Updated: May 24, 2022
What can we learn from them?
To the Church in Thyatira- the corrupt church
The city of Thyatira was situated in quite a vulnerable position being located in a valley adjacent to two other valleys and this with no obvious natural defences. A garrison was usually billeted there to defend Thyatira and the nearest towns such as Pergamum. Thyatira was a commercial centre with many different trade guilds.
Revelation 2:18 “To the angel 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.
Jesus knows and commends several virtues of the church in Thyatira including their actions, their love and faith, their faithful ministry under trial and difficulty. Further praise is also given that their ministry has increased since the church was founded.
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.’
Christians employed by the various trade guilds would be required to worship the god of the trade guild e.g. woollen goods, leather goods or pottery. To maintain their employment in the particular trade the workers were also required to take part in the pagan and immoral practices associated with the worship of the gods of the trades i.e. eating meat sacrificed to idols and indulging in the expected sexual depravity. There was no ‘opt out’ for Christians who if they did not participate would be thrown out of their employment by the guild and seen to be insulting their god.
Jezebel was reputed to have the view that to conquer any sin then the subject must fully know the sin having fully participated in it. Some of the church had been participating in these pagan practices and the remainder of the church had turned a blind eye to this. Jesus had allowed time for this church to repent of these sins but now the church will be punished through disease unless they turn away from such sin. Jesus also indicates that the children of these sinners will be killed as an example to the churches of how seriously he views this type of sin and how carefully He searches for it. The wages of these sins will be death.
Satan’s deep secrets are the sarcastic description of such vile doctrines.
The blazing fire in Jesus’ eyes can tell which saints were willing to suffer persecution for His sake. On the remainder of church who were generally faithful Jesus places no additional burdens except to hold on to their faith until Jesus returns.
26 To those who are victorious and do my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 they ‘will rule them with an iron sceptre and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ —just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give them the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
One day the faithful believers will actually reign over sinners like those who are currently persecuting them and these sinners will ultimately face the fierce and shattering judgement of God. This message would not be lost on those of the potters’ guild. To be given the morning star suggests that the believers will share in His majesty and royal splendour. Let those who are willing and obedient hear what the Holy Spirit is saying through this message.
Further Commentary from Linda Morris
The Church in Thyatira
This is the longest of the 7 letters and to the least important town, situated between the Caicus and Hermus valleys. This was a good position for trading and the city appears to have been quite a commercial centre.
Love, service, faith, patience/perseverance. They are doing more than they did at first. There is progress in the life of the church.
Thyatira was a small town noted for it’s trade guilds, which had more than in any other Asian city. They are known to have had wool workers; linen-workers; makers of outer garments; dyers; leather workers; tanners; potters; bakers; slave-dealers and bronze-smiths. Lydia came from there. They held banquets where the food was dedicated to pagan gods and they usually degenerated into sexual looseness. A believer whose livelihood depended on his membership in a guild was faced with the problem of whether or not to participate.
Jezebel supported idolatry, sexual immorality, and almost eliminated true worship of God. Eventually the ‘Jezebel woman’ (your wife?) injects occultism and other demonic practices into the Messianic community, even though they clearly profess the Christian faith. Those who are connected with what she does are in turmoil – how can they be loyal to the Messiah and still function in their social and business environment? Some Christians would have joined in the banquets making the excuse that she was a prophetess so it’s ok! ‘Her children’ are worse because they are trained by her, so they are fully committed to her teachings. Therefore their punishment is worse – death, rather than a sickbed.
God gave them time to repent but they did not.
The deep things of Satan
Some have not known these. Various gnostic philosophers appealed to people’s pride by promising spiritual knowledge deeper than that available to ordinary mortals. Many modern cults/movements make the same empty promises. It could be the thinking that was certainly around at a later time than this, so could have been around then, which was that the important thing is to keep the soul pure whatever the body may do. People engaged in grossly sensual practices maintaining that these concerned only their bodies but that their souls were pure.
Keep my works until the end
‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent’. Jn 6:29
The promises of overcoming
I will give power over the nations
‘When the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel’
He shall rule them with a rod of iron.....
Psalm 2:8,9 are quoted here. The believers will reign (rule/shepherd) with the Messiah when he returns
The Morning Star
Literally Venus, the brightest object in the sky after the sun and the moon. Here it means either great glory or as in Rev 22:16 the Messiah Himself, whose coming was told by Bilam ‘a star shall step forth out of Jacob’. Numbers 24:17
“The Morning Star shines in your hearts” (2 Pet 1:19)
Questions for us today
1. How far should we accept and adopt contemporary standards and practices?
2. If Christianity had accepted these practices then, would the church still exist today and what would it look like?
3. Could it be that in the guise of deeper spiritual understanding some undesirable things (particularly in the area of worship) are creeping into the church? We do not want to be led away from true worship!
Revelation 2:1 Or messenger; also in verses 8, 12 and 18 (this pertains to Ephesus)
Revelation 2:27 Psalm 2:9
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