Jesus gave the church in Thyatira a shout out because they worked hard; they sacrificed for the sake of others and were known for their faith, love, and patience were gracious in their service and hospitality. Sounds pretty good, huh? Hold on! The wheels are coming off the wagon in just a moment.
There was a woman in the church that Jesus called ‘Jezebel’, whether this was her real name, or the name that Jesus gave her to signify her character. She was teaching some pretty bad stuff, and people were following her. John MacArthur suggests that she might have been teaching philosophical dualism – that the spirit is good, the flesh is evil and since God is only interested in the spirit it doesn’t matter what one does with the body. Jezebel might also have taught that since the Christians in Thyatira live under grace it didn’t matter how much they sinned. God would still forgive them.
I hope you can immediately see the problems with both philosophies. God cares what we do with our bodies for they are the temples of His Spirit. He cares about every part of our body, from the top of our head to the tips of our toes. He also will hold us accountable for every decision, every act, every word.
In the Old Testament story of Jezebel, she was all about Baal worship, so perhaps this woman in the church at Thyatira was enticing the Christians to worship Baal, which involved male and female temple prostitutes and obscene sex acts. Jesus said that this woman enticed His people into sexual immorality. See anything familiar there? Pornography.
Jesus says that judgment is getting ready to fall. He is warning those who are the faithful that when judgment falls, it will involve suffering and death. Jezebel’s ‘children’ will suffer, so apparently the church had allowed this woman free reign for quite a while…long enough for her to have ‘spiritual’ children who followed her.
In Thyatira it was impossible to hold a job if you did not belong to a guild, and belonging to a guild required that you worship the deity with which the guild affiliated. It is quite likely that some of the people in the church at Thyatira had embraced Jezebel and her false gospel and ways in order to make a living. They had fallen victim to the false gospel of tolerance and unity at all costs. Some of the harshest punishment a person can face is for leading others into sin according to Matthew 18:6-10.
Jesus offered words of encouragement for those who overcome or hold fast. They are promised a position of power and ruling authority. This promise is likely referencing the coming heavenly kingdom. Jesus also tells the overcomers that they will have a close, intimate, abiding, and eternal relationship with Him as the reward for their faithfulness.
The Thyatiran church has an important message to the church in 2018 – false doctrine and sin are not to be allowed – even under the banner of love, toleration, and unity. (LEAH ADAMS)