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Thyatira lies in the long valley connecting the valleys of the Hermus and the Caicus rivers through which the railway runs today; and it was its geographical position that gave it its importance.


Thyatira lay on the road that connected Pergamum with Sardis and went on to Philadelphia and to Laodicea, linking up with both Smyrna and Byzantium. That was the road by which the imperial post traveled; and it was crowded with the commerce of Asia and the east. Therefore, first and foremost Thyatira was a great commercial town.


Strategically the importance of Thyatira was that it was the gateway to Pergamum, the capital of the province. The first we hear of Thyatira is that it is an armed garrison, manned by a company of Macedonian troops, placed there as an outpost to protect Pergamos. The difficulty was that Thyatira was not capable of any prolonged defense. It lay in an open valley. There was no height that could be fortified; and all that Thyatira could ever hope to do was to fight a delaying action until Pergamos could prepare to meet the invaders.


Apparently, Thyatira had no special pagan religious significance. It was not a center of either Caesar or of Greek worship. Its local hero-god was called Tyrimnus and he appears on its coins on horseback armed with battle-axe and club. The only notable thing about Thyatira from the religious point of view was that it possessed a fortune-telling shrine, presided over by a female oracle called the Sambathe. Certainly no threat of persecution hung over the Thyatiran Church at the time of this letter.


What then was the cause that would merit a letter from the Risen Christ? We know less about the history of Thyatira than about any other of the seven cities. Therefore, scholars have been seriously handicapped in trying to reconstruct the cultural situation. One thing we do know from history is that it was a great commercial center, especially of the dyeing industry and of the trade in woolen goods. It was from Thyatira that Lydia, the seller of purple, came (Acts 16:14). From inscriptions we know that it had an extraordinary number of trade guilds. These were associations for mutual profit and pleasure of people employed in certain trades. There were guilds of workers in wool, leather, linen, and bronze, makers of outer garments, dyers, potters, bakers, and slave-dealers.


Membership in these guilds may have been the essence of problem of the Church in Thyatira. To refuse to join one of these guilds would be much the same as to refuse to join a trade union today. It would mean to give up all prospect of commercial existence. Why should a Christian not join one of these guilds? They held common meals. These would very often be held in a temple and even if not, they would begin and end with a formal sacrifice to the gods, and the meat eaten would be meat that had already been offered to idols. Further, it often happened that these communal meals were occasions of drunken revelry and slack morality. Was it possible for a Christian to be part of such occasions?


Christ identified the major problem at Thyatira as the one that came from within the Church. There was a strong movement, led by the woman addressed as Jezebel, which pled for compromise with the world's standards in the interests of business and commercial prosperity, maintaining, no doubt, that the Holy Spirit could preserve them from any harm. The answer of the Risen Christ is unequivocal. With such things the Christian must have nothing to do.



2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;


Why was the longest of the seven letters is written to the least earthly important of the seven cities? The problems which faced Thyatira and the dangers which threatened it were those which universally affected the Christians in Asia. R. H. CHARLES points out that by far the longest of the seven letters is written to the most unimportant of the seven cities; but its problems were far from being unimportant.


Of all the seven letters this is the most cryptic. Our trouble is that we have so little definite information about Thyatira. So we ask a series of four questions:

  1. What was the situation of the Church in Thyatira?
  2. Who was Jezebel?
  3. What did she teach?
  4. What do the promises made to the Church at Thyatira mean?


The letter opens with a description of the Risen Christ that has a threat in it. His eyes are like a flame of fire and his feet like burnished brass. The description is taken from that of the angelic messenger in Daniel 10:6: "His face was like the appearance of lightning, and his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze." The flaming eyes most likely stand for two things, blazing anger against sin and the awful penetration of that gaze which strips the disguises away and sees into a man's inmost heart. The brazen feet must stand for the implacable, indisputable judgement of the Risen Christ. A message that begins with a vision like that certainly can not be a soothing tranquilizer.


2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.






















See this link for further details:..\Lost First Love.doc



The letter goes on to terms of the highest praise. The love, loyalty, service, and endurance of the Church at Thyatira are matters for congratulation. Note how these great qualities go in pairs. Service is the outcome of love and patient endurance is the product of loyalty.


Then comes the condemnation of the woman Jezebel and all her ways and teaching; and one can hardly avoid the conclusion that she had very considerable influence in the Church at Thyatira.


The conclusion seems to be this. On the surface the Church at Thyatira was strong and flourishing. If a stranger went into it he would be impressed with its abounding energy and its generous liberality and its apparent steadfastness. For all that there was something that was essential missing.


This is a warning. A church which is crowded with people and which is a hive of energy is not necessarily a real Church. It is possible for a Church to be crowded because its people come to be entertained instead of instructed, and to be soothed instead of confronted with the fact of sin and the offer of salvation; it may be a highly successful Christian club rather than a real Christian congregation. The Thyatira church had not only left its first love, but its first works. This church had not only parted from Christ inwardly, but had departed from Christ in what Christ told it to do.


2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.


The only reasonable conclusion is that we have no idea who Jezebel was, although we can with certainty trace the kind of person that she was.


That she claimed to be a prophetess is not so very surprising. It is true that Paul would have nothing to do with women speaking in the Church (1 Corinthians 14:34). But it is also true that in both the Old and the New Testaments there are prophetesses. In the Old Testament there are Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14); and in the New Testament there are Anna (Luke 2:36), and the four virgin daughters of Philip (Acts 21:9).


This woman is called Jezebel and, therefore, her character must be discovered in the original Jezebel than whom few women have acquired such a reputation for wickedness. She was the cause of this church leaving its first works. This woman, in the local church, historically, is called "Jezebel." This is a reference to the "Jezebel" of the Book of Kings; she was a prophetess, a religious leader, who followed the Babylonian worship of Baal with its attendant "queen of heaven" and the whole pagan works.


This woman of Thyatira is teaching things that are wrong, and of course, as Jezebel, we can immediately identify her doctrine by what it typifies in the Old Testament. Lets observe what the Bible teaches us in the following the references. Notice:

  • Genesis 49:17 - The tribe of Dan is called a serpent. Deuteronomy 33:22 - Dan is called a lion's whelp. The tribe of Dan is like unto a lion and a serpent. Looking in the Bible we see whom this typifies. Satan is called a serpent in Genesis 3 and a lion in 1 Peter 5.
  • Judges 18 - The tribe of Dan gets a young man to be a priest for its tribe.
  • Judges 18:19 - This priest is called "father."
  • Judges 18:20 - This "father" takes care of idols and uses them as an aid to worship.
  • Judges 18:28 - The tribe of Dan settles up near Zion and Tyre on the Phoenician coast.
  • Judges 18:30,31 - They (Dan) are in total apostasy for nearly one thousand years. Up by Zion, where the Phoenicians live, we find the tribe of Dan mixing with the heathen, and with priests called "father," who use idols as an aid to worship. What about Zion? In Genesis 10:19,20 we are told Hamites had settled in this part of the country, and set up Baal worship.

  • 1 Kings 16:29-33 - Ahab takes over, marries the daughter of the king of the Zidonians, and serves Baal, the Phoenician god. Here is Jezebel, herself, in the same passage.
  • 1 Kings 18:26 - If that weren't enough, in this Baal worship carried on in Phoenicia, connected with the tribe of Dan, we find that these people worshipped from in the morning to 12 noon.
  • 1 Kings 18:24,25 - They worshipped the fire of the sun, they worshipped the sun god, on his day - "Sun-day."
  • 1 Kings 18:28 - These priests called "father," mutilate themselves and do penance to pay for their sins. They mutilate their bodies to try to get what they want from their God.
  • 2 Kings 10:22 - These Baalite priests, called "fathers," who are in the tribe of Dan, who conduct the Phoenician Baal worship for Ahab and Jezebel, wear long robes called vestments.
  • Jeremiah 10:1-5 - These people, who worship Baal, the sun-god (on December 25 as his birthday), worship him with a tree cut out of the forest by the hands of the axeman, and trimed with silver and gold.
  • Jeremiah 44:17,18,19,25 - They bake cakes to a female deity whom they call, quaintly, "the queen of heaven," clearly identifying the Phoenician Baal worship for what it is.


Phoenician Baal worship introduced through the sons of Ham, with its priests called "fathers," connected with the tribe of Dan, worships Sunday from morning to 12 noon and observes Christmas. These are the original worshippers of the Antichrist. This compares scripture with scripture, without anybody interpreting anything. All we have to do is read the passages.


So this is the woman Jezebel. One teaching she urged upon the Christians was that there was no need to cut themselves off from society or abstain from the guilds. When she did so, she was not proceeding on grounds of principle but was simply trying to protect her business interests. Jezebel is to be counted amongst those to whom the claims of commercial success speak more loudly than the claims of Christ.


The tribe of Dan paid dearly for their transgressions with Baal. They lost their right to be numbered with the twelve tribes of Israel. See Revelation 7:5-8. The tribe of Dan is missing. Which tribe did God replace them with? See Revelation 21:12. When the New Jerusalem is described, there are twelve gates named for the twelve tribes of Israel - THE TRIBE OF DAN WILL NOT BE NAMED THERE!


"To teach and seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." Notice that Jezebel teaches what Balaam taught Balak. (Compare verse 14 with verse 20, and notice the comparison is identical.)


2:21,22 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.


She is said to teach the people to commit fornication (verse 20); she is urged to repent from her fornication (verse 21); and her paramours and her children are threatened along with her (verses 22, 23). Is this reference to be taken literally or in the metaphorical sense that is so common in Scripture to sexual immorality, or to spiritual infidelity?


There is no doubt that in Scripture infidelity to God is expressed in terms of fornication and adultery. Israel is the Bride of God (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 3:20); and in the New Testament the Church is the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:1,2; Ephesians 5:24-28). Again and again in the Old Testament the Israelites are, therefore, said to "play the harlot after strange gods" (Exodus 34:15,16; Deuteronomy 31:16; Hosea 9:1). In the New Testament the age which is unfaithful to Jesus Christ is an "evil and adulterous generation" (Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38). Is the fornication that Jezebel is teaching a spiritual infidelity to Jesus Christ? If that is the meaning, her paramours (verse 22) will be those who are flirting with this kind of teaching and her children (verse 23) those who have accepted it.


It may well be that the teaching of Jezebel was that the Christians did not need to be so exclusive in their worship of Jesus Christ and, above all, that there was no need for them to refuse to say, "Caesar is Lord," and to burn their pinch of incense. If the Christian Church as a whole had accepted that form of teaching, the inevitable consequence would have been that Christianity would have become nothing more than still another of those religions of which the Roman Empire was so full. The claim of Christianity is not that Jesus Christ is one of the Saviors nor even the chief of Saviors; but that He is the only Savior!


One thing in the letter that is against that view is found in verse 24. Here we read that the followers of Jezebel claimed to know "the depths of Satan." The real Christian knows what Paul called the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10); what Jezebel and her company know is the deep things of Satan. But that will not explain this phrase, for the letter unmistakably refers to "the deep things of Satan, as they speak." This is certainly a reference to a kind of belief that was not uncommon among the heretics. Some of them held that it was a plain duty to experience every kind of sin. The real achievement was to allow the body to wallow in sin and to keep the soul unaffected. Those who knew the deep things of Satan were those who had deliberately plumbed evil to its depths. Fornication is used to describe "illicit sexual intercourse," in John 8:41; Acts 15:20,29; 21:25; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13,18; 2 Corinthians 12:21; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; here in Revelation 2:21; and in 9:21. In the plural, fornication is found in 1 Corinthians 7:2; in Matthew 5:32; 19:9 it stands for, or includes, adultery; it is distinguished from it in 15:19 and Mark 7:21.


Perhaps she did not want to repent because fornication is enjoyable to the flesh. Jezebel may well have been teaching that fornication was a duty. That it was part of their worship (David Koresh theory.) Or, she may have been teaching that fornication was the highest, most enjoyable, earthy act endowed upon creatures by the Creator therefore, it was a right to satisfy the natural, sexual needs whether it is considered sin or not (Larry Flynt theory.)


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


The letter to Thyatira finishes with a series of great threats and great promises. Jezebel has been given all the latitude the divine mercy can give her. If she does not repent, she will be cast into a bed of sickness and her paramours and followers will share her fate. This will prove to all men that indeed the Risen Christ "searches the reins and hearts." The phrase is a translation of Jeremiah 11:20. In Jeremiah the prerogative of searching the inmost thoughts of men belongs to God; but in the Revelation, as so often, the prerogatives of God have become the prerogatives of the Risen Christ.


The reins are the kidneys; strange as it may seem to us, Hebrew psychology believed that the seat of emotion was in the lower viscera, the kidneys and the bowels; and the seat of thought was in the heart. When the Risen Christ says that he will search the reins and the heart, it means that every emotion and every thought will be open to his gaze.


There is a real point here. When we began to study the letter to Thyatira we speculated that anyone coming into that Church for the first time would probably have believed it to be surging with life and fruitful in every good work. No doubt those who prospered in business, because of their compromise with the world, were lavish in their liberality. No doubt those who attended the trade guilds gave generously to charitable funds. They looked like real Christians. No doubt Jezebel seemed to many a fine character. She must have had a command of language, a fine presence, a great example and a teacher of the "liberal arts and acts" to be regarded as a prophetess. When we get right down to it, what she was teaching is what we now regard as "New Age" philosophy. It don't matter what you believe, just be "nice" to your fellowman or woman. Regardless of their "lifestyles" they aren't "wrong." Diversity is their war cry. Pro-Choice is their answer to an unwanted pregnancy. The wearing of a red ribbon loop is their sign of their acceptance of and sympathy for those who get AIDS from their promiscuous sexual practices. If it is fun, do it! NIKE! Just do it!


The point here is that the Risen Christ can see beyond the outward disguise; he will know whether or not their repentance is real.


2:24,25 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. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.



Christ gives encouragement to those who keep themselves pure and undefiled: "But to you I say, and unto the rest," Observe:

  1. What these seducers called their doctrines—depths, profound mysteries, amusing the people, and endeavoring to persuade them that they had a deeper insight into religion than their own ministers had attained to.
  2. What Christ called them—depths of Satan, Satanical delusions, and devices, diabolical mysteries; for there is a mystery of iniquity, as well and the great mystery of godliness. It is a dangerous thing to despise the mystery of God, and it is as dangerous to receive the mysteries of Satan.
  3. How tender Christ is of his faithful servants: "I will lay upon you no other burden; but that which you have already hold fast till I come." I will not overburden your faith with any new mysteries, or your consciences with any new laws. I only require your attention to what you have received. Hold that fast till I come, and I desire no more.’’ Christ is coming to put an end to all the temptations of his people; and, if they hold fast faith and a good conscience till he comes, all the difficulty and danger will be over.

2:26 - 28 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star.


The promise of an ample reward to the persevering victorious believer, in two parts:

  1. Very great power and dominion over the rest of the world: Power over the nations, which may refer to the time when believers shall sit down with Christ on his throne of judgment. There they would join with him in trying, and condemning, and consigning punishment to the enemies of Christ and the church. The upright shall have dominion in the morning.
  2. Knowledge and wisdom, suitable to such power and dominion: I will give him the morning-star. Christ is the morning-star. He brings day with him into the soul, the light of grace and of glory; and he will give his people that perfection of light and wisdom which is requisite to the state of dignity and dominion that they shall have in the morning of the resurrection.

2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.


This epistle ends with the usual demand of attention: "He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." In the foregoing epistles, this demand of attention comes before the concluding promise; but in this letter, and all that follow, it comes after, and tells us that we should all attend to the promises as well as to the precepts that Christ delivers to the churches.








  1. The church at Thyatira worked hard but let a false teacher slip in. Why did Christ hold that against them?

  3. How does Jesus describe Himself? How do you interpret this description? What is He saying about Himself? Why is this appropriate for the church at Thyatira?

  5. What do you think is the reason that Christ sent a letter of the longest length to the most insignificant of the seven churches? Could this be a flag to us?

  7. In verse 19, Jesus says he "knows thy works" twice. Why? What does He imply by that repetition? Do you think it had a historical significance?

  9. How can you tell the difference between something that is real and something that is counterfeit?

  11. Hoe could church members be deceived by Jezebel's teaching?

  13. Christ said that Jezebel and her followers would be punished if they did not repent. Will Jesus Christ punish the church for the sins of the culture around them?

  15. What was the danger of Jezebel's false teaching and prophesying? Can you imagine the "elements" of worship in a church service led by her and her followers?

  17. Why did church allow Jezebel to continue teaching?

  19. If Jezebel lived today, what sins would she be encouraging? Would she fit into Grace Fellowship UMC? Why or why not?

  21. In what ways can we, in our church, avoid being deceived like the church at Thyatira?

  23. What attitudes or activities might you be condoning that are not pleasing to God?

  25. What can keep you from recognizing that you are condoning sin?

  27. How can you determine the sometimes-subtle differences between Christian doctrine and false doctrine? How do you know that I am always teaching you Biblical truth?

  29. How does it make you feel that Christ searches all your thoughts and intentions?




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