Revelation 2:18-29 Part 3

18) And write the message for the Church in Thyatira:   The Son of God Who has eyes as flames of fire, and Whose feet are burnished bronze, says these things.

19) I know your works and the love and the faithfulness and the service and your perseverance, and the last works greater than the first.

20) But I have against you that you suffer the woman Jezabel who calls herself a prophetess and teaches and deceives My servants to commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols;

21) and I gave her time that she might repent, and she is not willing to repent from her fornication.

22) Lo!  I cast her into bed and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent from her works,

23) and I will destroy her children in death, and all the Churches will know that I Am He Who searches reins and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

24) But to the rest of you in Thyatira, in as much as you have not this teaching, who do not know Satan’s depths (as they say), I lay on you no other charge.

25) However, hold fast what you have until I come.

26) And he who overcomes and keeps My works throughout [until the consummation] I will give to him authority over the nations,

27) and he shall tend them with a scepter of iron, dashing them in pieces as the potters’ vessels as I also have received of My Father.

28) And I will give to him the morning star.

29) He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.


As we learned in the first sermon on this message to the Church at Thyatira, one of the more significant features about the city was the dominance of trade guilds over trade and commerce.  In order to work or to have a business, one had to belong to the appropriate guild, since employment in every imaginable industry was strictly controlled by the guilds.

But to be a member of a guild meant that one also had to pay homage to pagan gods and goddesses, since heathen worship was integral to the guilds’ activities.  Two aspects of the deification of these man-conceived idols were, one, the sacrifices – which were then eaten in a feast, and, secondly, participation in immoral acts with the other guild members (fornication).  So any believer who wanted to work in a craft of some kind, or to have a business, was immediately presented with severe problems; his faithfulness to Christ would affect his calling, his livelihood, and his ability to feed his family and support the Church!

Businesses, both local and international, were fruitful – especially in and around Thyatira, which was at the crossroads of several major arteries, some of which lead travelers into the interior of Asia.  The city of Thyatira was the first to stamp gold and silver coins and use them as money; and it is believed to be the first to develop permanent wholesale and retail business establishments in and around the city.

Throughout recorded history the whole area once claimed by the Lydian dynasty, and renowned for its defense by its famous archers, fell to invading armies.  First it was the Chaldeans, then the Persians, followed by Greeks under Alexander the Great, and then by Rome….  But the city of Thyatira retained through it all its world-wide manufacturing and marketing fame.  Lydia of Philippi was probably one of many around the world marketing products from her home city of Thyatira.

When Roman troops entered ancient Lydia in 133BC it had already been subjected to three world-wide dominions; and it was no longer “Lydian” (except in its history).  The dynasty had, long ago, been eliminated, and it had incorporated the ancient cultures of the Chaldeans, the Persians and the Greeks – along with all of their ancient gods and goddesses and mythologies.  And it was these pagan gods and goddesses that the Thyatiran business community honored and revered in their “love-feasts”.

But Thyatira never relinquished its world-wide fame and its manufacturing and marketing framework.  It was renowned among the rich of the world for its clothes – especially for its mineral dyes such as purple, which was the color of wealth and status.  In the several dispersions from Israel through the centuries, quite a number of Jews had settled in eastern Asia, Thyatira being one of the favored cities, due to its fame in manufacturing and marketing.

The Romans came in about 133 BC.  By 45 BC they had consolidated their world-wide empire, and caesar Augustus declared himself emperor of the world and “the son of god”.  He proclaimed to the world that he alone was the link between the earth and the heavens and the mediator between humanity and the gods.  Temples and statues were erected throughout the empire by which all the people were to give Augustus-god honor and acclaim; and “there is no king but caesar” was the cry in the entire domain. 

As you can imagine, after the resurrection of Jesus in 30AD this added a layer of difficulty for all the new Churches in the nations.  For not only were they confronted with the guilds and the gods and goddesses of the Chaldeans, the Persians and the Greeks, but they were faced with the new empire’s requirement to give honor to a god-man who was not Jesus the Christ of God.  And the three thousand Jewish families receiving the Spirit of Christ at Pentecost, and going back to their homes in the nations, and starting Churches in the nations, were all immediately confronted with this very serious issue.

But as menacing to the Church as the pagans were, and as the guilds were, and as the Romans were, none of those issues were the most grave and unrelenting threat to our Lord’s newborns in Thyatira.  The most dangerous and formidable was that of judaists.

Our Lord, before His crucifixion, had said this to the judaists in Jerusalem:


31) Wherefore you witness to yourselves that you are sons of them that slew the prophets.

32) Fill you up then the measure of your fathers.

33) You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how shall you escape the judgment of hell?

34) Therefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: some of them shall you kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city:

35) that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, who you slew between the sanctuary and the altar.

36) Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation.


So, the Pentecost newborns went back to their homes to worship the resurrected and enthroned Jesus Christ; and the apostles and deacons in Israel got the lost sheep of Israel out of harm’s way during the next thirty five years, and sent them into the nations – especially where there were Christians and Churches already established… such as in Thyatira.  And they had to contend with all of these Gentile, pagan issues; plus they were to be constantly confronted by 1) judaists in the already established local synagogues, and 2) judaists from Israel pursuing them from nation to nation, and from city to city, and from Church to Church – as Jesus had prophesied in Matthew 23.

Now I ask you to look at this through the eyes of God, through His Revelation, through His viewpoint.  Judaists in Israel, with intense hatred, tested Jesus all through His ministry, constantly attempting to trap Him and prove to the multitudes that He was an idolatrous fake.  They finally put him on trial in the middle of the night, suborning witnesses in order to get a conviction, assaulting and debasing Him right in the temple complex.  Then, with the conviction, again with suborned witnesses, manipulated the Roman government into a most horrible and defiling punishment.  Then, at this instigation of judaists, He was taken outside the city by the Romans and publicly hung on a tree until He was dead.

Then, exactly as Jesus said they would (in Matthew 23), the judaists pursued the scribes and wise men of the New Israel into the Churches in the nations, doing exactly the same thing to them as they had done to Jesus. They beat them and stoned them and threw them out of synagogues and cities; they suborned witnesses against them to the Roman government; some were crucified (as Jesus was); others were banned and exiled; means of livelihood were shut down; and whatever miserable conditions of existence could be conceived for Christ’s apostles, evangelists, pastors, deacons and Church families… that’s what the judaists did.

Some were even inside the Churches, reeking of the odor of Nicolaitans and Balaamites, practicing and teaching that eating with pagans in their love-feasts was okay, and that fornication was acceptable since Jesus had forgiven their sins.

So newborns in Christ in the nations suffered terrible martyrdom at the hands of judaists from outside the Churches; and they also had to do battle with them inside – some of them teaching that ceremonial laws and customs of judaism had to continue in order to be “Christian”, and some teaching the heresy of antinomianism (i.e. since the law was fulfilled, then they were free from it).

The first general assembly of the Church of Jesus Christ, as recorded by doctor Luke in Acts chapter fifteen, and as moderated by the Spirit of the risen and enthroned Christ, (that assembly) spoke positively to the Churches in the nations about these things.   The Churches were not to allow eating with the pagans at their love-feasts; and they were to forbid fornication.  Otherwise they were to “hold fast” what they had.  And, if so, they would do well.

Please understand that this is exactly what our Lord spoke to the Churches in the messages in John’s Revelation of Jesus Christ.  The letter to the Churches from the assembly in Acts fifteen, through Holy Spirit, said the same things as the messages to the Churches directly from the Christ in John’s Revelation!

Our Lord, appearing to John on the island of Patmos, sent these messages to the Churches.  And they all refer to judaist idolatry and harlotry in Israel’s history!  In his condemnation of balaamites and nicolaitans in the Churches, these refer back to Israel’s long history of participation in the idolatrous love-feasts of the surrounding pagan peoples; and they refer back to the adulterous fornication of Israel with the surrounding pagan women.

So, by explicitly referring these Church issues to Israel’s past history, Jesus makes it clear that these are judaist problems in the Churches.  Jesus calls each Church to exclusive worship of the Son of God.  There could be no exceptions.  Judaists who associated themselves with the Churches of Jesus Christ in the nations were condemned – not only by Jesus in Matthew 23, and in the letter to the Churches in Acts chapter fifteen, but also by Jesus in His messages to the Churches right here in John’s Revelation.  That’s three witnesses to what was going on in the Churches!

So the message here from Jesus to the Church at Thyatira speaks directly to Israel’s false religion of judaism… a religion which existed all through Israel’s history, and which caused the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to terminate the covenantal relationship with her and execute her for idolatry and adultery.

We’re going through the text now; and, as we do so, take note of the fact that commentaries read this as having to do with one specific individual in the Church at Thyatira named “Jezebel”, or, at least, Jesus gives her the name Jezebel because she acts like the Jezebel who is recorded in first and second Kings.

But although there is, undoubtedly, a person, or persons, in the Church who are judaists, it’s clear to me that our Lord, in referring to the harlot queen Jezebel, is speaking directly about Israel and its idolatrous judaistic religion.  That will come clear shortly.

With reference to verse eighteen, we’ve already spoken about Jesus’ use of the Name “The Son of God” from Daniel chapter six.  The use of that name is an uncompromising challenge to paganism, statism and judaism, affirming the definitive and absolute uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ, as revealed in the prophetic Word.

In verses nineteen and twenty, we see that there was much to be commended in this Church.  It was active, by the Spirit of the Christ, in love and faith and service and perseverance.  In fact, its activity was increasing… “the last works greater than the first”!  So most everyone was holding fast to the Name of Jesus; and their faithfulness in doctrine and purity of life – even in the face of all of the difficulties of living in this pagan society – was praiseworthy from the One Who has eyes as flames of fire, and feet like burnished bronze (which was the exact description of the Lord in Daniel chapter ten).

But in spite of all that was good and holy, in the uncompromising eyes of the bodily enthroned Jesus Christ there was an intolerable defect in the Church that must not be allowed.

The elders of the Church were tolerant with some judaists!  And, as He had before with nicolaitans and balaamites, Jesus refers to Israel’s history in order to identify the egregious heresy.  After all, because of this fifteen hundred year old judaist heresy, God’s patience with Israel was fully expended, and all of Israel was about to be cut off from the Covenant!  And to have judaists in the very Church of Jesus Christ, along with His newborn babes in union in His Own body, was obscene and abhorrent to the enthroned Jesus Christ.  What was intolerable to the Christ was being tolerated by His Church!   “You suffer the woman Jezebel….!”

The idolatrous and immoral practices and teaching of the judaists at Thyatira is irrevocably identified with Jezebel, the wicked queen of Israel during the ninth century BC.  From 1 Kings chapter 21 and 2 Kings chapter nine we find the Revelation of God concerning king Ahab and queen Jezebel.

Jezebel was the wicked queen of Israel who suborned witnesses against an innocent property owner who was then stoned for idolatry, and his property was taken from his estate by the king of Israel.  Then Jezebel led her husband Ahab and all of Israel (her children) into pagan idolatry, feasting with the surrounding pagans and worshipping with them.  And, directly from the Word of God (chapter nine of 2 Kings), she is called a harlot and a witch.

We also note that Ahab later regretted these things and repented in sorrow.  So God put off temporal judgment against Israel, but promised His judgment upon the children of Israel… Jezebel’s children.  For it was her, who having suborned witnesses against an innocent man who was stoned for idolatry via false testimony, led her husband and all of Israel into fornication and eating with the pagans in their idolatrous feasts.  She is truly the harlot queen!  And Jesus says, in verse twenty-three of our text, that He is going to “kill her children with death”!

That’s just one example of Israel’s history of abominable rebellion against God; and, for whatever reason, the Church suffers, or tolerates, Jezebel’s judaist children, who are teaching and leading the people astray!

To the Lord of Lords, Jezebel IS Israel.  Jezebel and her judaist children were inducing Christ’s little ones, by their lifestyles and their teaching, to commit fornication and to participate in idolatrous communion.

Our Lord had given Israel time to repent of her fornication, and she had refused.  God had sent prophet after prophet to her to call for her repentance, and she had killed them, stoned them and abused them – even to John the Baptizer.  And now she was pursuing Jesus’ apostles and their attendants, deacons and evangelists into every city and every Church, wreaking havoc on the Lord’s people from outside and inside.  And for that they would pay the price for all the blood of the righteous (Jesus’ promise in Matthew 23).

Later in Revelation (chapter nineteen) John writes what he saw and heard:


1) After these things I heard as it were a great voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, Hallelujah; Salvation, and glory, and power, belong to our God:

2) for true and righteous are his judgments; for he hath judged the great harlot, her that corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand.


So our Lord, in His Revelation to the apostle John, calls Israel “the great harlot” after her namesake Jezebel, who was the harlot queen.  And “Jezebel” had to be punished.  And in an ironic play on words, the Lord Jesus Christ declares: “Lo, I will cast her into bed”, which is explained by the next clause there in verse twenty two: “and those who commit adultery with her into ‘great tribulation’”

And please note carefully that this first-century judgment of the harlot city – the queen of harlots – is spoken of in terms of “The Great Tribulation”, Just as He said it would in Matthew chapter twenty four, Jesus’ use of the term “great tribulation” (mega thlipsis) leads to the undeniable conclusion that the total destruction of the nation, the city, and the temple in 70AD was the judgment prophesied by Jesus in Matthew and here in Revelation.

Now.  What happens when judaist heretics and infidels are judged?  “I will kill her children with death”, Jesus says.  That’s a common emphasis in Hebrew – a linguistic “double witness” (if you will) to the certainty of its fulfillment – and that emphasis is transferred over to the Greek by our Lord and His apostolic writer.  They will die in the great judgment (tribulation) to come quickly.

“And all the Churches will know that I Am He Who searches the reins and hearts.”  (Reins, by the way, means the real, inward being.)  But the Lord’s character as the holy and omniscient Judge is vindicated in the ultimate punishment shortly to come.  It is certain.  All Israel will receive the judgment according to their deeds in fifteen hundred years of rebellion, harlotry, idolatry and witchcraft.

Truly the queen of harlots immersed herself in the “deep things of Satan (as they say)”, and her children were of the same mind, for they followed in her footsteps.  At the instigation of the accuser – Satanos – every attempt possible, from outside the Church and from inside, (every attempt) was made to destroy the newborn babes belonging to The Son of God in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.

But there are many in Thyatira who do not seek after these things of Satan, who do not delve into Satanically-inspired practices, despite the economic and social consequences of their refusal to compromise.  And Jesus lays upon them “no other burden”.  But “hold fast” what you have “until I come”.

This reflects exactly the language of the Jerusalem council’s letter to the Churches, doesn’t it?  “For it seemed good to Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these: that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols…..and from fornication.  If you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well.” (Acts 15:28-29)

Then, in the last verses of this message from Jesus, He says:


26) And he who overcomes and keeps My works throughout I will give to him authority over the nations,

27) and he shall tend them with a scepter of iron, dashing them in pieces as the potters’ vessels as I also have received of My Father.

28) And I will give to him the morning star.

29) He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches.


Remember the Father’s promise to the Son in Psalm two:


8) Ask of me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for Your possession.

9) You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.


In quoting from His Own Word in the Psalm, Jesus confirms that He has been granted all rule in all the world.  And all nations will come under His messianic kingship.  Whatever opposition is offered against His Kingdom (such as the Satanically inspired judaists of Israel) will be crushed absolutely….  Coming shortly (at this writing) was His Parousia (Presence) in judgment against the harlot nation, divorcing her and executing her and terminating the covenant with her.

And by quoting from the Father’s promise, Jesus also tells the believers in Thyatira that they, IN HIM, share in His Kingship.  In spite of all opposition, King Jesus is ruler of all nations.  And obedient ones in Him will rule the world with Him.

He has already been given all authority in the heavens and upon the earth; so, is it possible that The King is to be defeated?  Psalm two also says that all earthly rulers are warned to submit to His government or perish!  Those are the only two options.  The nation that will not serve the King and His court will perish (Isaiah 60:12)!

For Christians in Thyatira, this was incredibly good news.  They were at the mercy of a powerful political and economic power; statism and state-worship and caesar-worship were increasing; Satan-induced, slanderous accusations were being leveled at them from judaists without, and the Lord’s newborns were being incited by judaists within to compromise their faithfulness to Christ.

Being a Christian in Thyatira meant hardship and suffering.  And it wasn’t the glorious martyrdom of the battleground….  just the day-to-day faithfulness to Christ and His Word when you can’t even work in the midst of a booming economy.  Everybody else could find work by going to the guild love-feasts and then engaging in some harmless fornication between consenting adults.

And it wasn’t glamorous to be accused – with suborned witnesses – of being unpatriotic to the Roman authorities. or refusing to pay homage to caesar, or just being “weird”.

But those who remained faithful, who held fast to the name, who overcame, were promised that they would rule with the Christ.  The tables would be turned.  The Christ was coming shortly to judge and to save.

This wasn’t the “end of the world” as it might have seemed to the Church at Thyatira.  In fact, the conflicts that they experienced, and the suffering that they endured, weren’t a sign of Christ’s defeat.  They were signs assuring them that Jesus Christ was victorious over it all… and believers with Him.  As Jesus turned off the “lights” of judaistic Israel, it was judaism, pagan idolatry, and state worship that were about to enter the darkness.  But Jesus was about to give these who were victorious in Him the “morning star” as this whole liberated creation entered a bright, new day… a day of covenant inclusion in the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.