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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Satan, Synagogue of
The expression occurs neither in the Hebrew nor in the Greek of the Old Testament, nor in Apocrypha. Three passages in the Old Testament and one in Apocrypha suggest the idea conveyed in the expression. In Numbers 14:27 , Numbers 14:35 , Yahweh expresses His wrath against "the evil congregation" Septuagint συναγωγὴ πονηρά ,
Only in the New Testament occurs the phrase "synagogue of Satan," and here only twice (Revelation 2:9; Revelation 3:9 ). Three observations are evident as to who constituted "the synagogue of Satan" in Smyrna and Philadelphia. (1) They claimed to be Jews, i.e. they were descendants of Abraham, and so laid claim to the blessings promised by Yahweh to him and his seed. (2) But they are not regarded by John as real Jews, i.e. they are not the genuine Israel of God (the same conclusion as Paul reached in Romans 2:28 ). (3) They are persecutors of the Christians in Smyrna. The Lord "knows their blasphemy," their sharp denunciations of Christ and Christians. They claim to be the true people of God, but really they are "the synagogue of Satan." The gen. Σατανᾶ ,
In Polycarp, Mar . xvii. 2 (circa 155 AD) the Jews of Smyrna were still persecutors of Christians and were conspicuous in demanding and planning the martyrdom of Polycarp the bishop of Smyrna, the same city in which the revelator calls persecuting Jews "the assembly of Satan."
In the 2nd century, in an inscription (CIJ, 3148) describing the classes of population in Smyrna, we find the expression οἱ ποτὲ Ἰουδαῖοι ,
Ramsay, The Seven Churches of Asia , chapter xii; Swete, The Apocalypse of John , 31,32; Polycarp, Mar . 13 ff.17,2; Mommsen, Historische Zeitschrift ,
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Satan, Synagogue of'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/s/satan-synagogue-of.html. 1915.