Summary: An outstanding feature of the message to the church at Thyatira is the introduction of the divine speaker by name—“The Son God.”
The Church at Thyatira
Commentary on the Book of Revelation
By: Tom Lowe Date: 5-24-2015
Topic # II. Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia (2:1-3:22)
Lesson: II.D: The Church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29)
Revelation 2:18-29 (KJV)
18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;
19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
When you leave Pergamos, you begin to move inland. Thyatira and the remaining three churches are inland. Thyatira was located in a long vale (valley) or pass. Thyatira was a city built for defense. However, most cities built for defense were situated upon an acropolis or a promontory (outcrop, cliff) and walls were put around them. But Thyatira was different. It stood in the middle of that vale on a very slight rising ground. Its strength lay in the fact that Rome stationed the elite guard there. The name Thyatira means perpetual sacrifice or continual offering. Apollo, the sun god, was worshipped here as Tyrimnos.
This city became prosperous under the sponsorship of Vespasian, the Roman emperor. It was the headquarters for many ancient guilds: the potters’, weavers’, robe makers’, and dyers’ guilds (It was the center of the dyeing industry.); and each one had its own god, its own area of the city, and its own guild hall, which functioned as a center for the guild’s religious and civic activities. Usually the guild would hold a banquet at the hall once a week and these banquets would often be focused on idolatry—featuring meat sacrificed to idols and, most likely, some form of sexual license as part of the reverie. Jezebel was probably encouraging the believers, mostly tradespeople themselves, to continue to take part in their guild’s activities as their civic duty. In order to do business in the city a person had to go through a guild. Thus before business was transacted, one would have to perform the worship customs of the god of that particular guild. A refusal to join the guilds and take part in their activities would mean certain economic hardships. This is where the labor unions must have originated! Christ was pleased neither with this woman’s teaching nor with the fact that the church tolerated her.
Many speculate that the church at Thyatira was founded somehow through Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. At the time of the writing of Revelation, the city of Thyatira was in its greatest season of prosperity. As a Roman outpost city, it served the purpose of protecting the Roman Empire from invading forces from the north.
While the good works of the church at Thyatira are acknowledged, the church is also accused of tolerating Jezebel (2:19-20). This is probably an alias John uses for this troublesome woman, relating her to the wicked queen of the Old testament by the same name (1 Kings 16:30-31). This woman’s teaching pulls people away from the Word of God to immorality and idolatry. On one hand, this church has people who are serving God in a strong fashion. On the other hand, they had allowed a false teacher in their midst to lead them astray (2:20).