CHAPTER 8 – Revelation 2:8-11 最富足的教會 THE RICHEST CHURCH


受苦的教會

THE SUFFERING CHURCH

8 你要寫信給士每拿教會的使者說:那首先的、末後的、死過又活的說:

8“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again.”

示每拿教會代表第二、叁世紀的苦難教會。受苦教會每一個時代都有。不過那時候最典型。今日的回教國家、及一些極權國家,仍然積極對付基督徒,信耶穌的人隨時都會失去家庭、財產,被折磨、被殺害。

The church in Smyrna represents the suffering church from the 2nd and 3rd century. Every era has a suffering church, but the church at that time was the model church. Muslim countries of today and some authoritarian countries are still actively against Christians. People who believe in Jesus could be targeted at any time and lose their family, property, be persecuted or even killed.

受猶太人的迫害

PERSECUTED BY THE JEWS

9 我知道你的患難、你的貧窮( 你卻是富足的) ,也知道那自稱是猶太人所說的毀謗話,其實他們不是猶太人,乃是撒但一會的人。

9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

這段經文很短,不需要用稱讚、責備、鼓勵、警告等分段,因為說的相當簡單。但從其中,可以看見很多重要的真理。主對她說:「你看來是貧窮,其實是富足的。」

This passage is very short and does not need to be divided into sections of words of commendation, rebuke, encouragement or warnings because what is said is very simple; yet, from it, we can learn many very important truths. The Lord said to her: “I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!”

這受苦的教會,先是受猶太人的迫害。不過主說,那些自稱是猶太人的,其實不是猶太人,乃是撒但一黨的人。他們自稱是屬神的人,行事卻是神的仇敵,他們對付、破壞神的家,到處追殺、趕盡殺絕,他們自稱是會堂中人。但主說:他們是屬撒但會堂的人。

This suffering church was first persecuted by the Jews. The lord said: “Those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” They claimed to be people who belonged to God; nonetheless, their actions showed that they were enemies of God. They where only looking to destroy the house of God killing ruthlessly all those who belonged to the Lord. They claimed to belong to the Jewish synagogue. But the Lord said that they were a synagogue of Satan.”

他們在第二世紀殺了好些傳道人,那時候的逼迫,都是來自自稱神子民的人。這種苦比較難受,心以為是朋友,原來是仇敵。像主耶穌所引用的經文:「同桌吃飯的人,用腳踢我。」被自己家裡的人出賣,是傷心的事。但猶太人當時到底還是次等公民,迫害能力有限,跟著來的災難纔更為可怕。

During the 2nd century many servants of God were killed, during those times, the persecutions came from those who claimed to belong to God. That kind of suffering is very hard to take, because those they thought were their friends actually were their enemies. Like what the Lord said in the Scriptures: “He who shared my bread has turned against me .”Being betrayed by a member of your own family is extremely heart-breaking. Jews at that time were second-class citizens. Their capability to persecute Christians was limited. The persecutions that followed were more horrific.

主知道

THE LORD KNOWS

9 我知道你的患難。9 I know your afflictions. 沒有錯,他們在受苦。主並非不知道,主關心他們的情況。所以祂說「我知道」。祂曾說:「就是你們的頭髮也都號過了」。祂用頭髮說明,最 碎小事祂都關心,每根頭髮都編了號。如果有十萬根頭髮,掉了一根,可說是小事。但這一根所不重視的,祂都編了號,何況整個人呢?

Indeed, they were in the midst suffering. The Lord not only knew it, but he also was very concerned about it. He said: “I know”. He once told His disciples: “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” He uses hair to illustrate the fact that He is concerned even about our most trivial little things; every single hair is numbered. If out of 100,000 hairs, one falls out, we can say that it is very insignificant. But , if even this very insignificant hair is numbered, how much would he care for our whole person?

初期教會的門徒多為窮人。羅馬有許多邪教組織,如果人不參加他們的活動,很難會成為富有。前人賺錢養家,也都是很重的負擔。不做工就沒有飯開。很多南美洲人到今天,還是每天在輪候工作。不像很多西方的基督徒,講投資、講股票、講地產。

In the early church, many Christians were poor. Rome had many cultic organizations, if people did not participate in their activities; it was very difficult for them to become rich. It was a very heavy burden for people in the old times to earn money to support their families. If they did not work, they would not be able to eat.

主耶穌說的八福,不是八條得福的路,乃是八種「有福的人」。其中第一種,就是「貧窮的人」。記得貧窮不會妨礙神向你施恩,也不會影響愛主的心。但愛財富的心,卻會使人離開神,使人靈命貧窮,所以貪財是萬惡之根。而今天社會上,國家領導或普通百姓,普遍的想法都追求經濟起飛。以為經濟是幸福的代號。貪財的心,使人忘記神、離開神。

The eight blessings that Jesus talked about are not eight ways to obtain blessings, but eight kinds of “blessed people”. One of those kinds of people is the “poor”. Remember that poverty will not hinder God from blessing you, and cannot affect the love that you have for God. But the heart that loves riches can make people turn away from God, and make their spiritual life become impoverished; for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. In today’s society, whether national leaders or ordinary people, they are all pursuing economic take-off. They believe that the economy is the code name for happiness. The greediness for wealth makes people forget about God and turn away from the Lord.

富有的窮人

RICH POOR PEOPLE

9 我知道你的貧窮,你卻是富足的。

9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich!

主說:「你卻是富足的。」豐富的生活,不是買得起百萬元的古董或私人飛機,擁有這些東西的人仍然每天活在憂慮中。雖然有千萬元的房子,卻沒有溫暖的家,他們要花很多時間、很多精力尋找律師去打官司,這不是豐盛的生活。反而受苦中人,有家人同心,有朋友關心,並有主供應能力恩典,所以精神生活過得更豐盛。看受苦中人所寫的文章,都非常有深度,就知道了。

The Lord said: “Yet you are rich!” An abundant life is not being able to buy antiques worth millions of dollars or a private airplane. People who own those things worry continuously every day of their lives. Although they own million dollar mansions, they lack the warmth of home; they have to spend a lot of time and energy going to court to sue the other person. That is not an abundant life. On the other hand, those who are afflicted have the support of family members, the care of friends, and the provision of strength and grace from the Lord, so they live more abundant lives. You can see it when you read articles written by people who are suffering, their writings are very in-depth.

主對這教會沒有責備、沒有警告,是一個主所欣賞的教會。而且主讚賞他們,不是因為他們有很多方面的優點,不是因為守道、行道、傳道、或行善,彼此相愛或愛主。主只說了一件事:「你雖然在受苦,但卻是富足的。」他們不是沒有其他優點,乃是不用提了。因他們受苦的緣故,其他主所讚賞的美德全部都有了,所以他們就成為富足的了。

The Lord does not have words of rebuke or warnings for this church. This is a church that the Lord is very pleased with. The Lord praises them not because they have many strong points like keeping the truth, acting upon it, preaching it, doing good deeds, loving one another and loving the Lord. The Lord only said one thing: “I know your afflictions—yet you are rich .”It is not that they do not have other strong points, but rather, those strong points need not to be mentioned. The reason they were suffering was because they had all the virtues which the Lord admires, therefore, they became rich.

在受迫害、遇災難之時,或患病、失業的時候,會使人貧窮。但受苦中的聖徒,很享受一起禱告的甘甜,覺得已經得到很豐富的供應。

Difficult circumstances like persecution, disasters, sickness or unemployment, can lead to poverty. But the saints, even in the midst of suffering, enjoyed the sweetness of praying together, they felt that their needs have already been supplied abundantly.

雅各書第一章提到「百般的試煉」,表明有很多種苦難,但跟著又說:「祂賜各樣美善的恩典,與全備的賞賜。」主賜各種恩典去應付各種患難,外表看來像是貧窮,其實卻是富足。中國家庭教會因為受逼迫,大家非常同心,常看見聖靈工作,常看見神蹟奇事。

James, chapter 1, mentions “trials of many kinds”, meaning that there are many kinds of sufferings. But later on, it says that God provides “every good and perfect gift”. God provides different gifts to cope with different kinds of trials . Outwardly they may appear poor but actually they are very wealthy. The home churches in China are very united because they are often under a lot of persecution, the Holy Spirit is greatly at work and miraculous signs are often seen.

最嚴重的迫害

THE MOST SEVERE PERSECUTION

10 你將要受的苦你不用怕,魔鬼要把你們幾個人下在監裡,叫你們被試煉,你們必受患難十日。

10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days.

受苦,不用怕。今天的教會不用受苦,纔可怕。沒有苦受,靈命就奄奄一息,了無生氣。有些事比身體受傷害更可怕,例如,不敢在人的面前作正確的事,那就生不如死。又或出賣忠誠、出賣良心,去換取暫時的安全,那樣的生存,已經沒有味道。為安全以致不能面對神、不能面對自己,這樣換取安全的代價,實在太大了。

Do not be afraid to suffer. The churches today have no sufferings; that is something to be afraid of. Without sufferings their spiritual life will become feeble and lifeless. There is something more terrible than physical harm, and that is not having the nerve to do the right thing in front of people. In that case, it would be better to die than to live. Betraying loyalty and your conscience in exchange for temporary safety, that kind of an existence is pitiful. Not being able to face God or oneself in order to have safety is too great of a price to pay.

最初的叁個世紀,共有十個羅馬帝皇迫害神的教會。最嚴重的,可能是284 年纔登基的Diocletian ,他是極端殘暴的皇帝,像中國的秦始皇一樣「焚書坑儒」,他也燒掉很多聖經與其他相關的書籍。凡是談論主在橄欖山上論祂再來的書,全部都燒掉,以百萬算。若不是他,我們今天還會有很多關於末世預言的書。

During the first three centuries there were ten Roman emperors who persecuted the church of God. The most serious of the persecutions was probably during the year 284 when Diocletian assumed the throne. He was an extremely cruel emperor like the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang who burned books and buried Confucian scholars alive. Diocletian burned great quantities of Bibles and other related literature. Books about the Lord’s discourse on Mount of Olives concerning His return were burned in its entirety; there were more than a million books. If it wasn’t for him, we would still have many books that talked about prophecies of the last days.

他迫害教會十年。這裡的十日,大概就是指他的十年。他登基的時候,本來沒有對付基督徒。那時候,他只參與邪教巫術的活動。有一次法術不靈,他怪罪有基督徒在場,所以下了皇命,要所有教會長老、監督,參加他們的獻祭大典。基督徒當然不從,他一步步殺了叁千多名傳道人,用石頭打,釘十字架,叫他們與獅子搏鬥,或冷死,或燒死。

He persecuted the church for ten years. Probably these are the ten that are mentioned here. In the beginning, when he assumed the throne, he did not oppose Christians. At that time, he was only involved in the cult activities of witchcraft. One time the evil spells did not work and he blamed the presence of Christians. Because of that, he ordered all the church elders to attend their sacrifice ceremonies. Christians, of course, did not follow his decree. Little by little, he killed more than 3,000 preachers; they were stoned to death, crucified, put into the lion’s den, frozen to death or burned to death.

「魔鬼要把你們幾個人,下在監裡。」那時候的牢獄,不是為了懲罰罪惡,而是一種工具。目的是要強迫人改變信仰。像王明道或家庭教會的傳道人坐牢的情況一樣,只要改變信仰,就會釋放出來。中共跟當時的羅馬帝國政策一樣,逼迫教會的目的,是要他們改變信仰,因為他們看見教會發展大,就會寢食不安。

“The devil will put some of you in prison to test you.”At that time the prisons were not used for punishing crimes but rather they were some sort of tools to force people to change their beliefs. As in the case of Wang Ming-Dao and other pastors from house churches who were put in prison, they could be set free provided they change their beliefs. The policies of Communist China and the Roman Empire were similar; their purpose is to persecute the church and force them to change their beliefs . They feel threatened when they see the great development of the church.

所有逼迫主教會的源頭,都是從魔鬼來的,但主說不用怕。那殺身體不能殺靈魂的,不要怕他,因為他們能力有限、傷害有限,多數只是恐嚇,張牙舞爪,看似猙獰,其實只是假牙,是咬不動硬骨頭的。最嚴重的,也只能殺害身體,即是第一次的死。第一次死,是人人必經的,看是早到還是晚到而已。

All sources of persecution to the church come from the Devil; but the Lord said not to be afraid. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul because their strength is limited, they can not do much harm. They might want to intimidate you by putting on a fierce look and showing you their ferocious teeth, but those are false teeth, they cannot even munch on a bone. The worse that could happen is killing the body which is the first death, which is something every human being has to experience sooner or later.

忠心者的冠冕

THE VICTOR’S CROWN

10 你務要至死忠心,我就賜給你那生命的冠冕。

10 Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

這冠冕,不是皇冠。皇冠的原文是 diadema 。這裡說的是優勝者的冠冕 stefanos ,像奧運優勝者當時所得的冠冕。現在奧運優勝者得的是獎牌,古代優勝者所得是樹枝、樹葉編成,能朽壞的冠冕。

This crown is not a royal crown. In the original language, the word for royal crown is “ diadema ”. Here it talks about a victor’s crown “ stefanos ”, like the crown given to the winner at the Olympics. Nowadays, the winner in the Olympics gets a medal. In the old days, the winner would get a crown made of leaves and branches, a crown that can rot and decay.

新約聖經提過好幾種冠冕。其中一種是生命的冠冕,是專給受苦難的聖徒。它的原意是「豐盛生命冠冕」。生命這字用作形容詞時,是指生龍活虎般的活潑,不是躺病床、吊鹽水之生存。就是他們經過苦難之後,生命變得活潑有生氣有深度。生命長得更好。

The New Testament mentions different kinds of crowns. One kind of crown is the crown of life which is given to saints who go through sufferings. Its original meaning is “the crown of abundant life”. The word life is used as an adjective which describes a life that is vibrant and energetic, not a life that is hardly surviving like a critically ill patient connected to IV fluids. Even after they go through sufferings, their lives are still full of vitality and profound intensity. Their lives become even better.

現代人注重學術研究,知識技能全在書本或課堂裡學習。教會也受到影響,以為生命豐富,就是需要多讀書、拿學位。示每拿教會受迫害期間,當然不能舉辦神學講座,也沒有門徒訓練,不懂教會組織。但靈命豐富,並沒有世上的證書可以證明,但有豐盛生命的冠冕作證明。

The modern society is oriented towards academic research; intellectual skills which depend on books and classroom studies. The Church is also influenced by these trends. They think that an abundant life depends on studying a lot and getting academic degrees. When the Church in Smyrna was under severe persecution, of course, they could not hold theological lectures or discipleship training classes and did not know much about church organization. But their spiritual life was abundant and although they did not get a certificate of achievement, they received a crown of abundant life as evidence.

亞伯拉罕時代沒有聖經可讀,沒有靈修書指導,但他卻稱為信心之父。靈命豐盛的成長路,並不像世界人的方式。最重要的是至死忠心。至死忠心的人就顯出他的信心來。

During the time of Abraham there were no Bibles to read or spiritual books to guide him but he was known as the Father of Faith. The way to having a mature abundant life does not lie on following the patterns of this world. The most important thing is to be faithful until death that is how he gave evidence of his faith.

示每拿 smurna 這字,源自希伯來文的沒藥,沒藥在受壓的時候會發出香氣。教會經過火的試煉,基督的香氣就擋不住。就像茶,要泡出香味,一定需要用高溫的開水。

The word “ smyrna ” has its origin from the Hebrew word for myrrh. When myrrh is pressed it exudes an aromatic smell. When the Church goes through the test of fire, the aroma of Christ cannot be contained. Like tea, in order to give out its aroma, it must be boiled in water at a high temperature.

當然我們不是要自討苦吃,但要認識我們的仇敵魔鬼。我們無法逃避牠。當人信主、愛主之時,就會出現在牠雷達的螢幕上,牠必會用盡各種武器、辦法來對付。除非你是牠的好朋友,牠可以稱你為牠的親密戰友。如果你在教會中,能使整個教會死氣沉沉,毫無生氣,那你對於牠毫無威脅,牠當然不要對付你。

Of course, we are not trying to ask for trouble, but we must know our enemy, the devil. This is unavoidable. When a person believes in the Lord and loves the Lord, he will appear on Satan’s radar screen. Satan will use every possible method and weapon to target that Christian. But, if you are his good friend, he will treat you as his a close ally. If you can make the church feel lethargic and languid, then Satan will not feel threatened in any way and he will certainly not want to harass you at all.

殉道者將像主一樣復活,無第二次之死

MARTYRS WILL RESURRECT LIKE THE LORD, THEY WILL NOT BE HURT AT ALL BY THE SECOND DEATH

11 聖靈向眾教會所說的話、凡有耳的、就應當聽。得勝的、必不受第二次死的害。

11 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

我們要得到豐盛的生命冠冕,要享受靈命豐富的生活,要成為富足的基督徒,因為主是那首先的、末後的、死過又活的、直活到永遠的生命之主。主的忠心門徒,再沒有第二次死的害。「第二次死」這個辭,只出現在啟示錄,約翰福音與新約的書信都沒有提過,是約翰在晚年時從主所聽到的話。

As Christians, we want to have the crown of life; enjoy a spiritual life that is abundant and be richly blessed because our Lord is the one who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again and who lives eternally. The faithful disciples of the Lord will not be hurt by the second death. The phrase “second death” only appears in Revelation. The Gospel of John and the other epistles in the New Testament have no mention of it. These are words that John heard from the Lord during his later years in life.

第一次死是在我們擁有第一個身體的時候,這第一個身體因為犯罪的結果,都是會死的。第二次的死,是在人得到第二個身體,就是複活之後所得的身體。義人、惡人將來都要復活,但惡人復活後再被定罪,就有第二次的死。信主的人,復活存到永遠,再沒有第二次死的害。主告訴他們,惡人可能會把他們殺死,但他們將會復活,且活到永遠,像主耶穌復活一樣。

The first death happens while we have our first body. Our first body will have to die as a result of sin. The second death will happen after a person receives his second body, which is the body that we will all have after the resurrection. The righteous and the wicked will all be resurrected. The wicked will resurrect to be condemned and will die the second death. The believers in the Lord will resurrect to eternal life and will not be harmed by the second death. The Lord told them that wicked people may kill them but they will be resurrected and will live forever like the resurrected Lord.

第二世紀中葉,示每拿教會的監督,約翰的一個學生 Polycarp ,已經九十多歲,被抓去拜羅馬的皇帝,要他宣誓離棄主,就可以得釋放。他回答說:「我事奉主八十六年,主從來沒有虧待我,為甚麽要反祂?」「我有野獸、有火,你不怕嗎?」「你的火只燒一個小時,火湖的火是不滅的。」

In the middle of the second century, the leader of the Church in Smyrna, John ‘ s first student, Polycarp who was already over 90 years old, was ordered to worship the Roman emperor and to renounce the Lord. If he did that, he could be set free. But he answered saying: “ Eighty six years have I served the Lord, and He has done me no wrong; how can I blaspheme my King and my Savior.” “ You threaten me with fire which burns for an hour, and is then extinguished, but you know nothing of the fire of the coming judgment and eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly.

我們沒有中間路線,凡想要保護自己免去衝突,就是失敗者。為主而活,不計較自己損失,纔是得勝者。能為主受苦,與主一同受苦,一起受死,一起復活,是一件榮 耀的事。We do not have a middle ground; whoever wants to protect himself to avoid conflicts is a looser. To live for the Lord without thinking of your own loss, that is being a real winner. If you can suffer for and with the Lord, die together with the Lord and resurrect together with Him; that is a glorious thing.