Revelation 2:18-29

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 21, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Upcoming Baptism – Have you been baptized?  Celebration of changed lives.  Spanish Fellowship cooking main dish for potluck.  Bounce house & water slide for the kids.

John the apostle has been exiled to the island of Patmos where he is given a “Revelation” by Jesus Christ Himself.

John sees a vision of Jesus walking among lampstands. We’ve seen this as a picture of Jesus acting as a priest, and every day the priests would go into the Holy Place to clean, refill, and relight the lamps in the Temple.

The churches are the lamps. The cleaning and refilling of the lamps are what is taking place as Jesus writes seven letters to seven churches.

2:18-29 Thyatira

:18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:

:18 ThyatiraThuateira – “daughter”

The city was originally known as “Pelopia” but was renamed in 290 BC by Seleucus when he had heard that his daughter was born.  The Greek word for “daughter” is thugater.

Play Map to Thyatira clip

We’ve been following John’s letters as he was exiled on Patmos. He’s written to the churches of Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamos.  Now we add the city of Thyatira.
Today the city Akhisar is located on top of ancient Thyatira.  Population of 100,000.  In ancient days, Thyatira was the smallest of the seven cities mentioned in Revelation.
Thyatira was a city located on the Lycus River at the intersection of the trade routes between the cities of Pergamos to the west and Sardis to the south.

The city was known for its merchants and for the dyeing of cloth, and most famous for its purple cloth.

When Paul first arrived in Philippi (Acts 16), he went to a prayer place and met a gal named Lydia …
(Ac 16:14 NKJV) Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.
Some have suggested that the Thyatira church may have been started by Lydia, this merchant woman.  The good thing that may have been started by a woman now risks being destroyed by a woman.

Thyatira was also a “union town”.  There are more inscriptions about various “guilds” in Thyatira than in any other contemporary town of the day.  They had “guilds” (unions) for wool-workers, linen-workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leather-workers, tanners, potters, bakers, slave-dealers and bronze-smiths.

:18 who has eyes like a flame of fire

Jesus describes Himself as “the Son of God”, as the one with burning eyes, and the one with brass feet.

All these are images of judgment.

As you move through this section, you will realize that these are all descriptive of the one who is coming to judge.

He has great authority as the Son of God.
His burning eyes are able to look through anything.  He sees everything.
He will say in verse 23:

“I am He who searches the minds and hearts”

The brass feet speak of His judgment and dominance over all He stands over.
This is His description of Himself to a church that is in big trouble.

:19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

:19 knoweido – to see; to know; a mental perception as opposed to personal experience

:19 worksergon – business; any product whatever, anything accomplished by hand; an act, deed, thing done

:19 loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

:19 servicediakonia (“deacon”)  – service, ministering

:19 faithpistis – belief; faithfulness

:19 patiencehupomone – steadfastness, constancy, endurance

:19 the last are more than the first

Jesus mentions a lot of good things that He sees in this church.

Not only does this church have good works, but their works are getting better and better over time.

:20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

:20 a few thingsoligos – little, small, few

:20 you alloweao – permit, let; to allow one to do as he wishes

This church may have been known for having done very good things, but that doesn’t get them off the hook for one particular thing that needs to change.

They had a toleration of evil inside their church that needed to change.

:20 JezebelIezabel – “Baal exalts”, “Baal is husband to”, “unchaste”

It may be that this was the actual woman’s name.

It’s more likely that Jesus is giving this woman a symbolic name to make the reader think of another more famous woman named Jezebel.


She was the wife of King Ahab, making her a Queen of Israel.  She was not Jewish, but was Phoenician.
She brought the worship of Baal and Asherah into northern kingdom of Israel.
She was responsible for the murder of the prophets of Yahweh and tried to have Elijah the prophet killed.
When her husband wanted a neighbor’s vineyard, she manufactured a way to have the neighbor killed and the land given to her husband.
She outlived her husband but met her end when Jehu overthrew her son’s government.  Her death gives us another hint to her character.
(2 Ki 9:30 The Message) When Jezebel heard that Jehu had arrived in Jezreel, she made herself up—put on eyeshadow and arranged her hair—and posed seductively at the window.

She was a seductress.  She had seduced Israel into worshipping false gods.  In the end she was a pitiful old woman dressing up to seduce the new king.

Jehu had her thrown out the window where she died and was eaten by dogs.

Jezebel’s legacy lived on.  Her offspring, a daughter named Athaliah had been married off to Jehoram, king of Judah.  When Jehoram died and then her son Ahaziah also died, she decided to take things into her own hands and had all of her grandkids murdered so she could rule the kingdom of Judah.
Jezebel is a picture of idolatry, deception, and seduction.

:20 prophetessprophetis – a prophetess

:20 calls herself a prophetess

In the church, a prophet/prophetess is a person who speaks for God.  It’s not just about telling the future, though God may at times talk about the future.  It’s about having a word from God for someone.

We are a church that believes that God still gives spiritual gifts, including gifts like tongues and prophecy.
We believe that God still speaks through people today.

But there are two problems that can arise from considering that God speaks through people.

1.  The Head Trip
It is a pretty serious thing to think that the words that a person is speaking to you are words coming directly from God.

God speaks with authority, and if God speaks to you, you better pay attention.  Even more important, you better do whatever God might be saying to you.  If God is speaking through a person, you ought to do what they say.

If you are a person through whom God has ever spoken, it’s a pretty amazing thing to think that God is actually using you.  And it can go to your head in a second and start making you think that you’re something pretty special.

Though there are indeed people who are simply deceivers and manipulators, I think some of the folks who claim to speak for God might have meant well and might have started out okay, but ended up getting caught in the seduction of authority.
2.  Stupid Sheep Syndrome
The parallel problem is that sometimes we as Christians act like stupid sheep.  We follow anybody.  We are way too gullible.

PlayDisappearing Car Prank” clip.

If somebody tells us that God is speaking through them, we start nodding our heads, get a glazed look in our eyes, and start muttering, “Yes, Master …”
God tells us that we are responsible to “test” the prophets.

(1 Co 14:29 NKJV) Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.

(1 Jn 4:1 NKJV) Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Some people are out to deceive you.

Some people get caught in the authority/head trip thing.

Others mean well but are simply not speaking for God.

You and I are responsible to God to get out our “test kit” (our Bible) and test things, comparing what people say to the Bible.

That includes the things that I say.

:20 to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

:20 teachdidasko – to teach

:20 seduceplanao – to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way; to lead away from the truth or from virtue

:20 servantsdoulos – a slave, bondman, man of servile condition

:20 to commit sexual immoralityporneuo – unlawful sexual intercourse

We talked last week about how wrong sex outside of marriage was.  This word can also be used in a spiritual sense, with the idea of leading someone astray from the worship of God into idolatry.

Jesus is writing these letters to the church, the “Bride of Christ”.  When a church goes astray from the “Groom”, it is committing a form of “immorality”.  This may refer to either spiritual or literal physical immorality.

:20 things sacrificed to idolseidolothuton – sacrificed to idols, the flesh left over from the heathen sacrifices


Wickedness at church

We may not want to face it, but the truth is that there are times in history where there has been great wickedness in the church.
The very people that God wants to represent Him to the world have done some of the most horrible things.
It’s not uncommon for unbelievers to ridicule Christianity and point to some of these wicked things. 
During the Middle Ages, we think about the Crusades – European “Christian” armies sent out to recapture the Holy Land from the infidel Muslims.  Killing in the name of God as well as some pretty bad immorality didn’t exactly leave a good name for Christianity.
The “House of Borgia” was a European family that became prominent during the time of the Renaissance (1400-1500).  Several popes came from this family.  The wickedness that came from the pope at that time was incredible – adultery, murder, bribery, you name it from the pope!
In our modern times we all shudder at the scandals and abuse that have come out of the Catholic Church.  And it’s not just the Catholic Church that has lurid sex scandals.
Though Jesus intended that the church be pure, good, and a light to this dark world – sometimes the church has people who have manipulated and twisted the church and left a dark stain.

:21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.

:21 timechronos – time either long or short

:21 to repentmetanoeo – to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent

:21 sexual immoralityporneia – illicit sexual intercourse

:21 I gave her time

It seems that this sin has gone on for some time.  He’s given them enough time.


Listen to the warnings

When God brings judgment on our sin, He gives us a warning first.
Sometimes we don’t pay too much attention to warnings, perhaps because we are faced with so many stupid warnings … like …
Stupid Warning Labels
“Do not use snow blower on the roof.”
“Do not allow children to play in the dishwasher”
A warning on an electric router made for carpenters cautions, “This product not intended for use as a dental drill.”
A CD player carries this unusual warning: “Do not use the Ultradisc2000 as a projectile in a catapult.”
A sticker on a toilet at a public facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan actually warns: “Recycled flush water unsafe for drinking.”
So when God warns us about things like sexual immorality, are these just more “stupid warnings”?
Let’s say you’re having health problems, the doctor gives you some tests, and tells you that you are at risk for a heart attack.

Do you take your doctor seriously?

The Great Physician is telling some of you that your spiritual heart is at risk.

Pay attention beloved.  God is serious.

:22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.

:22 sickbedkline – a small bed, a couch

I’m not sure why the translators translate this “sickbed” (NLT “bed of suffering”, NET “bed of violent illness”).  The word is used of a bed that sick people are lying on, but also of a plain bed.

I think that when people want to do the wrong thing and they push and push and resist all warnings, that God will let them do what they’re going to do.

She wants to seduce others, so God is going to throw her onto a bed that will lead to judgment.

:22 commit adulterymoicheuo – to commit adultery; also used in a spiritual sense for idolatry

:22 tribulationthlipsis – pressure; metaph. oppression, affliction, tribulation

:22 great tribulation

This could be talking about that coming seven year period we call the “Tribulation” when the antichrist rules and the world is judged by God.

This could be talking about a time of great difficulty.

:23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.

:23 kill her children with death

Sounds pretty serious to me.  Those following this “Jezebel” will also be affected.

:23 all the churches shall know

The judgment would come in such a way that the other churches would watch and realize that Jesus means business.

From time to time you will hear of some church that’s involved in a scandal.  And judgment comes.  Preachers are sent to jail.  People are sentenced to prison.

It makes me tremble when these things happen.  It’s a warning for all of us.

:23 mindsnephros – a kidney; used of the inmost thoughts, feelings, purposes, of the soul

:23 searchesereunao – to search, examine into


Judgment will come

If you are bent on continuing in your sin, God will let you.
And your sin will one day bring you down.

Jezebel has been given time to repent and she has refused.

Her rebellion will end up in tragedy and will bring down those who are caught with her.

Sometimes we fool ourselves and think that God doesn’t see or care what I am doing. Think again. 
Ezekiel was a prophet during the time when the nation of Judah was finally judged by God for their great wickedness and carried off to Babylon.  Just prior to this judgment, God gave Ezekiel a vision of the secret lives of Judah’s leaders, things done right in the very Temple of Jerusalem.
(Eze 8:10–12 NKJV) —10 So I went in and saw, and there—every sort of creeping thing, abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed all around on the walls. 11 And there stood before them seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, and in their midst stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan. Each man had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud of incense went up. 12 Then He said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’ ”

Every time I read this I think about the kinds of things that are portrayed on the walls of our minds.  I think about the kinds of things we allow into our lives that pollute us and grieve the heart of God.

God does see what we do.  God does care about what we do.
Judgment may not come today.  It may not come tomorrow.  But it will come.

There is a way out – turn around.

:24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.

:24 to you I say – Jesus has addressed this letter to the “angel” of the church of Thyatira, meaning probably the pastor of the church.

Jesus knows that this pastor as well as others in this church were not caught up with the wickedness of Jezebel.

They are not going to be judged for what this woman has been doing.
Keep in mind that when wickedness is uncovered in a church, it doesn’t mean that everybody in the church is wicked.

:24 the depths of Satan

:24 no other burdenbaros – heaviness, weight, burden, trouble

:25 But hold fast what you have till I come.

:25 hold fastkrateo – to have power; to hold; to hold fast, i.e. not discard or let go

What do they “hold fast”?

(Re 2:19 NKJV) “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.

:25 till I come

I believe this may be a reference to the event we know as the “Rapture” when Jesus comes to take His church out of the world.

He IS coming.  He will come.  We need to hold on until that day.

:26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—

:26 powerexousia – power of choice; the power of authority (influence) and of right (privilege); the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed)

:26 keeps My works


Keep going

We get confused about our salvation and works.
Some people think we are saved because we do good things.  Not so.
We are saved by believing in Jesus.  Jesus is the one who made heaven possible when He died on the cross to pay for our sins.  All we have to do is believe in order to receive God’s forgiveness.
But once we believe, things ought to change in our lives.  Our lives ought to start reflecting Jesus.
(Eph 2:8–10 NLT) —8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
God has saved us so that we can do good works.  Our good works reflect the fact that we believe in Jesus.
PlayThe Apple Stand” clip.

Our lives ought to start producing good works.

That never ends.  We ought to still keep producing good works.

:27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’— as I also have received from My Father;

:27 He shall rule

There will be a day when Jesus comes back and HE will be the one to conquer the nations, not the Crusaders.

When He comes back, we will rule alongside of Him.  He will share His authority with us (Rev. 20:4)

:27 rulepoimaino – to feed, to tend a flock, keep sheep

:27 rod of iron

Instead of a wooden shepherd’s staff, a rod of iron.

The Crusaders had it partly correct, partly wrong.

They thought they ought to have authority.  But they went about it in the wrong way.

Jesus is the one who will conquer, not us.

He will give authority.

This is speaking about what life will be like after Jesus comes back.

HE will rule and reign over the nations and we will rule with Him.  He will share His authority with us.
(Re 20:4 NKJV) And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

:27 dashed to piecessuntribo – break, to break in pieces, shiver; to tread down

:28 and I will give him the morning star.

:28 morningproinos – pertaining to the morning

:28 morning star

Sometimes in the east, just before sunrise, you can see the planet Venus.  It is referred to as the “morning star”.

It’s a reminder that the sun is about to come up.  The night is almost over.

It’s a symbol of hope.

Peter uses this language to describe the hope that comes from God’s Word:
(2 Pe 1:19 NKJV) And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
Jesus gives this name to Himself.
(Re 22:16 NKJV) “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

This is part of our reward for hanging on - hope.  We have Jesus.

:29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’

Do you have an ear?

What has the Spirit been saying to the churches?

Ephesus:  Get back to your first love

Smyrna:  He sees your trouble

Pergamos:  Don’t compromise

Thyatira:  Repent and keep doing good