Revelation 2:18-29

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.]

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“But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:36-40

These words of Jesus tell us the will of God the Father: “that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

God’s desire for you and for me is that we see Jesus through the teaching of Scripture and come to Him in faith, trusting that in Him we have a savior from sin and its consequences — believing that He has fulfilled the righteous demands of God’s holy commandments in our stead and that He has suffered the just punishment for our sins and the sins of all by His innocent sufferings and death on the cross.

And it is God’s gracious will that all who come to faith in Jesus as their Savior continue in that faith and are raised up on the last day to life everlasting! His desire is that no one rejects Jesus or turns away from Jesus in unbelief or sin, but that all repent of their sins and trust in Jesus until death and be raised up by Jesus unto eternal life.

Yet, many see and hear of Jesus but do not believe. Why? Because no one, by his own reason or strength, can believe. No one can come to faith by his own will or decision; it is by God’s gracious working through His Word — convincing them of their sin and guilt and comforting them with the promises of pardon, forgiveness, and eternal life through faith in Jesus and His cross (cf. John 1:10-13; 6:43-44).

This remains somewhat of a mystery for us. No one can come to faith in Jesus apart from the gracious working of God’s Holy Spirit through the Word of God, and God truly desires all to be saved through faith in His Son. Yet, some — indeed, many — hear of Jesus and what He has done for them and yet reject Him as Messiah and Savior.

All we can say is what Scripture teaches. If we believe in Jesus and continue in that faith, we give all glory to God for bringing us to repentance and faith in Jesus and preserving us in that faith through His Word and Sacraments. However, if we do not repent of our sins and look to Jesus and His cross in faith for pardon and forgiveness, we can only blame ourselves for turning away from the salvation God has so graciously provided for us in His Son.

It is as the Scriptures say: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9); “‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6); and “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you” (Acts 7:51).

O gracious and merciful God, forgive me for resisting the working of the Holy Spirit in my heart and neglecting to hear and heed Your Word calling me to repent of my sins and to look in faith to Jesus’ holy life and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross for my salvation. Graciously awaken my heart to my own sinfulness and move me to repent and trust in the perfect sacrifice of Christ Jesus for pardon and forgiveness. Through Your Word, preserve me in the true and saving faith unto life everlasting. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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Revelation 2:12-17 is a letter from Jesus to the church in Pergamos, one of the seven churches in Asia Minor that received messages from Jesus through the apostle John.

Pergamos was a city that was known for its idolatry and emperor worship, as well as its cultural and intellectual achievements. It had a famous library of 200,000 volumes and was the place where parchment was invented. It also had temples dedicated to Zeus, Athena, Dionysus, and Asclepius, the god of healing, whose symbol was a serpent.

The letter begins with an introduction of Jesus as the one who has the sharp two-edged sword, which represents His authority and judgment (Rev. 1:12,16; cf. Heb. 4:12). He commends the church for holding fast to His name and not denying His faith, even in the midst of persecution and martyrdom. He mentions Antipas, who was a faithful witness of Jesus and was killed in Pergamos, possibly by being burned alive in a bronze bull.

However, Jesus also rebuked the church for tolerating some false teachers who followed the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans. Balaam was a prophet who enticed the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and committing sexual immorality with the Moabite women (Num. 22-25). The Nicolaitans were a sect that apparently also practiced idolatry and immorality, claiming that they had freedom from the law (Rev. 2:6). Jesus warns the church to repent of these sins, or else He will come quickly and fight against them with the sword of His mouth.

He then gives a promise to those who overcome and remain faithful to Him. He will give them some of the hidden manna, which is the heavenly food that sustains the life of God’s people (Exo. 16:32-36; John 6:31-35). He will also give them a white stone with a new name written on it, which is a symbol of acceptance and identity in God’s kingdom (Isa. 62:2; Rev. 3:12).

The letter ends with an exhortation to hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The message is relevant not only for the church in Pergamos but for all Christians who live in a world that is hostile to the gospel and tempted by sin. We are called to be faithful witnesses of Jesus, to resist compromise and corruption, and to look forward to the reward that He has prepared for us.

Following is a more detailed breakdown of the passage:

Verse 12: Jesus identifies Himself as the one who has the sharp, double-edged sword. This sword represents the Word of God, which is powerful and can judge both the righteous and the unrighteous (cf. Heb. 4:12f.).

Verse 13: Jesus tells the church in Pergamum that He knows where they live — where Satan has his throne. This does not mean that the church was literally located in the throne room of Satan, but it does mean that they were surrounded by pagan worship and idolatry. Despite this, the church had remained faithful to Jesus.

Verses 14-15: Jesus tells the church that He has a few things against them. He mentions two false teachings in particular: the teaching of Balaam and the teaching of the Nicolaitans.

Verse 16: Jesus warns the church to repent of these false teachings or face judgment. Jesus promises to come to the church soon and to fight against the false teachers with the sword of His mouth.

Verse 17: Jesus tells the church that whoever has ears should hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He then promises a reward to the one who is victorious: some of the hidden manna and a white stone with a new name written on it.

The hidden manna is a reference to the manna that God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness. The white stone with a new name written on it is a symbol of victory and new life in Christ.

Revelation 2:12-17 is a reminder that Jesus is calling the church to be faithful to him, even in the face of persecution and false teachings. He is also promising a reward to those who are victorious.

Antipas was a Christian martyr who lived in the city of Pergamum in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) during the first century AD. He is mentioned in the Book of Revelation, where Jesus commends him for remaining faithful to him, even in a place where Satan has his throne (Rev. 2:13).

According to Christian tradition, Antipas was the bishop of Pergamum. He was martyred during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero (54-68 AD). According to one account, he was burned to death in a brazen bull-shaped altar.

Antipas is venerated as a saint in both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches. His feast day is April 11.

Antipas is an example of a faithful Christian who remained true to his faith, even in the face of persecution and death. He is a reminder that Jesus is with us in all things and that He will ultimately triumph over Satan and all his works.



“Then Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ Then they said to Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.’” John 6:32-35 (Read John 6:22-35)

Jesus’ hearers asked Him to give them a sign to prove He was indeed sent by God to be their Messiah and Savior. They told Jesus that Moses had given them manna to eat in the wilderness, and they wanted Jesus to do a similar work to prove He was from God.

Jesus pointed out to them that it was not Moses who gave them manna to eat but God, and now God the Father was providing and offering to them “the true bread from heaven” that “gives life to the world.”

They didn’t understand what Jesus was telling them and said, “Lord, give us this bread always.” They wanted Jesus to feed them every day, “always.”

Then, Jesus clearly stated that He is the Bread of Life. Not only does He create and sustain our earthly lives, forming us in our mothers’ wombs (Ps. 139:13-16) and sustaining our lives with earthly food (cf. Matt. 6:11, 25ff.), He is the source of spiritual and eternal life. He would give His life on the cross for the sins of the world so that we might look to Him in faith and be forgiven and restored to new life in fellowship with the Father (cf. John 6:51; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; John 3:14-16; 1 John 1:5 — 2:2).

Those who, by faith, partake of Jesus and the benefits He won for all by His innocent sufferings and death on the cross are nourished and fed spiritually — they are assured of forgiveness for all their sins and of a place in Christ’s eternal kingdom. As Jesus said, “He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

While we should certainly look to our heavenly Father to provide for us each and every day our daily bread (cf. Luke 11:3), how much more important it is for each of us to partake of the Bread of Life God has given us to nourish our souls and give to us eternal life! God sent His only-begotten Son into the world to do just that — to fulfill all that God’s holy law demands of us and then to bear on the cross the full punishment for our sins that we might look to Jesus in faith — partake of Him and His blessings — and receive God’s pardon and the everlasting joys of heaven.

Those who partake of Christ and His cross in faith have all they need in Christ. They shall never hunger or thirst. But those who do not partake of Christ in faith remain spiritually malnourished, starved, and dead. They hunger and thirst but can find no true spiritual nourishment apart from Jesus that they might live!

Dear Father in heaven, grant that I partake of the true Bread from heaven in faith — that I trust in Jesus’ holy life in my stead and in His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the sins of all that I might be pardoned, forgiven, restored to fellowship with You, and given the eternal joys of heaven, all for Jesus’ sake. In His name, I pray. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]



“Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10b

Though we are saved entirely by God’s grace and mercy toward us for Christ’s sake (cf. Eph. 2:8-10), we are commanded to remain faithful to Christ — even until death — and He promises us a crown of life.

Though there are many examples of believers who held tightly to Christ, even in the face of death, one of the most beautiful professions of such faith is that of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (better known to us as Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego).

When commanded, at the sound of music, to fall down and worship the golden image set up by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, or be cast into a burning, fiery furnace, they answered in this way (Daniel 3:17-18): “If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”

They knew they were to worship the LORD God and serve Him alone (cf. Ex. 20:3-6; Deut. 6:13-15; 13:4), and they were confident that the LORD God could and would deliver them from the fiery death Nebuchadnezzar decreed for them, but even if God let them burn to death in the flames, they were not willing to compromise their faith in the true God and worship the false gods of Babylon.

When we read the rest of the historical account in Daniel 3, we see God intervened and delivered them from the fiery flames, even though the furnace was so hot that the men who had to throw them into the flames died. Then, King Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the power of the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego.

According to church history, Polycarp, a pastor and overseer of the church in Smyrna, the church to whom Revelation 2:8-11 was addressed, also held fast to his faith in Christ Jesus in the face of persecution. Rather than compromise his faith and join in offering incense to Ceasar, he was burned alive for his faith, being faithful to Christ unto death and receiving the crown of life.

But what about us? Jesus commands us to be faithful unto death and not compromise His doctrine or our faith in Him, even unto death (cf. Mark 8:34-38). Do we hold fast to Christ and His doctrine in the face of criticism and ridicule? What if it means losing our job, our property, or even our lives? Are we willing to stand up to church leaders or government officials and obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29)? God is able and may deliver us, but what if suffering or even a martyr’s death is in God’s plan for you or for me? (Cf. 2 Tim. 3:12; John 16:1-3.)

Did Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego earn a place in heaven for their faithfulness? Not at all! Heaven is for them God’s gift of grace in Messiah Jesus — because He suffered and died for their sins and rose again in victory over sin, death and the devil. But had they denied Christ and compromised their faith, they stood to lose everything.

Can we earn heaven by faithfulness? Not at all! Heaven is God’s gracious gift to us in Christ Jesus, too! But if we deny Christ and abandon His Word, we too stand to lose all because there is not “salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Dear Lord Jesus, keep us faithful to You until death, for You are our eternal hope and salvation. Amen.

[Scripture is taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]