“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.” Revelation 2:18-29
As we have seen from the previous letters there are both positives and critiques offered by Jesus. This church has love and faith, service and perseverance. This is one of the most positive and glowing commendations given to any of the seven churches. Not only that but the people are growing in discipleship.
However, much like we saw last week as we looked at the church of Pergamum, the church at Thyatira is tolerating sexual immorality and eating of food sacrificed to idols.
Historically we know that Thyatira was a vibrant trade centre and much like modern unions, to be involved in many of these businesses one had to be a member of the appropriate trade guild. Many of the guilds participated in ritual pagan worship as part of their activities and the social activities that the trade guilds organized often revolved around sensual parties. For a Christian, there were problems with participating in the activities that membership in the trade guilds required. Without the support of a trade guild Christians would lose out on many business opportunities.
In this environment, the temptation for a Christian was to compromise their faith. In Thyatira the problem is centred around someone named Jezebel and her teachings. This was probably not the actual name of the false teacher but alludes to the historical Queen Jezebel. The teaching of this Jezebel appear very similar to the Nicolations and Balaamites mentioned in the letters to Ephesus and Pergammum. This woman Jezebel was teaching the church at Thyatira that you COULD compromise and have it both ways. You could worship both God and pagan idols. In a culture where participation in the trade guilds was so important compromise and so called “deep secrets” would have been tempting.
The temptation for all people is to compartmentalize our lives. It’s like saying I can watch whatever TV shows I want because it’s just entertainment. I can act unethically because it’s just business. The problem is that having different standards and different morals in different areas leads to disintegration. Our souls fight against this. Integrity means wholeness. One can’t do the Jesus thing on Sundays and live wild the rest of the week without serious consequences. What it boils down to is that either someone is all in with Jesus, or they are not. Compromise is not an option.
What do we take away from this message? In the book Discipleship on the Edge Darrell Johnson gives us 6 aspects of the picture this message presents to us. I’d like to summarize them here.
First, in a culture that worshiped the Roman emperor as the “son of god” Jesus presents himself as the Son of God. There are many powers in the world. However, there is ultimately one whom people must answer to: Jesus. We cannot give allegiance to the powers of the world and to Jesus. Jesus is a jealous lover.
Secondly, Jesus knows our hearts, our innermost thoughts. His eyes are of blazing fire and he searches our hearts and minds. Hearts speaks of the moral centre of life and minds represents our total inner lives, what resides deep in our thoughts, feelings and desires. We cannot hide anything from Jesus and if we are truly in love with him we don’t want to. He shows us truth to lead us closer to himself.
Thirdly, Jesus’ feet are like burnished bronze. To those in the trade guilds this would have had a strong visual meaning. Jesus’ feet are strong. Powerful. Jesus deals with evil seriously. He will not tolerate sin.
Fourth, though Jesus takes sin seriously, he gives even Jezebel time to repent. While a person draws breath, there is a chance to repent, to turn towards Jesus. Jesus is not unnecessarily harsh.
Fifth, Jesus will deal with each person according to their own deeds. Jesus allows us free will to make our own choices. We can choose to follow him or go our own way. Following pagan idols or the ways of the world contrary to Jesus will have consequences. On the other hand, following Jesus leads to true freedom and joy.
Sixth and finally, there are incredible promises for those who remain faithful to Jesus, who endure through trials and troubles and who do not compromise their faith. Those who last to the end will rule with Jesus. Because they have submitted themselves to Jesus they will be given godly authority. Those who endure will receive the morning star. The morning star is the herald of morning while the night remains dark. Though times may seem hopeless, Jesus gives the morning star to those who remain faithful to him in order to show them that morning is coming. If you are currently struggling, be encouraged. Hold onto His promises and resist the urge to compromise. Give your full allegiance to Jesus. The darkness will end.
 Craig L. Blomberg, From Pentecost to Patmos: An Introduction to Acts through Revelation, pg 521
 Darrell Johnson, Discipleship on the Edge, pg 90
 Darrell Johnson, Discipleship on the Edge, pg 89. See I Kings 16:31-33
 Barker and Kohlenberger III eds, Expositors Bible Commentary Abridged Edition: New Testament, 1994, pg 1146
 Arrington and Stronstad eds, Life in the Spirit New Testament Commentary 1999, pg 1564
 Barker and Kohlenberger III eds, Expositors Bible Commentary Abridged Edition: New Testament, 1994, pg 1147