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Pergamum- The Seven Churches of Revelation

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The Seven Churches of Revelation

 

To the Church in Thyatira



1.      The Church (2:18).

2:18. Thyatira, 40 miles southeast of Pergamum, was a much smaller city. Thyatira was situated in an area noted for its abundant crops and the manufacture of purple dye. The church was small, but it was singled out for this penetrating letter of rebuke.

In keeping with what follows, Christ is introduced as the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. This description of Christ is similar to that in 1:13-15, but here He is called the Son of God rather than the Son of Man. The situation required reaffirmation of His deity and His righteous indignation at their sins. The words “burnished bronze,” which describe His feet, translate a rare Greeke word chalkolibanō, also used in 1:15. It seems to have been an alloy of a number of metals characterized by brilliance when polished. The reference to His eyes being “like blazing fire” and the brilliant reflections of His feet emphasize the indignation and righteous judgment of Christ.

2.      The Strong Points (2:19).

2:19. Though much was wrong in the church at Thyatira, believers there were commended for their love . . . faith . . . service, and perseverance (cf. 2:2). And the Thyatira Christians were doing more as time went on (in contrast to the Ephesus church which did less). But despite these evidences of Christian life and testimony, the church at Thyatira had serious problems.

3.      The rebuke (2:20-23).

2:20-23. Jesus’ major condemnation concerned that woman Jezebel, who claimed to be a prophetess and taught believers to take part in the sexual immorality that accompanied pagan religion and to eat food sacrificed to idols. What was acceptable to that local society was abhorred by Christ. Their departure from morality had gone on for some time (v. 21). The church in Thyatira may have first heard the gospel from Lydia, converted through Paul’s ministry (Acts 16:14-15). Interestingly now a woman, a self-claimed “prophetess,” was influencing the church. Her name “Jezebel” suggests that she was corrupting the Thyatira church much like Ahab’s wife Jezebel corrupted Israel (1 Kings 16:31-33). Christ promised sudden and immediate judgment, called her sin adultery and promised that all who followed her would suffer intensely. He also promised, I will strike her children dead, meaning that suffering would extend also to her followers. The judgment would be so dramatic that all the churches would know that Christ is the One who searches hearts and minds.

20 But the church allowed a prophetess to exercise a dangerous ministry in its midst. Jezebel is clearly a symbolic name, recalling King Ahab’s queen, who introduced idolatry into Israel and threatened the continued existence of true religion (see 1 Ki 16:29–32; 2 Ki 9:22). Some authorities have a curious variant in v 20 and read your wife Nezebel; it is unlikely to be correct, but it reflects a belief that the prophetess would have been the wife of the ‘angel’ of the church, namely its bishop. Jezebel would have been of the order of the Nicolaitans and encouraged the members of the church to have no scruples about participating in the meetings of their guilds and so freely engage in sexual immorality and the eating of foods sacrificed to idols. This is typical of the ‘beyond morality’ attitude of the libertarian gnostics.

21 Warning had already been given to Jezebel to cease her baleful influence, but to no avail. Accordingly, she and those responsive to her were to be punished. The language in vs 22–23 is clearly figurative, setting forth a punishment befitting the crime. Those who commit adultery with her are the same as her children—the entire group of her followers will be brought to an end, and all the churches will know by experience what they already know in theory, that the Lord searches hearts and minds and repays according to deeds.

24 Satan’s so-called deep secrets could refer ironically to the gnostics’ claims to know (in an exclusive manner) the deep secrets of God; the Lord’s response to such a claim would then be that their ‘deep secrets’ are inspired by Satan, not by God. Alternatively, the Nicolaitans may have taught that Christians should not hesitate to learn the ‘secrets of Satan’, but rather demonstrate their superiority over the sins of the flesh, since in any case these cannot affect the spirit within. Either interpretation demands a repudiation of such notions.[1]

4.      The exhortation (2:24-25).

2:24-25. After His condemnation, Christ extended a word of exhortation to the godly remnant who existed in the church in Thyatira, implying that the rest of the church was apostate. The remnant He called the rest of you in Thyatira . . . you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets. On this godly remnant He imposed one simple instruction: only hold on to what you have until I come. Perhaps because the church was small, Christ did not command them to leave it but to remain as a godly testimony. Judgment on Jezebel and her followers would come soon and would purge the church. In modern times Christians who find themselves in apostate local churches can usually leave and join another fellowship, but this was impractical under the circumstances in Thyatira.

The parallels between Thyatira and other apostate churches throughout church history are clear. Some compare Thyatira to believers in the Middle Ages when Protestantism separated from Roman Catholicism and attempted a return to purity in doctrine and life. The prominence of Jezebel as a woman prophetess is sometimes compared to the unscriptural exaltation of Mary. The participation in idolatrous feasts can illustrate the false teaching that the Lord’s Supper is another sacrifice of Christ. In spite of the apostasy of churches in the Middle Ages, there were churches then which, like the church of Thyatira, had some believers who were bright lights of faithfulness in doctrine and life.

5.      The promise (2:26-29).

2:26-27. Christ promises believers who are faithful that they will join Him in His millennial rule (Ps. 2:8-9; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:4-6). The word in verse 27 translated “rule” (poimanei) means “to shepherd,” indicating that they will not simply be administering justice but will also, like a shepherd using his rod, be dealing with his sheep and protecting them as well. Though Psalm 2:9 refers to Christ’s rule, John’s quotation of it here relates the ruling (shepherding) to the believer who overcomes. Believers will have authority just as Christ does (1 Cor. 6:2-3; 2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 3:21; 20:4, 6). Christ received this authority from His Father (cf. John 5:22).

2:28. In addition, the faithful will receive the morning star, which appears just before the dawn. The Scriptures do not explain this expression, but it may refer to participation in the Rapture of the church before the dark hours preceding the dawn of the millennial kingdom.

28 I will also give him the morning star is less to be interpreted in terms of 22:16, where Christ himself is the bright Morning Star, than by the fact that the morning star is Venus. For the Romans that star was a symbol of victory and sovereignty; Roman generals built temples in honour of Venus, and Caesar’s armies had its sign inscribed on their standards. If that be in view the promise strengthens the declarations in vs 26–27; the overcomer is doubly assured of his participation with Christ in his triumph and rule. [2]

2:29. The letter to Thyatira closes with the familiar exhortation to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Unlike the earlier letters, this exhortation follows rather than precedes the promise to overcomers, and this order is followed in the letters to the last three churches.[3]

The Spirit of Jezebel:

 

1.      Some Characteristics of Jezebel:

a.       Rebellious against God:

b.       Disrespectful of Male Leadership:

c.       Immoral:

2.      The impact of Jezebel:

a.       Caused fear in the prophet of God

b.       Caused disengagement by the appointed leaders

c.       Became infectious to those around her:


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cf. confer, compare

v. verse

[1]Carson, D. A. 1994. New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) . Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA

[2]Carson, D. A. 1994. New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) . Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA

[3]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. 1983-c1985. The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Victor Books: Wheaton, IL

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