Title:  Satan’s Tactics - Persecution



1.  Revelation is a book of conflict

2.  No accident that the first vision we given centers on Christ and his church

3.  So the setting for Revelation is the battleground of the church

4.  Will look at Satan’s tactics over the next few weeks

            a.  He uses persecution, deception, peer pressure, and peace

            b.  Tonight we will look at persecution


I.  (Rev 2:8-11) Church at Smyrna’s challenge - Tribulation

            A.  Tribulation - To grind, crush, or press

                        1.  Used of grinding wheat, or pressing grapes

                        2.  Christians were being ground to dust

            B.  Tribulation took several forms

                        1.  Poverty

                                    a.  Property confiscated

                                    b.  Excluded from trade guilds (pagan worship)

                                    c.  Couldn’t lean on Jewish community, they Christians

                        2.  Blasphemies from the Jews

            C.  Do not fear what you are about to suffer - It was going to get worse

                        1.  Some to be cast in prison

                        2.  Tribulation for ten days - (Human completeness)

                                    a.  Comprehensive persecution

                                    b.  Since it is only human, it is not forever


II.  Two visions of trouble

            A.  Four horseman of the Apocalypse 6:1-8

                        1.  1st Seal - White horse - War

                        2.  2nd Seal - Red horse - Bloodshed

                        3.  3rd Seal - Black horse - Starvation

                        4.  4th Seal - Ashen Horse

            B.  The beast from the sea 13:1-10

                        1.  Is powerful

                                    a.  10 horns - Complete “human” power

                                    b.  10 crowns (diadems) - Ruling “human” power

                        2.  Intelligent = 7 Heads

                        3.  Wars against the saints (13:7-8)

            C.  Things will go from bad to worse


III.  Example - Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna

            A.  Born in 72, martyrd in 156.  Disciple of John.  Arrested for being


            B.  The proconsul urged him to deny Christ - He said “Eighty six years I

                   have served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I

                   blaspheme my King and my Savior?”

            C.  IN the end, he was burned at the stake

            D.  What effect would that have on you to see an elder burned at the



IV.  What are we to do in the midst of persecution?

            A.  (2:10) - Be faithful until death - crown of life

                        1.  When threatened - Maintain faithfulness

                        2.  Crown of life = victory wreath

                                    a.  On earth, world booed you

                                    b.  But know that Heaven is cheering for you

            B.  This may not be something we have dealt with

            C.  But persecution is not the only tactic Satan uses

                        - Will cover the others in the weeks ahead



1.  Satan uses persecution to draw us away from God

2.  Will try and make us doubt that God’s way is better

            a.  Life is supposed to be better with God right?

            b.  This message warns us that things can and do get worse

3.  Time may come where we are persecuted for our faith

            a.  We need to be ready to stand for Christ

            b.  Even if threatened with torture and death

4.  Early Christian’s gave life, Polycarp gave life

            a.  Have you given your life to Christ as Lord?

            b.  Invitation


III.  The Martyrdom of Polycarp


Polycarp, born about 72, was a bishop in Smyrna and was martyred in 156. Polycarp is said to have known the Apostle John, and to have been instructed by him in the Christian faith. Polycarp, in his turn, was known to Irenaeus, who later became Bishop of Lyons in what is now France.  The following is an account of the arrest, trial, conviction, and martyrdom of Polycarp, written after his death by one or more members of his congregation[1].

Polycarp was denounced to the government, arrested, and tried on the charge of being a Christian. When the proconsul urged him to save his life by cursing Christ, he replied: "Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?" The magistrate was reluctant to kill a a gentle old man, but he had no choice.



Chapter VII.-Polycarp is Found by His Pursuers.

His pursuers then, along with horsemen, and taking the youth with them, went forth at supper-time on the day of the preparation with their usual weapons, as if going out against a robber. And being come about evening [to the place where he was], they found him lying down in the upper room of a certain little house, from which he might have escaped into another place; but he refused, saying, "The will of God be done." So when he heard that they were come, he went down and spake with them. And as those that were present marvelled at his age and constancy, some of them said. "Was so much effort made to capture such a venerable man? Immediately then, in that very hour, he ordered that something to eat and drink should be set before them, as much indeed as they cared for, while he besought them to allow him an hour to pray without disturbance. And on their giving him leave, he stood and prayed, being full of the grace of God, so that he could not cease for two full hours, to the astonishment of them that heard him, insomuch that many began to repent that they had come forth against so godly and venerable an old man.


Chapter VIII.-Polycarp is Brought into the City.

Now, as soon as he had ceased praying, having made mention of all that had at any time come in contact with him, both small and great, illustrious and obscure, as well as the whole Catholic Church throughout the world, the time of his departure having arrived, they set him upon an ass, and conducted him into the city, the day being that of the great Sabbath. And the Irenarch Herod, accompanied by his father Nicetes (both riding in a chariot ), met him, and taking him up into the chariot, they seated themselves beside him, and endeavoured to persuade him, saying, "What harm is there in saying, Lord Caesar, and in sacrificing, with the other ceremonies observed on such occasions, and so make sure of safety? "But he at first gave them no answer; and when they continued to urge him, he said, "I shall not do as you advise me." So they, having no hope of persuading him, began to speak bitter words unto him, and cast him with violence out of the chariot, insomuch that, in getting down from the carriage, he dislocated his leg [by the fall]. But without being disturbed, and as if suffering nothing, he went eagerly forward with all haste, and was conducted to the stadium, where the tumult was so great, that there was no possibility of being heard.


Chapter IX.-Polycarp Refuses to Revile Christ.

Now, as Polycarp was entering into the stadium, there came to him a voice from heaven, saying, "Be strong, and show thyself a man, O Polycarp!" No one saw who it was that spoke to him; but those of our brethren who were present heard the voice. And as he was brought forward, the tumult became great when they heard that Polycarp was taken. And when he came near, the proconsul asked him whether he was Polycarp. On his confessing that he was, [the proconsul] sought to persuade him to deny [Christ], saying, "Have respect to thy old age," and other similar things, according to their custom, [such as], "Swear by the fortune of Caesar; repent, and say, Away with the Atheists." But Polycarp, gazing with a stern countenance on all the multitude of the wicked heathen then in the stadium, and waving his hand towards them, while with groans he looked up to heaven, said, "Away with the Atheists." Then, the proconsul urging him, and saying, "Swear, and I will set thee at liberty, reproach Christ; "Polycarp declared, "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour? "


Chapter X.-Polycarp Confesses Himself a Christian.

And when the proconsul yet again pressed him, and said, "Swear by the fortune of Caesar," he answered, "Since thou art vainly urgent that, as thou sayest, I should swear by the fortune of Caesar, and pretendest not to know who and what I am, hear me declare with boldness, I am a Christian. And if you wish to learn what the doctrines of Christianity are, appoint me a day, and thou shalt hear them." The proconsul replied, "Persuade the people." But Polycarp said, "To thee I have thought it right to offer an account [of my faith]; for we are taught to give all due honour (which entails no injury upon ourselves) to the powers and authorities which are ordained of God. But as for these, I do not deem them worthy of receiving any account from me."


Chapter XI.-No Threats Have Any Effect on Polycarp.

The proconsul then said to him, "I have wild beasts at hand ; to these will I cast thee, except thou repent." But he answered, "Call them then, for we are not accustomed to repent of what is good in order to adopt that which is evil; and it is well for me to be changed from what is evil to what is righteous." But again the proconsul said to him, "I will cause thee to be consumed by fire, seeing thou despisest the wild beasts, if thou wilt not repent." But Polycarp said, "Thou threatenest me with fire which burneth for an hour, and after a little is extinguished, but art ignorant of the fire of the coming judgment and of eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why tarriest thou? Bring forth what thou wilt."


Chapter XII.-Polycarp is Sentenced to Be Burned.

While he spoke these and many other like things, he was filled with confidence and joy, and his countenance was full of grace, so that not merely did it not fall as if troubled by the things said to him, but, on the contrary, the proconsul was astonished, and sent his herald to proclaim in the midst of the stadium thrice, "Polycarp has confessed that he is a Christian." This proclamation having been made by the herald, the whole multitude both of the heathen and Jews, who dwelt at Smyrna, cried out with uncontrollable fury, and in a loud voice, "This is the teacher of Asia, the father of the Christians, and the overthrower of our gods, he who has been teaching many not to sacrifice, or to worship the gods." Speaking thus, they cried out, and besought Philip the Asiarch to let loose a lion upon Polycarp. But Philip answered that it was not lawful for him to do so, seeing the shows of wild beasts were already finished. Then it seemed good to them to cry out with one consent, that Polycarp should be burnt alive. For thus it behooved the vision which was revealed to him in regard to his pillow to be fulfilled, when, seeing it on fire as he was praying, he turned about and said prophetically to the faithful that were with him, "I must be burnt alive."


Chapter XIII.-The Funeral Pile is Erected.

This, then, was carried into effect with greater speed than it was spoken, the multitudes immediately gathering together wood and fagots out of the shops and baths; the Jews especially, according to custom, eagerly assisting them in it. And when the funeral pile was ready, Polycarp, laying aside all his garments, and loosing his girdle, sought also to take off his sandals,-a thing he was not accustomed to do, inasmuch as every one of the faithful was always eager who should first touch his skin. For, on account of his holy life, he was, even before his martyrdom, adorned with every kind of good. Immediately then they surrounded him with those substances which had been prepared for the funeral pile. But when they were about also to fix him with nails, he said, "Leave me as I am; for He that giveth me strength to endure the fire, will also enable me, without your securing me by nails, to remain without moving in the pile."

Chapter XIV.-The Prayer of Polycarp.

They did not nail him then, but simply bound him. And he, placing his hands behind him, and being bound like a distinguished ram [taken] out of a great flock for sacrifice, and prepared to be an acceptable burnt-offering unto God, looked up to heaven, and said, "O Lord God Almighty, the Father of thy beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the knowledge of Thee, the God of angels and powers, and of every creature, and of the whole race of the righteous who live before thee, I give Thee thanks that Thou hast counted me, worthy of this day and this hour, that I should have a part in the number of Thy martyrs, in the cup of thy Christ, to the resurrection of eternal life, both of soul and body, through the incorruption [imparted] by the Holy Ghost. Among whom may I be accepted this day before Thee as a fat and acceptable sacrifice, according as Thou, the ever-truthful God, hast fore-ordained, hast revealed beforehand to me, and now hast fulfilled. Wherefore also I praise Thee for all things, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, along with the everlasting and heavenly Jesus Christ, Thy beloved Son, with whom, to Thee, and the Holy Ghost, be glory both now and to all coming ages. Amen."




[1] The Martyrdom of Polycarp, from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Online.  http://ccel.org