Author: Terry Dashner, Sr. Pastor of Faith Fellowship Church in Broken Arrow, OK 74012
18 “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. 19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— 27 that one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’[b]—just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star. 29 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Thyatira was a trading town that was famous for its dyeing and was a center of the indigo trade. Among the city's ruins have been found inscriptions relating to Thyatira's guild of dyers. There are more guilds known to have been in Thyatira than in any other city in Asia Minor.
During his second missionary journey Paul, in Troas, sees a vision of a man in Macedonia (Greece) asking for help (Acts 16:8-9). Paul, Silas and others immediately set sail for Neapolis. From there they travel to Philippi, where a woman named Lydia hears Paul's preaching and is soon baptized along with her entire household (Acts 16:12-15).
While in Philippi Paul casts a demon out of a female slave (Acts 16:16-18). Her masters, however, angry that they have lost the ability to make more money off of the slave, stir up the city against Paul and Silas. The two evangelists are arrested, beaten and put in prison. Paul, Silas and others are freed when a miraculous earthquake causes ALL the cell doors to open and the bonds of ALL prisoners to be loosed!
Apostle Paul also traveled through Philippi during his third missionary journey.
The church in Philippi was the first EUROPEAN church founded by the Apostle Paul. This was no doubt one of the reasons the Philippians had a unique, strong bond with him. Although composed primarily of those who were poor, the Philippian church sent supplies to Paul several times (Philippians 4:15-16, 2Corinthians 11:9).
On a Sabbath day he meets a woman named Lydia, from Thyatira, who is praying near a river. Lydia is a seller of purple (either of the dye or cloth dyed in this color). She listens to Paul's preaching and becomes so convicted that she, along with her entire household, are baptized on Pentecost (see Acts 16:13-15).
Indigo history in America
Blue is as American as, well ... red, white, and blue. Indigo blue bunting is the field for the stars of the Star-Spangled Banner. Almost half the flags of the original thirteen states feature blue backgrounds including Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and South Carolina (whose 1756 palmetto flag design predates independence.) Mississippi announced its declaration of secession in 1861 by raising a flag over the state capitol featuring a lone star on a blue field; composer Harry McCarthy's tribute to the "Bonnie Blue Flag" made it the unofficial flag of the Confederacy.
Blue is not just the color of flags of America. Blue is the color of Levi Strauss' jeans empire. Blue is the color of police uniforms ("the men in blue"), the Army and Marine's "dress blues," Navy Blues, and the Cub Scouts' shirts. Blue is consistently one of the top ranked finishes in DuPont's annual automotive color popularity survey. Blue is even the color of hurricane evacuation signs, as well as the tarps provided by the Army Corps of Engineers through Operation Blue Roof to victims whose roofs are hurricane-damaged.
Robert H. Mounce says, "The fornication of which Jezebel was not willing to repent was her adulterous alliance with the pagan environment" (The Book of Revelation, p. 104).
Her theology as spread by her counterparts in the Thyatira church would be especially attractive, in that members wrestled with the matter of participation in workers’ guilds. To reject guild membership would cause one to suffer economic deprivation. However, to be part of a guild required participation in its pagan religious festivities. The temptation to compromise one’s Christian beliefs must have been strong for many church members. Robert H. Mounce explains:
"In a city whose economic life was dominated by trade guilds in which pagan religious practices had become criteria for membership, the Christian convert would be faced with the problem of compromising his stand at least enough to allow participation in a common meal dedicated to some pagan deity. To reject this accommodation could mean social isolation and economic hardship." The Book of Revelation, p. 103)
To be a member of a guild almost certainly would have meant participating in religious idolatry, immorality and debauchery. Thus, there is a dual meaning to the accusation that the Jezebel party practice "sexual immorality." To summarize, then, Revelation’s "Jezebel" (as well as "Balaam" and probably the Nicolaitans) suggested the Christian could come to terms with the world and still be faithful to Christ.
The Jezebel party probably would explain that "an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one" (1 Corinthians 8:4). They would have reasoned that believers need not hurt themselves economically by refusing to accept a few harmless requirements posed by trade guild membership.
"Jezebel is to be counted amongst those to whom the claims of commercial success speak more loudly than the claims of Christ," says William Barclay (The Revelation of John, volume 1, revised edition, p. 107). The Jezebel party apparently couched its teaching in strong theological wine, providing an excusing rationale that seemed to dispel any contrary arguments. Their theology is called "Satan’s so-called deep secrets" (2:24).
This phrase is usually explained in two ways. It may be an ironic twist on Jezebel’s own claim. Her followers may have claimed to be more spiritually sophisticated. They may have distorted Paul’s teaching, claiming to understand God’s will more deeply than the "self-righteous" majority who thought it ungodly to pay homage to the emperor as a god and to engage in debauchery (1 Corinthians 8:4; Romans 14:17). But Revelation says that the Jezebel party is the one that has fallen into the depths of a spiritual pit Satan has dug.
Another explanation for "Satan’s deep secrets" is that Jezebel, like the later Gnostics, taught that only by descending into the depths of evil could one appreciate the heights of God’s grace. Paul had also been forced to refute a similar idea in the church at Rome (Romans 6:1).
A majority of the church at Thyatira did not buy Jezebel’s reasoning. However, the church still apparently allowed this group’s teaching to continue within its midst. It had the "Corinthian disease" which tolerated sin in the church, possibly in the misguided interest of being big-minded (1 Corinthians 5:1-7).
The issue has more than historical interest. It concerns us vitally. Says Leon Morris: "Every generation of Christians must face the question, ‘How far should I accept and adopt contemporary standards and practices?’ On the one hand, Christians must not deny the faith. On the other, they must not deny their membership of society" (Revelation, revised edition, p. 71).
The church members at Thyatira were encouraged to continue in the faith – "until I come" (2:25). They were to be overcomers and do Christ’s will to the end. "This is the nearest we have in the seven letters to a definition of the conqueror," says G. R. Beasley-Murray. "He holds fast the traditions of faith and life delivered to the Church 'til the coming of Christ (v. 25) and he keeps Christ’s works till the end (v. 26) – whether that ‘end’ be the Lord’s parousia or his own death" (Revelation, p. 93).
The promise of salvation is described as "authority over the nations" (2:26). The overcomer will "rule them with an iron scepter" and "he will dash them to pieces like pottery" (2:27). These statements were taken from Psalm 2:9.
Some scholars feel that the original wording gives a somewhat different meaning than the English. Ruling should be understood more in the sense of shepherding. Wielding an iron scepter should be seen more in the context of a shepherd’s staff or club, used firmly but with tender loving care. If so, there is always the problem of how to understand the companion phrase, "…he will dash them to pieces like pottery" (2:27). The sheep are given guidance; the enemies are shattered.
Whatever the case, the meaning is clear. The now powerless church existing under human government will have power over the nations under Christ. The saints will inherit the earth, as Christ said (Matthew 5:55). And they would judge the world in whatever way that "judging" is to be understood (1 Corinthians 6:2).
The church at Thyatira was also promised the "morning star" (2:28). Several explanations have been offered for this symbol. Perhaps Christ is in view here, if we are guided by his symbolic self-description at the end of Revelation: "I, Jesus...[am] the bright Morning Star" (22:16). To "have" Jesus as the Morning Star would mean to be in his glorious presence – to be with him. This would explain the promise that in the resurrection the saints glorified will be with Christ, wherever he is (John 14:3).