“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; 19 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. 20 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. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23 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. 24 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. 25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27 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. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 2:18-28).
Moving from the Church of Pergamos, the Spirit of God speaks to the Church in Thyatira. The message to Thyatira is the largest of the seven letters. This may be because Thyatira was the most important of the seven cities. The letter begins with a description of the Son of God. “…who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass.”
The description is taken from Daniel 10:6. The flaming eyes stand for a blazing anger against sin, as well as the awful penetration of a gaze that can strip away outward disguises, and look deep within the heart. There is a need for such eyes, because man is a master of deceit. Men know how to mask the face and feelings so that true intentions are covered. Men know how to say the right thing to lead someone away from some sensitive spot. Jesus wants the Church to know that no one can deceive Him, nor shall anyone escape certain judgment, for “His feet are like fine brass.”
The Church at Thyatira needed to hear this, because there was a woman in the assembly who was destroying the spiritual vitality of the congregation. Her name is unknown, but she had the characteristics of Jezebel. To the Jewish mind there was no greater insult for a woman than to be associated with Jezebel. The original Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon. Jezebel married Ahab, king of Israel.
When Jezebel came from Sidon to Israel, she brought with her pagan gods. With persuasive powers she induced Ahab, and the Jews, to worship Baal. Her initial ambition was not to replace the worship of Jehovah, but merely to add to worship her god, Baal. When the prophets of the Lord resisted the mixture of worship, Jezebel had them murdered. With blood still dripping from her fingertips, Jezebel provided the scheme to murder Naboth, so that her pouting husband, Ahab, might enter into the possession of the vineyard he coveted.
Coming under the judgment of God, Jezebel died in such a way that the dogs came and licked her blood. She left behind a name associated with harlotries and sorceries. Like the original Jezebel of old, the woman called Jezebel in the Church of Thyatira was guilty of great sin. In particular, she was teaching the people to eat meat offered to idols, and to commit fornication. It is probable that the woman did not start out teaching such things contrary to sound doctrine. Counterfeit prophets and prophetess never do.
First, they gain a following by having great intellectual abilities, and personal magnetism. Then, slowly but surely, they offer new insights into the Scriptures, which makes practical sense. The Jezebel of Thyatira made some practical sense in her teachings, because the eating of meat offered to idols was a serious problem for the Christian community.
For many Christians, they simply could not, in good conscience, agree to fellowship with those who offered meat to idols. As a result, the Christians became cut off from social fellowship with non-Christians.
There was another problem. By refusing to eat meat offered to idols a Christian could not join any trade guild, for all the guilds (unions) had a common meal as a central part of their practice. The meal was often held in a heathen temple. It was a very serious matter. To be cut off from a major part of social life, to be forced to give up one’s economic support for a principle, was to pay dearly.
Then came Jezebel. Apparently Jezebel began to teach the Church that there was no need to cut them off from society, or to abstain from guilds. The Church should make money, and should not die for a principle. Such a philosophy is easy to embrace, and becomes very tempting. The letter to Thyatira reminds the people of God that principles are important. Commercial success is not more important than the claims of Christ.
Not only did Jezebel teach the Church members to compromise their convictions, she also taught them to commit fornication. The reference to fornication may refer to spiritual unfaithfulness. In the bible, infidelity to God is expressed in the sexual terms of fornication and adultery.
“Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods” (Ex. 34:15).
The passage could also refer to the fact that this woman was encouraging the people to know “the depths of Satan”. Evil does have its own attraction, and there are many that are willing to explore the depth of the devil. The sexual instinct, uncontrolled by the Spirit of God, will lead a person from one level of perversion to another, until the depths of depravity are reached, and the soul is saturated with sin. The Lord calls the Christian community to a renewed mind, or face certain judgment. For all that repent, for all who overcome, there is a twofold promise.
First, the Church shall have power over the nations. There shall be a messianic reign, and missionary success. Second, the Church shall enjoy the Morning Star. Various solutions have been offered for the Morning Star. This may refer to the first resurrection, the conquest of Lucifer, the glory of being righteous, or to Christ Himself. Observe in conclusion from this passage the following.
It is not the gender of Jezebel that is attacked, but the teachings of this woman that led people away from the truth. Because of Jezebel, the Church had split into factions. Would the Church follow John, or Jezebel? The sin of sectarianism must be arrested.
Judgment must begin in the House of God. “But that which ye have already hold fast till I come” (Rev. 2:25).
The influence of evil is far reaching. Because others might be influenced by sin in the sanctuary, each church has to be reminded that the Lord will strike out against all who preach, and practice false doctrine. “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).
For those who are faithful, there are great and precious promises. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 2:24-29).