Summary: This is the fifth message in this series that looks at the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. This message examines the letter to the church at Thyatira and the dangers tolerating false teaching.
It stood like a lonely sentinel guarding an indefensible post. There were no hills to hide it, no great height to offer any fortified advantage. Yet it held the awesome responsibility of being the gateway to Pergamum, the capital of the province. Protected by only a small garrison of Macedonian troops, the ancient city of Thyatira located 45 miles to the east of Pergamum lay in the wide open area of the Lycus Valley. At best, the defeat of this outpost would give Pergamum more time to prepare to fight. The factors that contributed to Thyatira being a military disaster also contributed to it being a commercial success. And fortunately at this time Thyatira’s only invaders were hordes of traders coming from Asia and the east. They advanced on this frontier time along the same road that led to Pergamum and Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea, Smyrna and Byzantium. Thyatira was known for its commerce and extensive labor union network which played a vital in the social, political, economic and religious life of the city. Each guild had its own patron deity, feasts, and seasonal festivities that included sexual revelries. Religiously the city was virtually unimportant although the worship of Apollo and Diana was prominent. It is quite note worthy that the longest and most difficult of the seven letters is addressed to the least known, least important and least remarkable of the cities. Pliny the historian dismissed Thyatira as unimportant. But Jesus did not dismiss this city as unimportant because He had a church there. And those believers will being attacked, not from the outside but from the inside, by one of their own; a woman who called herself a prophetess. Jesus however called her Jezebel. Today let’s take a close look at this letter and discover what Christ expects from His church.
I. A powerful description of the judge.
A. Christ opens the letter to the church at Thyatira with yet another unique vision of Himself.
1. This vision speaks directly to the church’s problem and His power to overcome.
2. The expression "Son of God" appears only here in the book.
3. It is a designation for the Messiah and is almost equivalent to the more frequently used title "Son of Man".
4. That Christ's eyes are here described as blazing fire refers to his penetrating discernment of the false prophetess Jezebel.
B. Jesus immediately establishes His authority in the minds of the readers who find themselves caught in a power struggle.
1. The believers find themselves facing a decision to continue to follow Christ’s way or the new way introduced by Jezebel.
2. With searing discernment Christ sees past the deceptive teaching being introduced in the church.
3. With strong bronze feet He is prepared to trample all the evil He sees.
II. Christ’s picture of the church at Thyatira.
A. Christ first affirms the strengths of this church.
1. A lesson can be learned from Christ’s approach to His churches, he always begins with a word of affirmation rather than starting with a word of correction.
2. This is so different from our normal approach, we barge into situations with scorching judgments, not knowing all the facts and basing our judgments on assumptions.
3. Their love manifests itself in "service" and their faithfulness in "perseverance" during trial.
4. Christ commends their love for one another and their constant improvement in the areas of faith, ministry and patient endurance.
5. Their present state reflects outstanding progress, but there is a perilous flaw in the church there.
B. Despite the church’s amazing spiritual growth there is a very serious flaw.
1. Christ’s words cut right to the heart of the problem; a growing attitude of tolerance has been allowed to go on unchecked.
2. The speaker's verdict reveals that the congregation had allowed a woman prophetess (a false one, according to Christ's assessment) to remain in the church and to continue to teach the saints to indulge in "sexual immorality" and to "eat food sacrificed to idols."
3. This supposedly Christian woman at Thyatira had claimed to be a "prophetess," gifted as such by the Holy Spirit. She must have been elevated to prominence in the church because of her unusual gifts.
4. Only a small minority saw through her pious deception; the rest either followed her or ignored her views without objecting to her presence in the church.
5. This woman at Thyatira was enticing the servants of God to abandon their exclusive loyalty to Christ. Her teaching was no doubt similar to that of the Nicolaitans and Balaamites at Ephesus and Pergamum.
6. Thus the sin of Jezebel was deadly serious because of the depths of its deception. Only a few perceived where the teaching was leading.
7. Christ's verdict continues with his strongest accusation directed against, not Jezebel's perversion, serious as that is, nor even against her successful deception of fellow Christians, but against her refusal to repent.