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Displaying items by tag: Thyatira

18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things says the Son of God, who has his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine bronze;

19 I know your works, and love, and service, and faith, and your patience, and your works; and the last to be more than the first.

20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

21 And I gave her time to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

23 And 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 unto every one of you according to your works.

24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say; I will put upon you no other burden.

25 But that which you have already hold fast till I come.

26 And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to pieces: even as I received of my Father.

28 And I will give him the morning star.

29 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.

PART 3

*** Recipient -> “To the Angel of the Church in Thyatira” ***: Once again, the letter is addressed to the leader of the church, but applicable to all the members. Please see the comments in study #9#12, and #14.

*** Sender -> “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze” ***: In the vision of the Glorified Christ (lesson #8), Jesus is seen as “someone like a son of man” (Revelation 1:13). But here, for the church in Thyatira, Jesus comes as the Son of God. The Bible tells us that those who believe in the Son of God, they also accept His testimony, which is: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (1 John 5:10-11). The one who overcomes the world is the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:5). Jesus also presents himself as having eyes like a flame of fire. As we studied in lesson #9, nothing can hide from His sight (Hebrews 4:13). He sees everything (Job 28:24; Proverbs 15:3). He is the one who searches minds and hearts (Revelation 2:23). Jesus ends His introduction by identifying Himself as the one having feet like burnished bronze. Again, in lesson #9, we saw that Christ was the sacrifice raised on the pole, just as the bronze snake in the desert. He was burned on the bronze altar, so we could be saved from our sins. He stands on strong, stable, and mighty feet, that cannot be moved away from the truth of God. This description is similar to the one found in Daniel 10:6.

*** Assessment -> “I know…” ***: Jesus knows more than anyone else what has been going on in the church. To this divided congregation, the message is given in pairs:
Works: Love and faith; service and patient endurance; recent works vs. first ones. This description gives us the impression that the church in Thyatira has sincere members. Love and faith are a common pair in the New Testament (Galatians 5:6; Ephesians 1:15; Ephesians 6:23;  1 Thessalonians 3:6;  2 Timothy 1;13; Philemon 1:5). It is because of love and faith that people become involved in service, and their hope in Jesus inspires their endurance (1 Thessalonians 1:3; Hebrews 6:10). Faith and endurance (or perseverance) are two of the most important characteristics of God’s people (Revelation 13:10; Revelation 14:12). The works of this church seem to be increasing as time passes.

Problem: The church in Thyatira had a serious internal problem. It had become tolerant of the so called prophetess Jezebel, who had been “teaching and seducing” God’s people to do things contrary to His will. In study #20, we saw that, in a prophetic view, Jezebel represents the unfaithful church. To the first century Christians, she was likely the leader of a heretic movement coming from within the church. She was leading people into the wrong type of worship (symbolized by the term sexual immorality). And she was teaching them false doctrines that do not point to Jesus as the central focus (symbolized by the eating of the food offered to the idols). The Christians of that church were being mislead both in the spiritual sense of this allegory, as well as in the physical sense. Jesus should be the Bread of Life the members consume daily. Instead, they were feasting on false teachings that corrupted the fundamental truths of the Gospel. Verse 21 says that Jesus gave Jezebel time to repent, but she refused. And that is why He gave this warning: He will afflict Jezebel and those who follow her teachings (symbolized by the term “commit adultery with her”). They were committing spiritual infidelity against God. The end of verse 22 indicates that this punitive statement of destruction had a redemptive purpose. Jesus made it conditional to her repentance. Just like the children of Ahab were killed because of his sin (2 Kings 10:6-8), and like Jezebel’s daughter, Athaliah, was killed because of her wickedness, the children of Jezebel in Thyatira would also be killed. But before their destruction, Jezebel and her followers would suffer when thrown on a bed of tribulation. In verse 23, Jesus makes 2 promises: 1) the destruction of Jezebel and her followers would show all the churches that Jesus is the one with the fiery eyes, who brings on judgement, and who searches minds and hearts; 2) everyone would receive according to their works. The searching of minds and hearts are written in the original in Greek as “searches kidneys and hearts”. In ancient times, kidneys were thought to be the seat of emotions, and the heart was the seat of intelligence and will (Jeremiah 17:10). All the churches, faithful or unfaithful, would know that Jesus can see their motives behind each decision they make. Each person will be judged according to their works. Their works will be presented to God wether or not they reflect the result of a life purposefully committed to Christ and His truth. Those who believe in the Son of God and obey God’s commands have nothing to worry about, because they are already engaged in doing the work that God requires. According to Jesus, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29). But how do we know if we believe in the one God has sent, and not in a counterfeit version of Him? In Revelation 12:17, Christ describes the children of His faithful church: “those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus”. And so, we should not follow those people teaching principles that go against or that alter God's commandments and the testimony of Jesus, because they are not pointing to the one who God has sent.

*** Appeal -> “Hold fast to what you have ” ***: The teachings of Jezebel are so dangerous, that in verse 24 Jesus calls them “the deep things of Satan”. Basically she was telling the people to take the easy way. To make the decision that would make them more comfortable. To compromise on just a few things in order to blend in better with the social demands of life. This seemingly innocent theology of the easy road is clearly not from God. A diluted dose of the Gospel will certainly not be the full strength dose required to keep someone on the narrow road to salvation. Jesus said: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14). The Christian life is not an easy walk, but it is a worthwhile journey through the “small gate and narrow road”. The extra baggage that 'Self' likes to hold on to needs to be left at the gate before going through it. The only thing that fits through the small gate that believers can carry with them is the truth. The truth is the balancing rod that keeps the follower of Christ from falling out of the narrow path. Jesus calls the few remaining in Thyatira, who were still on this narrow path, to keep holding on to the truth until He returns.

*** Call to hear the Spirit -> The Spirit says to the churches ***: The message of “hold on to God’s truth until Jesus’ return” was to be heard by all churches. There are no excuses not to hear this call. Please see the notes on study #14. Christ is saying that it is possible to keep the faith, the works, the love and perseverance even when the majority of the church is following corrupted beliefs.

*** Promise -> To the one who overcomes ***: Continuing on the theme of everything said in pairs, the one who overcomes receives 2 promises: authority over the nations, and the morning star.

Authority over the nations: this passage reminds us of the promise in Psalm 2:8-9: "Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will break them with a rod of iron; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.” The one who overcomes will rule over the nations, and break them to pieces like one would break a clay pot. This image of broken pots reminds us of the instructions found in Leviticus 11:29-35, given to the Israelites regarding unclean animals. If one of those animals died and their carcasses touched their clay pots, the pots had to be broken in order not to contaminate their food. In Jeremiah 18:6-10, we read what God had to say regarding the work of a potter and the nations of the Earth: "He said, 'Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?' declares the Lord. 'Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it'.” Jesus can give His authority to the overcomer because He received it from the Father (Matthew 28:18; Revelation 12:10). Christ also has an iron scepter that He uses to rule the nations (Revelation 12:5; Revelation 19:15). In the chapter of Revelation 20 and Revelation 21, we read about the people of God sitting on the throne, ruling with Jesus.

Morning Star: When Balaam was hired to curse the Israelites, he was unable to do it, and blessed them instead. God did not allow the cursing of His people. Instead, God used Balaam to prophecy the message we find in Numbers 24:17: "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” Jesus explains this prophecy in Revelation 22:16: “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” The Bible tells us that we need to pay attention to the prophetic message of God “as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in [our] hearts.” (2 Peter 1:19). After a long walk in the darkness of this world, the one who overcomes will receive Jesus Himself, shining in all His glory on the day of Christ’s Second Coming.

*** Church history view and prophetic application ***: The prophetic view of this church fits the time known as The Dark Ages, or The Middle Ages, which spans from the 6th to the16th centuries. Interestingly enough, historians named this period very appropriately. The letter to the middle church represents the history of the church in the Middle Ages. The world went through a period of spiritual darkness. The simple message of the Gospel was replaced by pagan rituals and objects, all disguised as Christian theology. The worship and reverence to the image of Bible characters became accepted, expected, and required. The church leadership discouraged the people from reading the Bible, claiming it was for the well-studied clergy only. During the Middle Ages, we had the Crusades, and the Inquisitions, when the church led an intense campaign persecuting those who were not following the teachings of the Roman church. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, a new awakening began with the movement of Reformation. In 1517, Martin Luther posted his now famous work The Ninety-Five Theses, where he criticized the selling of indulgences, purgatory, merit of the saints, among other theological points. There had been other people before Luther, such as Jan Hus, Peter Waldo, and John Wycliffe, who criticized the church’s position on indulgences or proposed reform of the church. The church launched a Counter-Reformation movement, which started with the Council of Trent. Most of the battle against the Protestant movement was done by the order of the Jesuits. The Reform led to a revival of the people, and of the original message of the Scriptures.

*** Overview ***: In the letter to the Church in Thyatira we see the contrast between the few faithful ones and the many committing spiritual adultery; the truth of god and the lies of Satan; the works coming from faith and the works requiring that people repent from. Jezebel may deceive the people for some time, but she cannot deceive the fiery eyes of the Lord. He will bring His judgement on the unfaithful majority posing as Christ’s followers. God’s faithful church is the minority who continues on the narrow path to salvation. Its members are called to keep the one thing that can keep them from believing in the deceptive message of the majority. They are called to keep the truth. God’s truth gives the genuine Christians a type of joy that nobody can take away, not even when going through suffering and persecution. Their joy is the firm belief that the Redeemer has given them a prize far more valuable than temporary material possessions: eternal life with the Creator. He comes after a long period of spiritual darkness, shining bright as the morning star. His chosen people will reign with Him forever.

18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things says the Son of God, who has his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine bronze;

19 I know your works, and love, and service, and faith, and your patience, and your works; and the last to be more than the first.

20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

21 And I gave her time to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

23 And 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 unto every one of you according to your works.

24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say; I will put upon you no other burden.

25 But that which you have already hold fast till I come.

26 And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to pieces: even as I received of my Father.

28 And I will give him the morning star.

29 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.

 

PART 2

As we saw in lesson #13, Jezebel was a Phoenician princess who married Ahab, King of Israel. She was the daughter of the king of Sidom-Tyre, Ethbaal. They worshiped the god Baal, who was a god believed to have power over lightening, wind, rain, and fertility. Jezebel had great influence over Ahab and the Israelites. She led them to apostasy, idolatry, and immoral conduct. As the Leader of the people, Ahab further encouraged the people to abandon the worship to the true God (1 kings 21:25). The Bible says that Ahab "did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him” (1 Kings 16:32-33). We probably cannot even imagine how bad that is! One of Ahab's first mistakes was to actually marry a pagan woman. God had already commanded that the Israelites should not marry people from the surrounding pagan nations (Deuteronomy 7:3-4).

God sent the prophet Elijah to Ahab and Jezebel. Due to their disobedience, there would be drought on the land (1 Kings 17:1). And just as he said, there was a severe drought for 3.5 years (Luke 4:25; James 5:17). After giving the news to the king, Elijah fled to the wilderness, where God miraculously fed him daily (1 Kings 17:2-7). He stayed away for the 3.5 years of drought.

At the end of that time, God ordered Elijah to return to Ahab. The drought was severe. Famine had spread throughout the land. All through that time, Jezebel had been killing out the prophets of God. Obadiah, who worked for the king, but who was a follower of the true God, had been hiding 100 of God’s prophets in a couple of caves, and supplying them with food and water (1 Kings 18:4). Elijah went back to meet with Ahab. The king had stopped following God’s commands, and was following Baal’s instead (1 Kings 18:18). Elijah requested that Ahab gather the people and meet with him at Mount Carmel. He also asked that Ahab bring 850 pagan prophets "who eat at Jezebel’s table" (1 Kings 18:19). Four hundred and fifty of those prophets were Baal's. This meeting was not a secret. All the Israelites were gathered there. The people had been caught in the middle, between the worship to the God of Israel and the pagan practices promoted by their royal leaders. They had not totally abandoned one or fully joined the other. Elijah pleaded with the people, calling them to make a decision, and stop wavering between God and Baal (1 Kings 18:20-21). They did not respond.

At Mount Carmel, Elijah stood alone on one side, and the 850 pagan prophets on the other. A pivot point in the history of God's people was about to happen. Both Elijah and the prophets of Baal prepared a sacrifice. Whichever sacrifice burned with fire sent from heaven would indicate which one was God (1 Kings 18:22-24). The prophets of Baal prayed and chanted all day long, from morning to evening, and received no response. Then it was Elijah's turn at the end of the day. All eyes were on this one man by the altar he had built for the Lord. Elijah prayed one time and God sent fire from Heaven, which consumed even the ground where the altar was on (1 Kings 18:38). God had answered Elijah's prayer: "Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again." (1 Kings 18:36-37).

God had given Ahab, Jezebel, and the Israelites time to repent. Three and a half years to be exact. But they did not. After God consumed the altar with fire, Elijah prayed for rain seven times, until he saw a small dark cloud on the horizon. And a strong rain came pouring down. Ahab returned home and told Jezebel about all that had happened (1 Kings 19:1). He told her how God had sent fire from Heaven, and how all the prophets were also killed by the sword after that. God had made Himself very clear. Still, Jezebel did not repent. She actually called for Elijah’s death after hearing what Ahab had to say about the episode at Mount Carmel (1 Kings 19:2). But God continued to protect Elijah, and he did not die. He remained faithful, and some time later God took Elijah to Heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11).

Jezebel continued to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. One event sealed her fate. It was the Naboth incident. Naboth had a vineyard near Ahab’s palace, and Ahab wished to buy it. Naboth replied he could not sell it. When Jezebel heard this, she devised a plan, and told her husband she would get the vineyard for him (1 Kings 21:7). She wrote an official letter posing as the king, even used the king's official seal. She had a fake celebratory party organized in honor of Naboth. She had him sit at a prominent place, but she also had two of her man sit next to him. They were instructed to kill Naboth at a certain time during the party. After Jezebel’s men raised false accusations against Naboth, they took him outside, and stoned him to death (1 Kings 21:10). When Ahab learned of Naboth’s death, Jezebel encouraged her husband to go up and take possession of that land. And so he did. Because of this incident, Jezebel’s death was prophesied, along with Ahab’s and his children (1 Kings 21:20-25;  1 Kings 22:34-38;  2 Kings 9:6-10). They died just as God had revealed it to the prophets. Jezebel was devoured by dogs, and no one could recognize her body (2 Kings 9:30-37).

Jezebel had a daughter, named Athaliah. Her daughter was just as evil as the mother. Athaliah ordered the death of all her own relatives, including her grandchildren, just so she could be the queen of Israel (2 Kings 11:1). All but one of Athaliah’s descendants died. A little boy survived, and he was later crowned king at the age of 7 (2 Kings 11:2-3;  2 Kings 11:12;  2 Reis 11:21). He re-established the worship to the true God during his reign. Queen Athaliah was put to death for all the abominations she had committed (2 Kings 11:15-20).

God had said, through the prophet, that a king named Jehu would kill all Ahab’s male descendants. Ahab had failed to keep the Commands of God (1 Kings 18:18). Jehu did kill all Ahab’s male children, as well as all Baal’s prophets (2 Kings 10). But Jehu himself did not do all that God had requested either. Jehu did not follow God’s Law with all his heart, and God allowed the Israel territory to be reduced (2 Kings 10:31-32).

During the 3.5 years of drought during Jezebel’s time, the word of God was scarce. Jezebel was killing the Lord's prophets. Spiritual drought, or famine of the Word, is always more serious than the physical devastation caused by the lack of rain. But because God is so merciful and loving, He gives people time to see His truth. In the Bible, this time is often a period marked by the number 3.5 (half of the number 7):

- Abraham and Isaac went on a 3.5 day journey to Mount Moriah, where Abraham was supposed to offer Isaac in sacrifice. The Bible tells us they walked 3 days, left the 2 servants waiting at that location, and then continued on to the place God had determined * Genesis 22:1-6

- In the third year of his reign, King Ahasuerus hosted a party lasting 6 months. At the end of that time, the search for a new queen started, and Esther, a Jewish young woman was chosen. She ultimately was able to save the Jewish people from destruction * Esther 1:1-22;

- Prophecy of Daniel: the people of God would be under the rule of the fourth kingdom (Roman Empire) for a time, times and half of time (“time” is 1 prophetic year, “times” is 2 prophetic years, “half a time” is 0.5 prophetic years; for a total of 3.5 prophetic years * Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7);

- Jesus’s ministry lasted for 3.5 years before He was crucified (about 6 months into His ministry, He used prophetic language of 1 day = 1 year [Ezekiel 4:6/7; Numbers 14:34; Leviticus 25:8], when He prophesied about the length of His work * Luke 13:32);

- Stephen was stoned for his faith in Jesus 3.5 years after Christ’s death, marking the prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27 (the stoning of Stephen: Acts 7:54-59);

- The gentiles would trample the Holy City for 42 months (42 months = 3.5 years, which is the prophetic time Christians would be oppressed and persecuted * Revelation 11:2);

- Jesus’ two witnesses will prophesy clothed in sackcloth for a period of 1260 days (1260 days = 3.5 years, which is a prophetic time when God’s people suffer persecution for bearing witness for Christ’s truth * Revelation 11:3);

- The woman who had given birth to a male child fled into the wilderness for 1260 days (Revelation 12:6); where she would be taken care of for the prophetic period of a time, times, and half of time (1260 days = 3.5 years) * Revelation 12:14;
- The beast was allotted 42 prophetic months to exercise his authority over the inhabitants of the earth (42 months = 3.5 years) * Revelation 13:5.

God also gave the Jezebel in Thyatira time to repent, but, like her counterpart in the Old Testament, she refused to do so (Revelation 2:21). She was set on her ways. This caused a definite tear in the church. Just like it happened at Mount Carmel, Thyatira was divided. On one side, the few faithful people, who had rejected the "deep things of Satan" (Revelation 2:24); and on the other, Jezebel and her children.

In Bible prophecy, women, wether faithful or unfaithful, represent the church (Jeremiah 6:2; Isaiah 51:16; Ephesians 5:25-32). This is a fundamental concept when studying the book of Revelation. Throughout the Old Testament, God compared His chosen people to a woman. His forgiving and transforming love would call this woman pure and perfect when Israel repented and followed God’s instructions (Isaiah 54:5-6; Ezekiel 16:8-14; Hosea 2:14-23; Amos 5:2) And at other times, God would call this same people an unfaithful woman, or a prostitute, when Israel turned into idolatry and immorality (Jeremiah 3:20; Hosea 1:2; Hosea 2:2-13; Ezekiel 16:15-19; Ezekiel 16:32) . This same concept of the church as Christ’s bride is carried into the New Testament (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-32; Revelation 12:1-6; Revelation 19:7-8). Later in Revelation 12 and 17, we will study more about two women. One represents the pure church, and the other an unfaithful church.

 

*** Overview ***: Jezebel represents the unfaithful church. Her children are her followers. In essence, her children are any church that does not teach the truth according to the Scripture. They are all considered to be an unfaithful church. And the members who had remained faithful to the original message of the Gospel were the remnant church of Christ - Jesus’ faithful bride. Jezebel from the Old Testament faked the authenticity of her rights over Naboth’s vineyard, falsely accused him, and became guilty of this innocent man’s death. Jezebel from Thyatira faked the authenticity of her rights to change God’s truth, seduced the church with false doctrines, and became guilty of the death of her followers. Just because the side of the church following Jezebel’s theology had a larger number of members, it didn’t make it the original church. Even if the world thought that the group with the most followers was the original church, that would not change Jesus’ assessment of the situation. Size is not a defining factor of character. It is usually the other way around. In the battle at the Mount Carmel, Elijah was standing alone against 850 false teachers. And yet, Elijah was the one representing God’s truth. He was the remnant of God, and His faithful witness. God made Himself known at the right time, showing everyone He is ready to defend His chosen people from anyone who stand to oppose His truth.

18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things says the Son of God, who has his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine bronze;

19 I know your works, and love, and service, and faith, and your patience, and your works; and the last to be more than the first.

20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

21 And I gave her time to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

23 And 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 unto every one of you according to your works.

24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say; I will put upon you no other burden.

25 But that which you have already hold fast till I come.

26 And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to pieces: even as I received of my Father.

28 And I will give him the morning star.

29 He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.

 

PART 1

 

*** Historical Setting ***: The city of Thyatira was about 40 miles southwest of Pergamum. Unlike the previous 3 cities, Thyatira was not an intellectual center, or a prominent metropolis of the elite. It was in essence, a city of workers. Its significance came from its commercial strength. More guilds of commerce were found in the city of Thyatira than in any other city of the Roman Province of Asia. Much of the power came from different industries: wool, linen, garment, dyes, leather, pottery, bakery, slave-dealer, and bronze-smith. In fact, one of the strongest industries there was the purple dye trade. The Bible mentions a woman from Thyatira named Lydia, who was a dealer of purple fabric (Acts 16:14). This was a very rare color, because it was very hard to produce. This dye was made from the plant Rubia tinctorum.

In order for people to become part of the trade guild, they had to participate in the trade’s pagan festivals, and eat from foods offered to their gods. These events would often end in drunkenness and immoral behaviors. Even though those refusing to participate would not necessarily be persecuted, they would suffer social isolation and hardship. To be able to find work, a person had to be part of a trade.

Archeology tells us that Thyatira dates back at least to 3000 BC, and that it was one of the first cities to use money. In 290 BC, Seleucus I Nicanor changed the name of the city from Pelopia to Thyatira. There are many opinions as to the exact meaning of the name Thyatira. Today, it is the modern city of Akhisar, which means “white castle”. Some writers suggest that Thyatira means “sweet savor of labor”, others suggest that it means “daughter”, since Seleucus’s daughter was born around the time he renamed the city. Seleucus was actually one of the generals of Alexander the Great, and after Alexander’s death, Seleucus dominated a large portion of what Alexander had conquered. Seleucus gained power over some interesting areas: Babylon, central Anatolia, Persia, Mesopotamia, and several others. After Alexander’s death in 323 BC, Seleucus took over the region of Phoenicia, including the cities Tyre and Sidon. These were sister cities that were consolidated into one kingdom by king mentioned in the Bible, king  Ethbaal. Some people speculate if the renaming of the city to Thyatira had something to do with the old Phoenician city of Tyre. When we compare the two cities we find much in common. One fact stands out when we look at the History of Tyre and the letter to Thyatira. King Ethbaal was the father of a woman who had the same name as the one mentioned in this letter to Thyatira. He was Jezebel’s father (1 Kings 16:31). This makes us think that there is a prophetic connection between the cities of Tyre and Thyatira.

The city of Tyre was a divided city. One part of it was on the mainland, and one on an island about 0.5 miles from the shore. Tyre was a daughter city of Sidon, but it surpassed Sidon at some point. Tyre, like Thyatira, was a commercial city (Ezekiel 27), and was also famous for the manufacturing and trade of purple dye (Ezekiel 27:16). Actually, the word Phoenician means “purple people”, from the Greek Phoinikes. They extracted their color purple from the Murex shellfish. This was a very rare dye, and was very valuable. That is why it became the color used by royalty.

Nebuchadnezzar II (the same one from the vision in Daniel chapter 2) seized Tyre from 586 to 573 BC, and when he finally captured it, he discovered that the majority of the people had moved to the island portion of the city. Tyre was a fortress, and had very tall walls. The name Tyre meant “the rock”. In 332 BC Alexander the Great conquered the island of Tyre, and in 323, after his death, Seleucus took control of Phoenicia. In 315, Tyre was destroyed once again by another of Alexander’s generals, Antigonus.

*** Biblical View ***: The city of Thyatira is mentioned only twice in the Bible. First, in the book of Acts, with the mention of Lydia, the seller of purple. And second, with the seven churches in Revelation. The city of Tyre, on the other hand, is mentioned several times. It was referred to as a fortified or fortress city (Joshua 19:29;  2 Samuel 24:7; Isaiah 23:4). We read several prophecies against Tyre, mostly about its destruction (Isaiah 23; Amos 1:9-10; Zechariah 9:3-4; Ezekiel 26:3-4; Ezekiel 26:7-9; Ezekiel 26:12; Ezekiel 27). The Bible also mentions Tyre and Sidon as a group (Matthew 11:21-22; Matthew 15:21; Joel 3:4). At one time, Jesus visited the region of Tyre and Sidon, and performed miracles there (Matthew 15:2; Mark 7:31). We also read a passage when Paul, Luke, and their companions stayed with the Christians in Tyre for seven days on their way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:2-6).

Many things connect Tyre and Thyatira. Both were commercial cities, main seller of the purple dye, and at some point they were both ruled by the same person. But, the strongest thing that connects Tyre and Thyatira is Jezebel. We read in the Bible how Jezebel divided the Old Testament church, and in Revelation we see how the Jezebel from Thyatira divided that church. In lesson #13, we learned about the different groups of false teachers that were spreading non-Christian philosophies from within the congregation. The Nicolaitans were present in the first and third churches, and the Balaamites were present in the third. In Thyatira, Jezebel is the one splitting the church, and she seems to have many followers. She is influencing the Christians to participate in the pagan customs, but most importantly, she is seducing the people with “foods” other than the Bread of Life, and with immoral worship that replaced the worship to the true God.

In order for us to even begin to understand the depth of the message Jesus is saying to the church in Thyatira, we need to understand the conflict that happened centuries earlier in the Old Testament. A conflict between the Truth of God, and the false doctrines of this pagan queen named Jezebel. The main theme back in Jezebel’s time and here in the letter to Thyatira is the same: truth and worship. We will discuss this more in detail in the study #20.

The truth was substituted with teachings belonging to the pagan culture. The false doctrines were being practiced and preached openly. As the majority of the congregation followed Jezebel from Thyatira, the church started to move in a different direction. The identity of the church changed as a consequence. It was no longer the original church founded on the principles established by Christ.

*** Overview ***: It is to the most politically, intellectually and culturally insignificant city that Jesus writes the longest of the seven letters. The church in Thyatira has a situation that makes them very different from the previous three churches. The majority of the church now follows the teachings of a false prophetess. Jezebel has become the face of the church. The new theology Jezebel and her children preach is a mix of some good works with the knowledge of "the deep things of Satan". This is such a dangerous and deadly combination that Jesus has to spell it out plainly: He will strike the counterfeit church so all the churches may know that He is the all-knowing God who brings on judgement upon everyone. Once again, Jesus reassures His faithful people, the minority on His side, that they will be victorious by keeping God's works and His truth. A crowd following Jesus one time asked Him: "[...] What must we do to do the works God requires? Jesus answered, 'The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.'" (John 6:28-29).

   
   
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