An ancient city on the W coast of Asia Minor; now called Izmir. (PICTURE, Vol. 2, p. 946) Early settled by the Greeks, it was destroyed about 580 B.C.E. by Lydian King Alyattes. More than two centuries later, Alexander the Great planned to rebuild it as a Greek city, this being done by his successors on another site. Smyrna thereafter became an important commercial city. When it became part of the Roman province of Asia, Smyrna, with its fine public buildings, was noted for its beauty. It had a temple of Tiberius Caesar and therefore promoted emperor worship.
Smyrna was the second of the seven Christian congregations in Asia Minor to which the glorified Jesus Christ directed the apostle John to write a message. (Re 1:11) The congregation was said to be poor materially but rich spiritually. It was tested by tribulation, evidently persecution, and was blasphemed by some who called themselves Jews, but who were actually “a synagogue of Satan.” However, despite their poverty and tribulation, Christians of the congregation in Smyrna were encouraged not to fear the things they would yet suffer but to be “faithful even to death” in order to receive “the crown of life.”—Re 2:8-11.