The Poverty of the Smyrneans
The persecution suffered by the Smyrnean Christians is primarily defined in terms of their poverty and the slander against them. Christians in the West today certainly may be slandered for our faith, and we should expect this to be the case (see, for example, Matthew 5:11). On the other hand, people in the West today generally do not expect that Christians– as a group, due merely to our profession of faith– will be any more subject to poverty than others. However, there are many places in the world today in which persecution is so severe that mere identification with Christ may mean the loss of livelihood (if not the loss of life itself). During the apostolic age, the great majority of Christians suffered from poverty to one degree or another (see 1 Cor 1:26; Jas 2:5).
Labels: Bible study