The message to Thyatira, Revelation Chapter 2 Verses 18-29 (NASB)



Thyatira is about 40 miles east of Pergamos. Politically, it was not very important. It did flourish in trade and was known for its trade guilds. In fact, the New Testament in Acts 16:14 records that Lydia was a trader of purple fabrics, and that she came from the city of Thyatira.

We will find another woman also associated with Thyatira -- Jezebel. That name was well known by Jews and we will get to know about her too!

     "To the angel of the church in THYATIRA write:
        The SON of GOD
         * who has eyes like a Flame of Fire, and
He saw what was going on in Thyatira. Also see Revelation 1:14.
         * His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:
And he has the power to "stomp" on any offender He wishes. Also see Revelation 1:15.

One of the trades at Thyatira was bronze working. So this view of the speaker may have had a special impact. Furthermore the members at Thyatira are shown that the speaker knows and sees what is going on with Jezebel in their midst.

You can't hide from God!
    'I KNOW
        a)  your deeds and
It is fine to have good works BUT only if sound doctrine and worship come first.
        b)  your    LOVE    and    FAITH    and
                       |            |
                       V            V
        c)         SERVICE and PERSEVERANCE,  and that
Love manifests itself in service; likewise faithfulness shows up in perseverance.
        d)  your deeds of late are greater than at first.
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER should we be so busy with DOING that we forget to worship Him. Worshiping is the true act of reverence and respect toward God. One only has to look at Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Martha was busy in the kitchen with preparations while Mary sat at His feet (worshiping).

How does one truly worship God? John 4:19-24 says in two ways:

  1. in spirit and
  2. in truth.
The church at Thyatira was so BUSY doing that Jezebel had an easy time subverting them doctrinely. Think about it!!!
     But I have this against you, that you TOLERATE the
     woman JEZEBEL,
There may or may not have been a real Jezebel in the Thyatira church. But the name clearly points to the one that the Jews knew about in the Old Testament. (1 Kings 16:31-33, 1 Kings 19:1-3, 1 Kings 21:1-16, 2 Kings 9:30-37)

The Old Testament Jezebel did a good number on King Ahab and caused terrible trouble for true prophets like Elijah.

     who calls herself a prophetess and she teaches
It is one thing to have a false prophet in the midst of a congregation but it is even worse when that false prophet is permitted to teach. Perhaps that is why Paul clearly tells Timothy that as a matter of principle, women are not to teach - 1 Timothy 2:11-15. How many cults today are being lead or were started by a woman?
     and leads my bondservants astray so that they
       a) commit acts of IMMORALITY and
       b) eat things sacrificed to idols.
Curiously, there must have been members of the Thyatira church who saw what was going on BUT were content to be quiet and not rebuke the false teachings. How about your fellowship? Is it being lead by a false teacher? Check it out and speak up if it is.
     And I gave her TIME to REPENT;
Jezebel (and those she symbolizes) knew that she was leading the church at Thyatira astray. She (they) mixed pagan beliefs (rituals) into the church, yet she (they) apparently congratulated herself (themselves) on her (their) leadership capabilities. She (they) had to make a choice:
     and she does not want to REPENT of her IMMORALITY.
That was Jezebel's choice. Sometimes leadership "power" goes to the head and the longsuffering patience of the Lord is interpreted as "It's OK to continue....I haven't stopped you or punished you." BUT Romans 2:1-8 says, Jezebel (and those like her) are storing up wrath until the revelation of God's righteous judgment. We don't have any choice in that day. God does.
     'Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and
The same bed "she", Jezebel, used for pleasures/immoralities has turned into a bed of sickness.

Symbolically, "Jezebel" is left among the church members to test if they will be true to the Lord or if they will commit spiritual fornication. You can tell this Jezebelian behavior when the church members are able to flirt with the Devil and enjoy his pleasures and yet remain "pious church members". However, so many of these pleasures soon become evident (even among "pious church members") such as alcoholism, AIDS, drugs, gluttony etc. etc.

     those who commit adultery with her into GREAT TRIBULATION unless
In James 4:4, we are warned that friendship with the world is hostility toward God. And the result of that friendship will be a great tribulation. It is not clear if this refers to the seven years of great tribulation (which such friendship certainly would win) or if this refers to individual tribulations of great magnitude such as family suffering, unresolved arguments, workplace clashes.

The key is

     they REPENT of their DEEDS.
Even during the time of sickness in the first part of this verse, there still is time to repent. A great tribulation is guaranteed if subversion in the church is not 1) discovered, 2) brought out in the open, and 3) repented. Repent ..... a recurring theme in Revelation!!!
     'And I will KILL her CHILDREN with pestilence;
While this may mean her real illegitimate children born from the immorality, most likely these are her spiritual children. These children become the members of Satan's imitation church (who later accept the mark of the beast).
     and ALL THE CHURCHES will know that I AM HE 
Since all the churches read the composite revelations of John, this specifically is given to all of them (not just Thyatira). This implies that judgment is not only disciplinary but also exemplary. In 1 Timothy 5:19-22, credable witnesses can bring a problem or sin out into the open. Paul indicates in Hebrews 4:10-13 that the "I AM HE" in this verse really is the "word of God" which searches the thoughts and intentions. That is why "dead Christians" are ones who seldom, if ever, read their Bible. Looks like that was happening at Thyatira. Is that happening at our churches too?
     and I will give to each one of you ACCORDING to your deeds.
ALL mankind will be given their rewards. The judgment against Jezebel (Satan's imitation church) will NOT be kept under wraps. If you are a 'silent follower' of Jezebel, someday you, too, will be exposed. Salvation is the result of faith; judgment always is based on deeds. Read all about judgment in Romans 2:1-8.
     'But I say to you, the rest

        *  who are in Thyatira,
Clearly these words are no longer for all the churches as in the last verse. They are exclusively for Thyatira members.
        *  who do not hold this teaching,
Those who did not hold to Jezebel's teachings (but were afraid to do anything about it?).
        *  who have not known the deep things of Satan,
           as they call them -
This may be a direct reference to how Jezebel portrayed her cult - as the "deep things" of God. In truth, apostle Paul indicates the "deep things" of God are made known to us by the SPIRIT (1 Corinthians 2:10-16).

Furthermore, our body (sexual favors was a part of Jezebel's teachings) must follow our Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:15-20).

The true believers at Thyatira are told they must hang on; the Lord does not place any other grievance on their backs. As in 2 Timothy 2:15-19, these believers are to handle accurately the Word of Truth. Jezebel tried with success to mix in her word with the Word of Truth. Her logic may have gone something like this: The only effective way to confront Satan is to enter his strongholds and experience the real nature of sin. Then when you accept Christ, you will really appreciate the act of grace that His death and resurrection was. Sad to say, like the Thyatirans, many Christians live a life-style in the "deep things" of Satan while expecting God to share His "deep things" with them. It makes no sense at all!!!!
     Nevertheless what you have, HOLD FAST UNTIL I COME.
The 'you' refers to the three 'who's in the previous verse. Hanging on to your beliefs sometimes is all that you can do.

In this verse, we have the first explicit reference to Christ's second coming. 'Holding fast' is part of the 'watch and wait' we in the Church Age are going through.

Infiltration into the true church by a Jezebelian type of person is a common problem among churches today. Sometimes it is the pastor; sometimes a well respected elder or deacon. On a much larger scale, many "old time" scholars (Walter Scott, H.A. Ironsides, J.A. Seiss, A.C. Gaebelein, and James Gray) have believed Jezebel was equated with the papacy. More recent scholars, equate her to the entire imitation church Satan is setting up. This imitation church (recently called the 'New Age Movement') will be religious only and its adherents will be "Christians" in name only.

The command is still "YOU FOLLOW ME!" - John 21:20-23.
     And he who overcomes and
The promised blessing with an added provision (see format).....
     he who keeps My deeds UNTIL THE END,
         *  to him I will give AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;
This phrase is found in verse 8 of the great Messianic Psalm 2. The people at Thyatira who have staying power until the end will have authority over the nations plus the rest of the promise in the next verse.
       *  and He shall rule them with a rod of IRON as the vessels of the
          potter are BROKEN to PIECES
The strong rule with a rod of iron also comes from the Messianic Psalm 2. The image of a broken pottery is equated to rejection of the word of God several times in the Old Testament. Isaiah uses it in Isaiah 30:12-15. Jeremiah shows this act as a symbol of comdemnation of this rejection in Jeremiah 19:10-13 where not only the rejection is bad but the people worshipped other gods!
     as I also have received AUTHORITY FROM MY FATHER;
So to the overcomers, the coming reign of the Messiah will be shared with true believers under the authority from the Father. See Revelation 1:6, Revelation 3:21, Revelation 20:6, and 1 Corinthians 6:1-3.
     and I will GIVE to him the MORNING STAR.
What is so special or significant about the MORNING STAR? DO YOU WANT ANY OF THESE THINGS?.....The overcomers will get them!
    He who has an ear, let him HEAR what the SPIRIT says to the churches.
This and the remaining 3 churches place the "Hear and Heed" section (see format) after the blessing section or at the end of the letter.

These four churches also contain references to the soon return of Christ. Thus these four churches may represent types of churches which will be active at the return of Christ.

If that is the case, then the admonition to "Hear and Heed" may be more needed than the promised blessing.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright The Lockman Foundation, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 Used by permission."

References to the Revelation of Jesus Christ are in bold italics. All other references are in bold only.