To the Churches in Revelation, Part 4: Thyatira (Rev. 2: 18-29)
The letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation, chapters 2-3, are from Jesus to His people in the 1st century. However, they are more than applicable to us in the 21st century. Times may have changed, but hearts have not.
In 2022, this wisdom is fitting for times such as these. In part 4 of this series, we’ll look at the church in Thyatira. We’ll see Christ’s diagnosis of them, along with the prescription.
18 “To the angel (messenger or pastor) of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. 20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
26 To the one who is victorious (overcomes) and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Background of the church at Thyatira:
- It was perhaps the least illustrious of the seven cities of Revelation.
- Uneventful history, scarcely mentioned by ancient writers.
- The city was a center of commerce, had more trade guilds than those listed for any other Asian city.
- Lydia, whom Paul met in Philippi (first convert of his in Europe) was a Thyatiran seller of “turkey red” which was a purple dye for which Thyatira was famous (noted in Acts 16:14).
- Modern day- Akhisar, meaning “white castle.” It lies in the far west, south of Istanbul and almost due east of Athens. It is about 50 miles from the Aegean Sea. Population of about 25,000.
Jesus’ Diagnosis- The positive report:
- Good works, love, faithfulness, faith, patience.
The church at Thyatira was growing in zeal, just the opposite of Ephesus, which had “forsaken its first love (Rev. 2:4).” But, like Pergamum, they were tolerant of false teachers, only worse… they tolerated “Jezebel” in their midst (more on “Jezebel” in a moment). However, not all of them accepted the teachings of “Jezebel.”
Jesus’ Diagnosis- The negative report:
Thyatira was famous for its temple of Artemis (another name for the goddess Diana). It is thought that “Jezebel” may have been a prominent woman devotee of Diana, with a gift for leadership, who had a following of people in the city.
It was evident that she had an attraction to the growing cause of Christianity (because she is mentioned so influentially) thus she attached herself to the church. But she did it militantly, insisting on the right to teach and practice indulgence while claiming inspiration for her teaching.
Why was she called “Jezebel”? Like Jezebel, the devilish wife of Ahab, who had introduced the abominations of Astarte worship into Israel (noted in 1 Kings 16), she was introducing the same vile practices into the church at Thyatira here in Revelation. This “Jezebel” was teaching immorality, idolatry, and she was totally unrepentant.
However, not all of the pastors in Thyatira accepted her teaching, but in an attempt to be tolerant, and thinking she might be a help in winning the whole city to Christ, they accepted her as a fellow pastor even though she was a false prophetess. With that, the Lord was greatly displeased. In a stinging rebuke, the Lord presented Himself “with eyes like fire and feet like bronze” as noted in verse 18.
God, in His great mercy clearly gave those who followed Jezebel’s teachings time to repent. Our God is indeed long suffering.
The challenge and reward for the faithful-
1. Hold On!
Jezebel’s teachings were known as “Satan’s so-called deep secrets,” in verse 24. Listen to what 1 Timothy 4:1 says about these teachings:
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”
Jesus Himself is the “Morning Star” (seen in verse 28, and again in Rev. 22:16). One of the earliest prophecies concerning the Messiah calls Him a “Star” in Numbers 24:17. The faithful believers in Thyatira were instructed to hold on on to Jesus and not compromise.
Keep Looking Up,
Rev. Jon Barrett | Director of CVCCS