Revelation 2:17 – The Lord concludes His letter counsel and encouragement. Once again the phrase he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches stresses the importance of these words and our responsibility to hear and heed them. The one who heeds and overcomes will receive from Him some of the hidden manna (Exodus 16:14ff). A jar of manna was placed inside the Ark of the Covenant. The hidden manna is a picture of Jesus who is the Bread of Life who came down from heaven (John 6:48-51). He provides spiritual strength for those who put their faith in Him.
There are many opinions about the white stone symbolizes. Some associate it with the Urim and Thummim on the breastplate of the high priest which were used to determine God’s will (Exodus 28:15,30;Leviticus 8:8; Numbers 27:21;Deuteronomy 33:8). According to this view, by this white stone God promises the overcomers knowledge of His will. Probably the white stone referred to the Roman custom of awarding white stones to the victors in athletic contests.
A white stone, inscribed with the athlete’s name, served as his ticket to a special awards banquet. In this way it is related to the eternal victory celebration in heaven. There will be a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it. The new name and the stone will serve as our pass into eternity.
The church at Pergamum faced the same choice every church faces. It could repent and receive the blessings of eternal life and glory of heaven or refuse and experience the same discipline that Israel has experienced.
Revelation 2:18-29 The letter to the church the Lord addresses not merely a small minority who were in need of discipline but large numbers who had yielded to false teaching. We see this in the expression ” the deep things of Satan ” (Revelation 2:24). This letter is the longest of the seven. It has an important message for the church then as it does today: false doctrine and sin are not to be tolerated because immorality and false doctrine, if not confronted, will bring judgment from the Lord.
The letter begins with title Son of God and two descriptive phrases drawn from the vision in Revelation 1:12-17. The expression focuses on His role as Judge. He also uses here the expression Son of God which emphasizing that He is one with the Father (John 5:18). In chapter 1 He is described as the Son of Man (Revelation 1:13) which emphasizes His humiliation and identification with believers and His work as High Priest (Hebrews 2:17-18).
The title Son of God emphasizes His deity, because His approach to the church at Thyatira is not as sympathetic High Priest, but as divine judge this is further emphasized with the reference to His having His eyes like a flame of fire. We may think that we are fine, and may appear to others as fine but to the penetrating eyes of the Lord He sees as we really are. The description of His feet as being like burnished bronze reminds us that we will stand at His feet in judgment. All believers will do well to remember that we will all so stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Scripture does not record the founding of the church at Thyatira. According to Acts 16:14 we read about Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, who was a worshiper of God, and came to faith through Paul at Philippi. Acts 16:15 records that members of her household also came to faith and were baptized. It is possible that Lydia and her household participated in starting the church at Thyatira.
Unlike Smyrna or Pergamum, Thyatira was built in relatively flat country and lacked an acropolis. Thyatira was founded by Seleucus, one of four generals who took over Alexanders empire as Daniel prophesied, and was the forebearer of Antiochus who was described by Daniel as a type of the Antichirst in Daniel 9:27. The city came under the rule of Lysimachus, who ruled Pergamum when the Empire was divided. At the time the book of Revelation was written, Thyatira was just entering its period of greatest prosperity. It’s main industry was the production of wool and dyed goods.
Jesus as usual begins with a commendation and that He had not forgotten their righteous deeds which included their love for God and one another. They are the first of the seven churches commended for their love. They are also commended for their faith out of which came both service and perseverance. Those who love express that it through meeting the needs of others which are mentioned as becoming stronger not weaker. Even though there were commendable things about the Church there were some very serious problems that came from inside the church and not outside.
They were rebuked for tolerating Jezebel who called herself a prophetess who through her teachings was leading many of God’s people astray so that they were involved in immorality and eating things sacrificed to idols. Jezebel probably was not her name but her actions were reminiscent of the wife of King Ahab, who corrupted both him and God’s people. Scripture describes marrying her as the most evil thing wicked King Ahab did (1 Kings 16:30-31). Through Jezebel’s influence, Baal worship became widespread in Israel.
Similarly, the woman in Thyatira who falsely called herself a prophetess succeeded in leading God’s people astray so that they committed acts of immorality and ate things sacrificed to idols. Her teaching may have been similar to that of those who followed the teaching of Baalam in the church at Pergamum. The teaching taught that the spirit is good, and the flesh evil and since God is only interested in the spirit it doesn’t matter what one does with one’s body so there is no problem with immorality or eating things sacrificed to idols.
We are not really sure what the teaching was but it led the majority of the Thyatiran believers astray from the truth. It is one thing to fall into sexual immorality as 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 describes, but to lead others into it is a very serious sin that the Lord will deal with most harshly (Matthew 18:6). Jezebel was certainly judged harshly for her sin (2 Kings 9:30-37).
The Lord gave this false prophetess time to repent, but she did not want to and her refusal would lead to her being thrown onto a bed of sickness. The words for sickness are not part of the original Greek text, but were added by the translators. It is more likely that the bed refers to death and hell the ultimate resting place for those who refuse to repent. Judgment would fall not only on Jezebel, but also on those who commit adultery with her.
The word used is great tribulation, not the tribulation described in Revelation 4-19, but distress or trouble. Since these were Believers the Lord does not threaten to send them to hell as He did the false prophetess but rather severe discipline, even death (1 Corinthians 11:30;1 John 5:16) unless they repent. The reference to killing her children refers to her spiritual children.
The Lord will do whatever is necessary to purge His church of sin. This is why James warns us about being teachers in the church and how important is to be teaching the truth (James 3:1). It also warns us about how important it is that we be aware of false teachings. Through this kind of judgment, the Lord is glorified. That is why we are told that the Lord searches the minds and hearts so that the other churches throughout history would be warned of the consequences. The Church is no longer there and serves as a continual reminder that the Lord sees and judges our behavior.
There is a word of comfort to the true believers who had not followed Jezebel’s false teaching: “I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.” The innocent would not be punished along with the guilty but we will all be judged by our deeds (Matthew 16:27;Revelation 22:12;Romans 2:6;2 Timothy 4:14). Our actions reveal our spiritual condition (James 2:17-18;Ephesians 2:10). To the faithful the Lord speaks words of comfort like the words that Malachi spoke to the remnant (Malachi 3:16-17).
The deep things of Satan is a reference to the prideful claim that the Jezebel cult claimed; that they knew deep truths that your average believers didn’t because they weren’t as spiritual as them. Bearing the burden of enduring this cult was enough for them to bear. The Lord tells those who persevere that He will give them the promise that was first spoken in Psalm 2:7-9 to Messiah and will belong to those who belong to Him.
They will exercise authority over the nations, speaks of our role during the millennial kingdom (1 Corinthians 6:2). He promised to give His faithful followers the morning star. Some connect the morning star with Daniel 12:3 and Matthew 13:43 in our reflection of Messiah’s glory. But probably the morning star refers to Yeshua Himself Revelation 22:16 we will posses Him in all His fullness.
The letter to this church once again shows how serious it is to both practice and tolerate sin, and that God will judge unrepentant sin in the church. It tells us again that those who obey the Lord will experience the fullness of Messiah as they reign with Him in His kingdom.