Monday, January 25, 2016

Revelation 2:18-29

As John continued transmitting the messages from Jesus to the churches of Asia Minor, he began the letter to Thyatira. Of the towns addressed so far, Thyatira was by far the smallest. Although the town was small in size, by all indications of the letter, the church there was growing at an incredible rate. As with the other churches’ letters, the glorified Jesus began with commendation. Here, the church at Thyatira was doing incredibly well in a number of areas. They were full of love, and service, and faith, and patience and good works. This seemed to be a very healthy church. Earlier in the chapter, we had seen that Ephesus was reproved for lacking love, but not the church of Thyatira. They were doing very well in their love and service for one another.
Sadly, however, they failed in a key area that the Ephesians had succeeded. In verse 2, the Ephesians were commended for being able to disprove wrong teaching and lies and that had tried to creep into the church. They may have struggled with loving, but they were not short on right theology. Now, the church at Thyatira was quite the opposite. They were not short on loving, but they were in grave danger of accepting wrong theology. In verse 20, Jesus began his reasons for what he had “against” Thyatira.
In their acceptance and love, they had apparently fallen prey to false teaching and specifically the false teaching of one who called herself a prophetess. Here she is even called by the name, Jezebel, although that does not necessarily mean it was her name. “Jezebel” could perhaps be a reference to the Old Testament pagan queen who perverted the doctrine of God’s people by calling them into sin. This woman in the church at Thyatira had assumed a teaching position and was peddling a blend of Christianity and sin. In His rebuke against her, Christ mentions directly that she was leading others in sexual sin, seduction, and idolatry. 
She was clearly a wolf in shepherd’s clothing. 
For too long she had been preying on the members of this bustling little church in Thyatira. Now, for the purity of His church, Jesus was calling her out and commanding those who were following her to repent.
To this polluted church came the warning of Christ. He was the One whom we saw in the beginning of this vision standing in the midst of the seven candlesticks. He was there in the presence of his seven churches ministering to them and cultivating them. Now, he gave a warning to one of those churches that He was intimately tending. The warning is found in verses 22-23. This woman who was teaching that sin was acceptable in the church would be cast out and would face the dire consequences of her perversion, and those who chose to follow her would also face equal devastation. Sin in the church was unacceptable. Those who taught such lies and those who followed those lies would be cast out of the church by Christ and destroyed.
Thyatira is a case study for sin in the church. There are those who are convinced that some sins are less grievous than others. They imagine that since they are not committing the dreadful sin of fornication they are not that bad. However, in the presence of a perfect and holy God, all sin is unacceptable, and any who would knowingly continue in unrepentant sin fool themselves into thinking that God does not care. God desires that His church be pure and constantly repentant. He wants His people to put away all sins, great and small - the sin of fornication and the sin of complaining, the sin of false doctrine and the sin of gossip, the sin of deception and the sin of selfishness. God desires that His people be pure and holy and that His church reflect His Holy character.

Reflect: What specific warnings does Jesus give to the church at Thyatira in verses 22-23?