Summary: Be on your guard against false teachers

This evening we are going to take a look at the fourth letter in the Book of Revelation to the Seven Churches in Asia, that to the church of Thyatira

Read: Revelation 2:18-29


A large town Akhisar stands on the site of Thyatira. Thyatira was a city in the Roman province of Asia, which is today Asiatic turkey. It was a frontier garrison on the west of the territory of Seluceus I of Syria and later the Eastern frontier of the Kingdom of Pergamum, and when Pergamum was willed by Attalus III in 133 BC to the Romans, it became a part of the Roman Province of Asia. It was strategically important and linked Rome to the Eastern Provinces.

It was also an important centre of manufacture, dyeing garment making, pottery and brass working.

Probably the best known inhabitant to us is Lydia, who Paul met in Philippi and who was the first convert and leader of the first church on European soil (Acts 16:14). Lydia was probably an overseas agent of a local Thyatiran manufacturer and was probably arranging the sale of purple dyed woolen goods at the time Paul met her. This purple was obtained from the Madder root, and was still produced in the district into the 20th Century under the name "Turkey Red".

The Letter

Again this letter like the previous letter to the Church at Pergamum can be broken down into four parts:

a) The Lord introduces Himself (v.18)

b) He commends them (v.19)

c) He reproves them (v.20-23) and

d) He encourages them (v.24-29)

a) The Lord introduces Himself (v.18)

Jesus introduces himself as the Son of God whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. Thyatira was famous for its bronze work. We see in Exodus 27:2 that bronze was used to overlay the Altar of Burnt Offering, on which the priests were to daily offer a bull for the atonement of the sins of the people (Ex.29:36). In Numbers 21:9 it was a bronze serpent that Moses lifted up to heal the Israelites, who had been punished by God for moaning. Could this not also have reference to the atoning work of Christ for us on the Cross? It is to Him that we are to look for our salvation.

The eyes of blazing fire remind me of the penetration that God has. He can see through any deceptions and wants us to be purified by Christ’s blood. We do not have to play act, but to confess our sins before Him. God can see through our motives and also into our situation. It reminds me of the purifying fire that God wants to apply to our lives:

I counsel you to buy gold from me refined in the fire so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear so you can cover your shameful nakedness. (Rev.3:18

In all the introduction speaks to me of Jesus’ Purity and of his Redemptiveness.

b) He commends them (v.19)

As with Paul, Jesus commends them - he brings the Good News first. He encourages them in what they are doing well. Unlike the Church in Ephesus, they do have love.

They are rich in faith too.

And finally they have good works (i.e. good deeds, service and perseverance) all in line with the Apostle James’ thinking who says that faith without works is useless (Jas 2:18-20).

With all that going for them, you’d think they had made it.

Yet there is one big flaw.

c) He reproves them (v.20-23)

I sense the church is so nice that they have lost their cutting edge. It was Vanstone in his book Love’s Endeavours, Love’s Expense who said that the opposite of love is indifference.

They had sadly become indifferent to sin.

They tolerated that Jezebel. We don’t know who she was in this church but we can get a good idea what she was like when we look at the original character in 1 Ki. 16:31.

Jezebel married King Ahab, one of the Kings of Israel (i.e. the Northern Kingdom after the division of the Kingdom in about 930 BC). She was the daughter of the King of the Sidonians and brought Baal worship with her. Indeed she ran a Basle tram through the middle of the worship of the true God of Israel -YHWH - something that Elijah righted on Mount Carmel in 1 Ki. 18.

She must have had a particularly demonic streak about her because she scared the living daylights out of the great prophet Elijah in 1 Ki. 19. Perhaps this is a real warning to us not to be complacent when we find ourselves confronting evil - to make sure we are well covered in prayer.

Jezebel left behind her a name that became a byword "for harlotries and soceries "(2 Ki. 9:22)

She was also the mother of Queen Athaliah, another unscrupulous female monarch who murdered all her husband’s relations to assume the throne. Like mother, like daughter. And like her mother Jezebel (see 2 Ki 9:30-37) she met a sticky end (see 2 Chr. 22:10-23:15).

Whatever this Jezebel did - she led a movement in the church "which pled compromise with the world’s standards in the interest of commercial prosperity, maintaining no doubt that the Holy Spirit would preserve them from harm"1

On the identity of Jezebel, Barclay thinks that it might even have been the bishop of Thyatira’s wife2 Barclay postulates that the reading of the Greek might well be "your wife, Jezebel". It wouldn’t be the first time in church history that the bishop’s wife has been the problem! Her crime seems to have been that she taught the church to commit fornication (Rev. 2:20)- either literally or metaphorically. Perhaps this was an early form of Gnosticism

d) He encourages them (v.24-29)

There is a time when God will no longer tolerate sin - like Korah in Nu. 26. Indeed Korah might well be an OT type of this Jezebel. Like Moses, who told Israel to separate themselves from Korah and his rebellious clan who were destroyed and they were spared - so Jesus tells the church to separate from this Jezebel and live.

And what wonderful rewards Jesus offers those who overcome. Because they show responsibility - remember the parable of the talents (see Mt. 25) Jesus can entrust us with authority (because they have shown themselves able to deal righteously) and the morning star - probably a designation of Christ as the herald to his people of the eternal day3.

The first part of the promise for those who are faithful reflects Ps.2:8-9 and points to the nations of the world being our heritage

Jesus is called the Morning Star in Rev. 22:16 and the promise is probably receiving Christ himself.


We need to be very careful not to be fooled by false teaching - the Jezebel spirit that can easily slip in when we are unaware, especially where there is a lot of love and trust in the church. It is vital that our leaders (see Eph 4:11) discern the word of God and make sure it is fully applied.

It is false love not to challenge those who are living in contradiction to the Gospel - those who call themselves our brothers - see 1 Cor. 5 11.