18 "To the angel of the church in Thyatira, write this: "'The Son of God, whose eyes are like a fiery flame and whose feet are like polished brass, says this:

19 "I know your works, your love, faith, service, and endurance, and that your last works are greater than the first.

20 "Yet I hold this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, who teaches and misleads my servants to play the harlot and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her harlotry. 22 So I will cast her on a sickbed and plunge those who commit adultery with her into intense suffering unless they repent of her works. 23 I will also put her children to death. Thus shall all the churches come to know that I am the searcher of hearts and minds and that I will give each of you what your works deserve.

24 "But I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not uphold this teaching and know nothing of the so-called deep secrets of Satan: on you I will place no further burden, 25 except that you must hold fast to what you have until I come.

26 "'"To the victor, who keeps to my ways until the end, I will give authority over the nations. 27 He will rule them with an iron rod. Like clay vessels will they be smashed, 28 just as I received authority from my Father. And to him I will give the morning star. 29 "'"Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches."' Version: New American Bible.

COMMENTS

General:

  • Thyatira is the fourth church of the seven addressed by Jesus Christ.
    • He is the Son of God (v.18).
    • His eyes are like a fiery flame (seeing everything).
    • His feet are like polished brass (identifying him with the dazzling vision of 1:13ff).
  • Because he sees all, he knows all, both the good (v.19) and the bad (v.20).
    • Like the Ephesians, they have endured -- and even improved in some ways (v.19).
    • And yet they tolerate the false prophetess Jezebel (v.20).
      • Note the connection between idolatry and sexual sin, a common biblical subject. Pagan meals were often accompanied by inebriation and followed by fornication.
      • God is fair: he has given the Jezebel faction the chance to repent, but in vain (v.21). Therefore he will bring suffering on her -- one last attempt to bring her to her senses (v.22). The "children" (v.23) are probably her followers. (See discussion on 2 John for lady/children representing a group/members.)
      • The Lord's discipline against Jezebel will bring a salutary lesson to all the churches. For a parallel, see Acts 5:11.
  • Those who overcome will share with Jesus in the judgment of the nations (v.26). This is a true reversal of fortunes. The nations (pagan Rome) rules now; ultimately, however, the saints will rule and she will be judged!
    • See also Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:3.
    • The iron rod alludes to Psalm 2:9, which smashes vessels of clay.
    • They will also receive the morning star (v.29) -- Jesus himself (22:16)!
  • Once again, the short letter concludes with an admonition to listen (v.29).

Advanced:

  • Eating food sacrificed to idols was a recurrent problem in the early church. See Acts 7:41; 15:29; 1 Corinthians 8-10.
  • Jezebel also claimed esoteric knowledge (v.24). This knowledge (perhaps Gnostic) was in fact diabolical.
  • It is interesting to compare the letter to Thyatira and the letter to Ephesus.  Thyatira had love, but was too tolerant. Ephesus did not tolerate sin, but needed more love.
  • Is "Jezebel" her actual name, or is she (more likely, in my view) symbolically called this, because like the Phoenician Jezebel (1 Kings 16, 18, 19, 21), wife of Ahab, she was leading people into apostasy?
  • About the morning star:
    • This is the planet Venus, often called the Day Star, or Morning Star, for its brightness and visibility even at certain times of the day.
    • This alludes to Numbers 24:17 and 2 Peter 1:19, indicating the Messiah Jesus himself.
    • In Job 38:4,7, "morning stars" are angels.
    • This is not Satan, as in the allusion of Isaiah 14:12, which in context is speaking of the earthly king of Babylon.
  • For more on Thyratira, click here.

Thought questions:

  • Do I understand that in one sense I may be growing spiritually, yet in another sense my "mellowness" or "tolerance" may not in fact be godly?
  • Do I understand that God "searches" my mind and its thoughts (v.23)? Can I pray the prayer of Psalm 19:13-15 with sincerity?

NEXT: To Sardis!

 

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