Vulgate, and Coptic. Supported by one oldest manuscript.

tribulation — owing to persecution.

poverty — owing to “the spoiling of their goods.”

but thou art rich — in grace. Contrast Laodicea, rich in the world‘s eyes and her own, poor before God. “There are both poor rich-men, and rich poor-men in God‘s sight” [Trench].

blasphemy of them — blasphemous calumny of thee on the part of (or arising from) them.

say they are Jews, and are not — Jews by national descent, but not spiritually of “the true circumcision.” The Jews blaspheme Christ as “the hanged one.” As elsewhere, so at Smyrna they bitterly opposed Christianity; and at Polycarp‘s martyrdom they joined the heathens in clamoring for his being cast to the lions; and when there was an obstacle to this, for his being burnt alive; and with their own hands they carried logs for the pile.

synagogue of Satan — Only once is the term “synagogue” in the New Testament used of the Christian assembly, and that by the apostle who longest maintained the union of the Church and Jewish Synagogue. As the Jews more and more opposed Christianity, and it more and more rooted itself in the Gentile world, the term “synagogue” was left altogether to the former, and Christians appropriated exclusively the honorable term “Church”; contrast an earlier time when the Jewish theocracy is called “the Church in the wilderness.” Compare Numbers 16:3; Numbers 20:4, “congregation of the Lord.” Even in James 2:2 it is “your (not the Lord‘s) assembly.” The Jews, who might have been “the Church of God,” had now, by their opposition and unbelief, become the synagogue of Satan. So “the throne of Satan” (Revelation 2:13) represents the heathens‘ opposition to Christianity; “the depths of Satan” (Revelation 2:24), the opposition of heretics.

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-2.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Thy tribulation and thy poverty (σου την τλιπσιν και πτωχειανsou tēn thlipsin kai ptōcheian). Separate articles of same gender, emphasizing each item. The tribulation was probably persecution, which helped to intensify the poverty of the Christians (James 2:5; 1 Corinthians 1:26; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 2 Corinthians 8:2). In contrast with the wealthy church in Laodicea (Revelation 3:17).

But thou art rich (αλλα πλουσιος ειalla plousios ei). Parenthesis to show the spiritual riches of this church in contrast with the spiritual poverty in Laodicea (Revelation 3:17), this a rich poor church, that a poor rich church. Rich in grace toward God (Luke 12:21) and in good deeds (1 Timothy 6:18). Perhaps Jews and pagans had pillaged their property (Hebrews 10:34), poor as they already were.

Blasphemy (βλασπημιανblasphēmian). Reviling believers in Christ. See Mark 7:22. The precise charge by these Jews is not indicated, but see Acts 13:45.

Of them which say (εκ των λεγοντωνek tōn legontōn). “From those saying” (εκek with the ablative plural of the present active articular participle of λεγωlegō).

They are Jews (Ιουδαιους ειναι εαυτουςIoudaious einai heautous). This is the accusative of general reference and the infinitive in indirect discourse after λεγωlegō (Acts 5:36; Acts 8:9) even though λεγοντωνlegontōn is here ablative (cf. Revelation 3:9), common idiom. These are actual Jews and only Jews, not Christians.

And they are not (και ουκ εισινkai ouk eisin). Another parenthesis like that in Revelation 2:2. These are Jews in name only, not spiritual Jews (Galatians 6:15., Romans 2:28).

A synagogue of Satan (συναγωγη του Σαταναsunagōgē tou Satanā). In Revelation 3:9 again and note Revelation 2:13, Revelation 2:24, serving the devil (John 8:44) instead of the Lord (Numbers 16:3; Numbers 20:4).

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Thy works and

Omit.

Tribulation ( θλῖψιν )

See on Matthew 13:21. Referring to the persecutions of Jewish and heathen oppressors. See on Smyrna, Revelation 2:8.

Poverty ( πτωχείαν )

Because, like all the other early Christian churches, the majority of its members were of the poorer classes, and also, perhaps, with reference to their robbery by persecutors. See on poor, Matthew 5:3.

Rich

In faith and grace. Compare James 2:6, James 2:7; 1 Timothy 6:17, 1 Timothy 6:18; Luke 12:21; Matthew 19:21.

Blasphemy ( βλασφημίαν )

See on Mark 7:22. Not primarily direct blasphemy against God, but reviling at believers.

Jews

Literally. Not Christians, as in Philippians 3:3; Romans 2:28, Romans 2:29. Actually Jews by birth, but not spiritually. The title is not given them by the Spirit, nor by the seer, but by themselves; and none would use that title except such as were Jews by birth and by religion. The enmity of the Jews against Christians is a familiar fact to all readers of the book of Acts; and it is a matter of history that their malignity was especially displayed toward the Church of Smyrna. In the circular letter addressed by the Church of Smyrna to the churches in the Christian world, it is related that Jews joined with heathen in clamoring that Polycarp should be cast to the lions or burned alive, and were foremost ὡς ἔθος αὐτοῖς (as was their wont ) in bringing logs for the pile, and in the endeavor to prevent the remains of the martyr from being delivered to his Christian associates for burial.

Synagogue of Satan

For synagogue, see on assembly, James 2:2, the only passage in which the word is used for a Christian assembly. This fact goes to support the literal explanation of the term Jews. For Satan, see on Luke 10:18. For John's use of the expression the Jews, see on John 1:19. The use of the word here in an honorable sense, so different from John's custom, has been urged against his authorship of Revelation. But John here only quotes the word, and, further, employs it without the article.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-2.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

I know thy affliction and poverty — A poor prerogative in the eyes of the world! The angel at Philadelphia likewise had in their sight but "a little strength." And yet these two were the most honourable of all in the eyes of the Lord.

But thou art rich — In faith and love, of more value than all the kingdoms of the earth.

Who say they are Jews — God's own people.

And are not — They are not Jews inwardly, not circumcised in heart.

But a synagogue of Satan — Who, like them, was a liar and a murderer from the beginning.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-2.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

But thou art rich; rich in faith and in good works.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-2.html. 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Ver. 9. I know thy works and tribulations] Mark (saith one) the conjunction, "works and tribulations." Active stirring Christians are like to suffer much. Of Sardis and Laodicea only, we read not of any troubles they had.

And poverty, but thou art rich.] Poverty discommends not any to Christ; money bears no mastery in his kingdom. Thou art poor, saith he here; but that is neither here nor there; it is a matter of nothing, that, stumble not therefore at the Church’s poverty. She is ever rich: 1. In reversion, and hath heaven and happiness; she is ever rich in bills and bonds. 2. In an apparent pledge that is worth all the world besides; that is, in Christ. If he have given us his Son, &c. All is yours who are Christ’s, &c.

That say they are Jews] That is, right worshippers, as the Turks at this day style themselves Mussulmans, that is, the only true believers; Papists, the only Catholics. Faciunt et vespae favos, et simiae imitantur homines. Cyprian.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-2.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 2:9. And poverty (but thou art rich); &c.— "I know the humble opinion thou hast of thyself, and thy poverty in temporal respects; but thou art rich in grace, and in all its genuine effects, and art daily laying up for thyself an increasing treasure in heaven." With respect to the next clause, we may observe, that it is folly and hypocrisy for any one now to call himself a Jew, if he mean by that to signify that he is one of the chosen people of God, and a true worshipper; seeing that real Christians are now that people, the true and spiritual Israel, and consequently the only people who have a right to the written promises of God, and the privileges of the true worshippers in the visible church. The blasphemy, therefore, of these pretended Jews consisted in this, that they lied against God, by pretending to worship him truly: for his will being now to be worshipped through and with his Son, to worship him wilfully otherwise, is to worship him in vain,—to be guilty of a lie against God. It appears from the history of those times, that the Jews were then great enemies to the Christians; and in Smyrna more particularly, perhaps, than any where else, at least in any of these churches. It should seem therefore by this, that Polycarp, who is generally thought to be the bishop here addressed, and his flock, did already, and would hereafter, meet with great vexation from these men. If they were as vexatious and malicious at this time as they were at that of his martyrdom, they were the most bitter and cruel enemies he ever had; incensing the Heathens against him, and shewing themselves the most forward persecutors. The epistle of his church, which gives an account of his martyrdom, takes notice of it; for we read, that "the Jews especially, as is their custom, shewed their forwardness in contributing to it." We may just observe further, that the Jews of those times, being, if not the tormentors, yet the principal accusers of the Christians before the Pagans, did thus the work of Satan, who, according to his name, is the accuser of the brethren. In this sense they were of the synagogue, or secret council of Satan.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-2.html. 1801-1803.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 2:9. τ. θλὶψιν. Altogether general.(1040) To this, affliction, imprisonment, and death (Revelation 2:10), disgrace and need, belong. If it be possible for the πτωχεία to be connected with the θλῖψις, and to originate from the fact that Christians were despoiled of their property,(1041) yet, also,(1042) that on account of their poverty the Christians were utterly helpless when their Jewish enemies possibly supported their calumnious charges before the heathen rulers with money;(1043) yet this inner connection of θλῖψις, πτωχεία, and βλασφη΄ία is in no way indicated, and the simple admission is sufficient, that, besides the troubles occasioned by Jews and heathen, the Church was under the burden of poverty. To this it is immediately added parenthetically, in a consolatory antithesis: ἀλλὰ πλούσιος εἰ, viz., in spiritual goods or in God.(1044) To endeavor to find here an allusion to the name Polycarp(1045) (rich in fruit), is arbitrary. In what the βλασφη΄ία which Christians had to suffer consisted, can only be conjectured with any certainty if the λέγοντες ʼιουδαίους εἶναι ἑαυτούς,(1046) from whom they went forth,(1047) are regarded not as Christians(1048) but as actual Jews; which the wording and the historical relations, as they were still at the time of the apologists, support. The carnal pride of the Jews, and their godless zeal for the law,(1049) were already, at the time of Paul, the cause of their unbelief, and hostility to Christians which they published in false and calumnious charges, among which was the one brought of old,(1050) viz., of exciting seditions, which generally had the greater weight with the heathen,(1051) as this occurred at a time in which the Roman rulers, because of the war in Judaea, had to be doubly watchful and suspicious in all places.(1052) Even the martyrdom of Polycarp occurred with the essential participation of the Jews.(1053)

As, to the proud claim of those who boasted of the theocratic name of Jews, the judgment is added that they are not,(1054) so also what is positively said concerning their true nature, ἀλλὰ συναγωγὴ τοῦ σατανᾶ, contains a sharp opposition to the claim of being the συναγωγὴ κυρίου(1055) which essentially concurs with the former boast. But they are rather the synagogue of Satan, because they do the antichristian works of Satan,(1056) to which also belongs the βλασφημεῖν with its lies and hatred.(1057) The expression συναγωγή, which in the N. T. only once in James(1058) designates the Christian congregational assembly,—yet even there is combined not with τοῦ θεοῦ, etc., but with ὑμῶν,—has in itself a significative antithesis to the true ἐκκλησία τ. θεοῦ or τ. κυρίου. We can scarcely suppose that John could have changed the expression ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ, which was a fixed designation for the Christian Church, as it is used even of the O. T. people of God, into ἐκκλησία τοῦ σατανᾶ.(1059) There is an allusion of similar severity in Hosea,(1060) when he writes בֵּית אָוֶן instead of בֵּית־אֵל.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-2.html. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I know thy works, and tribulation: though the term know doth not necessarily signify approbation, yet, both as to the church of Ephesus and Smyrna, the particular works mentioned assure us, that God approved their patient suffering affliction for his name.

And poverty; and the poor condition (as to outward things) into which they had brought themselves, for their owning and profession of the gospel of Christ, having their estates rent from them, &c.

But thou art rich; but yet they were rich, both really in the love and favour of God, and also in the esteem of God, who accounteth them rich who abound in spiritual habits, and good works, the exercise of those habits.

And I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not: God also knows the evil speeches of his church’s enemies, whether native Jews, glorying in circumcision and the law, and that they were descended from Abraham; or false Christians, who may be here meant (called Jews by a figure; the Jews being once the only church of God).

But are the synagogue of Satan; but are indeed a collection of devils, or the children of the devil, whose works they do, continually reviling true Christians, and murdering the saints, after the manner of their father, who was a murderer from the beginning.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-2.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

говорят о себе, что они Иудеи Хотя физически они были Иудеями, но в действительности они были язычниками (ср. Рим. 2:28), которые вместе с другими язычниками, стремясь уничтожить христианскую веру, предали Христа смерти.

сборище сатанинское Отвергнув Христа, иудаизм становится таким же орудием сатаны, как и поклонение императору.

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-2.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

But thou art rich; spiritually rich, notwithstanding thy deep poverty in temporal things. Here, as in all the epistles, the angel of the church represents the church itself, and what is said to him is said to the church also.

Say they are Jews; a corrupt sect of Judaizers seems to be referred to. They boasted of their Jewish origin, and magnified the institutions of Judaism, but lacked the spirit of true Jews, Romans 2:28-29, and had, instead of it, the spirit of Satan. To true believers, Christ is a faithful, ever-present, all-sufficient friend; making them rich in the deepest poverty, honorable in the greatest abasement, and blessed in the heaviest trials. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-2.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (although you are rich) and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.’

Smyrna is a suffering church. They are at present facing tribulation, and will yet face greater tribulation, as depicted later. They are poor in this world’s goods, but rich in what really matters, the things of God (compare James 2:5).

Their present problems stem from actions initiated by Jews, certain of whom regularly persecuted the early church and stirred up the people and the authorities against them. (They would later be the main cause of the martyrdom of Polycarp in this very place (156 AD)). And these Jews claim to do it in the name of God, which can only be regarded as blasphemy, for they are attacking the people of God. Thus they show themselves really to be serving Satan in what they are doing, assisting him as he seeks to make war on God’s people (Revelation 12:17). Their synagogue has become the tool of Satan.

‘Satan’ means ‘the adversary’ and they are here acting as adversaries against the people of God. Compare how Jesus told the Pharisees that they were of their father the Devil (John 8:44) when they professed to serve God but demonstrated by their actions whom they really served.

In the light of the fact that the other letters refer specifically to events in Old Testament history in ascending chronological order, and the fact that overcomers will avoid ‘the second death’, which relates to the accounts of the first deaths in Genesis 4:8; Genesis 4:23, we may well apply this situation to Cain’s building of ‘a city’ (a tent encampment). First there was a city and then there was the great city, Babel, with its Ziggurat or Temple. Thus the synagogue of the Jews, seen as outside the sphere of the Christian church, parallels Cain’s encampment, outside the sphere of ‘the presence of the Lord’ (Genesis 4:16). Both ‘say they are’ and are not. Those who were once ‘in’ are now ‘out’.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/revelation-2.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

2. Commendation2:9

Jesus Christ knew the afflictions (lit. pressures) these Christians were experiencing as a result of their testimony for Him, including abject poverty. Evidently their persecutors were cutting off some of their incomes. Notwithstanding their physical poverty, the Christians in Smyrna were rich spiritually. Evidently some of the persecutors were Jews who slandered the Christians (cf. Acts 18:12-17) and cursed Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 26:11). They apparently claimed to be committed to God but were not. They came from Satan"s camp (cf. Acts 14:19; Acts 17:5-8; Acts 17:13).

"At the martyrdom of Polycarp at Smyrna in168, these Jews eagerly assisted by gathering on the Sabbath wood and fagots for the fire in which he was burned." [Note: Ryrie, p23.]

". . . the imperial cult permeated virtually every aspect of city and often even village life in Asia Minor, so that individuals could aspire to economic prosperity and greater social standing only by participating to some degree in the Roman cult." [Note: Beale, p240.]

Jesus Christ had no rebuke for these saints. Evidently in their trials they had remained pure in belief and behavior. In the first century the enemies of Christians leveled six slanderous accusations against them: cannibalism, lust and immorality, breaking up homes, atheism, political disloyalty, and being incendiaries (because they taught that the world would burn up). [Note: William Barclay, The Revelation of John, 1:98.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-2.html. 2012.

Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation

2. "The blasphemy of the Jews"--2:9.

This phraseology is not addressed to the true Jews, but to the pseudo-Jews, and had regard to the Jewish persecutions, which the calumnious and bitter opposition of the fanatical Jews waged against their own kinsmen who had accepted Christ. Again, it finds parallel in the Jewish persecutions foretold by the Lord in Matthew 24:1-51.

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Wallace, Foy E. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Foy E. Wallace's Commentary on the Book of Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/foy/revelation-2.html. 1966.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 2:9. The first words of the address to the church, as given in the Authorised Version, ‘I know thy works,’ are to be omitted both here and in Revelation 2:13, the salutation to the church at Pergamos. They are found in all the other Epistles, and we may be assured, therefore, that their omission in these two places is designed. We shall venture to offer what seems the most probable explanation in the general remarks on the Epistles as a whole at the close of chap. 3. Three features of the condition of the church at Smyrna are noticed:—(1) I know thy tribulation. The word ‘tribulation’ is to be understood in the general sense of affliction, suffering, but with a special reference to persecution brought upon believers for stedfastness in their Master’s cause (comp. John 16:33); (2) And thy poverty (but thou art rich). Like all the churches of that early time, the church at Smyrna was composed of members for the most part poor. ‘Not many rich, not many noble, were called.’ But in the possession of a better inheritance it was ‘rich,’—‘rich in faith, and an heir of the kingdom which the Lord promised to them that love Him’ (James 2:5); (3) And the blasphemy of them which say that they themselves are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. The ‘blasphemy’ referred to probably includes not simply reviling against Christians, but against their Lord. Then, as now, the Jews were notorious for the fierceness of their language against Christ, to whom they did not hesitate to apply every epithet of contempt and hatred (comp. 1 Corinthians 12:3; James 2:7).

The most interesting inquiry here has relation to the meaning of the word ‘Jews.’ Before endeavouring to answer it, it is of importance to observe that the word is not directly employed either by the Lord or by the Seer in His name. The persecutors and blasphemers referred to used it of themselves. They said that they were Jews. But none would so use the term except such as really were Jews alike by birth and by religion; while, in so using it, they intended to assert that they were the true people of God, and that Christians had no title to the place which they were endeavouring to claim as His. It is now denied by the Author of the Epistle that the term had any proper application to them. Had they been truly Jews, Jews in any proper sense of the word, they would have taken up an altogether different attitude towards Christ and Christianity from that which they actually occupied. They would have seen that in the faith of Jesus the purpose of their own Mosaic economy was fulfilled; and they would have cast in their lot with the Christian Church. They did not do so. Instead of believing in Jesus, they were everywhere the chief stirrers up of hatred and persecution against His followers (Acts 14:19; Acts 17:5; Acts 17:13, etc.). How could they be Jews? The Jews at least worshipped God, and assembled in His synagogue to study the Law and the Prophets; of these blasphemers it could only be said that they were a synagogue of Satan. It is not denied that the word ‘Jews’ is thus used here in an honourable sense; and, accordingly, it has often been urged that we have in this a proof that the Author of the Apocalypse cannot have been also the Author of the fourth Gospel, inasmuch as in the latter those named ‘the Jews’ are the embodiment of everything that is most hard and stubborn and devilish. Two answers may be given to the charge:—(1) St. John does not originate the word, he only quotes it; and (2) the expression is not the same as that used in the Gospel,—there ‘the Jews,’ here ‘Jews.’

It may be noticed in passing, that when we compare the use of the word ‘synagogue’ in the verse before us with its use in James 2:2, where it is applied to the Christian congregation, it seems not unnatural to think that we are dealing with a point of time much later than that at which St. James is writing. That mixing of Jews and Christians in the same congregation, which had marked the dawn of the Church’s history, had come to an end. A complete separation had taken place between the adherents of the old and the new faith. Christians were a ‘church,’ the Jews alone met in ‘synagogue.’

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-2.html. 1879-90.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

works, and. The texts omit.

poverty. See App-127.

Jews. Only here, and Revelation 3:9 in Rev.

the = a.

synagogue. App-120.

Satan. See App-19.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-2.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

Thy works, and - so 'Aleph (') B But A C, Vulgate, and Coptic, omit.

Tribulation - owing to persecution.

Poverty - owing to 'spoiling of their goods.'

But thou art rich - in grace. Contrast Laodicea, rich in the world's eyes, poor before God. 'There are both poor rich-men, and rich poor-men in God's sight' (Trench).

Blasphemy of them - blasphemous calumny of thee arising from them, etc.

Say they are Jews, and are not - Jews by national descent, not spiritually of "the true circumcision." The Jews blaspheme Christ as 'the hanged one.' As elsewhere, so at Smyrna, they bitterly opposed Christianity; at Polycarp's martyrdom they joined the pagans in clamouring for his being cast to the lions; and when there was an obstacle to this, for his being burnt alive; with their own hands they carried logs for the pile.

Synagogue of Satan. Only once is "synagogue" in the New Testament used of the Christian assembly, and that by the apostle who longest maintained the union of the Church and Jewish synagogue (margin, James 2:2). As the Jews opposed Christianity, and it more and more rooted itself in the Gentile world, "synagogue" was left altogether to the former, and Christians appropriated the honourable term "Church:" contrast an earlier time, when the Jewish theocracy was "the church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). Compare Numbers 16:3; Numbers 20:4, "congregation of the Lord." The Jews, who might have been "the Church of God," had now, by their opposition, become the "synagogue of Satan." So 'the throne of Satan' (Revelation 2:13) represents the pagan's opposition; "the depths of Satan" (Revelation 2:24), the opposition of heretics.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-2.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(9) I know thy works.—Some would omit the word “works;” but the phrase “I know thy works” is admitted to be genuine in five out of the seven epistles; and it certainly seems natural to conclude that it was intended to be common to all, and to remind the Christian communities that whatever their state it was known to Him whose eyes were as a flame of fire. “We go from one hour to another, from one day and year to another, and what is once fairly past in our doing and omitting and suffering is scarcely regarded by us any more; it is like water that has flowed away. But into the omniscience of Christ all things are taken up” (Bengel).

Tribulation.—If persecution brought upon them poverty, it was the means also of unfolding to view their possession of the “true riches;” they were rich in honour, in that they were counted worthy to suffer; they would also grow rich in the graces which sufferings bring (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4).

Blasphemy.—They had to endure reviling as well as tribulation and poverty; and, harder still, to hear some who blasphemed that worthy name by which they were called.

Jews.—The Jews were foremost in this. “It was in the synagogue that they heard words which reproached them as Nazarenes, Galileans, Christians, Disciples of the Crucified” (Plumptre). Comp. James 2:7. It is interesting to notice that this characteristic hostility of the Jews was illustrated in the martyrdom of Polycarp. The Jews, “as was their wont,” were foremost in bringing logs for the pile.

Synagogue of Satan.—The word “synagogue” is only once used to describe the Christian assembly (James 2:2); and even there it is called “your synagogue,” not the “synagogue of God.” In all other instances the “word is abandoned by the Jews.” With the “synagogue of Satan” here, compare “the throne of Satan” (Revelation 2:13), “the depths of Satan” (Revelation 2:24).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-2.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
know
2
tribulation
7:14; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Romans 5:3; 8:35; 12:12; 1 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Thessalonians 1:6,7
poverty
Luke 4:18; 6:20; 2 Corinthians 8:2,9; James 2:5,6
thou art
3:17,18; Luke 12:21; 2 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 6:18; James 2:5,6
the blasphemy
Luke 22:65; Acts 26:11; 1 Timothy 1:13
which
Romans 2:17,28,29; 9:6
the synagogue
3:9
Reciprocal: 1 Kings 18:18 - in that ye have;  Proverbs 13:7 - that maketh himself poor;  Isaiah 48:1 - which are;  Isaiah 66:18 - I know;  Matthew 6:20 - GeneralMark 10:30 - an hundredfold;  John 10:14 - know;  1 Corinthians 8:3 - is;  2 Corinthians 11:13 - false;  Philippians 3:2 - the;  Hebrews 11:26 - greater;  James 1:9 - in;  2 Peter 2:1 - even;  3 John 1:2 - even;  Revelation 1:9 - companion;  Revelation 2:10 - ye shall;  Revelation 2:13 - know;  Revelation 2:19 - know;  Revelation 12:9 - and Satan

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-2.html.

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation

A MESSAGE.

Revelation 2:9. — "I know thy tribulation and thy poverty; but thou art rich; and the railing of those who say that they themselves are Jews, and are not, but a synagogue of Satan." In the Authorised Version we read, "I know thy works." The word "works" should be deleted according to the critics, besides, it is to suffering and not to works that prominence is given in the message. "I know." What a tower of strength to an afflicted saint and Church! The One in Whose Person are combined at once the greatness of the Godhead and the sympathy of One Who has been in the utmost depths of suffering and death says, "I know thy tribulation and thy poverty." The measure, character, and duration of every phase of trial are known to Him. There is not a tear too many, not a blow too severe. The hardness, the unbrokenness of spirit, the self-confidence have to be broken down. We flourish best in suffering. Jacob was a better man morally after the night of wrestling than before it (Genesis 32:24-32). Paul was kept humble and lowly by that continual reminder, whatever it was, "a thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7). But He also knows our "poverty." Not many grandees are numbered amongst the Lord's people. The Hebrew believers took joyfully the spoiling of their goods (Hebrews 10:34). Confiscation of goods and property, either to the imperial treasury or to those base enough to inform against the Christians, generally followed apprehension. But, says the Lord, "Thou art rich." Our treasure is in Heaven. Our inheritance is there. An inventory of Christian wealth is furnished in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23. Our origin is of God (1 Corinthians 1:30); our position, sons of God (Romans 8:14); our dignity, kingly authority (Revelation 1:6); our destiny, conformity to God's Son (Romans 8:29); our wealth, limited only by Christ's millennial and eternal portion (Ephesians 1:10-11). Truly the Church is rich, whatever its poverty on earth may be. Endowed with the love and riches of Christ, which are enduring and placed beyond the possibility of loss or corruption, we may well triumph in Him Who knows not only our tribulation and poverty, but knowing all pronounces us "rich."

Not only was the Church suffering from the pagan world without, but also from an enemy of a religious character within. There was a company, it would seem (not really Jews), which took up the place and pretension of the Jews to be alone God's people on earth. We saw a company of higher clergy in Ephesus (v. 2), whose proud and lofty pretensions were exposed, and the pretenders styled liars. That movement for the time was crushed. But now a movement of a similar character, although on a lower scale, is again in evidence. Arrogant claims to be the Church, to be alone God's people, have been repeated again and again since the Smyrnean era, sometimes on a large scale, at other times on a smaller one. This body of religious pretenders railed against the suffering Church. False accusations, contempt, and contumely were the cruel work of these religious people. What were they in His sight? "A synagogue of Satan."{*We again meet with this strong expression in the address to Philadelphia (Revelation 3:9). Here it opposed itself to the Church in suffering; there in antagonism to the Church in weakness. The Synagogue (Jewish assembly) and the Church (Christian assembly) are distinguished by the apostle James; for the former see Revelation 2:2, R.V. ; for the latter see Revelation 5:14.} The two names, "Satan" and "Devil," are employed in the Revelation as everywhere else in Scripture with propriety and precision. The former means adversary, the latter slanderer. To the Church he is both. Satan "the adversary" set up a heretical party in direct antagonism to the lowly and suffering position of the Church. The devil, "the calumniator," forged lies and all manner of false accusations against God's saints, and succeeded, too, in getting the heathen powers to believe them, and thus he became the real author and source of the "ten persecutions" — ten legal outbursts of rage and fury against the Church which were only stopped on the accession of Constantine to the throne of the Caesars. Abounding suffering, however, was answered by abounding consolation, and both, no doubt, were the portion in full of the suffering Church. Christian and heathen contemporary records abundantly verify the truth of this.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sor/revelation-2.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

I know thy works. See comments at verse2for the general definition of this phrase which is used at the beginning of each of the seven letters; in this place it means the Lord approves of their conduct. Tribulation refers to the oppression being put upon this church by the enemy. A part of this resulted in the loss of their possessions which brought upon them a condition of poverty. But thou art rich. They were poor as far as this world"s goods was concerned but were "rich in faith" ( James 2:5). Say they are Jews, and are not. They belonged to the Jewish race but were not true to their religious profession; such people frequently joined with-the heathen in persecuting the Christians. Synagogue of Satan means they really were serv- ing the interests of Satan and hence were to be classed with his agents. Such insincere Jews would assemble in their synagogues for their pretended services to God, but due to their hypocrisy the Lord considered it a synagogue of Satan.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-2.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 2:9

Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

"I know thy works,"

Thus Christ testified unto all the seven churches; "I know thy works," see Revelation 2:2. The knowledge of Christ (as He is God, and the only wise God our Saviour, Jude 1:25), Isaiah, first, the knowledge of perfection, whose understanding is infinite, { Psalm 147:5} whereby he doth perfectly know himself, { Revelation 19:12; Proverbs 30:4} and all things else, being the wisdom of the Father. { Proverbs 8:12; 1 Corinthians 1:24} Secondly, the knowledge of approbation, or reprobation ( Romans 9:11-13 compared with Acts 13:48 and Jude 1:4), whereby he doth know distinctly both persons and things good and bad; so Christ knew the works of this church with approbation, and the works of the church of the Laodiceans with rejection, { Revelation 3:14-16} I will spue thee out of my mouth.

"And tribulation, and poverty"

By "tribulation" here, we may understand either their outward afflictions and persecutions, which they had or should endure, which Christ took notice of, { 2 Thessalonians 1:6} or their inward griefs and sorrows, their troubles of soul, { Psalm 88:4; Psalm 143:11} which Christ also looks upon, { Psalm 102:2; Psalm 102:17; Psalm 102:19-21} and by "poverty" here we may understand the low and poor condition this church was in at this time in respect of temporal things, the wants and straits that some of her ministers or members were in, the church not having wherewith to supply them, which was the condition of the church at Jerusalem and the churches in Judea in the apostles days; Read 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 and 2 Corinthians 8:3-4; 2 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 8:13-15.

"But thou art rich"

Though Christ knew her outward poverty, yet he acknowledged her spiritual riches; which God knows is the state and condition of very many of his precious saints in this world, { James 2:5} rich in spirituals, rich in grace, rich in faith, rich in good works, etc. but poor in temporals.

"And I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not," etc.

(blasfhmia, in approved Greek authors, blasphemy), doth signify any evil works or speeches uttered against men with calumniation of their persons, or contumely of their gods; sacred writers, and the penmen of the Holy Scriptures do use this Greek word for any injurious, opprobrious, envious or slanderous words uttered by ungodly men, to the reproach of God, { Revelation 13:6} his Son Jesus Christ, { Acts 26:11} his name, { Romans 2:24} his written word, { Titus 2:5} his doctrine, { 1 Timothy 6:1} his ministers, { 1 Corinthians 4:13} his churches, { Revelation 13:6} or his saints. { James 2:7; 1 Peter 4:4}

These blasphemers said they were Jews, but were not. A Jew is one of Abraham's seed, either after the flesh, and so were they, { John 8:31; John 8:33} who vainly boasted in a fleshly confidence, and so did these who say they are Jews, or after the spirit, such are the children of promise, { Romans 9:8} even all them that are Christ's, { Galatians 3:29} so were not these, though they said Song of Solomon, they did lie, { Revelation 3:9} though they were Jews outwardly, whose circumcision is outward in the flesh, yet they were not Jews inwardly, whose circumcision is inward, that of the heart in the spirit. { Romans 2:28-29}

"But are the synagogue of Satan"

It is likely the Jews had a synagogue in this city of Smyrna, where they worshipped God according to the Mosaical administrations, mixed with the traditions of their fathers, which Christ testified against as vain and false worship, { Matthew 15:8-9} and therefore he calls them the synagogue of Satan. { Revelation 3:9} Some of those Jewish worshippers blasphemed the Lord Jesus Christ, and the doctrine and worship which the Christians in this church professed, by speaking some evil, opprobrious, and slanderous words against them, which Christ took notice of, and called "blasphemy:" See the exposition of Revelation 3:9. See KNOLLYS: Revelation 3:9

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-2.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 2:9. I know thy tribulation and thy poverty (but thou art rich), and the blasphemy of those, who say they are Jews and are not, but are of the school of Satan. Luther has: I know thy works and thy tribulation, etc. But the words: I know thy works and have certainly arisen from the efforts of the copyists to produce uniformity. They are wanting in the best manuscripts, and internal reasons also concur in strengthening the external ones. Works do not suit here. For they could only be mentioned if good or bad works had been found in the context, to give a definite meaning to the term. But there the discourse is only of sufferings. Farther, the number three, on which what follows the "I know" always completes itself, would thereby be destroyed. Bengel: "The description given respecting this angel is only of what he suffered, not of what he did. Suffering tends much to purify, and it had been experienced by this angel of various kinds: he had suffered tribulation from Jews and heathens, and also poverty. But thou art rich, says the Lord, namely, in heavenly treasures. The pastor would not think highly of himself because he was described in such glowing terms, but the Lord used such language respecting him, because in his humility he could bear it." That the poverty (to this sense of the word we must adhere for the sake of the contrast with riches) must bear respect to the persecutions suffered for the cause of Christ is clear from the circumstance, that it stands between the tribulation and the blasphemy. Now several consider the poverty as arising out of the persecution—comp. Hebrews 10:34. But in that case the word spoiling would rather have been used. James 2:5-7 serves as a commentary, "Has not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith? Do not the rich oppress you, and draw you before the judgment-seats? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?" We can scarcely doubt that allusion is made to this passage. It has in common with the one before us, poverty, riches in God, blasphemy. Now, according to it, poverty comes into consideration in so far as it rendered the Christians helpless and oppressed. The Jews brought against the Christians false accusations before the heathen then magistrates (blasphemy), and as they had ample pecuniary means ready to support their accusations against the Christians (poverty), the Christians were thrown into great straits, were in a state of oppression corresponding in James to the drawing before the judgment-seats. The riches, which the angel possessed in the midst of his poverty, refers to riches in heavenly goods and rewards, treasures in heaven, Matthew 6:20, Matthew 19:21, comp. Luke 12:21, which in due time would be conferred on him. This is manifest from James 2:5, where the persecuted poor are spoken of as "heirs of the kingdom, which God has promised to those that love him." Allusion is made, as appears, to the name Polycarp was rich in fruits; comp. the remarks on the name Antipas in ch. Revelation 2:13. With the blasphemy the Jewish adversaries must be content; the persecution could only come from the heathen. Even at the martyrdom of Polycarp the Jews inflamed the malice of the heathens, Euseb. IV. 15), and sought to prevent his corpse from being given to the Christians. The Jews were proud of their name, Jews and children of the kingdom, members of the Lord's flock, Numbers 31:16, were all one in their account. In this sense there was a pretension in the name they took to themselves. There were no other real Jews than such as possessed the true and internal marks of fellowship in the kingdom of God; and these were no other than true Christians; comp. Romans 2:28-29, Romans 9:6.

The school of Satan (properly, community, synagogue, what in James 2:2 is used of the society of Christians, acquired on account of the passage before us a bad secondary meaning; people were accustomed to place the synagogue of the Jews in opposition to the church of the Christians), was an epithet applied to the Jews on account of their hatred to the true church. Satan appears in this book pre-eminently as the persecutor of the righteous, according to the character which he acquired even in the most ancient times, since he instigated wicked Cain to murder righteous Abel, John 8:44. This is certainly to be regarded as the fundamental passage.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-2.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

9.But thou art rich—The parenthetic words, flung in as if to correct his own language. Their poverty, like their death, was only phenomenal. Their death was truly an immortal life, and their poverty an infinite treasure. Doubtless their poverty and their death came from the same cause—the oppression of their persecutors. Among all the commendations to the seven, perhaps this, but thou art rich, is the brightest stroke. It was the consolation for their deepest sorrow, and it was of all joys their highest joy.

Note that here it was tribulation and poverty on one side, and blasphemy on the other; blasphemy alike against the Lord and against his followers.

Say they are Jews—And, doubtless, were Jews by descent from Abraham, but not in character. They are unnatural sons of their natural father, since they rejected the Messiah whom Abraham foresaw and predicted. One of the most interesting remains of early Christian literature is a letter written by this Church of Smyrna to the Church at Philomelum as a circular to be sent the round of sister Churches. It relates that after Polycarp was apprehended and condemned to death by fire: “This, then, was done with greater speed than it was spoken, the whole multitude instantly gathering together wood and fagots out of the workshops and booths; the Jews especially, according to their custom, assisting them in doing it.” After his death the governor was dissuaded from giving his remains to his friends under pretence that he refused lest, forsaking Him who was crucified, they should begin to worship Polycarp. “This he did at the suggestion of the Jews, who also watched us that we should not take him out of the fire, not considering that it is impossible for us either to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of all such as shall be saved throughout the world, or to worship any other.”

The synagogue of Satan—How truly they deserved this severe title the previous narrative shows. So hostile were the Jews to the Christians of this first age, that the term synagogue is seldom applied to a Christian Church, the general Church preferring the classic term ecclesia. Trench finely remarks, “As we have here ‘the synagogue of Satan,’ so, presently, ‘the throne of Satan,’ (Revelation 2:13,) and then, lastly, ‘the depths of Satan,’ (Revelation 2:24;) the synagogue of Satan, representing the Jewish antagonism to the Church; the throne of Satan, the heathen; and the depths of Satan, the heretical.”

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-2.html. 1874-1909.

The Bible Study New Testament

9. I know your troubles. Being a Christian at that time often meant losing your job, and hardship followed. The Lord tells those believers that they must not let themselves fall into self-pity. They are poor – yet rich in spiritual things (Matthew 6:20; Matthew 19:21; Luke 12:21). Their Lord knows all this! Evil things said against you. These who claimed to be Jews slandered Christ and accused Christians before the Roman officials (and did what they could to get Christians fired from their jobs). See Acts 13:50; Acts 14:2; Acts 14:5; Acts 14:19; Acts 17:5; Acts 21:27-30; Acts 24:2. These “Jews” are no longer God’s people.

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 2:9". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-2.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.