The longest of Jesus’ letters to the churches in Revelation 2 – 3 was to the least politically influential city of the group. Thyatira was commercial rather than political—a bustling, thriving community populated with many tradespeople, a great place to go shopping. Unlike some of the other churches to whom Jesus addressed messages, the believers there had gotten off to a great start and continued with clear progress.
Yet among the church’s many positive traits of “love and faith and service and patient endurance” (Revelation 2:19), a poisonous weed had been allowed to establish itself. Jesus refers to the leader of this clan as “Jezebel,” comparing her activity to that of the queen of Israel almost a thousand years earlier. Queen Jezebel had contaminated Israel with a system of thought that divorced religion from morality, suggesting to the people of her time that it was good to live with that dichotomy. In Thyatira, it seems, the same was happening. This woman, a self-described “prophetess,” claimed to speak with inspired authority and told believers that they could indulge in idolatry and immorality while still remaining followers of Jesus.
Thankfully, though, not everyone in Thyatira had gone down Jezebel’s road. For those who had resisted the temptation, Jesus’ encouragement was to cling to what they had: life that was “truly life” (1 Timothy 6:19). He ended with a simple promise: “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:26; see Psalm 2:8).
Imagine that being read out in the congregation in Thyatira. Picture the wool merchants and leather workers, their fingers full of needle pricks and big lumps, standing there, concerned, wondering if they could continue to function despite the challenges of immorality and idolatry—and then Christ Himself offers this simple exhortation: “Hold fast.”
The promise and exhortation are for you as well. Though you may feel beleaguered, hopeless, and helpless in the face of the immorality and idolatry around you, in Christ you can cling to life that is truly life. He is coming, and He will welcome you to rule the world with Him. As you “hold fast” and continue on toward eternity, remember that the perseverance of the saints is really the perseverance of God Himself: He can keep you till that glorious day.
To the Church in Thyatira
18“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
19“‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants3 to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden. 25Only hold fast what you have until I come. 26The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28And I will give him the morning star. 29He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
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