Summary: The church at Thyatira
The Church at Thyatira: A Corrupt Church - Revelation 2:18-29 - 1/31/10
Turn with me this morning to the last book in the Bible, the book of Revelation, chapter 2. We want to continue on today, looking at the question, “What does God think of His church?” Here in Revelation 1, we find the disciple John, living on an island off the coast of Turkey, writing about 95 AD, some 65 years after Jesus has died and resurrected. He is given a vision of Christ, and Jesus gives John a message in chapters 2 & 3 for 7 churches in Asia Minor, the area we know today as Turkey. Jesus has words of encouragement and words of rebuke for these churches. And we want to look at these churches to see what message God might have for us as well.
First we looked at the church of Ephesus. It was a CARELESS church. This was a large church, an active, working church, a well-taught church, a weathered church, they hard faced trials -- yet it was a church that faced a rebuke. We often look at large, active churches as healthy churches, but often they are not. Jesus told the church at Ephesus they had lost their passionate love for God. And we want to make sure that we are always more concerned about who we ARE, in our hearts, than just being concerned about what we DO.
Then, we looked at the second church, the church at Smyrna. It was a CRUSHED church and a CROWNED church. They faced pressure and poverty and putdowns, but they faithfully endured, and so they received commendation from the Lord. The Lord tells them that persecution will come, but to continue to live faithfully and He would reward them greatly. We want to be faithful, even when life gets difficult.
Then we looked at the church at Pergamum. It was a COMPROMISING church. It was a city where Satan had set up camp; but the church had tolerated Satan’s presence. The Lord calls the church to repent. We want to make sure as well that we do not compromise and tolerate evil.
Today we look at the church at Thyatira. It was a CORRUPT church. And we want to learn from God’s message to this church about what God’s desire for us is today. Let’s pray. PRAY -
(set up video segment - “Lean In”) Today, as we think about how God wants us to worship, let’s watch a short video clip. PLAY “Lean In” clip.
What a smooth talker Satan is! It is so easy to listen to his lies, and they actually sound quite good; they sound wise and sincere. And before we know it, we have strayed from the truth of the word of God.
That’s what happened at the church in Thyatira. Thyatira is located about 40 miles southeast of Pergamum. [SHOW MAP] There were no real distinguishing features about the city. It was not situated on a harbor like Ephesus or Smyrna. It wasn’t on a hill like Pergamum. It was in the middle of a valley. It had no natural fortification at all and although at this time a Roman garrison was stationed there, their aim was not to defend Thyatira, but to delay the invaders long enough for Pergamum, the capital up the road to be prepared for the coming attack. Tt was situated well away from the Mediterranean Sea, on the road which connected Pergamum and Sardis. This was the Imperial Post Road. The army and all those connected with it traveled on it - so while Thyatira may not have been a large city - it was a thriving city. Because of its location along trade routes, Thyatira became a prosperous commercial center. It was a city of merchants and manufacturing: there were carpenters, dyers, sellers of goods, tanners, weavers, tent makers, etc all making a living from their trade. There were merchants in wool, linen, apparel, leatherwork, tanning, and excellent bronze work.
Lydia, a seller of purple, the woman the Apostle Paul converted to Christianity at Philippi was from the city of Thyatira. Lydia was Paul’s first convert in Macedonia and the Continent of Europe, and at her urgent invitation, Paul and his missionary associates were guests at Lydia’s home. Then later, when Paul and Silas were released from one of their imprisonments, they returned to the home of Lydia and were her guests once again. 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".
There are a few notable things about the city from a religious perspective. First, it had a local god by the name of Apollo Tyrimnus, whose image was on their coins. Tyrimnus was a warrior regarded as the patron of the guilds and was honored at their social gatherings. It seems he was somehow linked with Apollo, the Sun God, the son of Zeus. Both Tyrimnos and the Emperor were considered sons of Zeus, the chief deity. Secondly, it possessed a fortune telling shrine presided over by a female oracle called the Sambathe, a Sybil or prophetess. Thyatira was home to several powerful trade guilds, all of which paid allegiance to one or more of the patron gods of the city. As such, it is interesting to note how the letter to Thyatira opens: