―To the angel of the church inThyatira write…‖ The corrupt church
The Letter to Thyatira ―And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: ‗I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of herdeeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who donot hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they callthem—I place no other burden on you. Nevertheless what you have, hold fast untilI come. He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.‖ (Revelation 2:18–29)
General Background on Thyatira• Half way between Pergamum and Sardis• Under Roman rule for three centuries• Was a center of wool and dyeing of cloth. A center of trade guilds (much like unions, today)• ―A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. ‖ (Acts 16:14)
The Description of Christ―The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this‖ (Revelation 2:18)His eyes indicate a penetrating gaze that finds the truth and knows those who are His: ―For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may stronglysupport those whose heart is completely His.‖ (2 Chronicles 16:9) Kings in ancient times sat on elevated thrones,so those being judged would always be beneaththe king‘s feet. The feet of a king thus came to symbolize his authority. Glowing feet indicate judgment.
The Description of Christ―The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this‖ (Revelation 2:18) The ‗eyes like a flame of fire‘ and‗feet…like burnished bronze‘ may also allude to attributes of the local god Tyrimnos, identified with the Greek sun gods Helios and Apollo.The title ‗Son of God‘ appears only here in the book of Revelation.
The Commendation ―I know your deeds, and your love and faith and serviceand perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.‖ (Revelation 2:19) Thyatira was the opposite ofEphesus, who had grown cold in love and whose deeds paled to whatworks they showed in the beginning. Thyatira showed progress and maturity in that their faith was evidenced by works that weregrowing. The same should be true of every Christian.
The Condemnation ―But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel,who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.‖ (Revelation 2:20)Christ condemns what was evidently a rampant immorality in the church that was spearheaded by aprominent female figure that Jesus likens to the Old Testament character of Jezebel. The specific deeds called out are spiritual adultery and the worship ofidols signified by the eating of things sacrificed to them.
“you tolerate the woman Jezebel…” The singular pronoun points thisadmonition especially at the leader of the church. The Greek term ‗tolerate‘ simply means ‗let go‘ and ‗allow‘. The main complaint Jesus had against thechurch was that they were allowing afalse teacher to parade her teachingand practices in their midst, with the end result being some being led astray. We need to remember that the church is not to be a home for false teaching.
―It came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him [Ahab] to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat,that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him.‖ (1 Kings 16:31) ―Surely there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to doevil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him.‖ (1 Kings 21:25) ―When Joram saw Jehu, he said, ―Is it peace, Jehu?‖ Andhe answered, ―What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?‖‖ (2 Kings 9:22)
“who calls herself a prophetess…” The word ―prophetess‖ is only used in the New Testament here and in Luke 2:36 to speak of Anna – it means one who interprets oracles. The easiest way tojustify false teaching is to make the claim that you are a prophet from God and that the things that you advocate and teach have come directly from Him.This is a pattern that has repeated over and over again in history. False prophet False authority False god, gospel, and Messiah
“And She Teaches and Leads…” One thing that the church alsoevidently permitted was the teachingof women over the male leadership of the body, violating the Biblical mandate: ―But I do not allow awoman to teach or exercise authority over a man‖ (1 Timothy 2:12).Can a woman teach and lead in theChurch? Absolutely. Are the giftsof the Spirit given to women as wellas men? Absolutely. However, dueto Adam following Eve in spiritual instruction, the Church is to not have women teaching men.
What was Jezebel’s Teaching? ―she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so thatthey commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.‖ (Revelation 2:20) The term immorality is ―porneuo‖ (where we get‗pornography‘), which means to fornicate. While the reference certainly includes spiritual adultery, the possibility of cultic fornication cannot be ruled out. The combination of food sacrificed to idols" with "sexual immorality" may refer to the common practice of participating in the sacrificial meal of the pagan gods (cf. 1Cor 10:19-22) and indulging in sexual intercoursewith temple priestesses in cult prostitution. The worship of Baal back in Jezebel‘s day involved intercourse with temple prostitutes.
―For this is the will of God, yoursanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality‖ (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
The Children of God Cult David Berg gave birth to theChildren of God cult (also known as ‗The Family‘), which practiced rampant sexual immorality. He andhis followers advocated a technique called ‗flirty fishing‘ where theirmembers would entice non-membersinto the cult by having sex with them. They sometimes referred to these people as ―hookers for Jesus‖. When allegations of sexual childabuse surfaced, the cult dwindled in size. Berg‘s son also ended up committing suicide.
―What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificedto idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. ‖ (1 Corinthians 10:19–21)
Keep the Door Closed on Demonic Influence―A lot of folks dabble in the occult, or they will be involved in practices that … classical Christianity at least would consider to be idolatrous. People can get themselves involved in Wicca, or peoplewill go see some sort of fortune-teller, or people will go to a séance, or they can go and they can learn how to channel spirits. . . .Demons are always looking for human beings . . .‖ - Gary Thomas, Catholic Exorcist
The State of Fallen Unbelievers ―I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.‖ ―This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.‖ (John 3:19)―The rest of mankind, who were not killed bythese plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk‖ (Revelation 9:20)
―What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory‖ (Romans 9:22–23)
The Judgment on Sin ―Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.‖ ―Of sickness‖ is supplied as a readinghelp in the NASB. Because the false prophetess in Thyatira was evidentlycommitting adultery in a bed, Christ was going to judge her on a bed. Even though some of the church members were led astray by the fake prophetess, they were going to be judged unless they changed the path they were on.
The Judgment on Sin ―And I will kill her children with pestilence.‖ ―Her children‖ likely refers to herspiritual children/proselytes vs. her biological children. The word ―pestilence‖ is literally ―death‖. ―For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if hedoes not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you areweak and sick, and a number sleep. ‖ (1 Corinthians 11:29–30)
The Realization of the Judgment ―and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.‖ ―For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may stronglysupport those whose heart is completely His.You have acted foolishly in this. Indeed, from now on you will surely have wars.‖ (2 Chronicles 16:9)We are not saved according to our works, but we are rewarded according to our deeds, whether good or bad. People‘s deeds reveal their spiritual condition. That is what Jamesmeant when he said, ―I will show you my faith by my works‖ (James 2:18).
―At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, myspirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments Theinhabitants of the world learn righteousness. ‖ (Isaiah 26:9)
The Exhortation ―But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. ‗Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.‖Not everyone in Thyatira was caught up in sinful behavior and false teaching. All false teaching can be traced back toSatan; he is the origin of all false doctrineand heretical teaching. All false teachingcan be traced back to the physical origin of Babylon: ―Stand fast now in your spells And in your many sorceries Withwhich you have labored from your youth‖ (Isaiah 47:12–13)
―On her forehead a name was written, a mystery, ―BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OFTHE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.‖ ‖ (Revelation 17:5)
―People ask me all the time ‗Do you think there are a lot of Satanic religions around today?‘ and I say‗Yes, every religion that is not Christianity is Satanic.‖ - John MacArthur
The Exhortation ―But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you. ‗Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.‖ ―Hold fast‖ is literally ―adhere strongly to‖. Christ commands hisfollowers to strongly cling to the truth that they have and not to turn loose of it. ―Until I come‖ could refer to Hiscoming for the church, or His coming in judgment upon the others. The former is probably the correct interpretation.
The Promise ―He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations‖ (Revelation 2:26) ―Overcome‖ (nikao) means to be the ‗victor‘; ‗conquer‘. The overcomers in the New Testament are believers: ―For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. ‖ (1 John 5:4)―Keeps my deeds until the end‖ references the perseverance of the saints – anindicator of true salvation. ―My deeds‖ is in contrast to Jezebel‘s deeds.
―Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. ―And the rain fell, and the floods came,and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. ―Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does notact on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house onthe sand. ―The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.‖ (Matthew 7:24–27)
The Promise ―He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations‖ (Revelation 2:26) Christ promises believers who are faithful that they will join Him in His millennial rule. The word in verse 27 translated ―rule‖ (poimanei) means ―to shepherd,‖ indicating that they will not simply be administering justice but will also,like a shepherd using his rod, be dealing with his sheep and protecting them as well. Though Psalm 2:9 refers to Christ‘s rule, John‘s quotation of it here relates the ruling (shepherding) to the believer who overcomes. Believers will have authority just as Christ does.
“And I will give him the morning star” What is the morning star? The last chapter of Revelation gives us the answer: ―I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root andthe descendant of David, the bright morning star.‖ (Revelation 22:16). Jesus says He will give the overcomers Himself and they willknow Him fully: ―For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have beenfully known. ‖ (1 Corinthians 13:12).
A command to Hear―He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.‖ (Revelation 2:29) This phrase is repeated each time in Christ‘saddress to the seven churches of Revelation. In the gospels (it is never used in John), it is always used to highlight radical truths, great principles, and promises.Note that Jesus says it is the Spirit speakingto the churches, even though He is the actualone talking: ―All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness‖ (2 Timothy 3:16)
What Happened to Thyatira?• The letter was written at the end of the first century.• By the end of the second century there was no church in Thyatira, it was gone; out of existence.
Conclusions• This letter reveals the seriousness of practicing and tolerating sin, and that God will judge continued, unrepentant sin in the church. They werent grievous wolves from the outside, they were perverse people on the inside.• We should not ‗tolerate‘ any sin or false teaching either in the Church or our individual lives• A pattern of obedience is a mark of true Christians; true believers will one day be rewarded and reign with Christ
―To the angel of the church inThyatira write…‖ The corrupt church