Introduction: Continuing our series called “Can you hear Me?”
(Matthew 18:15; James 5:19-20; 2 Timothy 3:16)
- This series’ subtitle, Letters from God, refers to the messages Jesus sent through John to the 7 churches in Asia Minor, found in Revelation chapters 2-3. (HANDOUTS)
- In these letters, Jesus examined each church, recognized and encouraged their strengths, but also pointed out needed improvements to prepare them for coming persecution.
- This message, God’s letter to the Tolerant, was addressed to the church at Thyatira.
- Theme verse: Galatians 6:1 (NLT)—…if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.
- This letter called this church to pursue holiness and maintain purity by dealing with sin within the church.
- In our culture, tolerance, even indulgence, are embraced to the exclusion of holiness.
- This letter has an important message for the church today: false doctrine and sin are not to be allowed—even in an effort to extend love and acceptance to people.
The Message to the Church in Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29)
Begins with a …
#1 - Greeting (Revelation 2:18; C/R: Acts 16:12-15; 1 Peter 4:17; Revelation 1:14-15)
- Revelation 2:18a (NLT)—“Write this letter to the angel [messenger, leader] of the church in Thyatira. …”
- The Bible does not tell us when this church, which was located about 40 miles SE of Pergamum, was founded, but it was likely established by Paul and Silas in conjunction with a woman from Thyatira named Lydia. (Acts 16:12-15)
- Lydia was a worshiper of God who sold expensive purple cloth, and was converted in Philippi, along with her household, during Paul’s 2nd missionary journey.
- Paul and Silas went to Thyatira with Lydia and may have helped establish the church.
- The city wasn’t an important religious center (did worship Apollo), and there was not a sizable Jewish population there, so Christians weren’t opposed by religious groups.
- Thyatira was a military town and commercial center with many trade guilds producing a wide variety of products, but also making sacrifices to patron deities and engaging in sexual immorality during feasts honoring their Greek god.
- Christians faced the dilemma of attending these feasts or losing their livelihood.
- : Remind you of any dishonest and dishonorable business practices today? Taking clients to strip clubs or trips to Vegas where immorality is practiced?
- Revelation 2:18b (NLT)—"This is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like flames of fire, whose feet are like polished bronze:” [Revelation 1:14–15]
- The title Son of God (the only time it appears in Revelation), emphasizes Christ’s deity, stressing the truth that He is of one essence, and equal, with the Father. (John 5:18)
- Jesus’ viewed the church at Thyatira as a divine judge whose eyes are like flames of fire because He sees all, nothing can be hidden from Him (Daniel 10:6; Revelation 19:10).
- Feet like polished bronze depict His holiness as He tramples out impurity in the church.
- This terrifying description of Jesus must have created fear when this letter was read to the congregation at Thyatira because they realized that Jesus was examining them closely, thoroughly, completely; He judges the church (1 Peter 4:17)
- How does God see each of us individually and how does He view our church?
The message to this church also includes…
#2 - Affirmation (Revelation 2:19; C/R: Galatians 5:22-23; James 2:17-18; 2 Peter 1:5-8)
- Revelation 2:19 (NLT)—“I know all the things you do. I have seen your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things.”
- Jesus had seen this church’s righteous deeds, including demonstrating love for God and each other, as well as practicing faithful trust in Jesus.
- Love always results in service as you recognize and seek to meet the needs of others.
- Practicing faith (faithfulness) will be expressed through patient endurance as you trust in Jesus through difficulties and suffering.
- Not only did these people possess these characteristics, but they were also growing and maturing in these areas under the influence of the Spirit. (Fruit of Spirit; Galatians 5:21-22)
- Are Christ-like characteristics evident in my life; are they increasing?
The message to this church expresses…
#3 - Concern (Revelation 2:20-21; C/R: 1 Kings 16:30-31; Luke 17:1-2; 1 Corinthians 6:15-20; 10:21)
- Revelation 2:20 (NLT)—“But I have this complaint against you. You are permitting that woman—that Jezebel [not real name] who calls herself a prophet—to lead my servants astray. She teaches them to commit sexual sin and to eat food offered to idols.”
- The church at Thyatira had tolerated the presence, and allowed the false teaching of, a divisive woman, referred to by Jesus as Jezebel—who was leading believers into sin.
- In the Old Testament, Jezebel was the evil wife of Israel’s King Ahab who led Israel to worship the Canaanite god Baal (1 Kings 16:30-31),
- The worship of Baal was rooted in sensuality; it involved ritualistic prostitution and animal sacrifices in the temples, but also the sacrifice of children.
- This Jezebel in the church appears to have taught a twisted view of God’s grace, arguing that it didn’t matter if Christians sinned because God would forgive them.
- This false prophet encouraged believers to participate in idol worship by commit[ing] sexual sin and eat[ing] food offered to idols to cooperate with the immorality of the citizens and practices of the guilds, so that they would not lose their jobs or their lives.
- The teaching of this woman did not cause, but did reveal, the lust and rebellion against God that many of these people had hidden from sight.
- Jesus’ complaint was that true Christians in the church allowed this to happen.
- Have we accepted sexual immorality and idolatry, such as success, possessions and entertainment, as normal and not offensive to God, so we can “get along?”
- Revelation 2:21 (NLT)—“I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.” [Luke 17:1–2; John 3:19; 1 Corinthians 6:15–20; 10:21]
This refusal to repent results in negative…
#4 - Consequences (Revelation 2:22-23; C/R: Matthew 16:27; Romans 2:5-8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Philippians 3:18-19)
- Revelation 2:22 (NLT)—22 “Therefore, I will throw her on a bed of suffering [not in original text], and those who commit adultery with her will suffer greatly unless they repent and turn away from her evil deeds.” [Romans 2:5-8; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Philippians 3:18-19]
- Jezebel’s heart was hardened in unrepentant sin (seared conscience; 1 Timothy 4:1-2), but Jesus mercifully warned her followers to repent while there was still time.
- This threat of judgment reveals Christ’s passion for His people, but also His desire for His church to be pure—in doctrine and behavior.
- Revelation 2:23a (NLT)—“I will strike her children [followers] dead [sin unto death; 1 John 5:16]. Then all the churches will know that I am the One who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person. …”
- After Jesus judged the Thyatira church, all other churches would be warned against tolerating sin—and would know that nothing can be hidden from His penetrating gaze.
- Revelation 2:23b (NLT)—“And I will give to each of you whatever you deserve.”
- Jesus reassured the true believers in the church who did not follow Jezebel’s false teaching that the innocent would not be punished along with the guilty. (Matthew 16:27)
This letter included a…
#5 - Challenge (Revelation 2:24-25; C/R: Ephesians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; Hebrews 4:14)
- Revelation 2:24a (NLT)—24a “But I also have a message for the rest of you in Thyatira who have not followed this false teaching (‘deeper truths,’ as they call them—depths of Satan, actually).” [Ephesians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 5:9-11]
- Jezebel and her followers claimed to be engaging in sexual immorality and idolatry without being affected spiritually, because sins of the body did not harm the spirit.
- Since the spirit belongs to God, their twisted logic went, they could explore the satanic sphere of sin and be unaffected by it, so they could then worship God.
- But there were true believers in Thyatira who rejected this false teaching.
- Revelation 2:24b-25 (NLT)—24b “I will ask nothing more of you 25 except that you hold tightly to what you have until I come.” [1Thessalonians 5:19-22; Hebrews 4:14]
- Do you hold tightly to biblical teaching even when ridiculed by others?
For believers who remained faith, Jesus promised…
#6 - Rewards (Revelation 2:26-29; C/R: Revelation 20:6; 22:16; 1 Corinthians 6:2-3; 2 Peter 1:19)
- Revelation 2:26-29 (NLT)—26 “To all who are victorious, who obey me to the very end, To them I will give authority over all the nations. 27 They will rule the nations with an iron rod and smash them like clay pots. [Psalm 2:8-9] 28 They will have the same authority I received from my Father, and I will also give them the morning star!” [1Corinthians 6:2-3; 2 Peter 1:19; Revelation 20:6; 22:16]
- If we remain faithful to Jesus despite difficulties, we will rule with Him after His return.
- The nations that rebelled against Christ and persecuted His people will be destroyed by faithful believers who are delegated authority that Jesus received from His Father.
- Receiving the morning star means receiving Jesus Himself as reward for faithful living.
- Revelation 2:29 (NLT)—29 “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what He is saying to the churches.”
- Historically, the church at Thyatira did not repent; instead, they later fell prey to other false teaching and went out of existence by the end of the second century.
- This letter reveals the seriousness of practicing and tolerating sin that Jesus will judge.