Revelation – The letter to the Corrupt church in Thyatira – (4) So …

In Part 4 of The letter to the church in Thyatira, we’ll look at the So portion. In Part 3, we looked at Jezebel from the Old Testament. Now, we have a new Jezebel type of person in this church. The OT Jezebel came to a horrible end, as did her followers. It seems that Jesus is going to do the same thing in this church.  Let’s move on to the “so this is what’s going to happen” portion of the letter.

Revelation – The letter to the Corrupt church in Thyatira – (4) So ... is article #21 in the series: Seven Letters to Seven Churches. Click button to view titles for entire series
Revelation – The letter to the church in Thyatira - (4) So ...

You followed the Jezebel
in your church,

So …

Before we resume with the letter to the church in Thyatira, here’s the breakdown for this particular letter.

Tothe angel of the church in Thyatira
Fromthe Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
Divine KnowledgeI know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
But -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. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.
So -So 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.
Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.

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.
To those who overcomeTo 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
HearHe who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Table of Contents

  • Articles for the church in Thyatira:
  • The letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira – (1) Intro
  • This article: The letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira – (2) Divine Knowledge
  • The letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira – (3) But …
  • The letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira – (4) So …
  • The letter to the corrupt church in Thyatira – (5) Conclusion

So … for the church in Thyatira

Based on the “But …” portion of the letter, Jesus says to the people in this church who need to change their ways”

So 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.

As with the Old Testament Jezebel, the price to be paid will be not only Jezebel, but those who follow her.  The thing here though – the time for repenting by the false prophetess in Thyatira is over.  She’s doomed.  However, there’s still a chance for her followers.

While the letter to the church in Thyatira doesn’t explain how Jezebel was given a chance to repent, or why that chance is now over, we can draw some conclusions.  As always, we need to be careful of a few things while doing that.  Stay within the Bible.  Don’t draw unwarranted conclusions, paying extra attention to our own personal biases.  And don’t assume that whatever conclusions we do reach is the complete list.

If you do this in a group, it’s likely that each person has a different list of things.  It’s only natural.  We’re at different levels in our study of the Bible and in our faith.  We have different life experiences.  And based on the first things, we probably have different expectations for the future.  Not only that, but as we grow and mature in our faith, we will see different things.

With that in mind, here are some possible conclusions as to why the Jezebel in Thyatira has reached the end of her time there.  Of course, it’s also a list of things for which we should examine ourselves, to be sure we don’t even start down that path.

Some in the church have already called for repentance

Godly men called upon the church to repent, but she refused to do so. Therefore, there is no call to repent in this letter. Only judgment remains. This church remains apart from the truth of God until she is joined with all the systems of religious evil of the world (cf. chs. 18–19).  [1]Hindson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2663). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

It only makes sense that someone has called for repentance.  God would not pass judgment with no chance to turn back.  Check out the passage below about how many times we should forgive someone.

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

Mt 18:21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Mt 18:22 Jesus answered,I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Mt 18:23 “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24 As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. 25 Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

Mt 18:26 “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ 27 The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

Mt 18:28 “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.

Mt 18:29 “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

Mt 18:30 “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31 When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

Mt 18:32 “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

Mt 18:35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Not so obvious to non-Christians is the meaning of I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.  Sometimes it’s translated as seventy times seven.  It’s not that there’s a difference or a discrepancy.  The number given is something to represent unlimited.  In other words, Jesus told Peter that we should always forgive, with no limit.

Given that, how can God Himself put a limit on?

Actually, there is one way.  But one that’s not ours to forgive.

A Call to Persevere

Heb 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Heb 10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Heb 10:32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.

Heb 10:35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while,
“He who is coming will come and will not delay.

Heb 10:38 But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back,
I will not be pleased with him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

Pay special attention to:

Heb 10:26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Of course, that may not apply to the Thyatiran Jezebel.  It’s possible that she was never a believer in the first place.

But what about the other people in that church?  Or our church, if there’s a Jezebel in it?  When we add the passage above to the Great Commission, there should be someone (more than just one, actually) who tries to reach this Jezebel.  If that didn’t happen in Thyatira, would Jesus have told them:  

I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
and
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.

I doubt it.  I believe it’s safe to assume there were at least some in that church who spoke with her.  Some who gave her opportunities to repent.  And therefore, God is justified in passing judgment now.  Not only for her to pay the price, but to save the faithful people remaining in the church.

It’s hard to balance forgiveness and falling into a trap

There is a striking contrast between this church and that in Ephesus, for the church in Thyatira was not defective in love, whereas Ephesus had abandoned its first love. But, while Ephesus had no tolerance for error and false messengers, Thyatira’s fault was a willingness to 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 (v. 20). This contrast points up the difficulty of striking a balance between a generous and forgiving love and a proper intolerance for heresy and sin in the church.  [2]Gregg, S. (1997). Revelation, four views: a parallel commentary (p. 71). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson Publishers.

It is hard.  We have to walk that line between loving someone and not becoming so accustomed to their  ungodly ways that we start to think it’s OK.  Worse yet, before we start to follow their ways.

It would be so much easier if we just kick them out of the church.  But while that may be necessary at some point, it shouldn’t be done without much prayer and also, somehow, be done in a loving manner.

On the extremes, there’s the possibility that we become like the church in Pergamum.  We certainly don’t want to hear the things they did:

Rev 2:14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. 15 Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the danger of quenching the Holy Spirit.  If we are supposed to be the ones who try to get someone to repent, and we continually refuse to do so, at some point we may be guilty of quenching the Holy Spirit.  As I said, the Biblical Jezebel never had any interest in God.  But we can’t necessarily say the same for a modern-day Jezebel.  Without prayer, we just don’t know what to do about “her”.

But we can keep in mind something Peter wrote.  As you read the passage below, prepare for the transition to the next portion of Jesus’ letter to Thyatira – this Jezebel’s followers and what will happen to them.  Keep in mind also, if we’re not careful, we can become one of her followers.

False Teachers and Their Destruction

2Pe 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

OK – there goes Jezebel.  But what of her followers?

2Pe 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;

Not good news for the Jezebel followers.

5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;

Nor is this.  Although, there’s a glimmer of hope with Noah and his family.

6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—

We’re getting ever closer to a description of the church in Thyatira with Lot.

9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.

This is a pretty good description of what’s going on in Thyatira.  Question – what about our churches and our own lives?  Do we see any of it in our own circle of existence?

10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.
Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12 But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

2Pe 2:13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done.

There’s always a price to be paid.  The only question is – who pays?  Us for our own sins?  Or will we follow Jesus and accept His offer of payment for our sins?

Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.

Here’s one of the problems.  Evil people might be perfectly willing to be with us.  But who is impacting who?  Are we converting them?  Or are they corrupting us?

14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15 They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man’s voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

The names may be different now.  There’s no group literally following Balaam by name – not that I’ve heard.  But the practice of doing things that are against God continues.

2Pe 2:17 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”

And the ending there is the real “killer”. 

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.  

It’s hard for us to comprehend, but Peter says it’s better to never know Jesus than to know Him and fall away.

That should be more than enough reason for us to be concerned and show love to those who are in danger of going that route.  We just need to be sure, through the strength of the Holy Spirit, that we don’t go the same way,

After looking at what Peter wrote, we can idea about when Jesus’ letter to the church in Thyatira says:

I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead.

Her children, of course, are the followers of the false prophetess Jezebel in the church.  The death may or may not be a physical one.  But for sure, it will be the spiritual second death, unless they repent. 

The only things the followers may have in their favor are (1) someone who will lovingly try to get them to repent and get back on the right path and (2) the fact that God is still offering forgiveness to them – as opposed to Jezebel who has no such offer anymore.

Again – knowing these things should have a huge impact on the way we live our lives.  First, to avoid being in the situation of following a Jezebel.  And also to be ready, willing and able to help someone who is following her.

So, continued:

As if what we just read wasn’t enough, Jesus continues in this letter to the church in Thyatira.

Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. 

That statement is redundant, given the rest of the letter.  More than redundant.  Clearly this is something Jesus wants everyone to be totally clear about.

Earlier in Revelation, we read:

One Like a Son of Man

Rev 1:9 I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.”

John was told to write on a scroll.  Not that it literally said “a” scroll.  But it did say “scroll” singular.  That means one.  A.  And therefore, also means to send “it”, the one and only scroll John wrote on.  There weren’t seven scrolls, one for each church.  Just the one.

That’s probably also why scholars believe the one scroll was sent in order to each of the seven churches.  Each church, in the order mentioned by Jesus, was on a singular path, starting with Ephesus and then being passed on to the next church through to Laodicea.  

That’s important, because with that logic, each church already knows what Jesus wrote to each of the other churches.  But here, Jesus specifically says, Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. That’s something each church should be able to deduce on their own.  But Jesus wants to make extra certain they know this.

But back up a moment.  No – these churches didn’t have a New Testament to read.  Or even to be read to them.  But then, at that time, they were used to having to memorize things.  Surely, they already were are that God knew everything they did and thought.  That knowledge went way back in their Jewish Scriptures and would have been known even to Gentiles through the teachings of the churches.

So this is at least double redundant.  The fact that Jesus searches hearts and minds would have been well known.  As was His requirement for justice.

So I think we also need to note that the first four churches shared a common problem.  They all had issues with false doctrine in their churches.  It came in different ways, and was handled in different ways.  But the common thread existed in all four of them.

I also believe that we need to recognize the significance of false teaching coming up in four of the seven churches.  That’s more than half.  It’s very common.  It’s also unacceptable to Jesus.  It’s not something we should ignore.  But it is something we should always watch for, both in our churches and in ourselves.

So, continued:

Jesus has still more to say to the church in Thyatira. And, by the way, through them to all of us.

The difference here though is that this part of the letter is meant for those who have not turned away from Jesus.

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.

What are Satan’s so-called deep secrets?

There are different viewpoints on this.  Probably the most complete one I found that makes a lot of sense is this:

the depths—These false prophets boasted peculiarly of their knowledge of mysteries and the deep things of God; pretensions subsequently expressed by their arrogant title, Gnostics (“full of knowledge”).

There are a couple problems right away.  For one – boasting.  But on top of that, boasting about something that’s not even close to being true.

The Spirit here declares their so-called “depths,” (namely, of knowledge of divine things) to be really “depths of Satan”;

Note: so-called.

just as in Rev 2:9, He says, instead of “the synagogue of God,” “the synagogue of Satan.” HENGSTENBERG thinks the teachers themselves professed to fathom the depths of Satan, giving loose rein to fleshly lusts, without being hurt thereby. They who thus think to fight Satan with his own weapons always find him more than a match for them. … The original sin of Adam was a desire to know EVIL as well as good, so in HENGSTENBERG’S view, those who professed to know “the depths of Satan.” It is the prerogative of God alone to know evil fully, without being hurt or defiled by it.  [3]Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 558). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

I suspect even the worst of the evil people who have inhabited this world will be totally shocked when they come face to face with 100% true evil in the next life.  There will be nothing but evil, since nothing of God will be present where they end up.  Only a defeated and incredibly angry Satan. 

If we need any further incentive to talk to our family, loved ones and friends about Jesus, maybe the idea of saving them from this will help.  Can you even imagine what it will be like for the “least” evil people of those who aren’t saved?  Would you even wish that on anyone you know?

So, continued:

Jesus expands on a portion of His words for those who have not deserted Him.

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.

For whoever isn’t following the Thyatira Jezebel, Jesus adds no other warnings or tasks.  Only that they hang on until He comes for them.  This led one commentary to say:

… further admonition is added. The spectacle of sin and its results spoke loudly enough to them. Those who had remained true must have been a choice group—a joy to any pastor even in the darkest hour. That which ye have, hold fast till I come, was all that was said—and it was not really necessary, for that is what they had been doing all along. Actually it was more of a compliment than an exhortation.  [4]Blaney, H. J. S. (1966). Revelation . In Hebrews-Revelation (Vol. 6, p. 436). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

I’m someone who doesn’t really know what to do with compliments.  Earlier in my life I never got that many, and when I did it often seemed to be for something really simple.  It was weird to receive a compliment.  Now – if I get one, I feel like I don’t really deserve it.  After all, anything good that I accomplish is through the Holy Spirit.  All I did was not mess up.

But to get something like Only hold on to what you have until I come from Jesus – at a time and situation like what’s going on in Thyatira?  That would be worth hearing.  I wouldn’t put that down as unnecessary.  It seems like encouragement that was badly needed and probably much appreciated.  

I feel like, after hearing the letter addressed to my church, I’d be convicted for not having done more for those who did follow their local Jezebel.  It would be awful.  I don’t think I’d feel like my life was a job well done.  But hearing this from Jesus would be something I feel like I don’t deserve, but nonetheless welcome to my ears and my soul.

Whew – let’s take a breath

That was a lot! Time for a break in the action. In the next and final portion of the letter. we’ll look at what The Spirit says to the churches, what is to be given to the overcomers, and some conclusions about the letter to the Church in Thyatira.

Footnotes

1Hindson, E. E., & Kroll, W. M. (Eds.). (1994). KJV Bible Commentary (p. 2663). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
2Gregg, S. (1997). Revelation, four views: a parallel commentary (p. 71). Nashville, TN: T. Nelson Publishers.
3Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 558). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
4Blaney, H. J. S. (1966). Revelation . In Hebrews-Revelation (Vol. 6, p. 436). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Please leave a comment or ask a question - it's nice to hear from you.

Scroll to Top

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close

I