The Church at Smyrna

Some have observed that the church at Smyrna may not have existed until almost the time of Nero allowing precious little time for it to have earned a reputation suitable for the commendation given by Christ (Rev. Rev. 2:8-11+).1 Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, writing to the Philippians (ca. 110) indicates that the church at Smyrna post-dated Paul’s ministry, which is more in keeping with a late date:

In his letter to the Philippians written in about A.D. 110, Polycarp says that the Smyrnaeans did not know the Lord during the time Paul was ministering. “But I have not observed or heard of any such thing among you, in whose midst the blessed Paul labored, and who were his letters of recommendation in the beginning. For he boasts about you in all the churches—those alone, that is, which at that time had come to know the Lord, for we had not yet come to know him.” [emphasis added]2


1 “As suggested by many commentators, the very existence of the church at Smyrna suggests a later date, since it is possible that the church was not even established until 60-64 A.D.”—Gregory K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 17.

2 Mark Hitchcock, “The Stake in the Heart—The A.D. 95 Date of Revelation,” in Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, eds., The End Times Controversy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2003), 147.