Revelation 2:18-29 Thyatira: The Infiltrated Church
The church at Thyatira foreshadows the time from the 6th Century to the 16th Century; a span of a thousand years that has been called: the Middle Ages, the Dark Ages and the Devil's Millennium. This was a time when the church increasingly became corrupted by combining pagan rites and rituals with Biblical teachings. Simply put, the church was striving to fit in with the world. The church was no longer being a Godly influence on the world. The church was more of a reflection of the world then it was of Christ. Look at what these verses have to say about our influence as believers in this world.
2 Corinthians 5:20
Thyatira has been referred to as: The Infiltrated Church, the Adulterous Church and the False Church. It is my personal opinion that the church at Thyatira was led by a powerless pastor. He allowed a false teacher to have a teaching platform in his church. He allowed a Godless teacher to deceive many believers. He allowed many in his church to be led astray into acts of sin. He, along with others in his church, stood by, tolerant of the actions of this false teacher. When God's people refuse to stand for what is Biblically right, they are as guilty of sin as those engaging in the sin itself.
The city of Thyatira was located about 35 miles southeast of Pergamum on a major road that ran between Pergamum and Laodicea. Sardis and Philadelphia were also on this same road. Thyatira was an important commercial city in which the vast majority of people worked in one or more of the local trade guilds (unions). The more prominent trade unions there were: carpenters, dyers of cloth, tent makers, pottery and brass-workers. The trade unions in Thyatira were powerful. They controlled the economy. They controlled the social calendar with their pagan feasts and festivals. They controlled the religious culture with the worship of their pagan gods. They controlled the politics.
It was almost impossible for Christians in Thyatira to provide for their families without belonging to one of these trade unions. However, belonging to a trade union would have required them to compromise their faith. They would have been required to participate in various pagan feasts and festivals. They would have been required to participate in various pagan rites and rituals. They would have been required to pay temple dues to pagan gods.
Christ gives a threefold description of Himself in Revelation 2:18. Christ describes Himself as the Son of God. This is the only place in Revelation that Christ uses this title. This title emphasizes the deity of Christ. Christ then describes Himself as having eyes like a flame of fire. This shows the penetrating judgment of Christ. The eyes of Christ are one that pierce all of our facades and masks. We humans tend to judge others by the external, what we can see. Christ judges us by the internal, what we think that we can hide! Finally, Christ describes Himself as having feet like brass. Throughout God's Word brass represents judgment, and this description shows the purity an steadfastness of Christ in His judgment.
Revelation 2:19 reminds us that Christ knows our deeds. There is nothing that we say, do, think or hope that Christ doesn't know. Specifically to the church at Thyatira Christ says that He knows their works, their love, their service, their faith and their patience. He also says that they works are greater now than they were at first. This was a church that had a lot in its favor. They were doing many things right and well. However, Christ does have a word of condemnation for them.
Revelation 2:20 tells us that Christ condemns the church at Thyatira for tolerating a woman that He calls Jezebel. Jezebel from the Old Testament (1 Kings chapters 16-21 & 2 Kings 9:30-37) was one of the most evil people in the entire Old Testament. She introduced the worship of Baal to the people of God, and she led them into committing acts of sexual immorality and eating food that had been sacrificed to idols. The Jezebel in Thyatira was a self-styled prophetess that many scholars suggest was actually the pastor's wife! She taught the believers at Thyatira that it was only for them to go along with the pagan practices of the trade unions. She encouraged the believers to compromise their faith, in the name of supporting their families. She taught them to believe that God would understand.
- me to make one thing perfectly clear, God does understand. God understands our situation. God understands our difficulties. God understands our hardships. In those times all believers face the exact same two choices. Either we choose to trust God completely or we choose to not trust God. Take a moment and remember God's promise to you (Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5 & Psalm 94:14).
Revelation 2:21-23 describe Christ's judgment on this Jezebel and those who followed her. Notice that Jesus gave her time and opportunity to repent. It is not Christ's desire for any to perish. He desires for all to enter into a personal relationship with God through Him. However, Jezebel refused to repent. She knew that what she was doing was wrong and yet she continued to pervert the truth of God. Notice the three "I will" statements of Christ here:
I will throw her on a bed of sickness.
I will kill her children.
I will give to each one according to their deeds.
Christ then states that it is He who searched the minds and hearts of men. The mind is a reference to our intellect and the heart is a reference to our emotions. The word that we translate to be heart is literally the word for intestinal tract. At this point in time, people believed that a person's seat of emotions was in their bowels!
Revelation 2:24-25 give us Christ's message to those believers who did not follow the teachings of Jezebel. First, Christ declares that He will put no other burden on them. He knew that they had reached their limit. Second, Christ tells them to hold fast to what they already had. Christ here reminds us that we need to stand firm on those Biblical truths that we already know.
Revelation 2:24 speaks about the deep things of Satan. This is a reference to those secrets and mysteries that were special teachings of the pagan cults.
In Revelation 2:26-28 Christ tells us that the overcomer is the believer who keep His Word until He comes. He also gives the overcomer two promises. The overcomer will be given authority over the nations (read Psalm 2) and the overcomer will be given the morning star.