We find the letter to Thyatira in Rev. 2:18-29. Thyatira is located southeast of Pergamos, it is the modern city of Akhissar. It was an Industrial City with much trade and commerce.
HISTORICALLY, it was an actual church that existed in John's day. The letter describes the strengths and weaknesses and potential disaster that actually existed in that church in John's day.
PRACTICALLY, individual churches with some of the weaknesses and characteristics of Thyatira have existed in every era of the church age.
PROPHETICALLY, there was an era in Church History when the characteristics of Thyatira dominated. That era was 500 AD. to 1500 AD.
In 596 AD. Gregory the Great, a Roman Emporer ascended to the throne as Head of the Church of Rome and became the first Pope.
For nearly a thousand years the Church of Rome totally dominated all of Christendom. It was the only visible church that existed. Any dissenting groups were hunted down and destroyed. That is the period Historians call the Dark Ages.
In 1517 AD. Martin Luther nailed his 95 Thesis to the door of the Church at Wittenburg. That was the culmination of unrest by some against Rome. That was the beginning of the end of the dominance of the Roman Church, not the end, but the end of her dominance.
Ephesus had typified the state of the church in the First Century. Smyrna is representative of the persecuted church of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Pergamos is a picture of the church of the 4th and 5th centuries, joined in an unholy union with the world.
The reason that we are confident of the prophetic aspect of the letters to the churches in Rev.2 and 3, is because the whole book is stated to be a prophecy, see Rev. 1:3.
A second reason is that the situations and conditions in these letters match up with church history, dividing church history into eras that match up with each letter's account.
Two evils had crept into the church of Pergamos. BALAAMISM, a compromise and union with the world. NICOLAITANISM, the rising of a hierarchel clergy, certain men lusting for power, declaring themselves above the rest of the people, making people slaves. Presuming and pretending to dispense grace and salvation and forgiveness of sins to the people.
Those two false teachings and practices later exploded in Thyatira.
Today the Church of Rome (Thyatira) claims to have a repository of good works. They say, "some catholics perform more good works than necessary to get to Heaven." When those people die, the church is made custodian of those extra good works.
The church and its priests can dispense those good works to those who need more to get to heavaen. (CP. Eph. 2:8,9.) This gives great power and authority to certain men (priests) hence the term Nicolaitans
With regard to the explosion of BALAAMISM in Rome, the compromise with the world reached such a state that the Roman Emporer became the head of the church.
Let us begin our study of the text, Rev. 2:18-29.
"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." Rev. 2:18. The salutation introduces the speaker as "the Son of God," the picture is awesome, it is a picture of an offended angry God. CP. vs:22, 23.
Burning Eyes, searching into the very hearts of men, His feet of fine brass, trampling men like broken glass. He is searching the church, one member at a time and searching the collective acts and attitudes of the church.
"I know thy works and thy charity (love) and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first, " vs.19. This was a church that began well and had much to be commended for. This church, at the beginning of its life was pleasing to God!
REMEMBER the churches are viewed, ONE - as they begin. TWO - as they finally come to the full flower of what they had been practicing.
As Thyatira develops it has opposing elements in it. Saved and unsaved, each going in different directions. As it fully develops it appears to made up entirely of the unsaved.
The Lord begins His message with a commendation, "I know thy works". In its early stages, this was a church that was working for Christ.
"And charity (love), we see a contrast between Ephesus and Thyatira.
Ephesus had sound doctrine, but had left her first love. Thyatira has love and works, but had departed from sound doctrine. Neither is acceptable to the Lord!
"AND SERVICE" GRK. Diakonian = Ministry. This service was a demonstration of Christ's love toward others, helping and building others up.
"AND FAITH, AND THY PATIENCE" Patience grows out of Faith. They were strong in Faith, so they were patient as a result of their faith.
"And Thy Works; And the last to be more than the first." This is the second time they were commended for their good works. Not only did they begin good works but increased in good works as time went on, they were not just a flash in the pan. this was a very commendable church at the beginning. Evidently when Pergamos passed off the scene Thyatira was born in spiritual renewal. Thyatira had a good beginning.
"NOTWITHSTANDING," vs.20, in spite of their commendable things, the seeds of ultimate disaster were being sown in their midst.
One of the essential things a church must remember in its decision making, is not just is this good or bad, but where will it lead us and our people.
"I have a few things against thee," now the correction comes to them.
"thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess."
Ephesus had not been fooled by false apostles, they had recognized them as such and rejected them.
Pergamos had tolerated false doctrine.
Thyatira had now actually appointed teachers who were teaching false doctrine and wrong practice. That very thing has continued in the Catholic Church until this very hour.
Who Is This Jezebel? Her very name has come to be associated with evil.
Next Week, we will consider this Question.