Revelation 2:18-29

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Text: Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:18-29

THE CHURCH AT THYATIRA

INTRODUCTION:

In chapters 2-3 we see letters to the seven churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

Each church needed a particular message, but each church illustrates conditions common in local churches, not only at that time, but also in all ages of church history. Furthermore, each church was composed of individuals who needed the instruction and warning personally.

We see -

I. THE COMMISSION FROM CHRIST - 2:18a

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:18 a - And unto the angel [i.e. messenger] of the church in Thyatira write.

Thyatira pictures the dark ages in which apostasy was tolerated in churches. Today apostasy is tolerated in all liberal churches, in many evangelical churches, and in some fundamental churches as well.

Thyatira was famous for the manufacture of purple dye.

Lydia was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira. Was she instrumental in establishing the church at Thyatira? We don't know, but she may have played a role in it.

Acts 16:14-15 - 14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

The angel [or messenger] of the church is the pastor of the church.

This is a particular message needed by and intended for a particular congregation, the church in Thyatira. Other churches or individuals might need a similar message.

The tense of write suggests write at once and without delay.

Next, we see -

II. THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST - 2:18b

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:18 b - . . . These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass [i.e. burnished bronze].

Christ refers to Himself here as the Son of God but He was referred to as the Son of man in Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:13 .

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:13 - And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

In Hebrew thinking the word which follows the phrase son of gives a chief characteristic of that person. Thus, when Jesus is referred to as the Son of man in Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:13 , it means that He was a human being. When referred to as the Son of God in Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:18 , it means that He is God. This verse provides a clear statement that Jesus Christ is God.

Who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire is taken from the description of Christ in Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:14 .

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:14 - His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire.

Eyes like unto a flame of fire [or eyes like a fiery flame] suggests that His eyes were searching and penetrating and enabled Him to judge all humanity, including believers, and to judge them perfectly and without any errors in judgment. No one will be able to deceive Him, and nothing will escape His notice. This description of Christ's eyes also suggests His indignation with their sin.

He sees this church's flaws. His judgment is penetrating. No sin will be concealed from Him.

His feet are like fine brass was also mentioned in the description of Christ in Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:15 .

Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:15 - And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

The word translated brass (bronze) seems to represent an alloy of precious metal such as gold, silver, brass, or copper. There is general agreement that it is the name of a mixed metal of great brilliance. It is an exceptionally fine type of metal or alloy. Since the word is found nowhere other than in Revelation, the exact nature of this metal or alloy remains unknown. Its description implies that His feet are strong.

In Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:15 we saw that the phrase as if they burned in a furnace suggests that the metal was in a state of having been heated thoroughly, of having been made red hot, or of having been caused to glow in order to test and refine them.

We move on to -

III. THE COMMENDATION FROM CHRIST - 2:19

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:19 - I know thy works [i.e. your deeds, your actions, or your accomplishments], and charity [i.e. love], and service [i.e. ministry], and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and [i.e. and as for your works] the last to be more than the first [i.e. your last works are more than your first works].

I know your works [i.e. I know your deeds, I know your actions, or I know your accomplishments].

The appears before works in the Greek text and indicates that Christ knows the sum total of all the works, deeds, actions, or accomplishments done by those who are part of the church in Thyatira.

I know your charity.

Charity is love, the sort of love that gives itself completely on behalf of another without expecting anything in return. The also appears before charity in the Greek text and implies that Christ knows the sum total of all this congregation's love.

I know your service.

Service implies ministry. The appears before service in the Greek text, implying that Christ also knows the sum total of all this congregation's service or ministry. Not one thing pertaining to their service or ministry for Him or for each other has been overlooked or forgotten.

I know your faith.

Faith is belief or trust. Again, the appears before faith in the Greek text, indicating that Christ knows the sum total of all this congregation's faith, belief, or trust.

I know your patience.

Patience is understood in the sense of endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, or perseverance. As is true of the other things Christ knows in this verse, the appears before patience in the Greek text in order to indicate that Christ knows the sum total of this church's patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, or perseverance.

I know your works, the last more than the first. The works are increasing in number. Their more recent works are even more abundant than their former works. There has been an increasing trend of doing more works than had been done previously. This church is productive.

Then, we see -

IV. THE CONDEMNATION BY CHRIST - 2:20-21

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:20-21 - (20) Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest [i.e. you are tolerating, you are permitting, or you are allowing] that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication [i.e. to commit sexual immorality], and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. (21) And I gave her space to repent of her fornication [i.e. of her sexual immorality]; and she repented not.

Notwithstanding is used to introduce a strong contrast. It has been translated nevertheless in verse 4 and but in verses 6, 9, and 14. It is ordinarily translated but.

Christ is the speaker, and I refers to Him.

Have indicates an ongoing action. Until the problems are resolved either by the church at Thyatira or by Christ, the situation is going to persist.

A few things is what Christ has against thee, i.e. against this church as represented by its angel [i.e. by its pastor].

Because thou sufferest (i.e. you are letting, you are allowing, or you are permitting) that woman, Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

This clause beginning with because is translated as showing cause, indicating why Christ has a few things against this church. This word translated because may instead be used to introduce what these few things are which Christ has against them. To me this seems to be the best way to understand it.

Therefore, rather than understanding this clause as I have a few things against thee because thou sufferest that woman, Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols; it may be understood as I have a few things against thee that thou sufferest that woman, Jezebel, who calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

The tense of sufferest indicates that this is an ongoing problem: the church is letting, is permitting, or is allowing this Jezebel to do certain things and is making no effort to stop her. The attitude in Thyatira was one of tolerance. Political correctness says that we should be tolerant of false teaching, but the Bible says that we should not be tolerant of false teaching in our churches.

Most likely Jezebel is not the woman's real name but is more descriptive of her character. In the Old Testament Jezebel was the wife of Ahab, the king of Israel. She was a worshiper of Baal and had Naboth killed for his vineyard. Although the readers may not be able to identify precisely who this Jezebel in Thyatira was, this identification would undoubtedly have been clear to the believers living there at that time.

She claimed the office and right of a prophetess.

A prophetess is a female who receives divine revelation directly from God and passes it on to someone else. Although it is true that she is making this claim, this claim itself is not true. At least she is not a prophetess of God although she may be a prophetess of some demon represented by an idol or a prophetess of Satan himself.

She was urging the Christians in Thyatira to continue their pagan worship of idols which characterized the unbelievers in the city. If someone who claims to be a prophet delivers a message which contradicts the Scriptures, he/she is not a prophet of God.

To teach . . . my servants is to be teaching (or to be instructing) my servants or to teach (or to instruct) my servants repeatedly.

To teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols

The tense of seduce indicates that this seduction was being done repeatedly. It is understood in the sense of to be seducing or to seduce repeatedly.

Fornication is a term which is used of immorality in general and includes all kinds of illicit sexual relationships.

Apparently this was being done within the congregation because the church would have had no control of things happening outside the congregation.

She led them to participate in the idolatrous feasts by eating things sacrificed to idols. This constituted spiritual adultery.

She led them to take part in the immorality which characterized the worship of idols. This constituted physical adultery.

It is reminiscent of -

I Kings 16:29-33 - (29) And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. (30) And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him. (31) And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. (32) And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. (33) And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.

In the Middle Ages two things were advocated: 1) the mass [i.e. the continual sacrifice of Christ] and 2) the exalting of the virgin Mary to the role of deity and co-redeemer with the result that she was worshipped.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:21 - And I gave her space [i.e. time] to repent of her fornication [i.e. of her immorality]; and she repented not.

How much time was given her for repentance is not known, but one can rest assured that it was adequate.

To repent indicates the purpose for which Christ gave her time and is literally in order that she might change her mind. It implies that the desired change of mind would be so thorough that it would result in a change of action on her part.

Of her fornication implies that she was already involved in fornication and needed to change not only her mind but also her practice and get out of it.

Fornication means prostitution or unchastity and is used of every kind of unlawful sexual intercourse.

However, she [i.e. Jezebel] repented not [i.e. Jezebel did not repent or Jezebel did not change her mind]. Obviously, she also did not change her practice.

Then we see -

V. THE CONSEQUENCE PROMISED BY CHRIST - 2:22-23

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:22-23 - (22) Behold, I will cast her into a bed [i.e. into a sickbed], and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except [i.e. unless or if they do not] they repent of their deeds. (23) And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts [i.e. the hearts and the minds]: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works [i.e. according to your deeds, according to your actions, or according to your accomplishments].

I will cast her into a bed (i.e. into a sickbed).

I will cast is actually a present tense in Greek and has been translated as a futuristic present. Its present tense indicates that this action is so certain of fulfillment that it may be spoken of as already happening. Its action could be taking place at any time. Its mood indicates that its action will definitely occur.

It suggests that both this Jezebel and those who have committed adultery with her will suffer the same judgment or fate.

To cast someone into a bed is an expression meaning to lay someone on a sickbed. It indicates that Christ is going to strike her with an illness. This illness is not likely something she will get over in a day or two but is likely going to result in her death and her eventually finding herself in the lake of fire. Of course, she could repent; but no one knows how long she will be given to repent before Christ casts her into this bed. How appropriate that the bed on which she committed adultery will be the same bed on which she will be judged for her sin.

I will cast [i.e. I will throw or I will put] those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation (i.e. they will share her judgment) unless they repent [i.e. if they do not repent] of their deeds.

Adultery is a specific term which means that a married person has had a sexual relationship with a member of the opposite sex to whom he or she is not married.

With her indicates that their adultery has been committed with Jezebel. The very fact that there are some of them that commit adultery with her indicates that her teaching has affected or infected others. It appears that this adultery these people have committed has been done in conjunction with idol worship, which in itself would constitute spiritual adultery. However, it should not be limited to spiritual adultery but undoubtedly included physical adultery as well.

Tribulation means affliction. Although the word great is used to describe tribulation in this verse, this great tribulation is not likely the same thing referred to as the great tribulation, the last half of the tribulation era preceding the second coming of Christ. It is likely instead that these persons will be punished for their sins during their own lifetimes rather than in a period of time which is yet future. Had great tribulation in this verse been translated great oppression or great affliction, readers would not likely have made this connection with the period known as the great tribulation. Of course, if Christ had come back during the lifetimes of these people in Thyatira, the language could have applied to the great tribulation.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:23 - And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts [i.e. the hearts and the minds]: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works [i.e. according to your deeds, your actions, or your accomplishments].

I will kill her children with death is an emphatic statement.

Her children are her followers.

I will kill . . . with death is an emphatic Hebraism meaning, I will most certainly kill or I will assuredly kill. Their deaths are guaranteed.

The churches will know [i.e. the churches will recognize or the churches will understand] that I am he which searcheth [i.e. I am He Who examines or I am He Who investigates] the reins [i.e. the hearts] and hearts [i.e. and the minds].

The reins in this text are the kidneys, the seat of the emotions. Today, we would say the hearts.

The hearts in this text refers to the seat of the intellect, and today we would say the minds.

I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

I will give is a commitment or promise Christ makes, something He will definitely fulfill.

Unto every one of you indicates the scope of what Christ will do. It implies that what Christ will give will be given to all persons, but will be given individually. No one is excluded, but all will be dealt with individually.

Next, we see -

VI. THE CORRECTION PRESCRIBED BY CHRIST - 2:22, 24-25

For the guilty ones: repent (v. 22)

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:22 - Behold, I will cast her into a bed [i.e. into a sickbed], and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent [i.e. unless they repent or if they do not repent] of their works [i.e. of their deeds, of their actions, or of their accomplishments].

For the innocent ones: Hold fast till I come (v. 24-25)

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:24-25 - (24) But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. (25) But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

But unto you I say is clarified or limited by the next statement.

And is emphatic and is understood in the sense of indeed, in fact, yea, verily, or certainly.

Christ is speaking unto you, i.e. unto the rest in Thyatira, specifically to as many as have not this doctrine and which have not known the depths of Satan. He is not speaking to those persons who have followed the teachings of this Jezebel.

The rest is the others or the remaining ones. This group is the rest of those in Thyatira. These are the ones within the church at Thyatira who had not followed this Jezebel into the sins of idolatry and immorality.

As many as is such ones who, and its antecedent is the rest, i.e. the rest of the ones in Thyatira.

Have not is hold not. Its tense indicates an ongoing situation.

They do not hold this doctrine or this teaching which was given by Jezebel which has been teaching and seducing Christ's servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

And adds an additional fact about this group: it is those which have not known the depths of Satan.

Which suggests such ones who.

Have not known is did not know. It considers the action as a whole and emphasizes the result of its action.

What the people from this group have not known are the depths of Satan, which refers to the sins of idolatry and immorality committed by some within the church who were followers of this Jezebel.

As they speak is just as they say. The implication of this is that people apparently speak about the depths of Satan as if this were some common saying.

Christ continues with, I will put upon you none other burden.

I will put suggests I will impose. It is predictive of something future which will definitely not happen. It amounts to a promise or commitment Christ is making to these people in Thyatira.

None other burden suggests that they already have enough. Christ will not place any more on them than what has already been placed on them.

This is consistent with -

I Corinthians 10:13 - There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:25 - But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

Christ will impose nothing more on them until He comes at the rapture. They already have enough.

Hold fast suggests grasp (or hold onto) what you already have.

We move on to -

VII. THE CHALLENGE TO THE OVERCOMER - 2:26-28

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:26-28 - (26) And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power [i.e. authority] over the nations: (27) And he shall rule them [i.e. the nations] with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they [i.e. the nations] be broken to shivers [i.e. they shall be dashed to pieces]: even as I received of my Father. (28) And I will give him [i.e. him that overcometh] the morning star.

Who is an overcomer? According to I John 5:4-5 , an overcomer is a saved person.

I John 5:4-5 - (4) For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (5) Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

John 20:30-31 - 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

Not only is he an overcomer, but he also keepeth my works unto the end, i.e. unto the end of his life.

Keeping Christ's works suggests that he obeys Christ in his practices. Keeping Christ's works is not a requirement for salvation but an evidence of it.

To the overcomer I will give power [i.e. authority] over the nations. They will share the rule of Christ over the nations of the world in the Millennium.

He shall rule is literally he will shepherd, he will tend, he will lead to pasture, or he will pasture. When used in a figurative way as in this verse, it is understood in the sense of he will lead, he will guide, or he will rule; and its mood indicates that this is something which will definitely happen. The only thing unclear about it is its timing, i.e. precisely when it will occur.

Them is the ones the overcomer and keeper of Christ's works will rule and refers to the nations.

With a rod of iron indicates how the overcomer will rule and suggests that it will be rigid, harsh, and unbending. It is reminiscent of Psalms 2:7-9 where the same promise is made to Christ.

Psalms 2:7-9 - (7) I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee. (8) Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. (9) Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.

This reference to Psalms 2:7-9 suggests that believers will in some way participate in Christ's rule in the Millennium.

As the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers gives further indication of the rule over the nations.

As the vessels of a potter suggests as the vessels (or jars) belonging to the potter or as the vessels (or jars) made of clay.

Shall they be broken to shivers is actually a present tense translated as a futuristic present. As such it treats the action of shall . . . be broken to shivers with the certitude of a present event and is to be understood in the sense of shall be shattered, shall be smashed, or shall be crushed.

Shall . . . be broken to shivers speaks of the utter destruction of those nations who sin and rebel against Christ.

Even as I [i.e. Christ] received of my Father [i.e. just as I obtained from my Father] refers to the phrase will I give power over the nations found in the previous verse. Just as Christ received power (or authority) over the nations from His Father, He will give power (or authority) over the nations to the overcomers.

I will give him the morning star. What is the morning star?

Revelation of Jesus Christ 22:16 - I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

The morning star, i.e. the early star or the star belonging to the morning. The morning star is Jesus Himself. It means that Jesus will give Himself to the overcomers.

Finally, we see -

VIII. THE CALL TO HEAR - 2:29

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:29 - He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Each one has at least one ear.

Therefore, each person is commanded to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying unto each of the churches.