18 “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: 19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. 20 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. 23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.
24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 25 But hold fast what you have till I come. 26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations — 27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ — as I also have received from My Father; 28 and I will give him the morning star.
29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
Notes on Revelation 2:18-29
The city of Thyatira was a wealthy commercial center in the Roman province of Asia (modern-day Turkey). It was known for its textile industry and its temple to the goddess Artemis. The church in Thyatira was one of seven churches in Asia to whom Jesus sent letters through the apostle John in the book of Revelation.
The meaning of Jesus’ letter to the church in Thyatira is a complex one, but its central message is a warning against tolerating false teaching and immorality within the church. Jesus commends the church for its love, faith, service, and endurance, but He rebukes it for allowing a false prophetess, whom He calls Jezebel, to lead members of the church into sexual immorality and idolatry — teaching and seducing Jesus’ servants to commit immoral sexual acts and to eat things sacrificed to idols.
Jezebel is a reference to the wicked queen of Israel in the Old Testament (1 Kings 16:29ff.; 2 Kings 9:30ff.), who was known for her idolatry and her persecution of God’s prophets. The fact that Jesus refers to the false prophetess in Thyatira as Jezebel suggests that she was a particularly dangerous and deceptive figure — leading people to know “the depths of Satan.”
Jesus gives Jezebel and her followers a chance to repent, but He warns them that if they do not, they will be severely punished. He also promises to reward those in the church who remain faithful to him — power over the nations and the morning star (cf. Psalm 2:4-9; Rev. 12:5; 22:16; Dan. 12:1-3; 2 Pet. 1:19-21).
The significance of the letter to the church in Thyatira is a warning to all churches about the dangers of false teaching and immorality (2 Pet. 2:1ff.). It is also a reminder that Jesus is aware of everything that is happening in His churches and that He will hold both leaders and members accountable.
The letter also contains a message of hope for those who are struggling with sin. Jesus offers forgiveness and restoration to all who repent and turn to Him in faith (cf. 1 John 1:7-9; 2:1-2).
The letter to the church in Thyatira teaches us several important lessons:
• We must be careful not to tolerate false teaching or immorality in our churches.
• We must be discerning about the teachers we listen to and the doctrines we embrace.
• We must be willing to confront sin and call each other to repentance.
• We can be confident that Jesus is aware of everything that is happening in our churches and that He will reward those who remain faithful to Him (cf. Dan. 12:1-3; Rev. 2:10).
Even if we are not facing the same specific challenges as the church in Thyatira, we can still learn from Jesus’ letter to the believers there. It is a reminder that we must always be vigilant in our fight against sin and false teaching and that we must always be committed to following Jesus faithfully.
[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]