"Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold,
the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days.
Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."
of the Crown of Life
First, He encourages, "Do not fear any of those things which you are about
to suffer." He does not say He will take away the suffering, tacitly acknowledging that they will suffer. He
is admonishing them to reorient their focus so that they fear Him rather than their circumstances. Revelation 21:8 says that the fearful and the unbelieving will go into the Lake of Fire, and this happens because they fear the
wrong things. Thus, they have no part with God.
In many ways, what Revelation 2:10 describes is entirely foreign to us, yet many passages warn us that God's people will face tribulation. Peter writes, "Do
not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (I Peter 4:12). We are so unaccustomed to persecution that we do indeed think it strange, but Paul tells Timothy, "All who desire
to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12).
In Revelation 2:10, Jesus says that the Devil is about to throw some of them into prison to test them. A test perpetrated by Satan may not make much sense to men. It may not be over anything as dramatic as keeping the Sabbath or holy days or refusing the mark of the beast. It could simply be that, because the society has become so litigious and
the civil law so overbearing, these saints become entangled without actually having done anything wrong. Nevertheless, as
a test of their faith, God will allow Satan to jail them, for whatever reason-legitimate or not. God allows this so that He and they know where
their convictions stand-to see if they will compromise to ease their captivity, to see if they will remain faithful to God
and His truth, and to see if they will trust Him even in tough times. It is during tumultuous times like the present that
a person's character is revealed.
"Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life," He says
to conclude Revelation 2:10. Because this follows right on the heels of the Devil throwing some of them into prison, it almost sounds as if they will
be in prison for ten days and then die, but it need not mean this at all. His exhortation to be faithful until death is universal,
not just applicable for those thrown into prison. Whether we, like the apostle John, are allowed to die a natural death at
an advanced age or, like Stephen, suffer martyrdom shortly after conversion, the command is the same: We must be faithful
to our last breath. We cannot rest on the fact that we were faithful last year or last decade. Our faithfulness should be
strong right to the finish line.
If we maintain our faithfulness, Christ gives us a crown of life. James adds, "Blessed
is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God
has promised to those who love him" (James 1:12, English Standard Version).