The Church of Thyatira is the fourth of seven Churches addressed in Revelation Chapters 2 & 3. It corresponds to the fourth of seven Kingdom of Heaven parables told by our Lord Jesus in Matthew Chapter 13 which is the Parable of the Leaven. They are one and the same.
Many Christians ask, "Does the Church at Thyatira exist today?". The answer is definitely - Yes - . Not only does this Church exist, but it is the easiest and most readily identifiable Church among the seven Churches listed in Revelation. This has been true not only throughout Church history, but also at this present time as we shall see. No other Church in the world today displays the character, description, and doctrine to which both the parable and the Revelation letter point.
Another parable He spoke to them: "The kingdom of heaven is like LEAVEN, which a WOMAN took and hid in three measures of meal till it was ALL Leavened."
We have already addressed the issue of Leaven in other Bible Topic Studies relating to Spiritual Adultery and Spiritual Fornication. It's imperative and a prerequisite that the Bible Student become familiar with these terms before proceeding. You will find these studies here.
If the Bible Student is unaware that the issues in this Church focus on the belief, propagation, and practice of Signs, Wonders, and Miracles, then the reader is forced to view the problems in this church in a Fleshly sense only. If that be the case, then the accusation to this Church by our Lord of committing Fornication and Adultery could well be found in any pagan and Godless environment completely void of the Word of God where a "Church" does not exist. That however, is not the case. The Fornication and Adultery mentioned in this passage is of a "Spiritual" nature.
The Church at Thyatira is a vibrant and growing Church and our Lord issues both commendations and rebuke to HIS Children. We do well to heed HIS remarks - - -
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 Child of God is now aware through the Born Again experience and by the revealing work of the Holy Spirit, that the "man" Jesus who was identified as the Son of Man in the Gospels is also the Son of God. We were saved by Jesus Christ the Son of Man when we believed in HIM as the Savior of our souls, who became the perfect Sacrifice for our sins through HIS death, burial, and glorious resurrection, and the author of Eternal Life. But now, even more, through the scriptures, we recognize that HE was and now is Immanuel, God with Us. Jesus Christ the SON of GOD is officiating on our behalf as our Great High Priest at the altar in Heaven to keep us saved.
The message to this Church is from Jesus Christ our Lord. The features and aspects of our Lord that is in focus here is one of Judgment. It is not going to be a pretty picture - - -
The appearance of our Lord before HIS Church with "eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass", is a picture of our Lord ready to JUDGE. This is analogous to a parent coming after a little one with a switch or paddle because of some infraction. You can forget the phrase "Jesus, meek and mild" in this instance. He is not going to be Meek and Mild as He Judges this Church because of its Fornication.
I can remember the time as a boy of about 8 when my grandmother came after me with a switch because I wouldn't come in the house to take a bath at evening time. I wanted to stay outside and play. The reason I can remember this picture so vividly, is that I had never experienced her countenance that way before. I had a wonderful relationship with my grandparents and they spoiled me ever chance they got. Fortunately, I was able to escape her wrath and get to the bathtub before she caught me and the inevitable happened - - - This is what is happening here.
It is not our desire to see our Lord approach us in this manner. HE is a sight to be feared because when we see HIM like this, He has come to do business. Make no mistake, HE is more than capable and willing to Judge HIS people when necessary - - - And it IS NECESSARY for the Church at Thyatira ! !
1 Cor 11:32
But when WE ARE JUDGED, we are CHASTENED by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the JUDGE is standing at the door!
1 Peter 4:17
For the time has come for JUDGMENT to begin at the HOUSE of GOD; and if it begins with US first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
His "eyes like a flame of fire" also speaks of Judgment - - -
11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He JUDGES and makes war. 12 His EYES were like a FLAME OF FIRE, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.
"His feet like fine brass" also speaks of Judgment - - -
The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He shall wash his FEET in the blood of the wicked,
1 Cor 15:25
For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His FEET
19 "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.
The attributes of this Church are listed in descending order. The works of this Church are commended and foremost in HIS address to them. Their works are increasing - - -
in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of GOOD WORKS; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,
who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for GOOD WORKS.
Unfortunately, their love, service, faith, and patience are pale by comparison. The attribute of PATIENCE is completely lacking in the Church. The Seeking of Signs, Wonders, and Miracles is FORNICATION and is in direct opposition to the spirit of patience. The seeking after has to do with desiring the GLORY of God BEFORE the appointed time. He will reveal HIS Glory to us when He comes again, but NOT NOW - - -
1 Thessalonians 4
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality (FORNICATION)
4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
5 not in PASSION of LUST (Seeking for Signs), like the Gentiles who do not know God;
6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the AVENGER of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.
7 For God did not call us to UNCLEANNESS (FORNICATION), but in holiness.
8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
The Apostle Paul is saying first of all that we are NOT to commit Fornication, period. He also is saying that for a Christian to encourage fellow Christians to participate in Fornication is to DEFRAUD HIS BROTHER and they will suffer the consequences for doing so. To practice Fornication is in complete rejection of the Holy Spirit, because the work attributed to the Holy Spirit is done in Hypocrisy and IS NOT of the Holy Spirit..
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.
Firstly, there is a problem right away when our Lord mentions the name Jezebel who was a woman. Before we even consider the nature of this Old Testament character, the Church has already been warned that a woman is NOT to teach or have authority over men in the Church. The reason for this is because of their natural tendency to deception. You may refer to another Bible Topic Study which covers this in more detail here.
The woman Jezebel does not represent some abstract nature of wickedness, sin, etc., but is a specific reference to the work of DECEPTION. The woman in the parable in Matthew 13 is found HIDING the Leaven in the meal. The fact that HE names her Jezebel of course refers to the Old Testament account of Ahab and Jezebel and that she was a wicked woman and sought the life of Elijah as well as other prophets. Her objective among other things was to DESTROY God's people, that is the prophets, who were sent by God to INSTRUCT and TEACH Israel. She even killed other god fearing Jews including the vineyard owner NABOTH as a matter of convenience to Ahab..
As noted in other Bible Topic studies, the Seeking of Signs, Wonders, and Miracles (Fornication), is - - -
SPIRITUAL FORNICATION (acts as) LEAVEN (propagates by) DOCTRINE (yields) DECEPTION
The fact that she "calls herself a prophetess" refers to the fact that she claims to speak for God. To commit Sexual Immorality should be translated "Fornication". We already know from previous Topic Studies that the Fornication referred to here is Spiritual Fornication. The definition of Spiritual Fornication is - - -
Spiritual Fornication => The Belief, Promotion, or Practice of Signs, Wonders, and Miracles in The Church by ........ a Believer
In comparison, - - -
Spiritual Adultery => The Belief, Promotion, or Practice of Signs, Wonders, and Miracles in The Church by ............an Unbeliever
The "eat things offered to idols" is in reference to corrupting the Word of God. It is not corrupted in the sense that it is mistranslated, but that it is misinterpreted. The reference to Jezebel as a Prophetess denotes the fact that she is the dominate teaching force within the Church and is proclaiming and teaching the Word of God in such a way as to promote and encourage Fornication. Her method for doing this is by teaching, her committing Fornication is based on Hypocrisy, her goal will be accomplished through deception, and the result is Fornication.
She is corrupting the Word by teaching that the Word of God advocates, teaches, and encourages Christians to seek after signs, wonders, and miracles. This purpose of adding Leaven to the meal (Word of God) is so that the entire lump (The Church) will become Leavened.
1 Cor 5:6
Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little Leaven Leavens the whole LUMP (The Church)?
If we back up a bit, we notice that the Apostle Paul is charging the Church at Corinth with the same act of Spiritual Fornication - - -
1 Cor 5:1
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality (FORNICATION) among you, and such sexual immorality (FORNICATION) as is not even named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father's wife!
Actually, the issue of Fornication goes all the way back to Genesis and the incident of Ham, the son of Noah, who uncovered his Father's nakedness. However, there is not have time at this point to discuss this at length but hope to develop a new Topic Study to this issue.
If we continue on in the book of 1 Corinthians just briefly, we find the remedy to eliminate Fornication in the church as follows - - -
1 Cor 5
4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5 DELIVER SUCH A ONE TO SATAN for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Since Fornication has to do with signs, wonders, and miracles, this instruction by the Apostle Paul was quite remarkable seeing that the Apostles were alive at that particular time and were able to perform miracles, and the sign gifts were being practiced in the Church which included miracles, healings, etc.
The addition of Leaven will continue from the Apostle John's day until the completion of the Church age and the Church of Thyatira is COMPLETELY Leavened. Then they will ALL practice Spiritual Fornication.
21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.
The above verse confirms the fact that the woman Jezebel is a BELIEVER. She is not called upon to come to Jesus Christ by Faith, but to STOP her sexual immorality (Fornication). If she were not a Believer, this would make no sense. An Unbeliever is free to practice whatever doctrine suits their fancy, and Christians are warned to avoid such. This confirms the fact that Spiritual Fornication pertains to Believers only as opposed to Spiritual Adultery which pertains to Unbelievers only.
In the Church perspective, Jesus is making a continual appeal to member of this Church to repent of their Spiritual Fornication. It is a difficult task and many will not listen because the appeal of Fornication is so attractive. Unfortunately it is sensual and not of the Spirit. Jude talks about Spiritual Adulterers in his book - - -
These (ADULTERERS) are SENSUAL persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
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.
The sickbed is merely a reference to a place of interaction. Her abode is THE CHURCH at THYATIRA. Her Fornication or practice of signs, wonders, and miracles, will not only attract future Believers in Christ, but will attract Unbelievers as well. The Unbelievers will join this Church also and practice the same thing. However, the fact that they are Unbelievers points to the fact that they are ADULTERERS and NOT FORNICATORS. The interaction of Believers and Unbelievers occurs in every church as was told by Jesus in the parable of the wheat and tares, believers and unbelievers.
The Great Tribulation has a dual meaning. First, it is in reference to the Great Tribulation which most Christians are aware that takes place at the end of this age and after the Rapture. This Church is an END TIME Church in the sense that it becomes highly visible with its characteristic Fornication nature. Just before this Great Tribulation, this Church (the LUMP) will be completely leavened prior to the end of the age.
"For then there will be GREAT TRIBULATION, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Secondly, the Great Tribulation is referring to the Salvation status of those Unbelievers who are committing Adultery. These folk will undergo the great tribulation of Eternal Death. These Adulterers are Unbelievers, Lost, Unsaved - - -
5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,
6 who "will render to each one according to his deeds":
7 ETERNAL LIFE to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality;
8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath,
9 TRIBULATION and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek;
10 but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
The tribulation described above is ETERNAL DEATH because it is in contrast to Eternal Life.
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 children referred to are NOT BORN AGAIN children but are illegitimate children. They are the ones who are practicing Adultery side-by-side with the Children of God who are practicing Fornication. Because - - -
THE ACT of Fornication = THE ACT of Adultery
Jesus knows those who are His and these children have not entered the Church by the DOOR, but they came in by another way.
"I am the DOOR. If anyone enters by Me, he will be SAVED, and will go in and out and find pasture.
The phrase "kill her children with death" refers to Eternal Death and damnation allocated to everyone who does not Believe. In this case HE is referring to the ADULTERERS, not the FORNICATORS.
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.
"I will put on you no other burden" is like a sigh of relief. Jesus is saying that if you are able to flee and avoid Fornication, then He is not asking anything else of you. He says this to emphasize the fact that Fornication is such an alluring and desirable sin that to avoid it is a major accomplishment of such magnitude that He is in effect saying, "YOU WIN". Of course he asks more of us. Our sanctification process continues as long as we live and some will encounter greater affliction than others.
"Now to you I say" addresses all Christians in every Church with respect to practicing Fornication. Although the Church at Thyatira will be completely given over to Fornication, it exists to a lesser extent in all churches. The unique thing about Fornication, it is participated in by degree. That is to say, how much of it do you want? Some are actively involved in the experience of signs, wonders, and miracles at every turn, while some are more conservative and acknowledge only the witnessing of it. Some are content to just believer signs, while others speak in tongues, and yet others are participants routinely are slain in the spirit and yet others are possessed on occasion with uncontrollable holy laughter. The question about fornication is --- How much Fornication do you want? Jezebel is alive and well and will see to it that there is a Church in your neighborhood to satisfy YOUR desire.
At the time of this writing and throughout history to this present hour, the Church of Thyatira has NOT been fully Leavened. Jesus is commending those who are in the Church but are not partaking of the Fornication. This is extremely hard to do at this late hour. The CHURCH of THYATIRA is nearing its completed state of being FULLY LEAVENED.
25 But hold fast what you have till I come.
Jesus is encouraging the members who are not Fornicators in this Church to hold fast, but Hold fast to what?
holding FAST the WORD of LIFE, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations--
The reward for fleeing fornication is to rule and reign with Christ during the millennium. Consequently, the converse is true, the Fornicators although saved, will forfeit their privilege to rule and reign with Christ.
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;
6 "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion."
7 "I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.
8 Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel."
Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a ROD of IRON. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
"as I also have received from my Father" refers to the fact that the ones who do not practice Fornication will rule and reign with Christ when he comes back to the earth to reign from Jerusalem.
28 and I will give him the morning star.
The Morning start is that first ray of light which enters a Heart that saves the soul. This is the entrance of the Word of God, the Gospel which is the power of God unto Salvation. This morning star was held in the hand of our Lord in Revelation 1. Notice he does not receive all seven stars. It is this specific the star or doctrine or aspect of the Gospel which convicts the Unbeliever of their act of Adultery and causes the Heart to respond in FAITH. The stumbling block which was before this Unbeliever and kept them from Salvation was the fact that they were Glorying in the experience and sensuality of Signs, Wonders, and Miracles. After receiving the morning star, they are subject to two possibilities - - -
In either case, it is better than the alternative of being Eternally Lost.
29 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
Jesus is asking that We LISTEN. If an Unbeliever, they need to give ear to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If a Believer, they need to Listen to his Word and avoid Fornication.
This Church is not a HARLOT Church. Our Lord Jesus gave his Life for these Believers. There is no appeal to come out of this Church in spite of the problem that exists and the Leavening that is occurring before His eyes and our eyes. In the tribulation period, the Believers are required to remove themselves from the Harlot Church.
The cure for Fornication and the preventive measure to abstain from it is described as follows - - -
2 Pet 1
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the KNOWLEDGE of God and of Jesus our Lord,
3 as HIS DIVINE POWER has given to us ALL THINGS that pertain to life and godliness, through the KNOWLEDGE of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4 by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.
Jesus is pleading with this Church to stop the fornication. As for other Christians who may be potential members of this Church, or Christians who are currently members of the Church, the Apostle Paul makes the following appeal - - -
1 Cor 6:18
FLEE sexual immorality (FORNICATION). Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality (FORNICATION) sins against his own body.
This is because your BODY houses the HOLY SPIRIT. The practice of Spiritual Fornication through signs, wonders, and miracles, is opposed to the Holy Spirit ! !
1 Cor 3:16
Do you not know that you are the TEMPLE of God and that the SPIRIT of GOD dwells in you?
1 Cor 6:19
Or do you not know that your BODY is the TEMPLE of the HOLY SPIRIT who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
2 Timothy 2:12
If we ENDURE, We shall also REIGN with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us
Well, as detestable as the sin of Fornication is, what should our response be to the members of this Church who continue to practice it?
22 And on some (Fornicators) have compassion, making a distinction;
23 but others (Fornicators) save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Jude is saying that we are to make a distinction between what they are doing and who they are. If they refuse to stop the practice of Fornication, then we are to love them anyway and
1 Th 5:13
and to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. BE AT PEACE AMONG YOURSELVES
Therefore RECEIVE ONE ANOTHER, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!