Synagogue of Satan

In the letters to the early Christian churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia in Revelation 2:9 and 3:9, reference is made to a synagogue of Satan (Greek: συναγωγή τοῦ Σατανᾶ, synagoge tou satana), in each case referring to a group persecuting the church "who say they are Jews and are not".

It is widely accepted as referring to a specific group of unbelieving Jews who opposed Jesus.[1] The verse has often been used to justify hatred against all Jews or particular subsets of modern Jews, which academic scholars generally view as ignorant of the Biblical context and the fact that Jesus and the suspected author of Revelation were Jews.[2]

Biblical accountEdit

In Revelation 2, verse 8 "And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write;..." verse 9 "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan." Revelation 3, verse 7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write;..." verse 9 "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee."

Other usesEdit

Similar language is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, where a small persecuted Jewish sect considered the rest of Judaism apostate, and called its persecutors "the lot of Belial" (Satan).[3] The phrase is also used in a fragment of a lost work on Dioscorus I of Alexandria found at the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great in 1923 and identified by American theologian William Hatch.[4] Hatch believes the term refers to the Council of Chalcedon, which Dioscorus attended in 451 and from which he was deposed and exiled for his monophysite Christology.

In 1653, Quakers Elizabeth Williams and Mary Fisher attacked members of Sidney Sussex College at Cambridge as "Antichrists" and called their college "a Cage of unclean Birds and a Synagogue of Satan."[5] For this, they were publicly flogged.

The Rev. Billy Graham used the phrase "synagogue of Satan" in a private 1973 White House conversation with President Richard M. Nixon. When tapes of the conversation were released many years later, Graham apologized for what were deemed by many to be antisemitic remarks.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "What is the synagogue of Satan in Revelation?". Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  2. ^ ""Jews are the children of Satan" and the danger of taking biblical passages out of context". Retrieved 2020-05-18.
  3. ^ Keener, Craig S. , The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, InterVarsity Press, p.770.
  4. ^ Hatch, W., A Fragment of a Lost Work on Dioscorus, Harvard Theological Review, Vol. 19, No. 4 (Oct., 1926), pp. 377-381
  5. ^ Wilcox, Helen (2017). The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern English Literature and Religion. Google Books p. 99. ISBN 9780191653421. Retrieved 31 Dec 2020. |first1= missing |last1= (help)