11b And they loved not their lives unto the death.
This is a description of the attitude of the saints towards their own lives during the Great Tribulation period. It has already been stated in the first part of this verse that they will wholeheartedly trust in the blood of Christ to overcome the ferocious fury and hostility of Satan against their souls. They are also determined and devoted to bear witness for Christ. They fearlessly confess Jesus Christ and testify concerning Him in the midst of atrocity and violence committed against them. They are fearless and undeterred by the fierce persecution. Violence, blood, suffering and death will not stop them from living out their lives for the testimony of Christ.
The saints of Christ do not go into hiding to avoid the wrath of Satan and his hosts. They will maintain their evangelistic efforts even if it means death to them. Thus, John goes on to pinpoint the attitude behind their bold testimony, i.e. they do not love their lives to the point of death. They refuse to live for themselves. They are least concerned about their own safety when it comes to testifying for Christ.
They truly epitomise Jesus’ teaching on discipleship: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). The true follower places Christ above everything else, even above his own life. Furthermore, Jesus said, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). Denying oneself and bearing the cross are essential components of a life that is faithful and fervent for Christ. In other words, the faithful believers maintain their witness even if it means martyrdom.
In Revelation 2:10, the believers in Smyrna were told: “Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Many Christians will be persecuted, though not all will be put to death. So Christians must be willing to suffer and die for Christ, if necessary. They should not love a life that does not bear testimony for Christ. If the world and Satan should crush their efforts to live for Christ by inflicting death, they would happily accept it. Like Paul, their testimony would be: “Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death” (Philippians 1:20).