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 Letter to the Church at Thyatira

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Thyatira is city of Asia Minor, on the borders of Lydia and Mysia. Its modern name is Ak-hissar,  ďwhite castle.Ē Lydia, the seller of purple, or rather of cloth dyed with this color, was from this city (Act_16:14). It was and still is famous for its dyeing. Among the ruins, inscriptions have been found relating to the guild of dyers in that city in ancient times.

Rev 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;

Rev 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.

Rev 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.

Rev 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

Rev 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Rev 2:23 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.

Rev 2:24 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.

Rev 2:25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

Rev 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.

Rev 2:28 And I will give him the morning star.

Rev 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Here was a busy thriving church with love and much service for Jesus Christ. Their faith seems to have been strong. Their latter works exceeded their former works. I don't really know what works they did that the Lord commends but perhaps it is works of mercy and charity. The word charity actually means love, so they didn't lack love.

We see churches today who are great at feeding the hungry and doing charity work. The Catholic Church, the Salvation Army, Operation Blessing, The Samaritan's purse, and many such charities. Even the world around us likes to see these kinds of works. Yet we can get so busy in these good things that we fail to teach sound doctrine and preach the simple gospel of salvation to those who are dead in trespasses and sin.

This church had faith. That faith caused them to have good works but yet it wasnít enough to save them from being judged by the lord. Idolatry and fornication was polluting their testimony and that still goes on today and ruins our testimony before the world.

Yes, we see something seriously wrong. When God corrects us, we must not take it lightly and excuse ourselves with confidence that we are saved by grace and we are okay, on other hand we can't trust in religious rituals, baptisms, and outward ceremonial cleansings to cover up our sins.

Jesus didn't bring us His word for nothing. Its not just good advice to take if we desire. These words are severe stern warnings that if they didn't repent they would lose their place and perhaps their souls. The solution is always to turn around, change, repent.

This was a local church in Asia but could represent present day churches which have the same spiritual state as this church. These types of churches existed throughout church history and exist today.

Those that believe this represents an age in church history believe this is:

The church of the Dark Ages when the bible was forbidden to be read and only the clergy was allowed to read it. The Eastern and Western churches controlled many nations and ruled. This was the time of the crusades. Instead of spreading the simple gospel of Jesus, a religion of outward works and rituals replaced the actually scripture and the rule they lived by.  They were doing as many make the mistake of doing - teaching for doctrine the commandments of men instead of the word of God. This period was 590- 1517 AD but also this church still exists today.

Rev 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.

Some among them were being influenced by a woman who compromised and taught others to do so. This is the teaching that we can sin and still be saved. There are some today that believe sex outside of marriage and unlawful sexual relations is not enough to send a soul to hell. Some think it is perfectly acceptable to live in fornication and still enter heaven at death.

In this area, there was much idolatry before the gospel came to them. They had temples to Diana and other so-called deities. They had trade guilds also and one had to belong to these guilds to have employment and earn a living. As the church began to mingle with these in order to do business, it was easy to compromise and allow false teaching to enter the church.

The name Thyatira means ďcontinuing sacrificeĒ. This is what occurs during the ďmassĒ. Jesus is sacrificed over and over again when mass is held and participants partake of the sacraments. Instead of having the Lordís supper as a memorial as most of us do, they actually believe that the bread turns into the literal body of Christ and the wine literally turns into the blood of Christ when the priest presides over it and prays. This is called transubstantiation.

This doctrine is one of the reasons Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation. He rejected this doctrine. This time period for those that uphold the church age doctrine was 590AD until this present day. They believe in the continuing sacrifice of Christ offered at every mass. This is opposite of the bible and the book of Hebrews which teaches that Christ suffered and died once and for all. There is no need of a continuing sacrifice or sacrament.

This doesn't mean that we don't remember Christ's sacrifice by commemorating the Lordís supper when we gather together to remember his death, burial and resurrection but the bread does not literally turn into the actual body of Christ. When the reformers found this out by reading the bible, this helped to usher in the start of the Protestant reformation. To keep sacrificing Christ over and over is to deny that He alone is our salvation. This also creates a dependency upon the clergy for our salvation because clergy has to perform the ritual of the mass. This is false doctrine and false teaching.

The old religions of pagan times did these kind of things so this church began to take the pagan rituals and Christianized them. The idols were changed into Christian images. The holidays became Christian. False doctrine mixed with idolatry is spiritual fornication which is departing from the sound teaching of Godís word and substituting the doctrines and commandments of men. Jesus accused the Pharisees of this same type of thing.

The Pharisees practiced what is called Talmudic Judaism, not Mosaic Judaism. Just like the church in the Middle Ages replaced the bible with their own creeds and traditions the religious Jewish religions did the same thing in their day. They substituted the law of Moses with Talmudic Jewish traditions and teachings. This is the main reason they rejected Christ and were able to have Christ crucified. They did not know the real God.

This is the reason the Roman Church was able to put to death and torture people in their day, they had long substituted their own teachings in place of Godís word but keeping just enough of Godís word to appear real. Later when Protestants gained power and strength they did the same thing. We will get to them when we discuss the Sardis Church. Some say the Thyatira church is the Roman Catholic Church. There are some similarities. Some churches do use images and have removed the second commandment about images out of their church teachings.

I do believe this image worship is wrong and should not be done. Fornication and idol worship walk hand in hand. When a group of people introduce idols, fornication and sexual impurity follows. This woman may have been a pastor's wife or someone people held in high esteem. She was influencing them away from holiness and godliness into compromise with the world around them. Notice though that Jesus does not criticize this woman just because she is a woman who teaches but He condemns the actual teaching.

It is said from many historical sources that she was the one who brought the worship of Mary into the church at this period. The eyes of Christ were as a flame of fire. That could indicate His anger at being replaced in the hearts of the people. Clergy began to dress differently and rule over the people in such a way as they made the people dependent upon priests and the church for their salvation. They didnít think they could get to God without the sacraments, and the blessing of the church. They were actually separating the people from the real Jesus Christ. They replaced Christ with rituals, images, baptisms, rites, sacraments and such. This was what real salvation by works teaching is. I can see why Christ would be angry at that.

The date for this church is about 590 A.D. because that was when Gregory became the first universally recognized Pope in the west. This Roman church will try to tell people the first Pope was Peter and the church was once under his leadership. The first leader of the church after the death of Christ was not Peter. It was in fact, James, Jesusí half brother. Peter was not even available to run the church. He was traveling all over the known world doing missionary work. There were churches in Africa and other parts of the world that did not go along with this church.

We canít say that this was the only church. God always has a remnant of faithful who hold true to His word. This church became married to the state and ruled the part of the world we call the Roman Empire. There was no such things as freedom of religion in that day.

I hate to say this but if any church today married the government and ruled the whole region, there would be no freedom for those that disagreed with their doctrine. That type of rule will not work until the literal coming of Jesus Christ to set up His kingdom. Many Catholics are good people. I believe they care for the poor and have compassion for the sick. Perhaps Christ was angry to see these good hearted people being deceived into substituting idols for the real God and following leaders who took from them and made them dependent upon them for gain. Weíve heard about the practice of relatives giving money to the church to get their loved ones out of purgatory. I can really see why Jesus would be angry at such attempts to make merchandise out of the common people. Jesus sees people that have such good hearts being treated so terribly and led astray by those in the leadership.

At first though, we see these practices enter the church by a woman who corrupts the people with the permission of the leadership. Later we see the leadership itself adopt these new teachings. People were trusting in the priesthood. That is all they had because the time came when the bible was forbidden for the common people. It was priests who read their bibles who started the reformation and began to rebel against the Roman church teachings. However, the Reformers still kept part of Roman teachings. They didnít reform enough but it opened the door to later reformers who brought back first holiness and then the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

When we substitute something else for Christ and teachings of men instead of Godís word taking control, the Holy Spirit is left outside. The Holy Spirit will only agree with the truth. He is the spirit of truth. This woman in the character of Jezebel led people to commit fornication and eat things sacrificed to idols. This type of worship is pagan and comes from Babylon. We can see how idols and strange unbiblical teachings entered the church. It has to start somewhere. Her real name was Sambatha but her character was like the Jezebel of the Old Testament who seduced people to worship Baal and reject the real God of the Israelites. She had been a fortune teller in the pagan temple but came to accept Christianity. Whether she was really saved once and backslid or was always a fake, we do not know, but she began to compromise and lead people into pagan practices of idolatry and fornication in their worship. This woman claimed to be a prophetess. She brought many mysteries and pagan rituals into the church. She brought the idols into the church claiming them to be a way to remember Mary.

 Rev 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

This woman and her followers were given a chance to repent but they refused. Like the other churches before this one, repentance is the answer to getting things back to a right relationship with God. If this church is the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox church, they still exist meaning that they are still being given a chance to repent.

Rev 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

Severe tribulation is promised if they do not repent. We see when we read the Old Testament that the troubles and tribulations sent to Israel was because they departed from the word of God. It could very well be that since this church still exists, they may be those that go through the great tribulation in the future. We see when we read about Israel in the Old Testament that they were constantly getting into trouble with God when they sinned by allowing idolatry. They copied the other nations around them. This caused them to under go times of great tribulation. Some troubles are a time of testing and not because of sin but any judgment from God are caused by departing from God and usually serving idols which then led to fornication.

Christians face trials and persecution for the gospel's sake. This type of thing is not caused by the wrath of God but because they choose to suffer persecution rather than recant their faith in Christ. The tribulation God warns against churches who sin is different. This kind is allowed or sent by God because of their sin and they are not rewarded in heaven for enduring this like those who suffer for the gospel's sake. We are not rewarded if we suffer because of our own wrong doing or sin. We are rewarded if we suffer persecution because of our faith in Jesus Christ.

Rev 2:23 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.

I don't believe this is innocent children here but the children of the false teaching. Those that gave into the temptation to follow false teaching and depart from the word of God. One might say that most churches do not have fornication in their worship. First of all, I hope that is true but remember using images and bowing down to them is spiritual fornication whether or not we commit literal fornication and adultery. Yet when we worship something other than the real God, literal fornication will usually be grafted in eventually because they do not have the infilling of the Holy Spirit to convict of sin.

I discussed this earlier in the study of the Pergamos church, in which I mentioned the FLDS cult. They not only practiced polygamy but would give a whole family of wives and children to someone else if a man would get out of favor with the so-called prophet. Jim Jones led people into fornication and homosexuality. Molestation of children is common in religions with a Nicolaitan type of leadership. This has occurred in the Catholic Church also. Popes in the past had women forced into becoming prostitutes with the threat of hell if they didnít comply. The FDLS leaders also use the threat of hell to force young women to marry men chosen for them. I believe one mistake the Catholic Church made was not allowing their priests to marry. If you forbid what is natural, it leads to things that are unnatural.

Iím not going to let our modern churches off the hook either.  Occasionally modern preachers and mega church leaders have gotten rich and lost their way at times getting into fornication and adultery. Some have even accepted some things forbidden by scripture as normal totally contrary to the teachings in the scriptures in both Old and New Testaments. There are churches today embracing this Jezebel doctrine under the deception of so-called love. To teach lies and deceit is not true love. How can we love people and not warn them that their lifestyle may cause them to lose their souls? 

Consider for one moment this fact. Okay, what if it didn't cause them to be lost? We still should warn against this lifestyle for it opens them up to disease. The life span of sexually permissive people is much shorter than those that live with more constraint. Is it love to pat people on the back and tell them they are okay when what they are doing is killing them both physically and spiritually. Shouldn't we tell them that Jesus can free them from that sin and any sin? That is why He came.

Rev 2:24 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.

Our faithful God will make a way for those who stay faithful. When we are determined to take a stand against evil even when the rest of the church follows wickedness, God sees that and we will not suffer the judgment that the evil ones endure. They may suffer persecution from men but they will never suffer the wrath of God.

All through the Middle Ages when one church seemed to rule but was in reality in apostasy, there were always those who stayed faithful and refused to follow them but stayed true to the word of God. This church age if the church age doctrine is true and I do lean toward that teaching, is the one that lasted the longest. I refer to the verse that she was given space to repent but did not. This may mean that this hurch will never repent and change before the tribulation period and will be cast into tribulation with any other apostate churches or false religions. We might conclude that the true and faithful in Jesus are the ones that will escape this tribulation and go in the rapture. Again this is my speculation which is shared by many. 

Rev 2:25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

When Christ returns (and only when He returns), those overcomers will rule and reign with Christ. Power over the nations will occur at that time. This is not something we seek now before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. The saying, "Been there, done that," applies here. It has been tried and failed greatly. We must not try to set up Christ's kingdom before He comes Himself. The Roman church has already tried that and look at the innocent people who were killed in the process. If church and state join together before Christ returns, instead of spreading the gospel, we tend to force conversions instead. Forced conversions do not change the inner man. The soul is not born again by the spirit of God. We then have outward religion that depends upon the clergy and the soul of each individual is not saved from sin and will not enter heaven at death.

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Joh 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

Joh 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. This is done by the Holy Spirit and it cannot be forced upon anyone.

Rev 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.

The earth will be ruled by the faithful believers that were washed in the blood of Jesus and have been born again by His spirit. This change in government will happen only at the literal second coming of Jesus and not before. He is the only one capable of setting up a righteous kingdom. The popes have tried, Joseph Smith tried, Protestants churches have tried, but in no case did it ever work. Jesus Christ is the one that can do that and none other. Sin will not be allowed in that kingdom. This will be a righteous safe kingdom.

Since so many of us disagree on what sin is and what righteousness is, only Christ will be able to set up a righteous kingdom. If we try ahead of time, innocent people who just simply disagree on doctrine will be hurt. It happened before and it will happen again if we join church and state. As much as I would like to see an end to abortion, sexual immorality, thefts, murders, rapes, confiscation of property, throwing prayer out of school etc., we must not be tempted to join church and state until Jesus comes or we will make a mess of it like the church did in the Middle ages. It doesn't work. We cannot legislate righteousness. Instead work and pray that people are saved from sin, born again by God's spirit and there is a change in the inner person that causes abortions to stop, sexual immorality to stop and lives to change. Things like abortion needs to be outlawed because it is murder and governments need to protect the innocent of crime.  However, what one believes as long as it doesn't harm another human being, has to remain between a person and God.  Wouldn't it be great though if organizations like Planned Parenthood are shut down because women stop going as a result of their relationship with Jesus.  Prayer changes things.  Lets pray for that. 

We are only made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ covering our sin. Mankind who have not been born again and changed by the spirit of God cannot set up a kingdom. Since we can't always tell who is saved and who is not, we can't set it up before Christ comes. Letís wait for Him.

Rev 2:28 And I will give him the morning star.

Rev 2:29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

True believers that stay faithful until the coming of Jesus will be given a light that shines eternally. No more darkness, no more sin, no more death, no more suffering. All will be love, joy and peace.

Letter to the Church at Sardis

 

 
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