THE DEVIL IS ABOUT TO THROW SOME OF YOU INTO PRISON REVELATION 2:9
In Revelation 2:9 Jesus told the faithful church at Smyrna, “I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews but are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan. Do not fear any of the things that you are about to (see comments on mello, translated about to, below) suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.
There are some keys to the book of Revelation in these brief comments. First, note the Jewish nature of the conflict and persecution against the church. Jesus said the Smyrnians lived where the synagogue of Satan dwelled, where those claiming to be Jews lived. This is a conflict about identity: Who are the Sons of God?
This is the same situation as in Revelation 3:10f where the Philadelphian church was being persecuted “by those who say they are Jews, but are not, for they are liars.” Failure to see that the controversy in those two cities revolved around the identity of the true sons of God has caused commentators to sorely miss the message of Revelation. Who was truly the sons of God?
Jewish Persecution In Revelation 2:9
As Gregg says, “ Since the persecution is said to be instigated by the Devil, and since the Jews of Smyrna were a synagogue of Satan, it is probable that the persecution here, as elsewhere, was brought about by the local Jewish community.” (Steve Gregg, Four Views of Revelation, (Nashville, Thomas Nelson, 1997)67). This is an astute observation but perhaps fails to notice the significance to the rest of Revelation.
In chapter 12, the Devil pursues the seed of the woman. Why is the Devil in chapter 12 not the synagogue of Satan in Revelation 2:9? Why should we look any further for the identity of the persecuting power, Babylon, than the synagogue of Satan?
Not only was the synagogue of Satan to persecute the saints, Jesus said he was to do so for ten days. Barclay says this expression, “is the normal Greek expression for a short time.” (William Barclay, Letters to the Seven Churches, (Nashville, Abingdon, 1957)38). Hort says the expression, “Indicates a time not of the shortest, and yet short” duration. (F. J. A. Hort, The Apocalypse of St. John, (London, MacMillan, 1908)25).
Revelation 2:9 to Be Fulfilled Shortly
So, once again, notice the direct correlation with Revelation 12. Satan, i.e. the Jews, were to persecute the Christians for a short time (Revelation 2:9-10). In Revelation 12:9-12 the Devil persecutes the seed of woman, and knows that “he has a short time” to do so before his defeat.
The question that begs for an answer, but that no one seems to be asking is, why is the persecution in chapter 12 not that pogrom predicted by the Lord in Revelation 2:9f (and 3:9-10, see below)? And if the persecution is the same, then that means that the persecuting power of chapter 12 and the rest of the book is (primarily) Israel. This means that Babylon in Revelation was first century Jerusalem.
Revelation 2:9 Identifies Babylon in Revelation
For a more in-depth study of Revelation 2:9 see my book Who Is This Babylon? This is an extensive discussion of the dating and interpretation of Revelation.