cart 0
Article Inner

How Long is Ten Days?


How Long is Ten Days?

Jul 12, 2021

Revelation / Chapter 2 / V8-11


“To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” ~Rev 2:8-11


A spiritual elder once said, “It would be difficult for a suffering Christian not to become Godly.” Smyrna was an excellent example of a suffering church. Reviewing the letters written to the other six churches in Revelation, we would find most of them with corrections and rebukes. However, the Lord only had words of approval and encouragement for Smyrna. From the world’s perspective, the church of Smyrna was poor, probably due to the loss of material possessions for the Lord’s sake. Yet, the Lord viewed them as rich, referring to their spiritual abundance. All this while, the Jews accused them of being evildoers and the world believed them; even sought to throw them into prison. Yet the Lord revealed who the true evildoers were – the Jews, who appeared as children of God but were in fact a synagogue of Satan. The Lord encouraged the Smyrna believers not to fear the imminent persecution and urged them to be faithful even unto the point of death, for the victorious Lord would bestow upon them the crown of life. 


Out of the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation, the letter written to Smyrna was the shortest. It was not because the Lord had nothing to say to them, rather, it was unnecessary for more to be said.  A suffering church like Smyrna was a spiritual church and a complete church. As a result of their suffering, they had become passionate in sharing the gospel, living a sanctified life and fervent in defending the truth of God. Therefore, it was needless for the Lord to admonish or instruct them regarding anything, for they already had everything — all spiritual riches that a church could ever possess! The letter written to the Smyrna church was the shortest of the seven letters simply because they were the most spiritual among all.


In the letter, the Lord foretold that the devil would put some of them in prison and they would suffer persecutions for ten days. There are many different interpretations of “ten days” among theologians. Some believe that “ten days” represents ten periods of intense persecutions by the various Roman emperors; others believe that since “with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day,” “ten days” probably represents a long period of time. Some also believe that “ten days” means ten years while others believe “ten days” could be an extremely short period of time. Now, how long exactly is “ten days?” From the contents of the passage and its spiritual significance, we are able to determine the actual duration of “ten days.”  


Through the letter to the church of Smyrna, Jesus reveals Himself to be the Lord of life. In the beginning of the passage, the Lord introduces Himself as the First and the Last, the One who died and came to life again. Here, Christ manifests as the source of life from whom all living creatures come from and end with. He is the self-existent God that lives on unto eternity. Thus, the church of Smyrna need not fear the coming persecutions and could fully entrust themselves to the Lord even unto death. For the Lord had died and risen again, and gained victory over Satan who holds the power of death. Should the Smyrna believers be martyred for their faith, the Lord wanted them to know that He had the power to raise them up again. Therefore, they did not need to fear the devil who killed the body but was unable to kill the soul, because those who believed in the Lord Jesus would never die. Their souls would be saved and be together with the Lord in heaven forever. The Lord knew that the key to overcome this trial was for them to recognize Him as the Lord of life; to have full assurance that even if they should perish the Lord would raise them up again. 


The Lord not only wanted the Smyrna believers to know He had the power to save their souls and more than that, to know that even their present life in this world was completely in His control. Should He not permit it, not a single hair would fall from their heads. Long before this letter was written, the believers of Smyrna were already enduring poverty and great difficulties for the Lord. But now, God had specifically asked John to write this letter to warn them of this trial coming directly from the devil, and urged them to remain faithful unto death, revealing that this trial would be extremely severe and agonizing. It would be very violent and cruel, so much so that they could lose their lives or even deny the Lord! Hence the Lord made it plain to them that this trial would last for exactly ten days. When the ten days were up, deliverance would definitely come. Through this trial the Lord wanted the Smyrna believers to know that He had authority over all things. There was never a trial or hardship that came upon them which was not according to His purpose. And the only way for them to overcome these ten days of intense suffering was to have complete faith in the sovereignty of the Lord. “Ten days” meant ten literal days; not ten years; not ten months. Should the deliverance of the Lord be late for even one day, the faith of the Smyrna believers would surely shatter and not even the greatest miracle could salvage it. Worst of all, what had caused them to fall was not the intensity of the trial but rather, the letter that the Lord had written to them – for the words of the Lord had failed!


As for the Smyrna believers, the “ten days” was never an issue of interpretation, it was a promise that the Lord had written to them in black and white. If the Lord’s deliverance did not arrive when the ten days were up, it would be futile to blame it on the misinterpretation of the meaning of “ten days” and hoped that their faith would be restored. Spiritual things are closely linked and inseparable with our daily life and experiences, our faith depends on God’s fulfillment of His promises to grow. This was precisely what the Lord did for the church of Smyrna; that their faith might be lifted up to a higher plane and received the crown of life.