Building a Strong Relationship with Christ – The Thyatira Example: Remaining In Him – Revelation 2:18-29

As we continue our survey of the letters to the seven churches of Asia Minor lets read the letter to the church at Thyatira:

"To the angel of the church in Thyatira write the following:

This is the solemn pronouncement of the Son of God, the one who has eyes like a fiery flame and whose feet are like polished bronze: ‘I know your deeds: your love, faith, service, and steadfast endurance. In fact, your more recent deeds are greater than your earlier ones.  But I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and by her teaching deceives my servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.  I have given her time to repent, but she is not willing to repent of her sexual immorality.  Look! I am throwing her onto a bed of violent illness, and those who commit adultery with her into terrible suffering, unless they repent of her deeds.  Furthermore, I will strike her followers with a deadly disease, and then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts. I will repay each one of you what your deeds deserve.  But to the rest of you in Thyatira, all who do not hold to this teaching (who have not learned the so-called “deep secrets of Satan”), to you I say: I do not put any additional burden on you.  However, hold on to what you have until I come.  And to the one who conquers and who continues in my deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations - he will rule them with an iron rod and like clay jars he will break them to pieces, just as I have received the right to rule from my Father - and I will give him the morning star.  The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches’” (Revelation 2:18-29 – NET)."

Thyatira was a small city located forty miles southeast of Pergamum known for abundant crops and the manufacture purple dye.  The church itself was much smaller than the previously addressed churches in Revelation chapter two but the Lord’s direct rebuke was meant to deal with a sin problem that had become huge. 

As Christ is introduced in this letter we can see a preview of the severity of this letter as it is described as “solemn” and Christ himself is described as “one who has eyes like a fiery flame.”  It’s clear starting out that this is going to deal with major problems that the Lord saw in the fellowship at Thyatira.

As with the previous letters Christ first commends the church on their faithful action and growth.  He says, “I know your deeds: your love, faith, service and steadfast endurance.”  This bit of encouragement shows that the active members of the church were excelling in the major areas of devotion to Christ and to each other and to their service.  In fact, Jesus encourages them because they had continued to grow more faithful in their deeds as they went on serving.  This is the exact opposite of the Ephesians who did great things in the past but that enthusiasm waned as time went on.  This leads us to a simple lesson from the faithful Thyatirans…

Growth in our walk with the Lord and in our service to Him pleases Jesus and brings honor to Him.

The Lord turns the discussion from this short bit of encouragement to the main point of this letter which is to single out a woman and her band of followers for corrupting the fellowship at Thyatira.  By referring to this woman as Jezebel the Lord is suggesting that her actions resemble that of King Ahab’s wife (1 Kings 16:31-33) as she corrupted God’s chosen people with both subtle actions and overt pagan worship and immorality.  This self-proclaimed “prophetess” was influencing the church to participate in both sexually immoral acts and partake in food sacrificed to idols both of which were acts of worship of false gods. 

Christ’s judgment of these people and their actions is pretty straightforward as He promises violent illness and terrible suffering.  He further reminds the church that He is the one who “searches minds and hearts” and promises to “repay each one of you what your deeds deserve.” 

While the judgment is severe it seems fairly comparable to the intensity of the sin especially as we read in verse 21 that they were given a time to repent.  I’m convinced the Lord responded so dramatically to this sin because sexual sins always begin in the mind and are very rarely shaken loose (and even then only as a result of dramatic tragedy or confrontation).  This judgment would serve not only to help others see the consequences and repent but prayerfully also help others to avoid the temptation in the first place.

Though today we don’t live in a culture where temptation from pagan rituals might lead us down the road to immorality we certainly do have sufficient temptations in this area.  These enticements come to us through media (TV, movies, internet, etc.), friends, and our eroding culture.  The fact is we are constantly bombarded. 

If we are to learn anything from Thyatira’s failure it is that we should heed the warning of 1 Corinthians 6:18 and “flee sexual immorality.” 

As the Lord closes up this letter with the encouragement of the few faithful believers in Thyatira He also gives us a glimpse into what kept them from partaking in the previously mentioned evil practices.  He says for those who didn’t buy into this evil teaching are to “hold on to what you have until I come.”  In other words…

You remain faithful to Him by remaining faithful to His teaching (the Word) and in serving Him.