In this series of blog posts, we’re diving into the seven letters from Jesus to the churches in Revelation chapters 2-3. As we do, we’ll discover what Jesus has to say to these churches that, with one exception, needed to be revitalized.
The fourth letter in Revelation is written to the church in the city of Thyatira. This is the longest letter of the seven, and it’s written to the church in the smallest and least important city of the bunch (at least from a human standpoint). From this fact alone, we see that God cares about the biggest of places, like Ephesus, and the smallest of places, like Thyatira. He loves New York City and New Hope, Texas. He loves Los Angeles and Los Alamos. He loves and cares about big cities and small towns and everything in between.
We find the letter to Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29.
The reality, v. 18
This is the only time in the book of Revelation that the term “Son of God” is used of Jesus. The description Jesus gives of Himself to the church also is important: “The one whose eyes are like a fiery flame and whose feet are like fine bronze.” The worship of the sun god Apollo was prominent in Thyatira. So, to the church in a community where people worshipped a false god, Jesus reminds that He is the true God whose eyes are like flames.
The reassurance, v. 19
As in the majority of the other letters, Jesus reminds this church that He knows what they are doing well. They have good qualities: “love, faithfulness, service and endurance.” Apparently, the church was growing in these qualities, because Jesus says their last works exceed their previous works.
The reproof, vv. 20-23
This is the longest section in the letter, and it spells out that, while the church had a lot going for it, there was a glaring issue that needed to be dealt with. A woman identified as “Jezebel” claimed to be a prophetess but was spreading false teaching. She also is leading the church into sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
It seems this woman is part of the church, because Jesus says the church is “tolerating” her. Perhaps they were holding off on confronting her because they wanted to give her time to repent. Even Jesus Himself says He’s given her time to repent, “but she does not want to repent.” So Jesus issues a stark warning to the church: “Look, I will throw her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction. Unless they repent of her works, I will strike her children dead.”
That sure seems extreme, doesn’t it? But what we see here is, just as in the letter to Pergamum, Jesus takes seriously the doctrine taught in His churches. He also takes seriously the conduct of His people. Where there is false teaching, a lack of holiness almost always accompanies it. Pastor, this is why it is so important to keep a close watch on the teaching in your church. Tolerating false teaching can very quickly lead to more and more issues within the life of your church.
The remnant, vv. 24-2
Thankfully, not everyone in this church had forsaken the gospel and holiness. There remained a remnant “who do not hold to this teaching.” Jesus encourages this group to hold tight to the gospel. In fact, Jesus says He lays no further burden on those who are faithful. The gospel is not a burden; it is a joy and delight.
In the end, Jesus says that the one who conquers will receive the morning star. That is a reference to Christ Himself. There’s the promise that those who are forgiven by the blood of Christ will reign with Christ for all eternity! Isn’t that good news and an encouragement to persevere through difficult times?!
So, pastor, should you find yourself in a church where a Jezebel is making waves, hold fast to the gospel and call those individuals to repentance. But don’t be afraid to protect fiercely the doctrine of the church, because the gospel is worth fighting for!
Be encouraged by Christ’s promise to this church that those who hold fast to the gospel will persevere and will conquer evil!
You can find the other posts in this series here:
Published October 3, 2023