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Posted by Pastor Greg Allen on January 20, 2016 under AM Bible Study |

AM Bible Study Group; January 20, 2016 from Revelation 2:18-29

Theme: The holy Son of God loves the purity of His church, and promises to deal with any ‘hidden’ immorality that He sees within it.

(All Scripture is taken from The New King James Version, unless otherwise indicated).

The Lord Jesus is passionate about the purity of His Church. His goal for His precious, redeemed people is that they be made as glorious, holy, spotless and blameless as He Himself is. And to accomplish that goal, He gave Himself to the point of taking the sins of all His people upon Himself on the cross and dying for them, in order to sanctify them and cleanse them (See also Romans 6:1-4;1; Titus 2:11-14; 1 Peter 1:14-19).

Given, then, that our Lord laid down His life to make us holy, it should be obvious that He will not accept His church having an easy-going, tolerant attitude toward the sin that cost Him His life. We see this expressed in our Lord’s fourth letter—the letter to the church in Thyatira—where Jesus warns His Church against becoming tolerant toward hidden immorality within its midst.


A. Thyatira (the modern Turkish city of Akhisar) was strategically located in Asia Minor. It was about forty-five miles from either Pergamos (2:12-17) to the north or Sardis (3:1-6) to the south. It was along a major road between the two other cities; and so, it was a city that was of great commercial significance—filled with lots of busy merchants, artists, and craftsmen. It was particularly well-known for its trade guilds. Ancient inscriptions found in this city mention such trades as wool-workers, garment manufacturers, leather-craftsmen, fabric dyers, tanners, potters, bakers, slave-traders, and bronze-smiths. In fact, we have a New Testament witness of the commercial importance of Thyatira. The very first convert to Christianity in all of Europe was a businesswoman of Thyatira named Lydia, who was a seller of purple fabrics (Acts 16:14).

B. Many of these guilds and commercial fraternities required that their members be involved in some forms of idol-worship; and that idolatry very often involved immoral sexual practices. This required that Christians who worked in these professions would have to make a difficult choice—that is, to either take a stand and separate themselves from what was idolatrous or immoral, or to compromise with sin as an every-day way of doing business. This would often require these Christians to experience professional and social ostracization and financial loss.


A. As is true in all of these letters, the way Jesus introduces Himself is vitally related to what He has to say to the church. Look at how He introduces Himself in this case: “The Son of God”. This not only speaks of His divine majesty; but also of His superiority over all other false gods. Some in the church in Thyatira—as we will see—sought to dabble in what they called “the deep things of Satan”. Our Lord is a jealous God who will share His worship with no created being—real or imagined.

B. He also introduces Himself as He “who has eyes like a flame of fire” (see 1:14). He is One who sees all things with perfect clarity; and before whom nothing is hidden. As it says in Hebrews 4:12-13; “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

C. The Lord also adds to His introduction that “His feet are like fine brass” (see 1:15); which speaks of the absolute holiness of the paths in which He chooses to walk. The combined effect of these three is to reveal a divine Lord over His church before whom nothing is hidden, and with whom no impurity can be tolerated, and against whose will no sinful practice can be maintained.


A. He says, “I know your works”; and He describes those works as “love, service, faith, and your patience”. The love provided the motivation for the service; and the faith provided the motivation for the patience. This, then, was a church that served others in love, and endured with confident faith in God. What’s more, Jesus commended it for the fact that its “last works are more than the first.” It was a church that was not only doing the right things from the right motives, but was also growing and maturing in these qualities.

B. But note what is distinctively missing from this list—holiness in the things it tolerated. (Compare this with Revelation 2:2. The church in Thyatia showed itself to be unlike the church in Ephesus, which “could not bear those who are evil”.). This was a church that appeared to be doing the right things on the outside; but that was not as pure as its Lord wanted it to be on the inside. We must never forget the important priority in a church of a whole-hearted, sincere “holiness” in the secret places of the heart, without losing sight of the other things that are outwardly visible. And this is especially true before the Son of God, whose eyes are like a flame of fire and whose feet are like fine brass.

IV. THE LORD’S REBUKE (vv. 20-23).

A. That which the Lord had against this church was the fact that it had knowingly “tolerated” something sinful in its midst. It had allowed a woman—here named Jezebel—who had set herself up as a prophetess (which, before God, she clearly was not)—”to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrifice to idols” (v. 20). It would be hard to imagine that someone would have literally named themselves Jezebel, but it’s certainly possible. More likely, though, this is the Lord’s name for her, because she was behaving like the infamous Sidonian wife of King Ahab who led Israel into dreadful idolatry (1 Kings 16:31; 21:25-26).

B. The Lord had given this woman time to repent; but she did not (v. 21). As a result, the Lord promises to punish her—casting her on a bed of sickness (v. 22); and those who “commit adultery with her” (whether spiritually or literally) into great tribulation “unless they repent of their deeds”. He even promises to “kill her children with death” (v. 23). This most likely speaks of those who followed her in her sin. This promised ‘killing’ with ‘death’ may have been meant to be understood as symbolic; perhaps even emphatically implying the idea of ‘the second death’ of the lake of fire (see Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:8). But there’s reason to believe it could also be a reference to physical death (see Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 11:29-30). When the church will not deal with hidden sin in its midst, the Lord Jesus must.

C. He will do this, He warns, in such a way that “all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts” (v. 23). This suggests strongly that the activities that “Jezebel” was leading the people toward were being done in secret (see Ezekiel 8 for a startling example of how the Lord sees such things); and since the church clearly knew about the woman, this made the church all-the-more guilty of tolerating hidden sin in its midst. Jesus warns that He “will give to each one of you according to your works”. Sin may be hidden from the sight of men—even godly men; but it is not hidden from the sight of God. As the Bible warns in Numbers 32:23, “be sure your sin will find you out.”


A. The Lord now speaks to those who are not guilty of siding with this evil woman. He speaks to those “who do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say . . .” (v. 24). This is probably a name that those who practiced the doctrines of this woman secretly used; suggesting that it was not the name the Lord would have given to it. They may have felt that they were ‘free’ to plunder the goods of Satan without guilt—when in reality, they were falling into the devil’s trap and becoming his slaves. Those followers of Jezebel were becoming the plunder of Satan—not the other way around.

B. The Lord says that He will put no other burden on the innocent members of the church. But He does encourage them to “hold fast what you have till I come” (v. 25). This, no doubt, meant that these commended Christians were already characterized by the qualities mentioned in verse 19; and were being urged to maintain themselves in those qualities. The exhortation of John in 2 John 7-8 would be aptly applied to them: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.”

VI. THE LORD’S PROMISE (vv. 26-28).

A. To the one who overcomes—that is, by resisting the allure of hidden sin, refusing to tolerate it, and holding fast to what they have—and who keeps the Lord’s works to the end, they will receive authority over the nations with the Lord (v. 26). He sites Psalm 2:8-9 as a part of this promise; but here, the Lord—about whom this psalm was prophetically written—shares the ultimate application of it with these believers (v. 27). Because of their faithfulness to Jesus, they may have to suffer temporal rejection and exclusion from the institutions of men; but they will ultimately reign over the nations of men with Christ.

B. What’s more, the Lord says He will give them “the morning star”. The figure that is being used is that of the first star that shines in the horizon in the morning. Bruce Metzger wrote, “The promise of the gift of the morning star is, of course, not to be understood literalistically as the bestowal of millions of tons of inert matter; the expression is a metaphor announcing the dawn of a new day and the fulfillment of hope after the night of longing and expectation” (Bruce Metzger, Breaking the Code: Understanding the Book of Revelation [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993], p. 37). Peter speaks of the ‘morning star’ in this way in 2 Peter 1:19; and it is also eluded to in Daniel 12:3. But it is also a figure for the coming of the Lord Jesus (see Revelation 22:16; Numbers 24:17). Certainly, the second coming of Jesus will be the dawning of a new day; and these faithful Christians are assured a part in it.


What He says to this church is meant to be heard and heeded by them all. Note that the other churches were already mentioned in v. 23. Back then, they would “know” by observation that the Lord Jesus searches all minds and hearts. But here, they’re urged to learn the lesson by principle! May we learn it now—so that we don’t have to learn it the hard way!

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