In our last study we uncovered that the first step to heresy is compromise. The second step to heresy is corruption.
Once a Christian chooses to compromise a little in doctrine and a life of holiness and sin against God; little by little that Christians will become corrupt mentally and spiritually.
And if sinful behavior is allowed to continue to grow, it will eventually corrupt the church and Christians in that church. Such is the price for tolerance, just like the church of Thyatira had become.
Because they first allowed compromise into the church. And then they allowed it to continue and fester until that compromise turned into sin. And sin unchecked grew into perversion corrupting the church.
We don’t know the exact numbers of them that kept themselves pure and undefiled from the corrupting doctrines of gross debauchery that was freely taught in this church.
But we do know according to the words of Jesus Christ to the church of Thyatira, there were more than a few that kept themselves clean, spotless and uncorrupted (Revelation 2:24-25).
A Brief Background of Thyatira
Thyatira as it is known in the Holy Bible is a city in the region of Lydia in western Asia Minor, is known today as Akhisar, which is the Manisa Province in the Aegean region of western Turkey. It sits 51 miles south-east of Bergama (which is the modern name for the Biblical city of Pergamos).
It was known in the New Testament times as a thriving commercial and manufacturing center, where cloth and pottery were manufactured. Also known for its production of wool, linen, brass goods and tanning; Situated on the trade road to Pergamos, Sardis, Ephesus and byzantium.
But it does have a dark side as well. The city of Thyatira was involved with pagan customs and practices such as fortune-telling, spiritualism, witchcraft (in short; occultism), union feasts using foods sacrificed to mythological deities and loose public sexual immorality.
Revelation 2:18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass;
Just in case you missed Jesus Christ’s past proclamations about Himself as being the Son of God, Who is alive and is speaking. He spells it out who He is: ‘These things saith the Son of God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;’
Pointing out the very fact that He is the same One whom the Apostle John saw and heard standing in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks in the throne room of God when he was called up into Heaven from the Island of Patmos in the spirit.
The resurrected, glorified Christ; The Son of God; The Alpha and Omega; Who’s “eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace (Revelation 1:10-15).” Proof that Jesus Christ; the resurrected; glorified Son of God is speaking here. And He can’t be any clearer than transparent.
The Lord Knows All Our Works
Revelation 2:19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
Wow, what an amazing opening on the church’s resume. The Lord quickly points out their works of charity. The word for charity is also translated as love. So, they had an abundance of holy, Biblical works of love (charity work). Which is the very foundation of Christianity; just as Jesus Christ has for all humanity.
Perhaps mission work within the city is what the Lord was pointing out. Ministry service within their community, and great faith and patience. In fact, as the Lord puts it in His last statement here, that this church in their ministry works, was growing in leaps and bounds.
So He first seems to be well pleased with what this church is doing for the Kingdom of God and for their devotion to Christ. And that’s the beauty of His opening words, “I know thy works.”
Testifying to the fact that there is nothing that escapes His attention. He knows all our good, fruitful works that glorify Him as Lord in every little detail. Even when no one else notices. He does! And right here He reveals this fact first.
Which should bring comfort to Christians who are right with God, because this also testifies that He is watching closely all His churches from then to today; because He is very concerned for all our well-being as His church body all throughout the church age from beginning to end.
The Lord in His last statement is also pointing out, as they grew in numbers, maturing in Christ and in faith as well, that their last works, “faith, patience, and works” they were doing more of, than the first works mentioned, “charity, and service.”
So, in essence, Jesus Christ is specifically pointing out to all His churches what pleases Him and what He expects us all to be doing, outreach ministry of charity by faith and patience wherever He plants us. Growing in Christ from faith as the size of a mustard seed to a new level of faith as we mature in the Lord step by step.
This is what excites the Lord: our availability and service in faith and faithfulness unto Him in which He has called each of us to do, according to our ability and talents He has equipped each of us with. To be used in the fullness of His anointing to bring people to Christ for their salvation.
Our charity towards all humanity under every circumstance of trials and testing’s in patience are part of the fruits of the Holy Spirit of God. While maintaining our holy purity in Christ while working in a dirty, corrupt, sinful fallen world, is the very heart of God.
Galatians 5:22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.
You see, love is chief of all virtue. It’s the greatest of all as it is also written in, 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
But for this church, and all churches and Christians from then to today who are in this apostate condition of corruption; he did not find their works perfect before Him. He saw a few things He needed to correct, because He sees and knows all our works both good, fruitful works and the sinfulness of all types and shadows in great detail as well.
He sees all the sins that are going on either in the open or in secret, as He says in His opening statement to all His churches, “I know thy works.”
Revelation 2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
Apparently, there was a woman whose name was Jezebel or maybe perhaps that’s a spiritual name that Jesus Christ may have given to her. (We will explore this further in a few minutes).
She was ministering in the church of Thyatira in the first century. And what we also know for fact from the Lord, is that she is a self-proclaimed “prophetess,” as He has distinctly stated, “which calleth herself a prophetess.”
She was teaching and seducing the Lord’s servants to commit fornication and eating things sacrificed to idols. So, in this church, one person was causing corruption from within. She had three apostate conditions all rolled up into one.
- Doctrine of Nicolaitanes (rebellion)
- Doctrine of Balaam (compromise)
So, the very words of Jesus Christ tell us several things here. This church was slowly slipping into apostasy. And as they were acclimating, the devil seizes a perfect opportunity and slithers in quietly one of his disciples, without being suspected, at least at first.
And when she was found out, the church may have thrown her out a few times perhaps, but she keeps coming back; or attaching herself to members of this local church body. Corrupting this church little by little, by one spiritually weak brethren or new convert at a time.
I say this because the Lord spoke a very profound statement, when He says, “thou sufferest that woman Jezebel.”
What this also tells us, is that you can have a noteworthy outreach ministry as a functioning church body and still be wrong in the sight of the Lord. Success doesn’t always equate right standing with God. It just means you know how to do something.)
Furthermore, this also reveals to us that any Christian, both sold out or casual can backslide into sin and apostasy. I say this because there are some certain Christians today that believe that backsliding is impossible for Christians. And further believe that Christians cannot be deceived.
Sorry to show you this, But Jesus Christ is addressing these very issue’s as He has stated here, “to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”
This is why Jesus Christ preached to His disciples, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation (Matthew 26:41):” He’s teaching us here, that if we stay on our guard and always be alert. Having the full armor of God on, and not ignorant of the devil’s devices, then it is more than possible to be strong against all temptations of the world, flesh and of the devil.
But if not, then you are more likely to be deceived and fall away from the faith, become weak against the devil’s schemes and continually sin against God, insulting the Spirit of grace to the point of reprobation. As the Holy Bible has also warned Christians in the church (Romans 1:18-32).
The Name Jezebel
Now going back to the name “Jezebel.” That name is really an oxymoron in this situation. Jezebel is a Hebrew word and it means, ‘pure or virginal;’ ‘or dwell with honor.’ (There are other possible meanings based upon a guessing game of Hebraic and Semitic root words that we will not cover because they are only possibly, not actually.)
Never-the-less, both cases of a woman named “Jezebel” in the Old Testament (1 Kings 16-21/2 Kings 9) and Jezebel here in the church of Thyatira were not pure in body, mentally nor spiritually, according to God’s holy and righteous standards.
And if this were a spiritual name given by Jesus Christ to that self-proclaimed prophetess in Thyatira, then He is merely pointing out her corrupt condition, as Jezebel was in the Old Testament.
So it’s more than likely that the name “Jezebel” was her actual real name, not revealing in any way, shape or form that this woman had a “Jezebel Spirit” as some popular sermons suggest.
And Verse 20 can reveal a whole slew more of spiritual teachings, but when you peel back the layers of this onion, what really remains is that this church is suffering from a heretic in such a way that only the Lord can and will deal with.
Because the truth be known, this is revealing, when a local church body exhausts all avenues of punishment against a problem member (Matthew 18:15-17/1 Corinthians 5), The Lord Jesus Christ will step in and take care of the problem in His church; His way by force, if He has to, as He has revealed next
Revelation 2:21-23 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I Am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Jesus Christ Is Judge
In Verse 23, Jesus Christ reveals another attribute about Himself, that He is not only the head of His church body, but He is also Judge of all His churches and His Christians, first.
I say He is Judge of all His churches and Christians first, is because he will judge the world second…after this church age is judged and raptured (Matthew 24:29-31).
And after His second coming occurs (Revelation 19:11-21) and after His Millennial Reign on earth is complete (Revelation 20:1-4). And then the heavens and the earth are destroyed in fire by God Most High (The Father of Jesus Christ) (Revelation 20:9-10).
And all the living (born-again in Christ) and the dead (dead spiritually without Christ) will stand before Jesus Christ and all will go through His judgment of separation; the sinner from the righteous (Matthew 25:31-46). This will occur as the Lord Jesus Christ’s second Judgment.)
This revelation that Jesus Christ is judge goes all the way back to His teachings in John 5:19-27 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.
For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth: and He will shew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.
For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.
The Holy Bible teaches that Jesus Christ is the separator of the righteous and sinners (Matthew 25:31-46). When after everything is done, said and fulfilled; The Lord will separate the sheep (Born-again Christians) from the goats (sinners).
Every Christian will someday have to give an account at “the judgment seat of Christ” for all the deeds done in the body, whether be good or bad, as it is written,
1 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
This judgment is not a heaven or hell kind of judgment. But rather, it’s about what eternal rewards Christians will receive or have forfeited based upon our works on earth (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
These rewards are of course crowns, including the eternal blessings the Lord mentions to each church in Revelation 2-3 when the conditions that the Lord spoke of are met.
On the other hand, goats, sinners (the spiritually dead without Christ). Will stand before the judgment seat of God Most High as is also written,
Revelation 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from Whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.
So, the Lord is pointing that God His Father has given authority to Him to judge not just in eternity, but also has authority to execute judgment on earth as well at any given moment as He sees fit; Because He is Judge. He is Just and He judges righteously.
He will step in after the church body has exhausted all avenues of punishment, lest His church, He has built, be destroyed. And He still executes judgment today as was the case in the church of Thyatira.
Next, the Lord addresses to the rest of the church body, who have not been corrupted by this false prophetess named Jezebel, who have not been corrupted by the depths of satan’s doctrines (the doctrine of demons), the following:
Hold Fast Christian, Jesus Christ Is Coming
Revelation 2:24-25 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
“hold fast,” means to stand firm in the faith in Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the Holy Bible. To endure; persevere, to be steadfast. To keep unwavering faith to the end, as the Holy Spirit instructed us,
Hebrew 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.
Hebrew 10:19-23 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; And having an High Priest over the house of God;
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;)
The Promised Blessings When We Overcome
Revelation 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth My works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
“he that overcometh,” The word Overcome: ‘Succeed in dealing with (a problem or difficulty).’ To conquer, to have mastery over that sin/difficulty.
The blessings from the Lord show us there are conditions to receive. But the opposite is also true. If Christians and or Churches do not meet the set conditions that Jesus Christ has mentioned, then simply put, the blessings don’t apply.
They are only given to those who genuinely comply and meet the Lord’s standards. And in this case of the apostate condition of corruption, there are a few conditions that need to be met. Which is first and foremost “Repent” and then “overcome.” And the last condition is found in what the Lord says next,
“and keepeth My works unto the end,” What works is Jesus Christ referring to? The word “Keeping” means to hear and do all the doctrines that Jesus Christ taught (including the great commission) with all our hearts, totally devoted and surrendered to Christ to the end.
To the end of what? The Lord means here, unto the end of your life or unto the end of the church age, whichever comes first. He even says this to His saints after the rapture of the church age, during the “Great Tribulation Period.” Because this concurs with what He says next, “to him will I give power over the nations:
Revelation 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of My Father.
There is only one reference of Scripture throughout the whole Holy Bible, where born-again Christians, the saints of God and the 144,000 Jews who overcome and have mastery over world, the flesh and the devil will rule the nations on thrones and reign with Christ during the Millennial Reign of Christ, and that is found in,
Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
And the blessing of overcoming corruption does not stop there, for the Lord continues to tells us what other blessing is in store for those who overcome the apostate condition of corruption,
Revelation 2:28 And I will give him the morning star.
The mystery behind this blessing is, He will give you radiance, spiritual light in a darkened world; to them that overcome this apostate (sinful) condition.
This goes all the way back, once again, to what Jesus Christ taught in, John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I Am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
John 9:5 As long as I Am in the world, I Am the light of the world.
And because the Lord Jesus Christ is the Light, those who abide in Christ (John 15) walks in the light, and is the light of the world; because Christ is in us (The Spirit of Christ; Romans 8), and we abide in Him and in His word as He has taught His disciples in,
Matthew 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.
Therefore, He gives us… radiance, Philippians 2:14-15 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.
He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.