Summary: Lessons learned from the church of Thyatira. Powerpoints, sermon notes and video clips are available upon request.
(TAB-Video Intro) The book of Revelation is a written record of (TAB -Video) a vision that the apostle John receives from Jesus. John is old and has been exiled to the Island of Patoms for his belief & worship of the ONE TRUE GOD. In the vision John sees 7 candles stands. Jesus is in the midst of them. John immediately falls to the ground. Jesus then tells John to write 7 letters to 7 church in Asia Minor. That there is a lot for us to learn from these 7 letters. Today we look at the 4th letter to the church of (TAB) Thyatira. Let’s open to Rev. 2.
Thyatira was the smallest of the 7 cities these letters went to. (TAB) The name Thyatira means “daughter”. Approx. 300 years before Jesus, Seleucus Nicator, a general for Alexander the Great, was at war, and had a garrison of soldiers stationed here as a defensive line. Then he learned that his wife had given birth to a daughter. So he called this place “daughter”. And it continued to be called that for 100’s of years.
By the 1st century Thyatira was known for its dyeing facilities. If you wanted to buy cloth or clothing that was a brilliant purple – this is where it was made. In (TAB) the ruins of the city, inscriptions have been found relating to guilds. There was the guild of the dyers, a guild for wool-workers, lenen-workers, leather workers, potters, bakers, bronze-smiths… the list goes on. Thyatira had more guilds than any other city in Asia Minor.
What’s a guild? Well, it was kind of like a union - but much more. They not only had political influence that served the interest of its members, but the whole social, religious and industrial structure of the city was built around these guilds. Every skilled trade had a guild. And if you wanted to work in that trade, you had to join a guild. (TAB) And every guild had a patron god – it’s members were expected to honor and worship. For most guilds in Thyatira that patron god was (TAB) Apollo – son of Zues. Several times throughout the year the guilds would throw a party, at the temple of Apollo, where everyone would be involved in the worship practices, eating meat that was sacrificed to him, sexual immorality – all associated with worship.
So imaging you’re a Christian & to have a job you have to be part of guild. What do you do when the party comes around? There’s a pressure to be there. If you aren’t, you’re seen as risk to the success of the guild. To not show meant you were expelled and you no longer have a job. How do you supported your family? Pay your bills?
So, this is the environment the church of Thyatira is in. Let’s look at what Jesus says to them, (TAB) Rev. 2:18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.”
Jesus refers to himself as, “the son of God”. It’s the only reference to such in the entire book of Revelation. Many think the reason Jesus chose these words for Himself is because Thyatira had a temple to Apollo, the “son of Zues” “the son of god”. It’s like Jesus is saying, “I’m the real son of God.” Jesus also says His eyes are like fire. He’s saying, “I see you, all that you do and I see your motives.” He says His feet are like bronze. (TAB) Before the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD, (25 years earlier) their was an alter where animal sacrifices were burned, was covered in bronze, all the utensils were made of bronze. The animals were often sacrificed on the alter to atone for sin - The animal received the judgment of God so the person wouldn’t have too. So, with Jesus’ fiery eyes and bronze feet, He’s telling the church of Thyatira, that He comes in judgment.
But first Jesus shares commendation: (TAB) v. 19 “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance , and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
Remember back to the church of (TAB) Ephesus – they did a lot of good things, but for the wrong reasons, Jesus told them they had lost their 1st love (Him). So, while the church at Ephesus had shrinking love for Jesus, (TAB) Thyatira had growing love for Jesus. And note the word “service”… in the original language the word is regularly used when giving aid, support and contributing to the needy. So this church has growing love for Jesus and for the down-trodden. Thyatira is on the upswing, increasing in love, devotion and faith. So, Jesus commends them… but he also condemns them. (TAB)