What was Jesus’ message to the church in Thyatira in Revelation?

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Question: "What was Jesus’ message to the church in Thyatira in Revelation?"

In Revelation 2:18-29 Jesus sends His message to the church of Thyatira. Thyatira was a wealthy town on the Lycus River in the Roman province of Asia (modern-day Turkey).

The message was from the Lord Jesus Christ through an angel (or “messenger”): “To the angel of the church in Thyatira write . . .” (Revelation 2:18). This was not John’s message to the Thyatiran believers; it was a message from the Lord. The description at the end of verse 18 verifies the author of this message is Jesus Christ: “The words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.” This description removes any doubt of the identity of the One giving the message.

After identifying Himself, Jesus affirms the church’s positive actions: “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first” (Revelation 2:19). Five qualities are listed: 1) love, 2) faith, 3) service, 4), patient endurance, and 5) greater works.

Next, Jesus notes their sin: “Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols” (Revelation 2:20). Apparently, a false prophetess was leading believers into compromise. The church was engaging in sexual immorality and dabbling in idolatry. It is possible that “Jezebel” was her real name, but it is more likely the name was a metaphorical reference to the Jezebel of the Old Testament—another idolatrous woman who opposed God’s ways. Rather than rebuke this false teacher and send her out of the church, the believers in Thyatira were allowing her to continue her deception.

Jesus pronounces judgment on this “Jezebel” and calls the church of Thyatira to repent of their sin: “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. I will strike her children dead” (Revelation 2:22-23).

Then Jesus encourages those who had remained faithful: “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): Only hold on to what you have until I come” (Revelation 2:24-25). The faithful believers did not fall into Satan’s trap, and they only needed to remain faithful until Christ’s return.

Jesus lists His promises to the believers in Thyatira: “To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—‘He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery’—just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star” (Revelation 2:26-28). These blessings would include 1) authority over the nations, 2) victory over all enemies, and 3) the morning star. This morning star is Jesus Himself, as Revelation 22:16 reveals. Jesus will give Himself to His church, and they will fellowship together forever.

Recommended Resource: The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting by Colin Hemer

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