LifeGroup Questions
  1. Have you ever felt like challenging times dictate your value?
  2. Why is it important to separate that your situation doesn’t determine how God feels about you?
  3. Why is that difficult to do sometimes?
  4. Where in Scripture do you see that Christ values you beyond your circumstance?
  5. Jesus didn’t end the persecution in the world.  But He promises He will one day.  How does that challenge your view of God’s goodness?
  6. When Jesus promises life to the persecuted church in Revelation, does that bring you hope?
  7. You have survived 100% of the things you’ve faced.  While that may or may not be comforting, what challenges in your life have you faced that you’ve seen God be faithful through?
Background on Smyrna
An ancient city on the west coast of Asia Minor, situated at the head of the gulf into which the Hermus River flows. It was located 40 miles north of Ephesus on the border between Aeolis to the north and Ionia to the south. The site of Smyrna is the present day Turkish city of Izmir.

In the book of Revelation, Smyrna was one of the seven cities to which the prophet John (Rev 1:1; 2:8) sent messages. It was one of the seven postal districts—situated on a circular route—that made up the most crucial part of the Roman province of Asia Minor. Paul or one of his companions may have introduced Christianity to Smyrna (see Acts 19:9–10, 26).

History and Culture
Smyrna was famous for its beauty, as ancient writers noted. Apollonius of Tyana marveled at how Mount Pagus was crowned with a circle of beautiful public buildings—although he then advises the Smyrneans that it would be better to take pride in a “crown of persons”. The historian Strabo remarked on the city’s beauty, wealth, and new wines.

During the Graeco-Roman period, the city had a population over 100,000, including a Jewish presence. Some people in the Jewish community in certain cities of Asia Minor may have collaborated with Rome against a Christian minority. There is evidence that Jews in Smyrna participated in the Martyrdom of Polycarp, which occurred several decades after Revelation was written.

In AD 29, seven cities competed for the right to build a temple to the emperor Tiberius. Smyrna was chosen, and became the “temple warden”. It acquired another temple under the emperor Hadrian. Archaeologists have discovered coins portraying Nero, dedications to the emperors Titus and Domitian, and statues of Domitian, Trajan, and Hadrian. These artifacts all demonstrate Smyrna’s devotion to the emperor.

Commerce
Smyrna was the most important seaport in Asia Minor because of its location on the edge of the trade route that went east into the surrounding areas. Throughout the Roman period, Smyrna excelled in medicine and science. It was home to guilds of tanners, silversmiths, and goldsmiths. Membership in these guilds included sacrificing to a pagan deity and likely to the emperor as well. Also required was participation in a common meal dedicated to a pagan deity.