THE LETTER TO THYATIRA
All thanks and praise to you, my wondrous, gracious God. May my life reflect your goodness.
Read REVELATION 2:18–29
To the Church in Thyatira
18 “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’[a]—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 2:27 Psalm 2:9
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Ask Jesus, Light of the World, to shine on us and make our way clear.
Once again we notice a contrast between two of the churches addressed in these letters: the situation at Ephesus is reversed in the message to Thyatira, in that the deeds, love, faith, service, and perseverance of this community have increased (v 19), but they have tolerated beliefs which undermine the truth of the gospel. Instead of the loveless orthodoxy of the Ephesians we have here an over-generous tolerance which endangered the authenticity of the church’s mission. These two extremes have reappeared throughout Christian history and remain with us still.
We cannot be certain about the nature of the teachings condemned in this letter, but they relate to the religious context of the time. In sharp contrast to the modern era, the first-century world teemed with religions and with individuals claiming spiritual knowledge who preyed on people afraid of evil spirits, omens, curses, and the ubiquitous presence of death. The mention of ‘Satan’s so-called deep secrets’ (v 24) and the ‘morning star’ (v 28) allude to the mystery religions which shaped the culture within which converts had grown up and which tempted them to accept the synthesis taught by ‘Jezebel’ (v 20). The mention of the ‘morning star’ suggests the influence of astrology, but here Jesus, who rules the stars and who will later be described as ‘the bright Morning Star’,1 promises to give his faithful followers a light which outshines all the stars.
The reference to the authority over the nations does not mean that the church can behave like the empire. Its victory, by contrast, comes from the power of the faith, service, and perseverance which Christ commended in Thyatira.2
How can we avoid the extremes of Ephesus and Thyatira described here? Why is it so difficult to hold love and truth together?
Dear Lord, distractions and fear often keep me from hearing you. I commit myself anew to paying attention to you and attuning my spiritual ear to hear your voice.
1 Rev 22:16 2 Pablo Richard, Apocalypse: A People’s Commentary on the Book of Revelation, Wipf and Stock, 2008, p58,59
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