Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer - This may be addressed particularly to Polycarp, if he was at that time the bishop of this Church. He had much to suffer; and was at last burnt alive at Smyrna, about the year of our Lord 166. We have a very ancient account of his martyrdom, which has been translated by Cave, and is worthy of the reader's perusal. That account states that the Jews were particularly active in this martyrdom, and brought the fagots, etc., by which he was consumed. Such persons must indeed have been of the synagogue of Satan.
Ten days - As the days in this book are what is commonly called prophetic days, each answering to a year, the ten years of tribulation may denote ten years of persecution; and this was precisely the duration of the persecution under Diocletian, during which all the Asiatic Churches were grievously afflicted. Others understand the expression as implying frequency and abundance, as it does in other parts of Scripture. Genesis 31:7, Genesis 31:41; : Thou hast changed my wages Ten Times; i.e. thou hast frequently changed my wages Numbers 14:22; : Those men have tempted me now these Ten Times; i.e. they have frequently and grievously tempted and sinned against me. Nehemiah 4:12; : The Jews that dwelt by them came and said unto us Ten Times, i.e. they were frequently coming and informing us, that our adversaries intended to attack us, Job 19:3; These Ten Times have ye reproached me; i.e. ye have loaded me with continual reproaches. Daniel 1:20; : In all matters of wisdom, he found them Ten Times better than all the magicians; i.e. the king frequently consulted Daniel and his companions, and found them more abundantly informed and wise than all his counsellors.
Some think the shortness of the affliction is here intended, and that the ten days are to be understood as in Terence, Heaut., Act v., scen. 1, ver. 36, Decem dierum vis mi est familia. "I have enjoyed my family but a short time."
Be thou faithful unto death - Be firm, hold fast the faith, confess Christ to the last, and at all hazards, and thou shalt have a crown of life - thou shalt be crowned with life, have an eternal happy existence, though thou suffer a temporal death. It is said of Polycarp that when brought before the judge, and commanded to abjure and blaspheme Christ, he firmly answered, "Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never did me wrong, how then can I blaspheme my king who hath saved me?" He was then adjudged to the flames, and suffered cheerfully for Christ his Lord and Master.
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer - He did not promise them exemption from suffering. He saw that they were about to suffer, and he specifies the manner in which their affliction would occur. But he entreats and commands them not to be afraid. They were to look to the “crown of life,” and to be comforted with the assurance that if they were faithful unto death, that would be, theirs. We need not dread suffering if we can hear the voice of the Redeemer encouraging us, and if he assures us that in a little while we shall have the crown of life.
Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison - Or, shall cause some of you to be cast into prison. He had just said that their persecutors were of the “synagogue of Satan.” He here represents Satan, or the devil - another name of the same being - as about to throw them into prison. This would be done undoubtedly by the hands of men, but still Satan was the prime mover, or the instigator in doing it. It was common to cast those who were persecuted into prison. See Acts 12:3-4; Acts 16:23. It is not said on what pretence, or by what authority, this would be done; but, as John had been banished to Patmos from Ephesus, it is probable that this persecution was raging in the adjacent places, and there is no improbability in supposing that many might be thrown into prison.
That ye may be tried - That the reality of your faith may be subjected to a test to show whether it is genuine. The design in the case is that of the Saviour, though Satan is allowed to do it. It was common in the early periods of the church to suffer religion to be subjected to trial amidst persecutions, in order to show that it was of heavenly origin, and to demonstrate its value in view of the world. This is, indeed, one of the designs of trial at all times, but this seemed eminently desirable when a new system of religion was about to be given to mankind. Compare the notes on 1 Peter 1:6-7.
And ye shall have tribulation ten days - A short time; a brief period; a few days. It is possible, indeed, that this might have been literally ten days, but it is much more in accordance with the general character of this book, in regard to numbers, to suppose that the word “ten” here is used to denote a few. Compare Genesis 24:55; 1 Samuel 25:38; Daniel 1:12, Daniel 1:14. We are wholly ignorant how long the trial actually lasted; but the assurance was that it would not be long, and they were to allow this thought to cheer and sustain them in their sorrows. Why should not the same thought encourage us now? Affliction in this life, however severe, can be but brief; and in the hope that it will soon end, why should we not bear it without complaining or repining?
Be thou faithful unto death - Implying, perhaps, that though, in regard to the church, the affliction would be brief, yet that it might be fatal to some of them, and they who were thus about to die should remain faithful to their Saviour until the hour of death. In relation to all, whether they were to suffer a violent death or not, the same injunction and the same promise was applicable. It is true of everyone who is a Christian, in whatever manner he is to die, that if he is faithful unto death, a crown of life awaits him. Compare the notes on 2 Timothy 4:8.
And I will give thee a crown of life - See the notes on James 1:12. Compare 1 Peter 5:4; 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. The promise here is somewhat different from what was made to the faithful in Ephesus Revelation 2:7, but the same thing substantially is promised them - happiness hereafter, or an admission into heaven. In the former case it is the peaceful image of those admitted into the scenes of paradise; here it is the triumph of the crowned martyr.
It was through one who declared himself to be a “brother, and companion in tribulation” (Revelation 1:9), that Christ revealed to His church the things that they must suffer for His sake. Looking down through long centuries of darkness and superstition, the aged exile saw multitudes suffering martyrdom because of their love for the truth. But he saw also that He who sustained His early witnesses would not forsake His faithful followers during the centuries of persecution that they must pass through before the close of time. “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer,” the Lord declared; “behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation: ... be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Revelation 2:10. AA 588.1
And to all the faithful ones who were striving against evil, John heard the promises made: “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels.” “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.” Verse 7; 3:5, 21. AA 588.2
John saw the mercy, the tenderness, and the love of God blending with His holiness, justice, and power. He saw sinners finding a Father in Him of whom their sins had made them afraid. And looking beyond the culmination of the great conflict, he beheld upon Zion “them that had gotten the victory ... stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God,” and singing “the song of Moses” and the Lamb. Revelation 15:2, 3. AA 589.1Read in context »
If one member of Christ's household falls into temptation, the other members are to look after him with kindly interest, seeking to arrest the feet that are straying into false paths, and win him to a pure, holy life. This service God requires from every member of His church.... The members of the Lord's family are to be wise and watchful, doing all in their power to save their weaker brethren from Satan's concealed nets. Ev 353.1
This is home missionary work, and it is as helpful to those who do it as to those for whom it is done. The kindly interest we manifest in the home circle, the words of sympathy we speak to our brothers and sisters, fit us to work for the members of the Lord's household, with whom, if we remain loyal to Christ, we shall live through eternal ages. “Be thou faithful unto death,” Christ says, “and I will give thee a crown of life.” Then how carefully should the members of the Lord's family guard their brethren and sisters! Make yourself their friend. If they are poor and in need of food and clothing, minister to their temporal as well as their spiritual wants. Thus you will be a double blessing to them.—Manuscript 63, 1898. Ev 353.2Read in context »
The forgiveness of sin is promised to him who repents and believes; the crown of life will be the reward of him who is faithful to the end. We may grow in grace by improving through the grace we already have. We are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world if we would be found blameless in the day of God. Faith and works go hand in hand; they act harmoniously in the work of overcoming. Works without faith are dead, and faith without works is dead. Works will never save us; it is the merit of Christ that will avail in our behalf. Through faith in Him, Christ will make all our imperfect efforts acceptable to God. The faith we are required to have is not a do-nothing faith; saving faith is that which works by love and purifies the soul. He who will lift up holy hands to God without wrath and doubting will walk intelligently in the way of God's commandments. FW 48.3Read in context »