Who are those of the ‘Synagogue of Satan’? Rabbi Tovia Singer explores the sources and consequences
How does the Book of Revelation promote hatred of Jews?
Answer: In the Book of Revelation there are seven letters to seven churches supposedly written by the heavenly Jesus. They appear in Revelation 2:1 through 3:22. In each letter the angel (messenger) of the specific church is addressed and, in turn, the church members are told that Jesus knows who they are and the level of their spirituality. We are concerned here with letters two (2:8-11) and six (3:7-13).
In Revelation 2:9, Jesus is said to have written, “I know your works, tribulations and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” In Revelation 3:9, Jesus is said to have written, “Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie–behold, I will make them to come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” Jews who do not accept Christianity are characterized as worshipers of Satan, hence, the expression “synagogue of Satan.”
According to Paul’s definition of a “true” Jew, “he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29). That is, the Christian notion of a “true” Jew refers to Jews and Gentiles who follow Paul’s concept of submission to belief in Jesus, not adherence to the Torah. Jews by birth or choice who do not believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior are classified as Jews of the “flesh” not “true” spiritual Jews. The author of Revelation declares that Jews of the “flesh” who do not become “true” Jews (that is, Christians) worship Satan and are destined to someday be subdued and come to bow down at the feet of Jesus’ beloved church.
Is it any wonder that the expression “synagogue of Satan” in combination with John 8:44, where “the Jews” are characterized as descended from Satan, helped produce a portrait for faithful Christians of the “evil” Jew whose deeds on behalf of Satan took on ominous proportions? Is it any wonder that the church and its faithful followers sought to hasten the day when Jesus would fulfill his promise to “make them [the synagogue of Satan] come and bow down at your feet” (verse 9) by persecution of the Jews?
Book of Revelation 3:9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.