Faithful Unto Death

In the second letter, the living one of the Apocalypse addresses the angel of the church in Smyrna. He identifies himself as the one who died and came to life, and thus sets the theme of this letter: life and death, the struggle between two forces determined to own the human spirit by the force of suffering, yet unaware that because of the one who died and is now alive again, this suffering it itself redemptive. The angel is warned about those who claim to be what they are not. They claim to be of the assembly of God, but are really of the assembly of the Satan. Where one assembles determines one’s disposition toward life or death. To assemble with those who pretend to stand in the house of the Lord is to participate in deceit, in blasphemy. They have traded the holy ground for an unholy ground, not recognizing that the holy has already arrived in the one who died and came to life again. The pretense is a rejection of the divine, a rejection of life. They have chosen death. The angel is encouraged, “Fear not!” and is then admonished to be faithful unto death, be faithful to the end, for a crown of life is waiting as a gift. The Spirit speaks this message to the Churches, plural, just as in the first letter, and indicates that all the letters are meant for all the Churches because they bear the message that eternal life has come through the one who has already conquered death and now lives. Those who have this new life will not be subjected to a second death, that is, the resurrected life, life lived within the divine, living one, has transcended the act of dying.

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