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.



  • Thyatira is the fourth church of the seven addressed by Jesus Christ.
    • He is the Son of God (v.18). This is an implicit refutation of imperial claims to divinity. E.g., Augustus's letter to the city of Ephesus begins "Emperor Caesar, son of the god Julius."
    • 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.
        • Sardis is well known for its many trade guilds. Meals in honor of the various gods were followed by sexual activity.
      • 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! Rev often emphasizes the future reign with Christ of his faithful followers (1:6; 2:26; 3:21; 5:10; 20:4,6; 22:5).
    • See also Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:3.
    • The iron rod alludes to Psalm 2:9, which smashes vessels of clay. The image is especially apt in light of the well-known Thyatiran potters' guild.
    • 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).


  • The word "churches" in v.23 appears in the middle of the 7 letters and at the exact center of the central letter. This suggests that each church was to read and take heed of all 7 letters.
  • V. 23 also alludes to Jer 17:10, where it is God who recompenses. Rev is full of indications of the deity of Jesus Christ.
  • 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?
  • As N.T. scholar Jeff Weima puts it, "The most plausible view is that Jezebel claimed divine revelation from God about profound things pertaining to Satan and that such knowledge would prevent her followers from falling into the twin dangers of idolatry and sexual immorality while attending guild feasts and cultic meals. Since the temptation to participate in these pagan gatherings was great, it no doubt took little effort on Jezebel's part to convince many in the Thyatiran church to embrace her teaching" (The Sermons to the Seven Churches in Revelation [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2021], 148).
  • 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. All emperors in the Julian-Claudian line claimed to be descendants of the goddess Venus, a claim that Julius Caesar himself made. Furthermore, the Roman legions carried her zodiac sign, the bull, on their standards. Thus the claim of v.28 is especially bold.
    • This alludes to Numbers 24:17 and 2 Peter 1:19, indicating the Messiah Jesus himself. Num 24:17 was connected with Messianic expectation in many Jewish writings (1QM 11.6-7; 4Q Testimonia 9-13; CD 7.18-21; T. Jud. 24:1; T. Levi 18:3).
    • 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 Thyatira, 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