Summary: A fresh vision of Christ is the only way we can face life’s trials with joy.

Christian Cowards

Revelation 2:18-29

Purpose: To alert us to the danger of having false teachers in the church.

Aim: I want the listener to cling to holiness.

INTRODUCTION: We are in constant danger of letting our view of Christ get out of focus. Pergamum allowed heretics in the pew, Thyatira allowed heretics in the pulpit.

Religion is dangerous because it can take our focus off of Jesus Christ.

“It is interesting to contrast the churches at Ephesus and Thyatira. The Ephesian church was weakening in its love, yet faithful to judge false teachers; while the people in the assembly at Thyatira were growing in their love, but too tolerant of false doctrine. Both extremes must be avoided in the church. ‘Speaking the truth in love’ is the biblical balance.” [ “The Bible Exposition Commentary” by Warren Wiersby Vol.II Page 575]

In either case, subtle changes were allowed that took the focus off of Jesus Christ.

“When trouble comes, we often focus on the hand of God and overlook the face of God; that is, we tend to question His works rather than reflect on His character. The apostle John received a fresh vision of God when the Emperor Domitian was on the throne in Rome; he was the cruelest of all Roman emperors, sentencing to death or torturing those who refused to worship him. In the midst of such suffering and stress, John was able to focus on Christ, for Christ unveiled Himself. [Remember that this book begins with “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”]

“The early believers did refuse to worship Domitian, and they were sentenced to death by the thousands. Some were thrown to the lions in the great coliseum; some were burned at the stake. Others were wrapped in the skins of wild animals and fed to the dogs or dipped in tar and lit as torches for the emperor’s garden. Others were crucified—including mothers with babies draped around their necks.” [Morgan, R. J. Vols. for <2002- > have accompanying CD-ROMs.; Description based on: 2002 ed. Nelson’s annual preacher’s sourcebook.; 2006 Edition (268). Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Publishers.]

A fresh vision of Christ is the only way we can face life’s trials with joy. The church in Thyatira shows us another way to be religious without really focusing on Jesus Christ.


1:1-20 I. John’s Vision of the Past “the things which you have seen”

2:1-5:14 II. Christ’s Vision of the Present “the things which are”

2:1-3:22 A. The testimony of the church on earth

2:1-7 1. Ephesus: the loveless church

2:8-11 2. Smyrna: the hurting church

2:12-17 3. Pergamum: the worldly church


➽2:18-29 4. Thyatira: the compromising church

Thyatira. Located halfway between Pergamos and Sardis, this city had been under Roman rule for nearly 3 centuries (ca. 190 B.C.). Since the city was situated in a long valley that swept 40 mi. to Pergamos, it had no natural defenses and had a long history of being destroyed and rebuilt. Originally populated by soldiers of Alexander the Great, it was little more than a military outpost to guard Pergamos. [MacArthur, J. J. (1997, c1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) (Re 2:18). Nashville: Word Pub.]

Thyatira was a city with a large military detachment about 30 miles southeast of Pergamos. Recognized for its wool and dye industries, the city was also noted for its trade guilds. [ Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson study Bible : New King James Version. Includes index. (Re 2:18). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.]

➽Vs.18 a. Christ’s character “the Son of God”

“The city boasted a special temple to Apollo, the ‘sun god,’ which explains why the Lord introduced Himself as ‘the Son of God’ (the only time in Revelation this title is used).” [“The Bible Exposition Commentary” by Warren Wiersby Vol.II Page 575]

Jesus is pictured as having “eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze” (Revelation 2:18 NAU). This speaks of judgment. Christ is prepared to judge His church.

1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (NAU)

➽Vs.19 b. Christ’s praise for this church

➽(1) They were a working church “deeds...are greater”

They not only worked hard for the Lord, they were not content to do the same amount of work for the Lord year after year. They were setting goals and always looking for ways to improve on what they were doing.

➽(2) They were a loving church “your love”

This is the only church that was congratulated for their love. How sad because our love for each other is crucial to our ability to glorify Christ.

1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, (NAU)

1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. (NAU)

➽(3) They were a loyal church “faith and service”

SERVICE comes from the same word for DEACON. Jesus came to serve, and we are most like Christ when we are serving.

Notice why Jesus gave us church leaders: Ephesians 4:11-12 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; (NAU)

1 Peter 4:10-11 10 As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (NAU)

➽(4) They were a patient church “perseverance”

PERSEVERANCE 5281. ὑπομονή hupŏmŏnē, hoop-om-on-ay´; from 5278; cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy:— enduring, patience, patient continuance (waiting). [Strong, J. (1997, c1996). The new Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words (H8674). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.]

This is important because perseverance is one of the greatest assurances that we actually possess Christ’s forgiveness. Hebrews 3:6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. (NAU)

➽Vs.20-21 c. The church’s compromise

➽Vs.20a (1) They forsook holiness “commit acts of immorality”

Jesus is using Jezebel like we would use the name “Benedict Arnold.”

JEZEBEL [JEZ uh bel] (there is no prince) — the name of two women in the Bible:

1. The wife of Ahab, king of Israel, and mother of Ahaziah, Jehoram, and Athaliah (1 Kin. 16:31). Jezebel was a tyrant who corrupted her husband, as well as the nation, by promoting pagan worship.

She was reared in Sidon, a commercial city on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, known for its idolatry and vice. When she married Ahab and moved to Jezreel, a city that served the Lord, she decided to turn it into a city that worshiped Baal, a Phoenician god.

The wicked, idolatrous queen soon became the power behind the throne. Obedient to her wishes, Ahab erected a sanctuary for Baal and supported hundreds of pagan prophets (1 Kin. 18:19).

When the prophets of the Lord opposed Jezebel, she had them “massacred” (1 Kin. 18:4, 13). After Elijah defeated her prophets on Mount Carmel, she swore revenge. She was such a fearsome figure that the great prophet was afraid and “ran for his life” (1 Kin. 19:3).[Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Rev. ed. of: Nelson’s illustrated Bible dictionary.; Includes index. Nashville: T. Nelson.]

This “Jezebel” in the church of Thyatira, whoever she was, was probably guilty of adultery in two ways: (1) she taught that being immoral was not really all that bad and (2) that participating in some pagan worship wasn’t all that bad either. This brings us to the second problem in the church.

➽Vs.20b (2) They diluted worship “eat things sacrificed to idols”

This is still a problem today. A few years ago many of the major protestant denominations participated in a “Re-imaging Conference” where lewd and suggestive acts were performed on stage and the conference leader (a woman by the way) called on the god Sophia in one of her public prayers.

Jesus considers us married to Him. If we participate in worshipping anything other than the Christ revealed in Scripture then we are being unfaithful to Him. 2 Corinthians 11:2-3 2 ...I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. 3 But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. (NAU)

Many years earlier the leaders of the church in Jerusalem decided that two of the things that Thyatira ended up doing were wrong. Acts 15:19-20 19 “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. (NAU)

We cannot have mixed affections for Christ. James 4:4 You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (NAU)

➽Vs.21 (3) They were committed to compromise “does not want to repent”

It is a dangerous thing to sin. It is even more dangerous to be warned about sin and not repent.

Thyatira’s work force was made up of guilds, something like modern day unions. They probably had to participate in pagan religious ceremonies, at least occasionally, in order to keep their jobs. This would explain why it would have been hard to stop compromising with their worship. But God is a jealous God. He does not share worship with anything—and He shouldn’t because He is worthy of all of our worship.

Sin is a cruel slave master. Romans 6:16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? (NAU)

Even when God makes sinning very difficult most will continue to sin. Revelation 9:20-21 20 The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, … 21 and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts. (NAU)

➽Vs.22-23 d. The consequences of compromise

➽Vs.22-23a (1) Sickness and death “a bed of sickness”

God will turn a bed of wickedness into a bed of suffering. This could refer to venereal disease, or maybe even AIDS. The point is that God judges those who rebel against Him and don’t repent.

Even Christians can shorten their life by refusing to repent. 1 Corinthians 11:30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. (NAU)

➽Vs.23b (2) Ruined reputation “all the churches will know”

Notice that in verses 22 & 23 God uses the phrase “I will” three times. God’s judgment is certain. God is not opposed to exposing a church’s sin when they refuse to get right with God.

This is the same principle that Paul taught Timothy: 1 Timothy 5:20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. (NAU)

➽Vs.24-25 e. The challenge to the faithful “the rest”

Jesus does not challenge the church as a whole because He has given up on this church. The church leadership was corrupt and refused to do right.

➽Vs.24 (1) Resist deeper truth “no other burden”

Be wary of those who encourage you to seek for “deeper” things than what the Bible teaches. Don’t be concerned about being “deep” in your understanding or having “deep” emotional experiences; focus on being obedient.

It never ceases to amaze me that so many of those who talk about having a “deeper” Christian life also live very worldly lives.

➽Vs.25 (2) Remain with the basics “what you have, hold fast”

Paul was shocked that there were church members who were so eager to hear something different from the Gospel. 2 Corinthians 11:4 For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (NAU)

The Gospel of the grace of God is all that we need. Don’t add works to it, or emotional experiences to it! Hold to what the Bible teaches. Nothing else is needed. 2 Peter 1:3 …His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. (NAU)

➽Vs.26-29 f. The promise to the faithful

2 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; (NAU)

➽Vs.26-27 (1) Ultimate victory “authority over the nations”

There is coming a day when faithful believers will no longer be ridiculed, they will be given the right to rule on this earth.

These verses are probably adapted from Psalm 2:8-9 8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’ ” (NAU)

rule them with a rod of iron. Lit. “shepherd them with an iron rod.” During the millennial kingdom, Christ will enforce His will and protect his sheep with His iron scepter from any who would seek to harm them (cf. Ps. 2:8). [MacArthur, J. J. (1997, c1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) (Re 2:27). Nashville: Word Pub.]

Luke 19:17 “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ (NAU)

➽Vs.28-29 (2) Undying fellowship “give him the morning star”

The morning star (the planet Venus) appears in the sky just before the dawning of a new day. [Bailey, M., Constable, T., Swindoll, C. R., & Zuck, R. B. (1999). Nelson’s New Testament Survey : Discover the Background, Theology and Meaning of Every Book in the New Testament (616). Nashville: Word.]

Just as the morning star appears in the heavens before the sun rises, so Christ will appear as the Morning Star to rapture His church to heaven before He appears as the Sun of Righteousness to reign over the earth (1 Thess. 4:13–18; Mal. 4:2). [MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Re 2:26). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.]

“The most subtle challenge to faith does not usually originate in public amphitheaters but in the daily places where we earn the money we need to live. The question is then—how are we to survive such tests and even turn them toward a new and redemptive direction?

“The approach of this letter is to place the daily lives of the Christians upon a larger stage and within a larger context. I must see my task, my daily deployment, as a part of the larger goal of my life. This is the only way that I can correctly size up the demands of any job so that on the one hand I am a good and hard worker and yet on the other I keep faith with my integrity and my greater loyalties.” [Palmer, E. F., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Vol. 35: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 35 : 1, 2 & 3 John / Revelation. Formerly The Communicator’s Commentary. The Preacher’s Commentary series (138). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.]

Long for the day that Jesus will appear on earth and be glorified. 2 Peter 1:19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. (NAU)

Revelation 22:16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these

things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (NAU)

Romans 8:17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. (NAU)

CONCLUSION: Is your life’s goal to know Jesus better? If it is, what have you been doing to get to know Him better lately?

This was Paul’s goal for his life: Philippians 3:8-10 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, … 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; (NAU)

What should you do differently this coming week so that you can get to know Jesus better?

➽Religious teaching that goes beyond Scripture is not more advanced; it is more adulterated.