Sermon Based Curriculum
Week of February 17, 2019
The Church at Thyatira
Read Revelation 2:18.
—> Why do we sometimes introduce ourselves using relationships? (I am so-and-so’s brother)
—>How does Jesus identify Himself?
Read Revelation 2:19
Some form of “I know your works” was addressed to all seven churches in Rev 2-3. —> What range of emotions might we experience if we heard Jesus speak directly to us, saying “I know your works”? Comforting or Concerning?
—> What compliment did Jesus give to the church at Thyatira?
—> How do we, like the church at Thyatira, meet the challenge of progressing both in maturity and in ministry?
Read Revelation 2:20
—>What does Christ criticize? What was the false teacher Jezebel saying? Doing?
There should be zero tolerance for false teaching that convinces believers that participating in unholy activities can be somehow acceptable.
—> Why is “zero tolerance” so important?
—> Why is holiness-deficiency such a tragic problem when it occurs in churches? —> Where do you see examples of “tragic tolerance” in our communities today? —> How does “tragic tolerance” impact our churches? our families?
Holiness is not only God’s will but his purpose.
Read Revelation 2:21-25
—> What did Jesus say would be this Jezebel’s punishment?
—> What would the church at Thyatira learn from Jezebel’s punishment? —> What word did Jesus have for those people not following Jezebel?
Read Revelation 21:26-29
—> What did Christ provide believers?
—> How can we encourage each other to be overcomers for the faith?
Revelation 2:18-29 Expository Notes
The City of Thyatira
It is entirely possible that Lydia, the first convert from the apostle Paul’s ministry in Europe (Acts 16:14), was one of the founders of the church at Thyatira. The city was famous for its production of a beautiful purple fabric. Lydia was selling this cloth when Paul first landed in Macedonia. Perhaps her newfound faith became her new passion to share when she returned to Thyatira. It is highly likely that she was present when this church began.
Thyatira was the least important of all seven cities yet it received the longest letter. Politically and religiously it had no great importance, but was a very important commercial city.
It was built in a broad valley, originally as a garrison of soldiers to protect the city of Pergamum. The city was poorly located for that purpose and unable to defend itself. Thus it was often destroyed by enemies and just as often was in the process of being rebuilt. When the enemy would come to attack the cities of Asia, Pergamum—being a heavily fortified city—wanted to have some warning and thus set a garrison at the place that became Thyatira. If the enemy came, the soldiers would fight them at Thyatira and send word back to Pergamum that an enemy was approaching. The city was a diversion to protect citizens farther up the valley.
Thus,Thyatira was wiped out quite frequently and often had to be restored. Its greatest significant was its trade guilds or unions. Historically, we know very little about Thyatira.
Revelation 2:18 The One Who Writes
This is the first time in the seven letters that Jesus described Himself as the Son of God. This title asserts His divine authority with two physical features. First, the eyes of the Lord are like a fiery flame. This image has been used in Rev. 1:14 and will be used again in Rev. 19:12. Fiery eyes signify that He is omniscient in His perception and coming with a view to judge sin. Fire is typically used as a motif for God’s purifying activity of burning away, such as separating the useless chaff from the good wheat. The second physical feature is His feet are like fine bronze. The city of Thyatira likely had a guild dedicated to working with brass. The Greek language indicates the highest of quality. Both of these descriptions combined are a direct confrontation of the local gods and seen in context as judgement language in the overall message. They combine to show that Jesus was coming forth with a powerful judgment that could not be avoided. He was prepared to tread the enemies of the gospel under His feet.
Revelation 2:19 The Faithfulness of Thyatira
As with most of the church messages, the Lord began with an encouragement about their good work. It should once again be noted that Jesus said, I know your works. For the believers in Thyatira, the most obscure of cities among the seven letters, it is a significant statement. They had a cultural circumstance of seeing pagans serve gods who promised very little in return. The Son of God was assuring them that He knew about all the details of their lives. It is an assurance that we all need—God knows where I am and what is happening in my life.
Five characteristics of the believers in Thyatira identified by Jesus.
1. He uses the Greek word “agape” for their love, signifying a sacrificial and serving love that
has moved past mere affectionate emotions.
2. Their faithfulness is the Greek word “pistis” commonly associated with the idea of having
faith. It signals a reliability that they have shown to Christ.
- Service (deacon) to the needs of others.
- Jesus highlighted their endurance—an active persistence in the face of both external
pressures from the world and internal struggles of the church.
- I know that your last works are greater than the first. They are recognized for the
opposite of what had happened in Ephesus where the believers had lost their first love; Thyatira’s believers had built upon it. As time passed, they progressed in maturity and in ministry. The later works of their lives were of better quality and quantity. All believers should desire similar growth and not settle for mediocrity or maintaining the status quo.
Revelation 2:20 Tolerating Jezebel
The Lord delivers a word of conviction to the church in Thyatira. The issue was their compromise in that they tolerate the woman Jezebel. The biblical character Jezebel married Ahad, the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Her history is recorded in 1 Kings 16-21, and 2 Kings 9. She was from Phoenicia and was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Phoenicians. After becoming queen to the Israelite king, she did not abandon her religion but introduced the worship of Baal into Israelite culture. Israel had joined into Baal worship by setting up a temple to Baal in Samaria and making an Asherah pole which greatly angered the Lord (1 Kings 16:32-33). Jezebel’s influence was spiritually detrimental to the Israelites. It is this kind of influence that was being tolerated by the church in Thyatira. They were compromising all of the maturity that had been previously achieved just as Israel previously had compromised their loyalty to the Lord.
The woman Jezebel was probably a reference to a person in the church who was a false prophet and teaching aberrant doctrines. Jesus described her as calling herself a prophetess and teaches and deceived my servants. These appear to be personal acts by a real person who was interfering with the holy living of God’s people.
The false prophetess and teacher had deceived believers to commit sexual immorality and to eat meat sacrificed to idols. The issue of eating meat from pagan worship was a cultural issue. If refused, it would set the Christians distinctly apart from members of the trade guilds in town. Jezebel probably taught that there was nothing wrong with a Christian taking part in the guild feasts and celebrations, for it was merely civil. But Jesus saw the woman as seducing the believers into participating in the worship of false gods. The church was tolerating an influence that led believers to adopt a lifestyle that was acceptable to the world. Meanwhile, it was unacceptable to God.
Revelation 2:21-25 Delivering Discipline
The offer to repent was likely delivered by members of the church to this Jezebel character. The phrase indicates that this had not just happened in a short time frame, time to repent. Ongoing time had been involved. God had been patient, and hopefully His servants had been persistent in calling her to repent. Her love of sexual immorality was greater than her love for God. Those who had tolerated and participated in the sin also needed to repent. It is the saddest commentary upon a person’s life that one refuses the opportunity to align one’s life with God’s redemptive work.
The discipline would come in three forms.
1. First, for Jezebel, He would throw her into a sickbed. Ultimate death and judgement, or
physically striking the woman with sickness.
2. Church members who participated in sin with this Jezebel would be thrown into great
3. God even declared that I will strike her children dead. The children are not likely her physical offspring but her spiritual children; those who have followed her teachings. For the members and the subsequent followers, God would allow them to suffer in some manner so that they would be led to repent. For the Jezebel character, her sickness could be a literal illness but it is likely a metaphor that would manifest as a loss of influence. Jesus was offering to relent the judgment if those involved would repent.
It is the way of God to warn of impending judgement before sending it. He has a greater desire for His followers to turn back to Him than He does of sending discipline upon them. If He does send judgement, it will a signal to all of the churches regarding the seriousness of sin. Jesus said that all the churches will know that I am the one who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.
The so-called secrets of Satan is used in an ironic and sarcastic manner. Though the false prophetess thought she had accessed deep mysteries of the spiritual realm, she actually knew nothing of God’s mysteries. She was fooling herself and her followers.
Jesus gave a refreshing word to the church that He would not be putting any other burden onthem and to hold on to what you have until I come.
Revelation 2:26-29 The Future Promises
In the previous three letters, the conclusion begins with “Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches” (2:7, 11, 17). However, beginning with the letter to Thyatira, the phrase comes at the end of the charge. The concluding charge begins with a promise about the reward to the one who conquers and who keeps my works to the end. The idea of conquering is linked with the work of Christ on behalf of Christians rather than the work of men to earn God’s favor. But it is left to followers of Christ to show endurance through faith and by His gracious work.
It is God’s prerogative to allow His followers to share in His victory. As Jesus will rule over the nations and sentence the rebellious to judgment, He will invite His followers to share in the authority.
The morning star has to do with Christ Himself and the victory that believers receive by their salvation in Christ.