Thyatira The Church Where Anything Goes

Rev 2:18-29

18 "And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, 'These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:

19 "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

20 "Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

21 "And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.

22 "Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.

23 "I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

24 "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.

25 "But hold fast what you have till I come.

26 "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations--

27 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'-- as I also have received from My Father;

28 "and I will give him the morning star.

29 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'

(NKJ)

"And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,

The city of Thyatira, though smaller and less significant than the first three, received the longest letter. It was situated southeast of Pergamos, about half way between that city and Sardis. It was distinguished for its industrial activity and was therefore a prosperous city in trade and commerce. Archaeological discoveries have brought to light the fact that Thyatira was a well-known center for numerous trade guilds. (1)

The road from Istanbul to Izmir runs through the relatively small and unattractive town of Akhisar (with a population of 30,000), which now occupies the site where once stood the important military city of Thyatira. It is usually said that there are no vestiges of the ancient city left, but this is not completely true. On a recent visit we found a corner of a road fenced off with wire to protect the ruins of some old buildings which had not long been unearthed: they were not very significant and it is doubtful whether they dated back to New Testament days, despite the assurance of a local guide that they were two thousand years old. This is all that has been discovered of the great city of the past-- a few walls and heaps of stones in squalid and humble surroundings.

As Thyatira grew in commercial importance and prosperity, it became a well-known centre for the numerous trade guilds of the day. Although these were discoverable in other cities, they seemed to be more in evidence here than elsewhere. Potters. dyers, tanners, bakers. metalworkers, textile-makers. bronze-smiths, slave-dealers, leather-workers, etc., all had their own guilds there. Membership of the guild was compulsory and refusal to join made it impossible for the worker to secure employment or to continue in his own trade. It was just as much a "closed shop" as the position in some industries today. The guilds were well-organized corporate bodies, providing specific benefits for their members, taking action to protect their interests, raising revenues and often owning considerable property. Each guild was under the patronage of some pagan deity, and all proceedings and feasts commenced with the paying of homage to the patron god or goddess. This was inescapable: indeed, the meeting- place of the guild was often dedicated to the deity and was regarded as a sacred place. It was obligatory on members to attend guild meetings and to engage in the idolatrous ritual which seemed an essential preliminary to the business discussion. Guild banquets were attended by considerable sexual freedom, and Christian craftsmen were accordingly faced with the common temptation to licence and immorality. Some argued that this was inevitable because of the very conditions of life and that the licence indulged in at a guild gathering had no relevance to Christian life and conduct elsewhere. Others maintained that a man should have confidence in his ability to confront and defeat temptation because of his integrity and strength of character. (2)

It appears to me that the significant issue in the forgoing information is that of the trade guilds. If Christians had been saved while members of these guilds it would mean more than just changing churches for them. Out of loyalty to Jesus and the sense of morality that comes from the new nature that is given the believer in regeneration they would want to not attend the guild meetings any longer. But to do so would mean loss of income or even of their job. Into this conflict comes a powerful prophetess who claims that God's message from her is that these things are of no significance. That to participate in the worship of the patron saints of the guilds is only a necessary evil. I think that this is similar to the message that some in the Christian church are teaching today. But what kind of a witness can Christians have if they have submitted to the patterns of this world. We thence loose our right to be heard as a credible witness.

The Church in Thyatira had some of the same excellencies, but conjoined with even worse defects. It was active in services and charities, patient in reliance upon God's promises, and increasingly vigorous in its endeavors; but it was lacking in proper zeal for the maintenance of godly discipline and doctrine, and was so indulgent toward errors and errorists that falsehood and idolatry permeated, overlaid and modified the whole character of the Church, obscuring the faith, deceiving the saints, and setting up in its very midst the infamous school of Satan himself. (from Seiss' Apocalypse)

'These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire,

The chief point of distinction in this description of Christ is that He is named the Son of God in contrast to the designation in chapter 1 where He is called the Son of Man. His title here is in keeping with the character of the judgment pronounced upon the church. Their diversion from the true worship of Jesus Christ the Son of God was so serious that it called for a reiteration of His deity. (3)

It is important that Jesus does not say that He is a son of God but The Son of God. All Christians are sons of God by faith (Gal. 3:26) but there is only one who can claim to be the Son of God.

Ford C. Ottman wrote, "As 'the Son of God' He rebukes the church that would degrade Him and keep Him the son of a human mother while exalting her above Him as 'the mother of God' and 'the queen of heaven.'" Our Lord knows exactly when and where to insist upon His divine prerogative as the Son of God. He would have all usurpers, with their queenly assumptions, know that He is the very Son of God who alone speaks with supreme and final authority. (4)

The apostles recognized that His eyes like unto a flame of fire pierced human hearts and minds when they prayed, "Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men" (Acts 1:24 cf. 15:8). The words in the Authorized Version, "which knowest the hearts of all men," are the translation of one Greek word (kardiognostes) and means "heartknower."

The Divine Heartknower pierced the Pharisees with His omniscient gaze "When He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts" (Mark 3:5). "He knew all men. . . . He knew what was in man (John 2:24,25). "Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him" (John 6:64). He read the hearts of Nathanael (John 1:48) and the woman of Samaria (John 4:28-29). Simon Peter never could erase from his memory the vision of Christ's gaze when "the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter . . . and Peter went out, and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:61,62), for after the resurrection he said to Jesus, "Lord, Thou knowest all things" (John 21:17). No human has ever yet escaped His all-knowing gaze (Hebrews 4:13). Let us then learn to walk in His presence as the One who knows all. (5)

No wonder the Lord addressed Himself to the church at Thyatira as "the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of lire, and his feet . . like fine brass." Fire purifies, and brass in the Word of God speaks of judgment. The corruption which had set in with the fourth century increased "till 'the depths of Satan' were reached" (2 :24). (6)

These early believers might think that no one would see while they were in these morally compromising situations that presented themselves in the guild meetings. But He wants them to know that He sees all, that there is nothing hid from His sight.

and His feet like fine brass:

The description of His eyes as a flame of fire speaks of burning indignation and purifying judgment. In a similar way His feet are declared to be like fine brass (Gr., chalkolibano). This word, found only here in the Bible, has puzzled scholars. It seems to represent an alloy of precious metal such as gold, silver, brass, or copper. Its exact character is not known, but there is general agreement with the conclusion of Swete that it is "the name of a mixed metal of great brilliance." The point in mentioning it here is in reference not to its quality as metal, but to its brilliant appearance enhancing the revelation of Christ as a glorious judge. (7)

Here Christ takes on the symbol of judgment. As the One whose feet are as polished brass, "He treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Revelation 19:15). Brass is a metal used in Scripture as a symbol of judgment. The serpent of brass in Numbers 21:9 represented our Lord Jesus Christ who, under the divine judgment of Heaven, bore the penalty for our sins on the cross (John 3:14-15). Sin must be judged. God can never remain silent and inactive where sin is present. (8)

"I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

It is remarkable that the church was commended first for its charity, or love, especially when none of the three preceding churches was commended for this quality. (9)

But even to Thyatira, which means "continual sacrifice," and represents the papacy with all her corruption, especially, in this connection, with the "continual sacrifice" of the mass, the Lord commended that which deserved His approval: "I know thy works," He said, "and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first." Before the Reformation period, the only hospitals were the monasteries, and those who looked after the sick were the monks and nuns. Many of those faithful servants of the Lord gave their lives for their fellowman. The early schools and libraries were connected with these religious houses. So we find our Lord, before He begins to point out the shortcomings and serious faults of Thyatira, commending her works. (10)

The Christ of the lampstands credits this church with "charity" (love). With all the faultiness in this church, as we shall see, there was much good. Love led the list of virtues. Where love was waning in Ephesus (2:4), it was gaining in Thyatira.

Love in its very essence is the divine nature (1 John 4:8,16). It is that eternal and essential attribute of God, that principle of God's nature, whereby He is moved in compassion toward the worst of sinners, regardless of any sacrifice on His part (Romans 5:8: 2 Corinthians 5:19; 1 John 3:16). Now all Christians are "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4), thus "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5). It is called by the Apostle Paul the greatest of the Christian characteristics (1 Corinthians 13:13) and the first manifestation of the ninefold fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). It is God's love in us experientially that begets love to men (1 Thessalonians 4:9; Romans 13:10). There were saints in Thyatira who were dwelling together in love because God was dwelling in them (1 John 4:16), and apparently their love for each other was increasing (2 Thessalonians 1:3). (11)

Do we have this capacity to be still when all around us is storm-tossed? Think of Christ's patience with sinners; with His blundering disciples; with those who tormented and tried Him unjustly and then crucified Him; with you and me! There was always that readiness to endure and suffer. The word for patient is kupomone (from kupo, "under," and meno, "to abide"). We are to abide in Christ under tribulation (Romans 12:12) for it is through trial that patience grows (James 1:3), and this is acceptable with God (1 Peter 2:20). Moreover, patience perfects Christian character (James 1:4), 50 let us run the race with patience (Hebrews 12:1). (12)

I see from these churches that some were wrong in one place and some in another. We as a church need to seek the praise He gives them and escape the rebuke. We need to be a combination of the best parts of each of these churches if we would want the unmeasured blessings of God.

"Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

Now who was Jezebel? Her very name has come to be associated with evil. The Old Testament Jezebel was the notorious daughter of Ethball, the pagan king of the Zidonians. His subjects in Tyre and Sidon were Baal-worshipers. Jezebel married Judah's wicked King Ahab, after which she set up the worship of Baal in Israel (1 Kings 16:29-33). . . . They were so sweet and pleasant in that church that they tolerated even Jezebel. And why not? Her philosophy did have some truth in it. (13)

Jezebel herself had a most unenviable record of evil. She was responsible for the killing of Naboth and possession of his vineyard for her husband (I Kings 21:1--16). She had also killed practically all the prophets of the Lord and did what she could to kill the Prophet Elijah (I Kings 19:2). So evil was Jezebel's character that she is singled out by Elijah for a special prophecy that she would come to a sudden end and that her body would be eaten by dogs--a prophecy fulfilled in II Kings 9:33--35. She is therefore the epitome of subtle corruption and a symbol of immorality and idolatry. (14)

Though she claimed the right and office of a prophetess, she had urged the Christians in Thyatira to continue their pagan worship of idols which characterized the unbelievers in the city. They were therefore not only permitted to participate in the idolatrous feasts by eating things sacrificed to idols but they were also instructed to take part in the immorality which characterized the worship of idols. (15)

The participation in idol worship and eating of things offered to idols also foreshadows the departure from the scriptural doctrine of the finished sacrifice of Christ. In the Middle Ages the false teaching of the continual sacrifice of Christ was advocated, transforming the observance of the elements of the Lord's Supper into another sacrifice of Christ. This fundamental error of the church in the Middle Ages has been corrected in modern Protestantism by the recognition of the bread and the cup as symbols, but not the sacrifice itself, which Christ performed once and for all upon the cross of Calvary. (16)

Newell quotes from McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia concerning the development of Christian idols. Images were unknown in the worship of primitive Christians, who abstained from worship of images because they thought it unlawful in itself to make any images of deity. By the steady pressure of the heathen ideas and habits upon Christianity, emblems such as the dove, the fish, the anchor, vine, lamb, etc., formed the first step; then, paintings representing great Biblical events, saints, martyrs, which were placed in the vestibule of the church. Yet this practice was unfavorably regarded by the synods of the fourth century. When, however, in the same century, Christianity was proclaimed (by Constantine) the religion of the state, the use of painting, sculpture and jewelry became general for the decoration of the churches resulting in the adoption of a regular system of symbolic religious images. The teachers of the church became gradually more accommodating in their relations with the heathen, allowing them to retain their old usages, while conforming to the outward forms of Christianity. Thus the worship of images became so general that it had to be repeatedly checked by laws. In the sixth century, it had grown into a great abuse, especially in the East, where images were made the object of a special adoration: they were kissed, lamps were burned before them, incense was offered to them,--in short, they were treated in every respect as the heathen were wont to treat the images of their gods. The same arguments now used by the Romanists to defend image worship were rejected by Christians of the first three centuries when used in defense of image worship. The heathen said, We do not worship the images themselves, hut those whom they represent. To this Lactantius (third century A.D.) answers, 'You worship them; for, if you believe them to be in heaven, why do you not raise your eyes up to heaven? Why do you look at the images, and not up where you believe them to be?' Thomas Aquinas, a Roman Catholic (13th century), declared, 'A picture, considered in itself, is worthy of no veneration, but if we consider it as an image of Christ, it may be allowable to make an internal distinction between the image and its subject, and adoration and service are as well due to it as to Christ.' Bonaventura the Franciscan, said, 'Since all veneration shown to the image of Christ is shown to Christ himself, then the image of Christ is also entitled to be prayed to' Bellarmine, Rome's principal authority in dogmatic theology (1542-1621), writes, 'The images of Christ and the saints are to be adored, not only in a figurative manner, but quite positively, so that the prayers are directly addressed to them, and not merely as representatives of the original.'" De Imaginibus. (17)

It is also interesting to note that one meaning of the name Thyatira is continual sacrifice and that the Roman Catholic priests maintain that, in the Mass, they offer a continual sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead-- a denial, of course, of the finished work of Calvary. The danger to the church at Thyatira did not arise from the persecutions of imperial Rome nor from the inimical attitude of the colony of Jews: it arose from weakness and temptations within the church. Perhaps, therefore, the danger was all the more serious and difficult to deal with. (18)

I do not quote the above writes to prejudice from our Catholic friends but merely to point out that there are differences between us. These differences that brought about the reformation are still very much there. Much of the conflict and animosity has been taken away but truth is still truth and on doctrines of the Christian faith we are still miles apart. Actually, I have not quoted some of the most abrasive comments of the commentators.

We have suggested before that these seven letters endorse and supplement our Lord's parables in Matthew 13. In the parable of the leaven it was a woman who hid the leaven in the three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened (Matthew 13:33). The parable of the leaven is the fourth in the series of seven, as the letter to Thyatira is the fourth in that series of seven. In each instance a woman introduces an evil influence. In each the evil influence works from within, not from without. (19)

"And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.

God gave her a chance to repent in the days of Luther. Luther did not start out with the idea of bringing about a Reformation. His purpose was to bring about a change within the church. He saw, from his study of God's Word, just how the church had gone away from the truth of God. He went to Rome, intending to do all he could to awaken the leaders of the church, in an effort to bring the church back to God's Word. But instead of repenting, they excommunicated him, and sought not only to put him to death, but also to destroy all who left the fold of Romanism. (20)

Luther was by no means the first reformer but the first one not to be put to death and therefore allowed to succeed. Men like Wycliffe and Huss are only two of many. There were also entire movements in various countries over the centuries. Groups such as the Montaists, Donatists, Novations, Paulicians, Albigenses, Waldenses, Mennonites and Anabaptists all had called on the church of Rome to put away those things that were contrary to the Scriptures, all to of no avail.

"Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.

Although the definite article is not used here in reference to tribulation, yet some think that this indicates the same time as Jesus refers to in Matthew 24:21 "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. (NKJ) If this is so then it primary refers to the terrible events that follow the rapture of Christians.

"I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

"Judgment is prophesied upon ecclesiasticism. It is definitely stated here that the Jezebel form of Christianity shall pass through the Great Tribulation (2:22). (21)

I think that these phrases are to be taken more typically than literally. The woman here or the group represented by the woman is meant rather than a real woman named Jezebel. I cannot help wonder about the phrase kill them with death. Although Wesley indicates this indicates death by some plague, yet the phrase is only found one other time and this is in Revelation 6:8. If the churches here represent a chronological history of Christianity then it seems significant to me that the next church is dead while living. That is it appears to be alive but is dead. For all the faults of the church at Thyatira, it was certainly not dead but had many things to be commended.

"Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.

[The depths.] These false prophets boasted of their knowledge of the deep things of God: pretensions subsequently expressed by their arrogant title, Gnostics (`full of knowledge'). The Spirit declares their so-called "depths" (of knowledge) to be really "depths of Satan;" just as Rev. 2:9, He says, instead of `the synagogue of God, ' "the synagogue of Satan." (from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary)

Note the many references to things of Satan: twice we read of "the synagogue of Satan" (Rev 2:9; 3:9); at Pergamum was "the throne of Satan" (2:13); in the letter to Thyatira mention is made of "the deep things of Satan" (2:24); in connection with Smyrna, the warning is given that the devil would cast some of them into prison. (from Wycliffe Commentary)

"But hold fast what you have till I come.

The majority of the church at Thyatira had not given themselves to this false teaching. They are told only to hold fast what they had. It seems that the problems of this church with this immoral teaching so deeply entrenched that all He asks of them to do hold on to what they have. It seems from the above that whoever is represented by Jezebel is not expected to repent. Only those who are being influenced by her are called on to repent or be judged.

"And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations-

It was His own authority over the nations that Christ promised to share with the overcomer. When the Messiah comes to the earth to reign, His rule will be in the midst of His enemies (Psa. 110: 2) and as Psa. 2: 9 indicates, He will break His foes in pieces. But He is to share His glory with His people (Jn. 17: 21) and they will also receive delegated power and authority to rule on His behalf and, as co-administrators with Him, will exercise the same judicial strength and unyielding firmness. (22)

'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'-- as I also have received from My Father;

The word for "rule" (Gr., poimanei) means literally "to shepherd." Their rule will not be simply that of executing judgment, but also that of administering mercy and direction to those who are the sheep as contrasted to the goats (Matt. 25:31--46). (23)

"and I will give him the morning star.

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'

The message to the assembly in Thyatira seems to foreshadow that period of church history known as the Middle Ages preceding the Protestant Reformation. In that period the church became corrupt as it sought to combine Christianity with pagan philosophy and heathen religious rites so that much of the ritual of the church of that period is directly traceable to comparable ceremonies in heathen religion. During this period also there began that exaltation of Mary the mother of our Lord which has tended to exalt her to the plane of a female deity through whom intercession to God should be made, and apart from whose favor there can be no salvation. The prominence of a woman prophetess in the church at Thyatira anticipates the prominence of this unscriptural exaltation of Mary. Along with this, the church experienced spiritual depravity, and idols in the form of religious statues were introduced. Not only gross immorality but spiritual fornication resulted, much as was true in the church of Thyatira. (24)

There is no question that, whether Jezebel was a real person or not, she typified a "System" and that "System" was the "Papal Church." When the "Papal Church" introduced images and pictures into its churches for the people to how down to it became idolatrous. And when it set up its claim that the teaching of the Church is superior to the Word of God, it assumed the role of "Prophetess." A careful study of the "Papal System" from A. D. 606 to the Reformation A. D. 1520, with its institution of the "Sacrifice of the Mass" and other Pagan rites, reveals in it the sway of 'Jezebelism." It was also a period of "Jezebelistic Persecution," as seen in the wars of the Crusades, and the rise of the Inquisition. A careful comparison of this 'Message" with the Parable of "The Leaven" will reveal the wonderful correspondence between the two, the "Jezebel" of the Church of Thyatira, being the "Woman" of the Parable, who inserted the "Leaven" of "False Doctrine" into the Meal of the Gospel. This period extended from A. D. 606 to the Reformation A. D. 1520. (25)

 

NOTE: All quoted material is either footnoted or referenced after the quote. As a generally rule I agree with the portion of the author that I quote, although sometimes I simply quote to let you know what is believed. Any comments not so identified can be considered from the author. Al Harmon

 

Thyatira The Church Where Anything Goes

Rev 2:18-29

 

18 "And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, 'These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:

19 "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

20 "Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

21 "And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.

22 "Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.

23 "I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

24 "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.

25 "But hold fast what you have till I come.

26 "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations--

27 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; they shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'-- as I also have received from My Father;

28 "and I will give him the morning star.

29 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."' (NKJ)

This is the longest letter that He writes to any of the seven churches. The only other church that is more extensively commended is that of the Ephesians. We do not have the time this morning to give a complete exposition of these verse but you will find some excellent notes on the back table that cover these same verses.

I believe that the key to understanding what is happening in Thyatira is to understand the religions situation. The city had the usual false gods that were worshiped. The major difference is in the trade guilds that seemed to have a great control over the lives of the people of this city. The trade guilds were similar to our labor unions with a little idol worship thrown in. Whatever trade you were skilled in you must belong to that particular guild in order to work your trade. In Thyatira each craft had their own guild according to their trade. Each guild also had its own idol deity who what their patron deity that as a group they worshiped. Their trade meetings were a combination of business and worship of these false gods. Along with this false worship was the usual immorality.

Now lets say that you are a member of one of these guilds because you are a leather worker. You go to the meetings and support your trade. At the meetings you also participate in the base immorality that goes along with that. In the society these things are not only accepted but expected of you.

But then you become a Christian with all its teachings of morality. Now what are you going to do. Your livelihood depends on your continuance in the guild. What to do.

These situations are not totally unlike our day and age. I think that we can see that our government has moved from morality when our country was first founded to an amorality such as we began to see in the 60s to an immorality that we see today.

We should not be surprised that our government is no longer concerned with the morality of its population. That is where our social planners have led us. We have moved from a nation that knew God to a nation that says there is no God. When we send our children off to college, many of the professors make it their aim to destroy their faith in God. Our society is no longer simply neutral on God but is anti-God in almost every area.

Now the problem at Thyatira was not the guilds. The problem was not the worship of the false Gods with all the decadence that was there. The problem in Thyatira was that the church was beginning to accept these things as proper conduct for God's people.

We have those today in Christian churches that teach that sin is no longer sin. As a matter of fact some have quit talking about sin altogether. A large portion of the Christian Church has accepted evolution over creation. They have accepted gay rights as opposed to righteousness.

But let us look at the passage as we see what Jesus has to say to the church at Thyatira.

  1. Notice how He represents Himself to them.
    1. 'These things says the Son of God,
      1. In the opening passage in Revelation 1 He refers to Himself as the Son of Man.
      2. But here He refers to Himself as the Son of God.
        1. The reason is that this church needs to understand who Jesus really is.
        2. He is not simply one of the greats but the Son of God.
        3. In our faith, in our church, in our lives we must never loose sight of who Jesus is.
        4. He is the only Begotten of the Father.
    2. Who has eyes like a flame of fire
      1. Once again we see a reference to the omniscience of Jesus Christ.
      2. Even what is done in secret cannot be hid from His eyes.
      3. As a bright light drives away the darkness only to reveal in brilliance every thing around it so the light of Jesus Christ reveals even the thoughts and intents of the heart.
    3. His feet like fine brass:
      1. As we have seen before, brass is a symbol of judgment.
      2. But here the word is not simply brass.
      3. This and in Rev. 1:15 are the only times this word is found in the New Testament.
      4. Some think the fine brass or burnished brass is actually glowing brass as in a fire.
      5. How ever the translation the idea is that of judgment of sin on the sinner.
  2. Notice the commendation He gives them.
    1. "I know your works
      1. Almost every one of the seven is commended for their works.
      2. But He mentions their works twice and says that their works have grown, as we might well expect of God's people.
    2. Love
      1. Isn't interesting that at Ephesus they could not bear them that were evil and had tried the false teachers and found them liars but did not have what this church had love.
      2. For all their faults they had love.
      3. But sometimes it seems that churches go to one extreme or the other.
      4. Either they can not stand them that are evil and almost no one else either.
      5. Or they just love everybody, even Jezebel.
      6. We need to take a course in the middle ground of all of that and speak the truth in love.
    3. Service
      1. The word used here is the same word we get deacon from, it simply means to serve.
      2. It was no doubt their love for Jesus and love to others that lead them to serve.
      3. Service is often the indicator of love.
      4. James seems to indicate that love were there is no service is not really love.
    4. Faith
      1. pistis - conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the New Testament of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it.
      2. Even though they were in moral danger they had not lost their faith.
    5. Your patience
      1. hupomone - steadfastness, constancy, endurance a) in the New Testament, the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings b) patiently, and steadfastly, Thayer
      2. They were able to bear up under situations and not faultier.
    6. And as for your works, the last are more than the first.
      1. Once again He mentions their works.
      2. I am sorry to say that many who have great conviction and are orthodox in all their beliefs are often not to great on works.
      3. Works do not save us or keep us saved.
      4. But they do allow us to serve and testify to the grace of our Great God.
  3. The condemnation - "Nevertheless I have a few things against you
    1. Because you allow that woman Jezebel
      1. The Jezebel of the Old Testament was quite an evil person.
        1. Through marriage she introduced the worship of Baal into Israel.
        2. She killed all the prophets of the LORD she could get her hands on.
        3. She conspired against Naboth, accusing him, of all things blasphemy, and getting him put to death so her husband could take possession of a certain field.
        4. Through the marriage of her equally wicked daughter, Attalah to the son of the king of Judah she introduced Baal worship into Judah.
        5. She was without doubt the most wicked woman of the OT.
      2. Who calls herself a prophetess
        1. But this woman claimed for herself the office of prophetess.
        2. Not everyone is all that they claim to be.
        3. We are not obliged to accept everyone simply because the claim to be such and such.
      3. To teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
        1. The real test was not in what she claimed but in what she taught and how she lived.
        2. Isn't interesting that the Lord has to write to the church to tell them about her when she was in their midst all the time.
      4. I also want us to note the word allow or sufferest from the KJV.
        1. The same word is translated forgive in the Lord's prayer.
        2. I think we need to see that forgiveness is not a blanket thing and there are some things that only God can forgive and He will not until there is true repentance.
        3. In the churches zeal for love I think they were forgiving of those things that God would not and could not forgive without repentance.
    2. "And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.
      1. We notice that there is no repentance on the part of this woman.
      2. There are some who are so head strong in their opposition to the truth that nothing can turn them around.
    3. "Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.
      1. Jesus will judge those who continue in these things.
      2. He must bring judgment for the sake of those who will be lead astray by these ungodly teachings.
      3. There may be a reference here to the Great Tribulation that we will be studying soon.
    4. "I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
      1. I think we must take a spiritual application here as these children could not be physical children.
      2. Not at least unless they grow up to follow their mother.
      3. But I think the idea here is that of spiritual children, those who follow her teachings and example.
  4. The instruction
    1. "Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine
      1. There were still some in the church who had not accepted this doctrine even though they allowed Jezebel to teach these things.
    2. Who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say
      1. These people claimed to have the knowledge that others did not have.
      2. A superior knowledge.
      3. But He says it was not the depths of God that they knew but the depths of Satan.
    3. I will put on you no other burden.
      1. The idea is that they already have more on their plate than they can handle.
      2. They will do well to just continue where they are at without loosing any ground.
    4. "But hold fast what you have till I come.
      1. If we find ourselves in a situation that is bad and we do not seem to get ahead, then let us at least not loose what we have gained.
      2. We must hold on to what we have for Satan will do his best to take it from us.
  5. The Promise
    1. "And he who overcomes
      1. God calls us to be overcomers not to be overcome by the world.
      2. We must never loose sight that He who is in us is greater that he who is in the world.
    2. And keeps My works until the end
      1. Christian service and dedication is never for a season it is for a life time.
      2. We can never retire from the fight.
      3. We must continue to ve vigilant in our pursuit for God.
    3. To him I will give power over the nations-
      1. 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron;
      2. They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'--
      3. As I also have received from My Father;
    4. "and I will give him the morning star.
  6. The closing
    1. "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'

The world will never stop influencing us against God. Satan will never rest in a effort to compromise us and ruin our witness. But we can hold out with the help of our God as long as we follow His Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

1. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 58

2. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, pages 84, 86

3. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord; Mood Press 1966 page 72

4. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 59

5. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 pages 60, 61

6. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; Louis T. Talbot; 1937; page 50

7. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord; Mood Press 1966 page 72

8. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 61

9. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord; Mood Press 1966 page 73

10. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; Louis T. Talbot; 1937; page 50

11. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 pages 61, 62

12. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 63

13. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 pages 64, 65

14. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord; Mood Press 1966 page 74

15. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord; Mood Press 1966 page 75

16. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord; Mood Press 1966 page 75

17. Revelation; William R. Newell; Kregel Publications; 1994, page 56

18. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 89

19. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 66

20. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; Louis T. Talbot; 1937; page 52

21. The Book of the Revelation; Lehman Strauss; Loizeaux Brothers 1967 page 67

22. The Patmos Letters; Fredk Tatford; Kregel Publications, 1969, page 100

23. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord; Mood Press 1966 page 77

24. The Revelation of Jesus Christ; John F. Walvoord; Mood Press 1966 page 75

25. The Book of Revelation; Clarence Larkin; Rev. Clarence Larkin Estate; 1919 page 24

 

This message was preached at FBC Toulon, by Albert Harmon. See it at http://toulonbaptist.com