The port of Smyrna was in the Roman province of Asia, not far north of Ephesus. (For map see ASIA.) The church there was probably formed during Paul’s three-year stay in Ephesus, when the Ephesian converts took the gospel to the surrounding area (Acts 19:8-10; Rev 2:8). John’s letter to the church in Smyrna shows that the Christians were very poor. Spiritually, however, they were rich (Rev 2:9). They were also persecuted, mainly by the Jews, who throughout Asia were bitterly anti-Christian (Rev 2:9; cf. Acts 21:27). God encouraged them with the promise that, no matter how much they might suffer in the present world, he would preserve the faithful for his heavenly kingdom (Rev 2:10-11).

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