Of the seven cities of Revelation 2 and 3, Thyatira was the least important. The city was known for its high-quality bronze used to produce weapons that, when properly polished, gleamed like gold. It was also known for producing cloth dyed red or purple. Acts 16:14 tells of Lydia, the dealer in purple cloth from Thyatira, who met Paul when he came to Philippi. Economically, the town was dominated by various trade guilds that mixed their trades with paganism and immorality.
I. JESUS KNOWS THE TRUTH ABOUT THE
The message begins with a description of
Jesus Christ (Rev. 2:18). This is the only time
in Revelation where Christ is called the “Son
of God.” In our pluralistic society, this is the
most divisive claim we can make. We believe
that from all eternity, God has existed as Father,
Son, and Holy Spirit. To say Jesus is the “Son
of God” means that when we worship Him, we
are truly worshiping God Himself. So this is God
speaking to the church at Thyatira.
II. JESUS PRAISES THE GOOD IN THE
But first, we get the good news. In many
ways, Thyatira is the best of the four churches
we have studied so far. Look at what Jesus says
about it (verse 19). This church has the good
works of Ephesus along with the love Ephesus
lacked. It has the perseverance of Smyrna and
the good theology of the majority of the church
at Pergamum. Whatever else we can say about
Thyatira, the Lord clearly says that it was still
making progress spiritually. It’s wonderful to
be part of a church that is growing in love and
knowledge and zeal for Christ. So our Lord has
high praise for this church that was advancing
for the gospel in an unlikely place.
III. JESUS EXPOSES EVIL IN THE CHURCH
And it is that high praise that makes the
rest of this passage so unsettling. Somehow,
in the midst of their growth, the believers at
Thyatira had allowed an ungodly woman to rise
to a place of enormous spiritual influence (Rev.
There are many mysteries here that the
text does not explain. Who was this woman and
how did she rise to prominence in an otherwise
excellent congregation? Our Lord clearly refers to a real person even though the name Jezebel
is likely not her real name but rather an allusion
to the wicked wife of King Ahab (1 Kings 16:29-
33; 18:13; 19:1, 2; 21:5-16, 23-25; 2 Kings
9:30-37). The crafty Jezebel became a symbol
for a seductive form of evil that not only allowed
for idolatry but promoted it; not only allowed
adultery but encouraged and rewarded it. The
Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary says,
“It would appear that, as Jezebel sponsored the
worship of Baal in Israel (1 Kings 21:25), so
in John’s days some false prophetess was attempting
to lead astray the church at Thyatira.”1
But how could such a woman come to
power in the church at Thyatira? I think the answer
is in the word “prophetess.” By claiming
to speak for God, she gained credibility with
gullible, untaught Christians. One could imagine
that such a woman combined a powerful personality
with persuasive speech, a seductive
smile, and withering scorn for her critics. She
was no doubt clever, quick on her feet, slick in
her presentation, and extremely dangerous.
And she did it all under the guise of being
a “good Christian.” No doubt her followers filled
the pews at Thyatira. It worked for the first Jezebel
in the Old Testament, and it worked for her
namesake in Thyatira.
IV. JESUS JUDGES EVIL IN THE CHURCH
When Jesus says, “I gave her time to
repent,” He perhaps means that the church
leaders had confronted her about her sinful behavior,
and she did not respond. While it is true
that the patience of God is meant to lead us to
repentance, it is also true that God’s patience
has a limit.
In this case, the judgment is spelled out.
First, there will be intense suffering (Rev 2:22).
Second, her followers will die (verse 23a).
Third, all the churches will know that God is serious
about sin in the church (verse 23b).
Be sure your sin will find you out. What you
do in secret will be shouted from the housetops.
What you do in the darkness will be seen as if it
had been done at midday.
V. JESUS ENCOURAGES HIS FAITHFUL
FOLLOWERS (REV. 2:24, 25)
The phrase “so-called deep secrets” gives
us a clue about what was going on. Jezebel
enticed her followers by promising them knowledge and experience that came through some
combination of pagan ritual, Christian symbolism,
and sexual experimentation, all under the
banner of learning “deep secrets” that other
people do not know. Note that in this case, Jesus
doesn’t tell them to cast the woman out of
the church. Evidently Jezebel was so deeply
embedded in the life of the church that Christ
dealt with her personally.
VI. JESUS PROMISES TO SHARE HIS VICTORY
Here is the promise Christ makes to those
who hold on in Thyatira (Rev. 2:26-28): Those
who remain faithful will one day reign with
Christ. If we are faithful, we will share in His
• If you are willing, you can be changed.
• If you are willing, you can be made clean.
• If you are willing, you can have a new start.
• If you are willing, your sins can be
We are all saved in the same way: by the
free grace of God. To those who are scarred by
wrong choices in the past, you can be forgiven
and made clean—if you are willing. You may
still live with certain consequences of your past,
but you can have the burden of guilt lifted from
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor.
Think of it this way: You can have Jezebel
or you can have Jesus, but you can’t have
both. Which do you want? If you want Jesus,
you must turn your back on Jezebel and turn
your heart over to the Lord. Give to Him all that
you are, including the sins that stain your past.
Trust in Him as your Lord and Savior. Come to
Christ just as you are, and He will never turn
you away. He loves you. He came from heaven
to save you. He died on the cross for you. He
invites you to come to Him.
A new life awaits those who say “Yes” to
Jesus, but you must come to Him to receive
1 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, 7:751.