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assembly of satan
Question from annonymous on 11/27/2012:

What did Christ mean when He said to one of the seven churches (Smyrna) in Revelation that, "I know the slander of those who claim to be Jews and are not, but rather are members of the assembly of satan"? Who are these Jews? Are they the ones who slandered Christ and had Him crucified?

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 11/27/2012:

The second chapter of the Apocalypse includes commendations and condemnations to the seven churches of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), among which we read:

8 And to the Angel of the church of Smyrna write: These things saith the First and the Last: who was dead, and liveth:

9 I know thy tribulation and thy poverty, but thou art rich: and thou art blasphemed by those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried: and you shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life.

The reference to synagogue of Satan likely refers to Jews who did not accept Christ as the Messiah and were now persecuting Christians who did accept Christ, especially Jewish-Christians. At some point, starting with Christ but formalized decades later, Jews who accepted Christ were excommunicated and cursed by unbelieving Judaism. Strong language, to be sure, but it comes from Saint John himself, also known as the Beloved Disciples--the Disciple loved by Christ.

God bless,

Father Echert

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