The messages to the seven churches are intended for those whom God has called in the end time wherever they are fellowshipping today, whether in an organized church or scattered as individuals. The attitudes of one or several of these messages, then, could reflect our character traits and should be approached as such, Thyatira included. This middle message among the seven contains considerable internal evidence that all the messages are written to the end-time church, culminating in the return of Jesus Christ.
The letter to Thyatira is the longest of the seven, containing more detail of the Thyatirans good and bad characteristics. Though their works increase and they display love, service, faith and patience, they also allow "Jezebel" and her teachings among them. This mixture of good and evil displeases our Savior, who seeks their wholehearted devotion. Yet to those who repent, He promises eternal life and positions of rulership in His Kingdom. This study will concentrate on the attitude Christ discerns in the church at Thyatira.
1. If allowed to choose which church we would be part of, most might overlook Thyatira. Is this a fair analysis? Revelation 2:18-19.
Comment: Christ compliments these people for their works, love, service, faith and patience. He mentions "works" (ergon, "deeds, doings, labor") twice, probably for emphasis. These five traits are among the most highly prized of New Testament admonitions to Christians. Not only do these people have them, but they have continued to grow in them—even during the confusion, scattering and apostasy the church is suffering! What a compliment, considering the woeful spiritual downfall and lackadaisical approach of so many!
2. Is the message to Thyatira for today or for the church during the Middle Ages? Revelation 2:23; 1:4, 7, 10.
Comment: Revelation is written for the time just preceding and including the return of Christ, the Day of the Lord. Unless Thyatira repents, all the churches will see the fruit of her lack of repentance, thus they all must exist at the end to witness Christ's judgment. The message to Thyatira, then, may apply to the historical church, but only in type.
3. What is Christ's greatest criticism of Thyatira? Revelation 2:20-21; 18:4; Jeremiah 3:10; 24:7.
Comment: The world's corrupt, godless society influences God's people beyond our realization, and spiritual fornication and idol worship in particular have long been the bane of both physical and spiritual Israel. For instance, when Judah's exile ended, only a remnant of the people (42,360) returned to Jerusalem (Ezra 2:64); the vast majority chose to remain in pagan Babylon. How many of us today put the things of this world ahead of God? The Bible suggests only a small faithful remnant will pay the price to return to God with their whole hearts and "come out of her" in the end time (Isaiah 1:9).
4. Is God fair in allowing opportunity for improvement? What happens to those who continue to put the things of this life before God? Revelation 2:21-23; II Peter 3:9.
Comment: God mercifully provides time and opportunity for repentance from idolatry and spiritual fornication with this world. If He does not receive a proper response, He promises great tribulation and martyrdom—not necessarily as punishment, but as an inducement to repent.
5. Is all of Thyatira affected by the idolatry and fornication of "Jezebel"? Revelation 2:24; Haggai 2:12-14.
Comment: Some in Thyatira apparently do not allow themselves to imbibe of Satan's society to the extent that others have, denying the doctrines of Jezebel. That Christ considers these people part of Thyatira implies that they have compromised somewhat, though not to "the depths of Satan" as have others among them.
6. Are these Thyatirans who avoid "that woman Jezebel" in good spiritual condition and standing with God? Revelation 2:24-26; Jude 3; I John 2:24; I Timothy 4:16; 6:20; Ephesians 4:13.
Comment: Having been commended for their deeds, love, service, faith and patience, those who reject Satan will be fine if they hold fast the doctrines and character they have shown. Christ lays on them no further burden beyond holding fast. He does, however, give the same admonishment to them that He gives to all the churches: Overcome and keep Christ's works to the end. No matter what our spiritual state is, we all must continue to grow in the stature and fullness of Christ throughout our walk to God's Kingdom.