1. The History of Thyatira
   a. Thyatira’s importance in the Ancient World
   b. Thyatira’s founding and strategic importance
   c. Thyatira’s commerce and trade
2. The letter to Thyatira
   a. Introduction
      i. Verse 18a - The Son of God
      ii. Verse 18b - Eyes and Feet
      iii. Verse 19 - I know...
   b. Thyatira’s problem
      i. The woman Jezebel
      ii. Jezebel’s teaching
   c. Thyatira’s faithful
   d. To him who over comes
      i. They shall rule the nations with a rod of iron
      ii. They shall be given power over the nations
      iii. I will give him the morning star
   e. He who has an ear...

1. The History of Thyatira

a. Thyatira’s importance in the Ancient World

Of all the seven churches mentioned in the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, Thyatira would have been considered the least important in the eyes of the world.

Yet, of the seven letters, the one to Thyatira is the longest of all (229 words in the Greek compared with 147 to Ephesus, 98 to Smyrna, 147 to Pergamum, 142 to Sardis, 194 to Philadelphia and, finally, 187 to Laodicea).

This doesn't mean that God considered the city to be more important than the other six. All the seven messages were of equal importance to the specific fellowships that received them. What was 'important' about each of the letters was that they were a dynamic and living word coming from God via John to a part of the body of Christ.

Equally important, then, was how the letters were received by the fellowships they were sent to. Unfortunately, we have no idea, in Thyatira's case, just what their response was, but we need to arm ourselves with the attitude that when God speaks personally to us as a body, we take heed and act on what He says. As God says to all the seven Churches 'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches' (2:29).

God holds us accountable to respond adequately to what we know is His voice, but not accountable to respond to what we are unsure is His voice.

God speaks plainly, He doesn't mumble. Those who desire to hear God's voice will not miss it, however long He remains silent before speaking.

b. Thyatira's founding and strategic importance

After the death of Alexander the Great, his kingdom was divided up between four of his generals. One of these, Seleucus I, established the state of Pergamum in 282 BC. It was at this time that Thyatira became the eastern flank of Seleucus' kingdom and it was re-founded by him as a military outpost (the name Thyatira means 'the citadel or castle of Thya' and indicates that a settlement already existed there before Seleucus re-fortified it).

Archaeological evidence indicates that Thyatira frequently changed hands between Pergamean and Syrian rule. This meant that no lasting growth was ever possible during this time of its history like that of the cities of Ephesus and Pergamum further behind the lines.

Thyatira lay in an alluvial plain between the Hermus and Calcius rivers and it was not built on any natural geological phenomena that provided it with a good base from which to defend its position. Its sole purpose was to act as the first line of defence in front of a hostile advancing army, to hinder their movement while the kingdom's main forces were mustered deeper behind the battle front.

Thyatira was not a jewel worth fighting for except in the sense that it could be employed to hinder an advancing army. The garrison stationed here would, therefore, have been composed of the more guerrilla-like warriors who would be less concerned with winning a war than with throwing the enemy into disarray and hindering its speedy onslaught.

Thyatira fell to the Romans in 190 BC and became first part of the Pergamean Kingdom and then part of the province of Asia. When, in 133 BC, Thyatira gave itself wholly into the hands of the Roman empire, an era of both peace and prosperity was ushered in.

c. Thyatira’s commerce and trade

During Roman control, Thyatira derived its strength and wealth from being in a central place for communications. Archaeology has turned up many Thyatiran coins indicating a thriving commercial system.

Inscriptions found mention numerous types of workers in wool, linen, leather and bronze; also potters, tanners, bakers, slavers and dyers (see Acts 16:14 -it was one of the places where 'purple' was manufactured so that kings and nobility would come from miles around to purchase it. 'Purple' in the ancient world was a sign of high rank because of the very high cost involved in obtaining the dye. Most 'purple' dye was extracted from oysters, but the dye used at Thyatira seems to have been extracted from the roots of certain plants which yielded a rather redder end product).

Each industry had its specific guild and it was these that would have been connected with the idolatrous practices outlined in John's letter to the city. Their formation would be closely paralleled today by the Masonic organisations, though what they did when they met would be slightly different.

In the guild's fellowship meals, food was first sacrificed to idols and, after the meals, orgies were a frequent occurrence. It was through participation in these events that commercial and financial security was assured.

There have been more trade guilds identified as existing in Thyatira than in any other Asian city of its time. The dilemma that faced christian craftsmen must have been a simple but extremely difficult one - coming to Christ meant the loss of their livelihood and financial resources for the Church if they abstained from the communal feasts, but participation would be to renounce the faith that they had come to receive and to deny the One who for them had suffered and died.

Though there is simply no way to arrive at a harmony between these two differing ways of life, nevertheless, Jezebel (as we will see later) managed to work out a theology that compromised faith in Christ with continued participation in the trade guilds - and that meant continued financial prosperity and material wealth.

2. The letter to Thyatira

a. Introduction
Verses 18-19

i. Verse 18a - The Son of God

49 times the title 'Son of God' appears in the NT (not counting the term 'Son' which stands alone and which by context means 'Son of God' at least 46 times) and we are constantly reminded of the title in numerous hymns and choruses, many sermons, countless conversations with fellow christians and arguments with non-christians (and those who often frequent the newsgroups who take upon themselves the nominal label of ‘christian’)!

It is not surprising, therefore, if we find nothing unusual in the use of the title, but upon a closer inspection we discover that it is indeed quite strange to find it both in this particular letter and in this particular book of the NT.

This is the only one of the seven letters that contains the title 'Son of God' as a title of Jesus. Indeed, it is of even more significance that whereas the introductions to the other six letters are repeats of the description of Jesus already recorded in Rev 1:12-20 (excluding those to Philadelphia and Laodicea), 'Son of God' does not appear there (though 'Son of Man' is the title used) - nor, for that matter, does it appear anywhere else throughout the entire book of Revelation.

It is, therefore, quite significant that this title is used here. Robert Mounce writes:

'...[Son of God] stands in strong contrast to the local cultic worship of Apollo Tyrimnos, which was merged with that of the emperor (identified as Apollo incarnate) so that both were acclaimed as sons of Zeus. Thus it is not the emperor or the guardian deity of Thyatira, but the resurrected Christ, who is the true Son of God'

'Zeus' was the chief god of the Greeks, the supreme god over all the others that existed. Zeus would therefore have taken the place of YHWH in the minds of the Greeks and eventually came to be considered to be the lord over all (we do not for a moment make the assertion that YHWH is Zeus, only that the latter came to be regarded as sovereign in much the same way as YHWH is).

'Apollo' was one of the sons of Zeus, the twin of the goddess Artemis (see Acts 19:23-41), by birth to Leto his mother. Being a 'son of Zeus', therefore, meant that he was a son of the supreme god, a 'son of god'. That the emperor also took upon himself this title is not surprising as they were regarded as being divine and were worshipped as such throughout the Empire.

But the emperor had to be the 'son of god' made incarnate who dwelt among mankind.

Thus the true 'Son of God', Jesus, would have been an affront to the state religion and, more specifically, the religion of Thyatira which worshipped Apollo, the son of god, and the emperor, the incarnate son of god.

By reminding the Thyatirans of His unique divine Sonship, Jesus elevates His own words over and above the authority of anything that would have, as its origin, the cult religion that existed in their city.


Of additional interest here is the prophetic nature of the Apollo cult.

Without going into the reasons for and the myths behind this following characteristic, it should be noticed that Apollo's medium or mouth-piece on the earth was the Pythia ('python'), a local woman over 50 years of age who delivered oracles under his (supposed) inspiration. The word is used in Acts 16:16 where the slave girl is said to have a 'python' spirit ('a spirit of divination' in the RSV) by which she prophesied. If we are meant to understand that this slave girl was a Pythia then she would have been a leading figure in the city of Philippi.

Of more significance to our present study is the figure Jezebel, called a 'prophetess’ in the city where Apollo was worshipped. Although it would seem unlikely that Jezebel would have been a Pythia, she is equated as being as worthless as such to the church for, when Jesus uses the title ‘Son of God', He is immediately exercising His authority over His (supposed) mouth-piece.

If the Pythia passes on words from the deity, then she must remain silent when Apollo speaks directly. Therefore, by speaking as 'Son of God', Jesus obviously overrules anything and all that Jezebel has already taught and that she might teach in coming days in contradiction to the content of the letter.


Mounce writes concerning the relationship of Apollo to the trade guilds of Thyatira:

'The divine guardian of [Thyatira] was the god Tyrimnos (identified with the Greek sun-god Apollo), who would be conceived of as the patron of the guilds and therefore honoured in their festivities.'

As we will see in section 2bii, Jezebel would have been a participator in the trade guilds and would have encouraged other christians to follow her example.

The event of 'food sacrificed to idols' (Rev 2:20) that took place at such gatherings would have been offered to Apollo, the local deity and the one who was titled 'son of god (Zeus)' by the worshippers.

It was not just an affront to Jesus that fellowship with gods 'that were no gods' was taking place, but that the one who was the object of this fellowship was the one who was, above all other Greek deities, entitled falsely the 'son of god'. A pure devotion was impossible to Christ and He could only have been thought of as one son among others, not the unique incarnation of the living God, YHWH.

ii. Verse 18b - Eyes and feet

Both 'eyes like a flame of fire' and ' burnished bronze' present a problem as it is not recorded anywhere else in Scripture (except 1:14-15) that this is a description of God (though, perhaps, Daniel 10:6 could be taken to refer to a pre-incarnation appearance of Christ - nevertheless, it still doesn't explain why He appeared that way).

Some have pointed out that the Gk word for 'burnished bronze' is 'chalcilibanos' which is identified as being a particular type of bronze manufactured in the city of Thyatira - in the first reference to 'burnished bronze' in 1:15, the words 'refined as in a furnace' are added to the description which would indicate that some sort of commercial process is alluded to.

Though this might be the case, it is better to see the description of Jesus here to imply God as the Refiner of His people as in such passages as Malachi 3:2-3. The context of the letter also indicates that He is seeking to refine His Church from the false teaching and practice.

Fire (which can also be used to denote God's refining process [eg - Mal 3:2, Zech 13:9] and which is an integral part of the production of bronze) is used as a description of the wrath of God that burns against sin (see, for instance, His words in verse 23 of this same letter as demonstrating His wrath and Jeremiah 4:4, Nahum 1:6 as showing how fire is used to denote anger).

This description of Jesus' feet and eyes is taken particularly to refer equally to these two characteristics of God - as a Purifier of His people and as One who displays His anger towards sin.

God is both angry with His Church and seeking to refine her. He is ready to judge but also to extend mercy. Verses 22-23 mention that His anger will be poured out upon those that follow the heresy, yet, at the same time, the clause 'unless they repent' adds a note of mercy and forgiveness should the Church turn to Him for healing (see also Hab 3:2).


As in the first half of the verse, there is a significant comparison between how Jesus describes Himself to the Thyatirans and how Apollo was regarded.

Apollo was the god who ‘...punishes wrong-doers and purifies penitents...'; he was the one '...who made men aware of their own guilt and purified them of it.' Both 'feet like burnished bronze' and 'eyes like a flame of fire' would be adequate descriptions of Apollo because they speak to us of one who is both angry with men on account of their sin and who seeks to purify them from it.

Again, Jesus reminds the Thyatirans that His position is one of pre-eminence and superiority over Apollo. Not only does He reveal sin (through the Holy Spirit) in order to forgive, but He is the One who has paid the price for sin through the sacrifice of Himself. Having thus dealt with sin, He is justified in His anger when individuals refuse to accept His work and receive the forgiveness of God by failing to turn to Him in repentance and forsake their ways.

iii. Verse 19 - I know...

Jesus, as in most of the other letters (it is assumed - see the detailed arguments on the words of Jesus to Ephesus), commends the Church for what they are doing that is pleasing in His sight (2:2-3, 2:9, 2:13, 2:19, 3:4, 3:8 - the exception being Laodicea) - and, in the case of Thyatira, the list is quite impressive. Not only does He find their works - love, service and patient endurance - worthy of commendation, but He sees that they have not merely held fast to what they first received. Ephesus had forsaken the works that they'd performed when they had first believed (Rev 2:4-5), but Thyatira 's stature had increased throughout the time of the growth and development of the Church (II Peter 1:8).

However, in spite of this great progression in their walk with Christ, they have a major, and potentially suicidal, doctrine which is spreading in their midst. It is quite true to say that wherever God's work blossoms, there is the danger of heresy. You can't control its appearance by restricting the Church's freedom, but it must be dealt with by strong leadership whenever it shows itself.

As we will see below, though the leadership had provided opportunity and encouragement for the body of believers to develop in these areas, they had not been bold enough to oppose the false teaching that had gained both access and adherents within their ranks.

b. Thyatira 's problem
Verses 20-23

i. The woman Jezebel

Just who was 'the woman Jezebel' in the church at Thyatira?

Are we to think of a specific individual who went by this name or was it a pseudonym used by the Lord?

Are we to think of a male or female individual or, perhaps, a spirit that had pervaded the church and which was influencing a significant proportion of the believers?

Are we to think of this Jezebel as being the leader's wife as some commentators have argued by referring to the alternate manuscript tradition that causes us to infer this?

Was Jezebel a believer or unbeliever?

And was she resident within or without the church?

There are so many questions and yet so little that we can say with any certainty one way or the other!

However, it seems to be most reasonable to understand the name Jezebel as a pseudonym used to refer to one woman and that it was used to signify that the sin of this individual in the fellowship was like that of her namesake in the OT (similar to the use of the name 'Balaam' in Rev 2:14) and it is to her namesake that we must turn in order for us to understand the reason for the Lord's use of the name here.

We first read of Jezebel in I Kings 16:30-32 where it's recorded of King Ahab of Israel.

‘And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, he took for wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethba'al king of the Sidonians, and went and served Ba'al and worshipped him.’

Ahab's marriage alliance with Ethba'al (which means, by translation, either 'with Ba'al' or 'man of Ba'al') was forbidden by Mosaic Law (Ex 34:1116) but, nevertheless, Ahab entered into it almost certainly because without an allegiance with Ethba'al, he would not have been able to use the excellent ports of Tyre and Sidon as trade routes for his nation's exports. Though, for political expediency, the marriage made sense, it represented the introduction of Ba'al worship into the northern kingdom of Israel.

But, more than this, Ahab was a weak-willed king who was pulled and pushed about by his wife Jezebel. It was she who was, in effect, the driving force behind the throne of Israel - it was she who incited both Ahab and the nation to commit spiritual adultery against YHWH.

Notice, in this respect, some of the statements made about her during Ahab's reign:

I Kings 18:4 - It was Jezebel who had cut off the prophets of the Lord, not Ahab. It had been at her command that God's servants had been removed from Israel either by exile or, more likely, by martyrdom.

I Kings 18:19 - It was at Jezebel's table that the prophets of both Ba'al and Asherah (the female consort of Ba'al) sat. In other words, Jezebel played host to the leaders of the false god and goddess of her native land, indicating that it was her leadership and not Ahab's that was responsible for the promotion of the idolatrous practices.

I Kings 21:5-16 - It was Jezebel who disregarded Mosaic Law, the law of Israel (Num 36:7 - if she'd ever read it, that is!) and murdered Naboth to obtain possession of the vineyard for her husband. Ahab certainly sulked but he hadn't plotted murder - he had stood idly by and let his wife sort out his problem. What a contrast here between the king who should be leading the people into righteousness and the wife who is actively leading the king into greater and greater sin. Jezebel showed herself through this incident to be the dynamic driving force behind the throne.

I Kings 21:25 - 'There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.' Notice here that in the summation of the reign of Ahab, Jezebel is seen as the power behind the throne even though Ahab is culpable for what he allowed himself to be led into.

Summarising, then, Ahab was weak-willed and Jezebel was the strong-willed leader who got her plans established by manipulating her husband's authority, power and position. In one final example, see how Elijah tells Ahab what to do (I Kings 18:41-42) and he obeys without question even though he's king, yet, when he tells Jezebel all that Elijah has done, the reaction is one of authoritarian control and dominance (I Kings 19:1-2) that puts down without mercy everything and everyone that gets in her way.

Returning to the letter to Thyatira, we can see by some of the phrases employed that this Jezebel has the same trait of authoritarian leadership that her OT namesake portrayed.

In Rev 2:20 it's recorded that Jezebel '...calls herself a prophetess...' (see also section 2ai about the Pythia). Rather than allow the Lord to confirm her ministry within the church, she has self-proclaimed her function.

Not only this but Rev 2:21 tells us that '...she refuses to repent...' Even though opportunity had been given her to turn around her lifestyle, she had stubbornly refused to do any such thing. The great sign that Elijah had performed on Carmel had offered an opportunity for the OT Jezebel to acknowledge that God's way was the right way, but she had refused to bow the knee before Him and threatened to murder His servant. Just like Judas (Mtw 27:3) the opportunity for repentance had passed her by.

But those who have been following both her and her teaching are still given opportunity to repent (Rev 2:22).

For a strong-willed person to dominate a fellowship, there must also be a weak-willed leadership and congregation. The letter again gives us evidence of this.

Rev 2:20 reads ' tolerate the woman Jezebel...' and Rev 2:22 talks of the need to repent of '...her doings...' Just as Ahab was responsible for the deeds that Jezebel incited him to perform, so the Thyatiran individuals were responsible for the deeds that this NT Jezebel had incited them to participate in, but the deeds remain characteristically hers.

The real problem, or root cause, of the spiritual adultery in Thyatira was not so much Jezebel as the weak-willed believers who allowed themselves to be led into sin by her and the weak-willed leadership who allowed themselves to be dominated by her.

ii. Jezebel's teaching

What, then, was the teaching that Jezebel had brought into the church?

We only have a description of the sins that were a result of Jezebel's teaching (2:20 - immorality and eating food that had been offered first as a sacrifice to idols - see section 2ai regarding Apollo being the object of the food sacrifice) but, as we have already seen, Thyatiran trade guilds were numerous and powerful and it is to these institutions that we should look in order for us to perceive what sort of teaching Jezebel was spreading (see also section lc 'Thyatira 's commerce and trade').

When a tradesman came to Christ, he was immediately faced with a dilemma. His continued participation in the trade guild communal feasts were unacceptable to his new Lord and Master (as even a superficial reading of the ten commandments would have shown) but if he was to withdraw from them, he would most likely lose his livelihood and business. The others in the guild would 'close him down’ by their withdrawal of help. If it was true that a trade guild supported its own and cared for their own numbers, it was equally true that they were vehemently opposed to and sought ways to actively remove competitors who were not part of them.

Commercial suicide was the result of non-participation, but spiritual suicide was the result of a union with their idolatrous practices.

So, for a syncretism of these two opposed ways of living, it takes someone like Jezebel to raise herself up and proclaim to all who don't want to lose material wealth and financial security that there is a 'Word from God' that actively encourages them to continue the way that they've been going.

After all, Jezebel would have reasoned, if Christ has set us free from all things and paid the price for all things, then we must be free to participate in whatever we desire for it can do us no harm. Moreover, if we withdraw from the organisations such as the trade guilds, who is going to witness to our former friends and colleagues? Therefore, the Thyatirans would have been encouraged to take part in those things that were evil in God's eyes (immorality and eating food that had been first offered in sacrifice to idols) so that they may prove the abundance and immeasurable resources of God's grace towards them, while at the same time witness to others of the provision of the cross.

And so, both sin and righteousness were harmonised!

When Elijah, during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel, stood on Mount Carmel and challenged the nation of Israel to forsake Ba'al, he said ‘How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the Lord is God, then follow Him; but if Ba'al, then follow him' (I Kings 18:21) for Israel had not forsaken YWWH to serve Ba’al but they had syncretised both religions, taking some out of one, some out of the other; serving YWWH at certain times and Ba’a1 at others.


But where does that leave us in the twentieth century? What does this letter, written 1900 years ago, have to say to us in this day and age?

Firstly, it should be a warning to all leadership that the reason for their authority in Christ is not to lord it over the flock (I Peter 5:3), but to protect it and to stand against both false teaching and false prophets no matter what the consequences might be (Titus 1:9, Acts 20:28-30).

Secondly, it should be a warning to the congregation (of whom the leadership are a part) not to be swept along by doctrines that pamper to the old nature (II Peter 2:18) but test out what is heard by recourse to the Scriptures (Acts 17:10-11, II Tim 3:16-17).

Thirdly, we should all make sure that in our desire to be Christ's witnesses, we maintain the purity of heart and lifestyle that belongs to a disciple and not compromise our life in order to get the gospel across.

It is too easy to compromise our faith in Christ to be accepted by the world and so not lose material wealth, that we must remember constantly that the way of the cross is the way of sacrifice and self-loss (Luke 14:26-27,33).

NB - On food offered/sacrificed to idols.
The Corinthian church had the same problems with regard to eating food that had been first offered to idols in worship. Some of the congregation had already been proclaiming that 'an idol has no real existence' (I Cor 8:4) and so went on to teach that there was nothing inherently sinful in eating such food.
But, from two points of view, it most certainly was:
Firstly, it allowed for the possibility that a brother in Christ could be led astray who was weaker in the faith (I Cor 8:10-11). The strong man knows that what he is eating cannot harm him for, though it has been offered to an idol, they have no real existence and therefore he is not joining himself in fellowship to them. However, a weaker man sees what the strong man does and, being less well established in the faith, participates in food without knowing that 'an idol has no real existence'. And there is, then, a gateway opened not only for the individual to participate in other idolatrous communal meals but to be drawn into the immoral practices that are associated with the feasts.
Secondly, it is a bad witness to the unsaved (I Cor 10:25-29) for, seeing that we knowingly participate in fellowship with a false god, they are unable to see the differentiation that we are called to make between serving Christ and our attitude towards all other 'gods'. Our witness to them is defiled and, instead of hoping to draw them near to Him by eating with them, we find that we push them further away from the Truth.

c. Thyatira's faithful
Verses 24-25

Jesus tells His faithful to '...hold fast what you have until I come...' (Phil 3:16, II Tim 4:7-8).

The exhortation is to remain faithful to all that they have received from the Lord upto that point. Even though they have progressed in the christian life in the sense that the quality of their love, faith, service and endurance has improved (Rev 2:19), Jesus now lays upon them nothing more than that they live up to all that they have already attained.

In verse 26, after the usual formula 'To him who overcomes' Jesus adds the words '...and who keeps My works until the end...' which refers us back to His previous statement in Rev 2:19 to reaffirm His desire for the faithful believers in the Thyatiran fellowship.


The most significant point made in the six verses beginning with verse 20 is that God has made a distinction in His church - verses 20-23 are directed towards those who have gone astray, whereas verses 24-25 are aimed at those who have continued to follow Christ.

Even though a church may seem to be one unit, God may consider it divided. Different messages received will not be for the whole body but for certain sections that God will want to speak to.

We often try to avoid division and 'work at’ unity, but here God has already made a distinction between those who follow Him and those who are far from Him; between those who are doing His will and those who are actively opposed to it. Even though a way back is offered through repentance, the distinction remains.

In such a situation, it would be difficult to envisage a church-split as being anything other than the hand of God or, at the very least, the bringing about of what God has already perceived the church to be.

d. To him who overcomes
Verses 26-28

When we think of the concept of 'overcoming' in the christian walk, we naturally think of the world's great evangelists who have seen entire nations won for Christ and of the 'super apostles' who cast out demons like it's going out of fashion! We may even envisage our local leadership as being at the cutting edge of conquering new ground and 'overcoming’ all that stands in the fellowship's way as they press on fearlessly into the increasing darkness of the world.

However, such a concept of being an overcomer is going too far to making only 'super heroes' capable of fulfilling the prerequisites. As Robert Mounce has written (commenting on Rev 2:7)

'The overcomer in Revelation is not one who has conquered an earthly foe by force, but one who has remained faithful to Christ to the very end. The victory he achieves is analogous to the victory of Christ.' (Rev 5:5-6).

There is no value in conquering the world for Christ if, at the end of the day, we renounce faith in Him. Neither is it worthwhile to suffer persecution and tribulation seemingly beyond measure if we drop our hands and give up our walk with Christ. 'Overcoming', then, has to do with perseverance and the overcomer is the one who, in spite of all that's happened in his life, has remained faithful to Christ until death (whether natural or by martyrdom - Rev 12:11). As John wrote '...this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith' (I John 5:4-5) and, therefore, our faith in Him must continue 'until death' in order for us to complete our life in this body as 'overcomers'.

What precisely is meant by 'overcoming' has to be interpreted in the light of the content of each of the seven individual letters, but each one has to do with defeating a very real problem that currently existed or was shortly to appear in the local fellowship.

In the context of the letter to the Thyatirans, the meaning is taken to be that the faithful are expected to overcome by standing firmly against the false teaching that has entered the church and not allow themselves to be tainted by their own participation in the sins of immorality and of eating food offered to idols. This would probably mean persecution from those within the body who had embraced the teaching and, perhaps worse, financial and economic ruin as the trade guilds closed ranks and forced one time members into bankruptcy.

Therefore, Jesus includes the words 'He...who keeps My works until the end' as a reminder of the need for perseverance.

Jesus promises the faithful Thyatiran believers three things:

i. They shall rule the nations with a rod of iron

Psalm 2 was written specifically by David for the coronation of his son, Solomon, and it is here in verses 8-9 that both concepts of the first two promises come. When Solomon's line was ended in the kingdom of Judah, the psalm was taken to be prophetic regarding the Messiah. It is Messiah who will rule over the nations but, to him who overcomes, Jesus will share that rule (Is 32:1).

Jer 19:10-11 speaks about the rod of iron. If the potter regarded his work as no good, he would take a metal-tipped staff and smash it to pieces. The parallel is used here of believers under the Messiah in the coming age. They will decide between righteousness and sin, enforcing the good and eliminating the bad. It is of extreme importance, then, that in their own fellowship's life, they begin that function by adequately sorting out the affair with Jezebel and her teaching.

If we endure we shall also reign with Christ (II Tim 2:12). Endurance is a prerequisite of ruling in the coming Kingdom with Messiah. To overcome is to endure to the end.

To be obedient to Christ and to be a master of ourselves now (Jezebel's followers were fleshy and undisciplined) is to have the authority to reign with Christ in the coming Kingdom. It is a translation of that authority we have over ourselves into an authority over others. If we master ourselves now, we will be the master of others later.

ii. They shall be given power over the nations

Power is needed to establish a rule. The queen of England certainly reigns but she has no power to rule. There is nothing that enforces the will of the monarch throughout her land so that her reign is one without sufficient authority to get her will done. Rule is no good without the power behind it to enforce the decisions of the throne.

The spirit of 'counsel and might' is upon Jesus (Is 11:2) for there is no point merely knowing what is right to do (counsel) if there is no power to carry it through (might). Similarly, power corrupts without the knowledge of how best to use it.

The kings of the earth will bring their treasures into the new Jerusalem (Rev 21:24,26). The seat of earth's governmental rule in the new age is the city where God and His people dwell.


These two points are particularly relevant when we consider the history of Thyatira. As we saw under section 1b, Thyatira was not meant to win a war but to restrict the advance of an enemy army. It was the city placed on the front line that served the kingdom by hindering an advance until they had time to group their forces together and launch a counter attack.

However, God's promise envisages a conquest and sovereignty over the world, a victory of all victories that would be theirs to participate in if they endured to the end.

The history and purpose of the city is set in contrast to God's ultimate desire for them.

iii. I will give him the morning star

The meaning of this phrase is far from certain and is complicated by Is 14:12 where satan is referred to by this title.

In Rev 22:16, Jesus proclaims Himself to be the morning star and, with no other definitive or explanatory verse in the same book, it is best to understand it to be a reference to the Son of God (John 8:12 - Jesus is the Shekinah glory of God's presence).

Those that overcome and stand fast until the end will know God's presence with them for eternity (Rev 21:3, 22:3-4).

e. He who has an ear...
Verse 29

Verse 29 is common to all the other letters and the Thyatiran letter is the first of the four that has this phrase after the promise to the overcomers. The first three reverse the order.

Simply, it means something like 'Those who have set themselves to hear My will and to perform it should give heed to my message to them and actively obey'