Revelation 2:18-29

Wednesday Night Bible Study

January 15, 1997


As we've seen, there's an outline given to us about this book:

John was to write down things in three categories: (1:19)

1) The things which thou hast seen (ch.1) - the vision of Jesus

2) The things which are (chs.2-3) - things which pertain to current history, the times of the church.

3) The things which shall be hereafter (chs.4-22) - the prophetic portion of the book.

We now dive into the second portion of the book - the "things which are", dealing with issues about the church, and the age of the church on earth.

Introduction to the Letters

As we've seen, each letter, written to a different church, has things in common with the letters written to the other churches.

Seven common characteristics (nice number, huh?)

We won't review them this week ...

How do we interpret these letters?

1) Applied to specific churches.

They are written to real, historical churches that existed in AD 95.

2) Applied to the whole church.

Because there are seven letters, the number of "completion", the letters are applicable to the "complete" church. In a sense, there are the same seven churches in existence today, just as their have been throughout history.

3) Applied to each of us individually.

Each letter applies to each individual church today. Jesus says in each letter: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; - and in this sense, each letter also applies to each of us, as individuals.

4) Prophetic application.

The flow of the church through history is amazingly parallel to the flow of issues from church to church.

The church of Ephesus ("jewel" "precious one") was a picture of the church during the time of the apostles, through John's death, around A.D. 100.

The church at Smyrna ("myrrh") was the period of persecution from John's death until the time of Constantine, around A.D.300

The church at Pergamum ("mixed marriage") seems to parallel that period from A.D. 300 to 600, when the church came under the umbrella of protection from Constantine, and pagan doctrines and practices began to creep into the church.

:18-29 Letter to Thyatira

:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write;


see map.

Thyatira = "odour of affliction" or "daughter" (Missler)

It was about 40 miles south east of Pergamum, located in the Lycus River valley.

For centuries it was a garrison town, guarding the way to Pergamos, but coming under Roman rule in B.C. 190, it became a busy commercial center.

It wasn't located near any spectacular natural resources, but the people built the city based on trade, because it was located on some major roads that connected various cities.

It had more trade guilds (unions) than have been identified in any other Asian city.

One of it's exports was purple dyes, and a royal purple cloth.

It was the home of Lydia, who was converted in Philippi by Paul.

Ac 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard [us]: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. (AV)

It is possible that the church may have gotten it's start from Lydia, when she returned home with her household.

Historical, prophetic interpretation

Many feel that this seems to pretty well describe the church around A.D. 600 - 1500.

This is the medieval, Roman Catholic church, after the separation from the eastern Greek church, which brought even more pagan practices into the church, including worship and prayer to saints, bowing to statues, etc.

I could spend a lot of time on this, but I really think there's much more profitable material in this letter for us, than to spend our entire time bashing the Catholic church.

:18 These things saith the Son of God,

Every letter contains a description of the author, Jesus, taken from the overall vision found in Revelation 1 -

Re 1:14-15 His head and [his] hairs [were] white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes [were] as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. (AV)

The description Jesus gives of Himself to Thyatira is one of stern judgment.

:18 who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire

This seems to speak of Jesus watching the churches, especially in the sense of one who judges.

eyes - one who sees, knows, and understands

Later on, Jesus says,

Re 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. (AV)

flame of fire - speaks of judgment

Notice the use of fire, in relation to judgment:

2Th 1:7-9a And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, (AV)

:18 and his feet are like fine brass;

fine brass - chalkolibanon - some metal like gold if not more precious.

The word is a compound of chalkos (brass) and libanos (the frankincense tree, frankincense).

Basically, this is an unknown metal.

The only other place that this word "fine brass" is found in existing Greek literature, is the description we've seen of Jesus in chapter one:

Re 1:15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. (AV)

:19 I know thy works

Note that Jesus has some very good things to say about this church.

:19 and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience,

charity - agape - God's kind of love (1Cor.13), love that's characterized by giving.

service - diakonia - service, ministering, esp. of those who execute the commands of others.

This is the word we get "deacon" from, the ones who waited on tables in Acts 6.

patience - hupomone - steadfastness, constancy, endurance

It's that "remaining under" the pressure, sticking it out through hard times.

These are GREAT things to have in a church.

Be careful not to say "yeah, but ..."

Jesus is giving them a pat on the back for having these things in the church.

These aren't things to stay away from if you don't want to be a church of Thyatira.

These are things to be admired!

:19 and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

Their works get better and better as time goes along.

For many Christians, after the first few months of zeal, they begin to grow cold.

The people in Thyatira were doing better and better works.

:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman ...

Their chief error was that they failed to deal with this woman.

sufferest - eao - to allow, permit; to allow one to do as he wishes.

They were kind of an "easy-going" church.

They didn't deal with this woman.


"thou" in King James indicates a singular number (ye is plural), and the idea is that it is the "angel" that is doing this thing, not necessarily the whole church.

Keep in mind that the letter is written to "the angel", either an angelic being, or possibly even the pastor over the church.

Lesson #1:

Leaders have a responsibility.

I hate this.

I remember working at the Bank of Newport as a supervisor, and when I had to turn down cashing a check for a customer, the lady went berserk, yelling at me, ridiculing me, humiliating me.

I don't like being the "bad guy".

But this is what comes with the territory as a leader.

Jesus holds us accountable.

If I as a pastor, allow a "Jezebel" to operate in this church, Jesus would be writing this letter to ME!


Tolerating the wrong things is dangerous.

Very often I hear parents (including myself) say things like, "well a little of this can't hurt the child ..."

We've grown up in a society where "toleration" is a virtue, learning to accept others.

And don't take me wrong, the right kind of toleration is necessary.

But we have to draw the lines when it comes to tolerating evil.


The problems weren't from outside persecution, as it was in Smyrna and Pergamos.

The big problem this church faced was from the inside, from what they allowed into their midst.

Paul rebuked the Corinthian church because they were so "tolerant" of an openly immoral man:

(1 Cor 5:6 KJV) Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

:20 that woman Jezebel

Two possibilities:

1) There was a woman living in Thyatira in A.D. 95, with the actual name of Jezebel, who promoted these things.

We have here quite a good description as it is of what this woman did.

2) This is a name given to the woman prophetess, a name pulled from the Bible, as a description.

I think this is very possible, only because the Old Testament person named Jezebel did these kinds of things to the nation of Israel.

Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab, the guy that Elijah often battled with.

Jezebel was the daughter of the King of Sidon, and brought the pagan Sidonian gods into the court of the King of Israel.

It was Jezebel that introduced worship of Baal and Ashtoreth to the Israelites. (1Ki.16:31)

It was Jezebel that gave the nation of Israel it's greatest push downhill towards judgment.

:20 which calleth herself a prophetess

It's not what you call yourself that counts.

It's what God calls you.

It's what others see in your life that counts.


Don't be quick to give yourself a title.

I'm beginning to see that it's the people that have to tell me what their gifts are, are the people I become most suspicious of.

The whole point of spiritual gifts is to allow God to work through you.

The whole point is for God to get His work done.

Not to make a name for yourself.

When a person is quick to put a title on themself, it's often because they're not interested in getting God's work done, they're interested in making a name for themself.

They're interested in getting attention, or wielding power over others.

To the elders, Peter writes:

(1 Pet 5:5b-6 KJV) ... Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. {6} Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

:20 to teach and to seduce my servants

seduce - planao - to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way.

The emphasis in this word isn't sexual at all, it's merely the idea of causing others to go astray.

:20 to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

As we mentioned at the beginning, Thyatira gained most of it's income through trade.

For a person to be involved in the trade industry, they had to become a member of a "trade guild" (like a union).

If you didn't become a member of a guild, you wouldn't get very far in the business world.

These trade guilds were under the patronage certain gods, and membership in these guilds would involve acts of pagan worship, sacrifices to idols, and immorality.

This would be a predicament for a trades-person who became a Christian.

Do I still "pay my dues" to the union, through idol sacrifices, etc.

Apprently, this "prophetess" received messages that told the people that it was okay to do these things.

After all, you have to make a living ...

:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication

space - chronos - time either long or short


Give people a chance to repent.

Sometimes we can be awfully impatient with each other.

Jesus sets the example, giving even JEZEBEL a chance to repent.


Sometimes repentance takes time.

I made a rather unthinking, cruel remark last week about repentance and counseling.

I said something to the effect that some people don't need so much counseling, they just need to repent.

This was based on the fact that all Jesus said to Pergamos was "repent".

And I think that for some people, this is true.

But a very caring brother came up to me and shared with me that some people need counseling because they want to repent, but don't know how.

I thought about that, and I have to agree, and apologize to those of you who are at that place.

To some people, Jesus just says "repent".

To others, He goes into a little more detail, as with the church in Ephesus (remember, repent, re-do).

Sometimes repentance takes a little time.

Just don't take too long ...

:21 she repented not.

The problem with Jezebel is that she didn't respond to the Lord's grace period.

:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed

bed - kline - a small bed, a couch

:22 them that commit adultery with her


The adultery is commited with "her", with Jezebel, not with Thyatira.

It's the spiritual adultery that's commited with the world that's dangerous, not contact with the Thyatira church (as in possibly the Roman Catholic Church)

:22 into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

great tribulation - (mega - great) thlipsis - pressing together; affliction, tribulation, distress

What's this "great tribulation"?

1) It's difficult times, God's spanking.

There are times when God needs to take the paddle to our backside.

(Heb 12:6 KJV) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

2) It's THE Great Tribulation.

The time of God's judgment on the earth, a time of seven years when His wrath is poured out on the unbelieving world.

It's the same two Greek words that are used for this Great Tribulation:

Mt 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (AV)

Re 7:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (AV)

Wait a minute! Are you saying that there are some in the church that WILL go through the Great Tribulation?

Here's what Pastor Chuck says: "Yes, a part of the Church will be going through the Great Tribulation." The part of the Church that does go through is the church of Thyatira, the woman Jezebel who failed to repent of her spiritual adultery and spiritual fornication. Those who want to make a case of the Church going through the Tribulation-this is the case that they can make. The unrepentant church of Thyatira will go into the Great Tribulation. When God, in the Ten Commandments, specifically forbid their making any images or likenesses of things in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water beneath, why do they adorn their churches with images of Jesus, Mary, or the saints?

:23 And I will kill her children with death

Speaking of the children of Jezebel.

Those that lead others into spiritual adultery, worshiping other gods.

I wonder about the claims of some groups like "Transcendental Meditation" who claim that they aren't contradictory to Christianity at all, and suck gullible Christians into it.

And they end up burning incense to Hindu gods, chanting and unknowingly worshipping them.

:23 all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts

reins - nephros - kidneys, loins; used of the inmost thoughts, feelings, purposes, of the soul

When this kind of judgment occurs, it often wakes up the church.

I think that the things that happened to Jim Baaker and Jimmy Swaggert are very good examples of this.

Their falls and disgrace were very sobering to all of us in the ministry.

There's a subtle lie that the enemy whispers into your ear that says, "Nobody's going to get hurt ... nobody's going to find out ... it's okay ..."

And then you see some of these men fall, and you wake up to realize that it IS DANGEROUS, and you need to run from sin.


You can't hide from Jesus.

David wrote:

(Psa 139:7-13 KJV) Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? {8} If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. {9} If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; {10} Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. {11} If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. {12} Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. {13} For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine

Apparently even in this ugly church, there are some who do not hold to the things of Jezebel.

There are overcomers in every church.

:24 which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak

depths of Satan - may simply refer to the depth of sin, but there were cults that claimed this kind of thing.

The Ophites (worshippers of the serpent) and other later Gnostics (Cainites, Carpocratians, Naassenes) boasted of their knowledge of "the deep things," some claiming this very language about Satan (the serpent).

It could even be taken to be a little sarcastic, as the heretics might say that the good Christians didn't know "the depths of Satan", the things they were into.

That's why Jesus says, "as they speak".

:24 I will put upon you none other burden.

It's interesting to see that when the gospel went out to the Gentiles, the church became concerned about just what they ought to hold the new converts accountable to.

Should they ask the Gentile believers to be circumcised, and to follow the Law of Moses?

They ended up holding a meeting in Jerusalem, and decided that salvation was based on faith.

But they did recommend staying away from some things:

Ac 15:28-29 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. (AV)

And now, Jesus picks up on the same language, telling the people that this is all He's concerned about, staying away from fornication and idolatry.

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

Keep on keeping on.


An explorer named Fridtjof Nansen was lost with one companion in the Arctic wastes. By miscalculation they ran out of all their supplies. They ate their dogs, the dog's harnesses, the whale oil for their lamps. Nansen's companion gave up and lay down to die. But Nansen did not give up. He told himself, "I can take one step more." As he plodded heavily through the bitter cold, step after step, suddenly across an ice hill he stumbled upon an American expedition that had been sent out to find him.

Just take another step.

hold fast - krateo - to have power; to hold fast, i.e. not discard or let go

We've seen this word used several times now:

Re 2:13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, [even] where Satan's seat [is]: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas [was] my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. (AV)

Re 2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. (AV)

What are we "holding fast" to?

Are we clinging to the right things?

:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

:27 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.

This is a quote from:

Ps 2:8-9 Ask of me, and I shall give [thee] the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth [for] thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. (AV)

The overcomer is promised to rule with Christ over the nations.

The rod of iron indicates a stern rule during the reign of Christ over the earth, during the Millenium.

Righteousness will be enforced.

People will be forced to be good.

Only believers are going into the millenial kingdom at the second coming of Christ.

But some of those believers are those who managed to stay alive on earth during the tribulation, and they will not be receiving new resurrected bodies until after the 1000 year reign.

These people will repopulate the earth, but their offspring will be brought up under an enforced righteousness, not having the opportunity to do evil or to be tempted by Satan.


rule - poimaino - to feed, to tend a flock, keep sheep

It's a shepherding of the nations, not a cruel, ruthless ruling.

:28 And I will give him the morning star.

This is one of the titles of Jesus:

Re 22:16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, [and] the bright and morning star. (AV)

The overcomer gets Jesus!

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

This is for all of us.

Every single one of us needs to pay attention to what the Spirit is saying to all the churches.