Summary: Thyatira the church that tolerate sin in its midst.
Thyatira: Jezebel’s Jewel
Of the seven cities, Thyatira was the least important, yet it received the longest letter. Thyatira was approximately 40 miles southeast of Pergamum and located in a long valley with no naturally fortification to it. It’s purpose was to house a garrison of soldiers to slow any attackers headed to the capital city of Pergamum. Those the city was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt.
Not until 190 B.C. when Thyatira was annexed by the Roman Empire did the city start to flourish as a commercial center. Thyatira was noted for its numerous guilds (the equivalent of today’s labor unions). Its main industry was the production of wool and dyed goods, especially purple goods. But inscriptions found around Thyatira also mention guilds for several other guilds as well. It was probably Lydia who represented her guild in Philippi when she meet Paul and was saved along with her whole family.
Unlike Pergamum and Smyrna, Thyatira was not an important religious center. The primary god worshipped by the Thyatirans was the Greek sun god, Apollo. There was not a sizable Jewish population there as well. The pressure faced by the Christians in Thyatira came from the guilds. To hold a job or run a business, it was necessary to be a member of a guild. Each guild had its patron deity, in whose honor feasts were held – complete with meat scarified to idols and sexual immorality. Christians faced the dilemma of attending those feasts or possibly losing their livelihood. How some in the Thyatira church were handling the situation caused Jesus Christ great concern.
I. Commendation (v. 19)
a. As He had with the churches as Ephesus and Pergamum, Christ commended the church at Thyatira before voicing His concerns about it.
b. He assured them that He had not forgotten their righteous deeds, which He divided into four categories.
i. First, the believers at Thyatira were showing love for God and for one another – although that love was apparently fragile, since there was not a strong foundation of unified sound doctrine.
1. It is the first of the seven churches to be commended for its love.
ii. Second, Christ commended them for their faith
1. The true Christian in Thyatira were dependable, reliable, and consistent.
iii. The third and fourth categories service and perseverance grew from the first two categories.
1. Those who love will express that love through meeting the needs of others.
2. Those who are faithful will steadfastly persevere in the faith.
c. Not only did the Thyatiran Christians possess these virtues, but also their deeds of late were greater in number than at first.
i. Their loving service was becoming more consistent and their faithful perseverance growing stronger.
ii. They were growing in grace, maturing in their Christian lives, and advancing the cause of Christ.
iii. For that behavior they were to be commended.
II. The Concern (vv. 20-23)
a. Despite the commendation they received, all was not well with the church at Thyatira.
i. The problem was not external persecution, but internal compromise; not vicious wolves from outside the flock, but people within.
ii. The sin, apparently involving the majority of the Thyatiran church’s members was twofold.
1. First, they violated the biblical teaching that women are not to be preachers in the church.
a. Which led them to tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess.
2. Second, they compounded their error by permitting her to teach error.
a. Now Jezebel undoubtedly was not the real name of this woman, but like the infamous wife of King Ahab, she was Satan’s agent to corrupt God’s people.
b. Therefore God branded her with the name Jezebel.
c. Jezebel taught that it didn’t matter if Christians committed acts of immorality or ate things sacrificed to idols.
d. She may also have taken a twisted, view of God’s grace, arguing that it did not matter if Christians sinned, since God would graciously forgive them.
b. The Bible teaches that true Christians can fall into sexual immorality and idolatry.
i. But to lead other Christians into false doctrine or immoral living is a very serious sin, one meriting the most severe punishment.
ii. Divine judgment was about to fall not only on Jezebel, but also on those who committed adultery with her.
c. Like then, we are living in a very tolerant age today.
i. Everybody has a right to say what they want and believe what they want to believe.
ii. But toleration can be sin.
iii. There is an exclusiveness that must be a part of the church.
iv. Somewhere God’s people have to take a stand for God and say, we will not comply with anything that is opposed to Jesus.
v. He is our rule and authority.
vi. We measure our lives by his standard, and will not comprise that standard.