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9 “I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

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9. thy works, and—omitted in two oldest manuscripts, Vulgate, and Coptic. Supported by one oldest manuscript.

tribulation—owing to persecution.

poverty—owing to "the spoiling of their goods."

but thou art rich—in grace. Contrast Laodicea, rich in the world's eyes and her own, poor before God. "There are both poor rich-men, and rich poor-men in God's sight" [Trench].

blasphemy of them—blasphemous calumny of thee on the part of (or arising from) them.

say they are Jews, and are not—Jews by national descent, but not spiritually of "the true circumcision." The Jews blaspheme Christ as "the hanged one." As elsewhere, so at Smyrna they bitterly opposed Christianity; and at Polycarp's martyrdom they joined the heathens in clamoring for his being cast to the lions; and when there was an obstacle to this, for his being burnt alive; and with their own hands they carried logs for the pile.

synagogue of Satan—Only once is the term "synagogue" in the New Testament used of the Christian assembly, and that by the apostle who longest maintained the union of the Church and Jewish Synagogue. As the Jews more and more opposed Christianity, and it more and more rooted itself in the Gentile world, the term "synagogue" was left altogether to the former, and Christians appropriated exclusively the honorable term "Church"; contrast an earlier time when the Jewish theocracy is called "the Church in the wilderness." Compare Nu 16:3; 20:4, "congregation of the Lord." Even in Jas 2:2 it is "your (not the Lord's) assembly." The Jews, who might have been "the Church of God," had now, by their opposition and unbelief, become the synagogue of Satan. So "the throne of Satan" (Re 2:13) represents the heathens' opposition to Christianity; "the depths of Satan" (Re 2:24), the opposition of heretics.