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.