Summary: The letter to Thyatira - addressing people who follow false teaching.
The Revelation to Thyatira - Jezebel in the Church.
As with all the other churches that we have studied, Christ’s letter to this church had four elements 1) an introduction from Christ 2) commendations 3) condemnations 4) promise to those who overcome.
THE CITY OF THYATIRA
Before having a look at what Christ is saying to the church in Thyatira, let’s go on a whirlwind tour of the city itself. Thyatira was situated in a valley that connected two other valleys. 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. Thyatira was dispensible in the economy of the day.
Though not easily fortified, Thyatira was on a major trade route and was well known for its trade guilds - there were carpenters, dyers, sellers of goods, tanners, weavers, tent makers, etc all making a living from their trade. You might remember Lydia in Philippi. She was a trader of fine cloth and came from Thyatira. She was infact one of Paul’s first converts when he visited Thyatira on his second missionary journey (Acts 16).
Now these guilds were somewhat similar to our trade unions 15 to 20 years ago. It was very difficult for the blue collar tradesmen and women to make a living unless they were a part of one of these guilds. They differed from trade unions, however, in that they were linked with the worship of other gods. Each guild had its particular guardian god and as a member, you would be expected to attend all its functions and participate in its activities which included offerings, feasts and often immoral behaviour. The members of the church in Thyatira weres torn between making a living on the one hand which meant having to be part of the guilds and on the other hand staying faithful to Christ and his standards.
Lets read the passage and see what God had to say to those living in Thyatira and what God wants to say to us today.
Read Rev 2:18-29
THE PICTURE OF CHRIST (vs 18)
As always, Christ reveals himself in a special way to the church being addressed. We have seen in the past that the description used is always relevant to the situation they are in. Here, Christ’s description of himself has 2 parts.
“Son of God”
In verse 18 he describes himself as the “Son of God.” This is the only place in Revelation that this title is given to Christ, though it is used often through out the gospels. It comes straight out of Psalm 2:7
“I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” 7 I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father. 8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. 9 You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
The context of this Psalm is that kings and rulers of the earth plot against the Lord and his annointed. It is nothing short of Satanic rebellion against God. However God promises that God’s Son has authority over the world. God will make all nations His inheritance and the ends of the earth His possession. When the church in Thyatira heard the name “Son of God”, they would be reminded that Christ has ultimate authority in a world which is hostile to him. Matt 28:18 Christ states “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Christ has authority whether we like it or not.
“has eyes like a flame of fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze”
The second part of his revelation is in a description about his appearance. We are told in vs 18 that He has “eyes like a flame of fire, and feet like burnished bronze.” The image is again straight out of the Old Testament - from Dan 10:6. Here Daniel sees a vision of a man who tells him of kings and nations that would terrorise and persecute the people of God. But Daniel was not to fear - why? Because although kings and people of the earth are hostile to God and his church, Christ is sovereign - even over the hostile rulers.
The images of flaming eyes also reminds us that God’s eyes are penetrating, seeing everything, knowing everything. -
Jer 16:17 - “For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes.
Heb 4:13 - And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.