Thyatira, the modern Turkish city of Akhisar, is located 64 kilometers (40 miles) south east of Pergamum in Asia Minor. It was known for a dyeing industry and woolen goods. Lydia, who sold purple in Philippi, was from Thyatira (Acts 16:14). There was a very strong guild movement. A merchant or tradesman could not work in certain trades unless he was a member of a guild which is similar to what we would think of as a trade union. Guild members were expected to attend festivals involving meat offered to the pagan god of the guild. The god Apollo was commonly worshipped; he was often described in similar fashion to the wording of verse 18.
Go back to the letter to the previous church - Pergamos.
"And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;" (Rev 2:18)
This description is similar to that given in chapter one except that here He is called the "son of God."
"And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters." (Rev 1:13-15)
"I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first." (Rev 2:19)
The original word for charity used here is "agape" which is the strongest form of love.
"Jezebel's" Influence in Thyatira
"Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols." (Rev 2:20)
King Ahab of Israel married Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. She influenced him to worship Baal and lead God's people into apostasy and idol worship. Jezebel represents spiritual adultery and a mixing of the true with the false.
"And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him ... he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him." (1 Kings 16:30-31)
"And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not." (Rev 2:21)
God's great desire is always that sinners repent and turn to Him and become His friends. He never withholds granting His forgiveness to even the worst of sinners. The question is whether they will accept that forgiveness and repent or not.
"Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds." (Rev 2:22)
"Cast into a bed" is a Semitic idiom. We could say "if you play with fire you will get burned."
"And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works." (Rev 2:23)
Those who are involved with spiritual Jezebel and her sins will share the same fate. To kill with death sounds strange but "death" is a reference to the pestilence or plague. Children could extend beyond literal offspring to those who are adherents of her ways. There could be a connection to the slaughter of king Ahab's 70 children by Jehu:
"And it came to pass, when the letter came to them, that they took the king’s sons, and slew seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets, and sent him them to Jezreel." (2 Kings 10:7)
Thyatira, I Know Thy Works
There was reference to God knowing their works in verse 19. God knows our works because He searches the reins and the hearts. This is a reference to God's knowledge of all that we do and think.
"I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings." (Jer 17:10)
"Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, even thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)" (1 Kings 8:39)
The reins (kidneys, as in "renal") were understood to be the physical seat of the will and affections whereas the heart was referring to the intellect.
To the Overcomers in Thyatira
"But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden." (Rev 2:24)
The "rest" could be related to the remnant of Rev 12:17, the loyal ones. "Not known" is to not know by experience or, in this case, participation in the depths or deep things of Satan. This is as opposed to the deep things of God.
"But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." (1 Cor 2:10)
God is careful not to overburden us. He knows what we are capable of handling.
"For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well." (Acts 15:28-29)
"But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father." (Rev 2:25-27)
The message to each of the seven churches says "to him that overcometh" suggesting that there will be some that overcome from each group. The wording here ("unto the end") suggests that at least some in Thyatira will be present at the Second Coming.
"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Matt 24:13)
This portion of Revelation 2 is quoting from the Psalms.
"Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel." (Psa 2:8-9)
"And I will give him the morning star." (Rev 2:28)
Jesus identifies Himself as the morning star; he promises to give Himself, His presence to the overcomers:
"I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star." (Rev 22:16)
"We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:" (2 Pet 1:19)
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches." (Rev 2:29)
The next of the messages to the seven churches was addressed to the church in SardisDownload a PDF chart of the messages to the seven churches of Revelation.
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