The Letter to Thyatira (Rev. 2:18–29)
Thyatira was a city of the province of Lydia in western Asia Minor (modern Turkey) situated on the road from Pergamos to Sardis.
The apostle Paul’s first convert in Europe was “Lydia,” a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira (Acts 16:14). The modern name of Thyatira is “Akhisar,” which means “white castle.”
2:18 “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:
The title “the Son of God” and the two descriptive phrases drawn from the vision of the risen Christ in 1:12–17 identify the writer as the Lord Jesus Christ. As noted, in introducing Himself in the seven letters, Christ chose the phrases from that earlier vision that best fit His approach to each angel of the seven churches. The words the Lord Jesus Christ chose here focus on His role as divine Judge.
The title “the Son of God” emphasizes Christ’s relationship with God, stressing His oneness with the Father (John 5:18). “The Father judges no one but has committed all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22).
The Lord Jesus Christ has “eyes like a flame of fire” (Rev. 2:18). A church may feel satisfied with itself and have a good reputation in the community or other churches. However, the penetrating eyes of the Lord Jesus Christ see it as it is.
Describing the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ like “fine brass” is reminiscent of (Rev. 19:15), as the Lord Jesus Christ treads “the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.”
2:19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.
The Lord Jesus Christ praised the angel of the church at Thyatira before voicing His concerns about him. He assured him that He had not forgotten his righteous works (Heb. 6:10), dividing them into four categories.
First, the angel of the church of Thyatira was showing love for God and one another. This love was fragile since there was not a strong foundation of unified sound doctrine. However, in some ways, Thyatira was strong, where Ephesus was weak. The church’s angel at Thyatira is the first of the angels of the seven churches that the Lord Jesus Christ commended for his love.
the Lord Jesus Christ commended him for his faith. The New Testament frequently
link faith and love together
(1 Cor. 13:2,13; 2 Cor. 8:7; Gal. 5:6; Eph. 1:15, 3:17; Col. 1:4; 1 Thess. 1:3, 3:6, 5:8; 2 Thess. 1:3; 1 Tim. 1:14, 2:15, 6:11;
2 Tim. 1:13, 2:22, 3:10; Titus 2:2).
Out of faith and love, grow service and perseverance. Those who love will express it by meeting the needs of others. Those faithful will steadfastly persevere in the faith (Matt. 16:24–26; 24:13).
Having Greater Works
Not only did he possess these virtues, but his later deeds were marvelous in number than his first. His loving service was becoming more consistent, and his faithful perseverance was growing stronger. So, he was growing in grace, maturing in his Christian life, and advancing the cause of Christ (2 Pet. 1:8). For that behavior, the Lord Jesus Christ praised the angel of the church in Thyatira.
2:20 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.
Despite the angel’s commendation from the Lord Jesus Christ, all was not well with him. The Lord Jesus Christ discerned serious error in him and warned him as a result.
The angel of the church in Thyatira allowed “Jezebel, who called herself a prophetess,” to teach in the church, in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12, which says women are not to teach in the church. Jezebel had no sound doctrine. She taught and seduced Christ’s servants to “commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols” (Rev. 2:20).
“Jezebel” was probably not the actual name of the false prophetess in the church of Thyatira. Instead, it might be a symbolic name referring to the infamous wife of King Ahab. Both the false prophetess and Jezebel were Satan’s agents to corrupt God’s people.
The Old Testament Jezebel was such an unspeakably vile woman that the Bible connects her name with wicked King Ahab’s evil deeds (1 King 16:30–31). Through Jezebel’s corrupt influence, Baal worship became widespread in Israel.
Like her Old Testament counterpart, the woman in Thyatira falsely called herself a prophetess. She had led Christ’s servants to live in sin so that they committed immoral acts and ate things sacrificed to idols. Jezebel may have believed that no matter how much God’s people sinned, God would graciously forgive them.
Whatever the specific content of Jezebel’s false teaching, she led most believers in Thyatira astray from truth and righteousness. The Lord Jesus Christ describes the severe consequences for those who lead believers into sin (Matt. 18:6–10).
2:21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.
Graciously the Lord Jesus Christ “gave her [Jezebel] time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent” (Rev. 2:21). She loved the darkness rather than the light (John 3:19). Jezebel despised the riches of God’s goodness and patience, and she did not know that God’s kindness was to lead her into repentance (Rom. 2:4).
2:22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.
Jezebel’s refusal to repent would lead her to a possible terrible judgment of death (1 Cor. 11:30; 1 John 5:16). The sentence would affect her and her spiritual children, who committed adultery with her. The Lord Jesus Christ declared, “Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds” (Rev. 2:22). He also declared, “I will kill her children with death” (Rev. 2:23).
This severe judgment again reveals God’s passion for a pure church with sound doctrine and the holiness of the Lord. “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word… that she should be holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25–27).
The Lord Jesus Christ will do whatever is necessary to purge His church of sin, even if it means taking the lives of false teachers. Therefore, all teachers in the church should be sure they are speaking the truth (James 3:1). Also, Christians who follow false teachers or live in immorality need to repent of their sins lest they face divine chastening.
2:23 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.
The judgment against the church’s angel in Thyatira serves to warn against the evil of tolerating sin. We cannot hide anything from the eyes of the Lord.
God is the righteous judge “who will render to each person according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:6). In the second coming of Christ, He will judge everyone according to their deeds (Matt. 16:27; Rev. 22:12). He will not punish the innocent with the guilty.
2:24 “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.
Having warned the practitioners of false doctrine to repent, the Lord Jesus Christ addressed words of comfort to the others in Thyatira, who did not hold to Jezebel’s false teaching. He defines true believers as those “who have not known the depths [the deep things] of Satan” (Rev. 2:24). They have not adhered to the teachings that said, “Let us do evil that good may come” (Rom. 3:8).
To the true believers, who had not received the alleged knowledge of Satan through Jezebel and her followers, Christ promised, “I will put on you no other burden” (Rev. 2:24). This promise is reminiscent of God’s words of comfort to those who feared Him and esteemed His name. He said, “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them As a man spares his own son who serves him” (Mal. 3:17).
2:25 But hold fast what you have till I come.
In case the angel of the church in Thyatira became weary, Christ encouraged him, “hold fast what you have till I come” (Rev. 2:25). All believers are to “cling to what is good” until the appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:9; 1 Cor. 10:12).
2:26 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;
Power Over the Nations
Christ offered His promise to those who overcome and keep His works until the end. This promise has its roots in Psalm 2:7–9, in which God declared He would give His Messiah all the nations as His inheritance and put them under His feet. Similarly, God will grant those who overcome authority over the nations in Christ. They will rule with a rod of iron (Rev. 12:5; 19:15).
In (Rev. 2:26–27), the Lord Jesus Christ declares that the faithful are partners with Him in His glory. He said to His disciples, “in the regeneration when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones” (Matt. 19:28).
2:28 and I will give him the morning star.
Receiving the Morning Star
Christ also promised to give His faithful followers “the morning star” (Rev. 2:28). Some connect the morning star with Daniel 12:3 and Matthew 13:43. However, it is better to see the morning star as Christ Himself, which He assumed in (Rev. 22:16) and (2 Pet. 1:19). When the life of Christ, the morning star, dwells in the faithful believers, they will know the depths of the love of God, which surpasses all knowledge, and reflects His glory.
2:29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Hearing the Words of the Spirit
These concluding words charge the church’s angel in Thyatira to heed the letter’s message. Three essential truths stand out: First, this letter reveals the seriousness of practicing and tolerating sin. God will judge the unrepentant sinners in the church. Second, God marks the true Christians by a pattern of obedience. Finally, God graciously promises the faithful that they will experience all the fullness of Christ and reign with Him in God’s kingdom. Those churches, like Thyatira, who fail to heed the message, will receive divine judgment; those who do heed its message will receive divine blessing.
 Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers.