Join us as we study through Revelation 2:18-29 verse by verse. Our Bible study guides contain discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications which can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
Revelation 2:18-29 Bible Study – The Church Of Thyatira
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I. Greeting (18)
II. Commendation (19)
III. Criticism (20)
IV. Warning (22-23)
V. Counsel (24-25)
VI. Promise and Reward (26-29)
I. Greeting (18)
- What do we learn about Jesus from His eyes that are like a flame of fire? From His feet that are like burnished bronze?
- Why did Jesus specifically mention these two qualities to this specific church?
- How do these character qualities of Jesus influence your life?
Proverbs 15:3 – The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
Jeremiah 23:24 – “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.
Hebrews 4:13 – And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. The angel of the church in Thyatira – The messenger or leader of the church.
2. Who has eyes like a flame of fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze – Jesus gives a description of Himself to each of the seven churches. This description is from Revelation 1. To each church, Jesus shares some of His character qualities that are directly applicable to that church. And to the church of Thyatira Jesus tells them about His eyes and His feet.
Eyes like a flame of fire –
Luke 8:17 – For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.
Jesus sees all and knows all. He has super vision and His gaze penetrates any facade people put up, piercing to our innermost thoughts. Nothing is hidden from Him. Instead of thinking we can keep secrets from Him, we should take “every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) to Christ.
Application: Think about your own life. What is one “secret” you have that you wouldn’t want announced in church next Sunday? Take it to Christ. Admit to Him that He knows all. Confess. Bring it to the light. Seek for His help to defeat this temptation and He will help you.
Jesus shares this specifically with this church because many in the church are being seduced into sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is normally something which is committed in the dark, in secret. But Jesus knows. He sees. They cannot keep this or any sinful behavior from Him. In verse 23, Jesus emphasizes this trait again and says “I am he who searches mind and heart.” Jesus sees even their mind. Not even a lustful thought escapes His gaze.
Application: It is important for us to protect our minds! Be quick to take all thoughts to Him, confessing those which are impure.
Feet like burnished bronze –
He walks among the churches, refining them wherever He goes. His goal is to sanctify and make holy His bride. And He is active to do so.
Zechariah 13:9 – And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
This trait was important to the church of Thyatira because they needed that sanctification. They needed to be refined by the Lord. Instead of being refined, they were compromising with the world. The world was soiling them. The answer was Jesus.
II. Commendation (19)
- What does Jesus compliment the church of Thyatira for?
- What do we see about their works?
- How do love and works relate to each other?
- Do your latter works exceed your first?
1 Timothy 4:15 – Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. I know your works – Jesus starts off commending the church of Thyatira for the good that He sees in them. His typical approach is to give commendation and encouragement first. Through this we are reminded that Jesus’ primary goal was to encourage and strengthen the church to do what is right. He was not out to nit-pick and find fault.
And the church of Thyatira had many good qualities, which He commends. Jesus praises their works, love, faith, service, and patient endurance. That covers a lot of territory! We see that the believers there still held fast to their faith. And their faith could be seen in action. They had works and service. And those works were done from the right motivation, love. So in the church of Thyatira, we see many real believers who united faith, works, and love together.
2. Your latter works exceed the first – Jesus also compliments them because their works have been increasing. Many Christians start the race on fire and zealous and then cool off and become more complacent, even lazy. The Ephesians for example had lost their first love. What we see with the saints in Thyatira, is that their service to the Lord was increasing. At least for many in the church, there was strong spiritual growth.
Growth is what every believer should strive for.
1 Timothy 4:10 – For to this end [godliness] we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
Application: Are you growing in your Christian walk? Are you more zealous than before or less? Is your service for God more than before or less? What is one practical way you can focus on growth in the next week?
III. Criticism (20-21)
- What did Jesus criticize the church for?
- Why might a church tolerate someone like this Jezebel?
- Why do you think John called this woman Jezebel?
- How did the Jezebel of the Old Testament influence the people of Israel?
- How is this similar to what this woman was doing?
- What specific temptations was she seducing the church with?
- How are those similar to temptations we face today?
- How should the church handle sexual immorality among its members?
- What about if a person is spreading a teaching that encourages people to be immoral?
- How can you protect yourself from such temptations? Your family? Your church?
Hebrews 13:4 – Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Matthew 5:28 – But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Acts 15:29 – That you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”
1 Corinthians 8:4 – Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.”
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. But – This word is often very important in the Bible. Though the church was doing well in some areas, they had issues. And Jesus highlights one of the big ones here.
2. The woman Jezebel – Most likely this was a name that Jesus gave to a woman in the church who was behaving like the historical Jezebel in the Old Testament.
Jezebel was one of the most notoriously wicked people in the entire Bible. She seduced Israel into gross idolatry (which then assuredly led into other sins such as immorality).
1 Kings 21:25-26 – There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited. He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord cast out before the people of Israel.)
Thus it is unlikely a person in a Christian church would willingly go by this name. Instead it is likely Jesus called her this to highlight to the church that her influence on it was just as evil as Jezebel’s on Israel.
3. You tolerate – Jesus criticized the church of Thyatira for their tolerance. That is important to take note of. In the world today, tolerance (at least for sin) is considered to be a virtue. Jesus clearly does not consider that tolerance for sin is a virtue. And in Revelation 2:2, He commends the church of Ephesus because they did not tolerate those who are evil.
Reflection: Is tolerance ever good? When?
Tolerance can be good. For example, we should tolerate people’s different personalities. A parent should be tolerant of a child who needs time to learn and understand his homework. A boss should be tolerant of the occasional mistake.
But the church should not tolerate people who spread false teaching. Jesus here is not primarily criticizing this woman Jezebel. Her sins are obvious. He is criticizing the church for allowing her to remain and influence people. Jesus said that He himself was going to throw her “onto a sickbed.” The church should have exercised church discipline on this woman before her poison was allowed to spread.
Application: Do not tolerate sin or false teachings. This is true not only for your church, but also in your family. We are called to speak the truth in love. We call sin, “sin.” And then we implore the sinner to repent. Do not take pride in tolerating something which God Himself does not tolerate. We are to be holy as He is holy.
4. Who “calls herself a prophetess” – From this we learn a simple, but important, lesson. Not everyone who calls himself a prophet is one. In today’s world, many people like to give themselves this title. God, however, wants us to be discerning.
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
We should test the spirits by looking both at their teaching (comparing it to God’s Word) and their lifestyle. Some show themselves to be false prophets by teaching things which are contrary to the Word. Others show themselves to be false prophets by claiming to teach the Word and then indulging themselves in the world.
Application: Do not pay overly much attention to titles or positions. Just because a person is famous, writes a book, has a website, or hosts a YouTube channel does not mean that his teaching should be immediately trusted. We need to examine every teaching in light of God’s Word (Acts 17:11) and learn to “accurately divide the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
5. She is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols –
This lady who was being tolerated in the church was actively pushing an agenda. And that agenda was encouraging people to live a lifestyle of sexual immorality. It is likely that she herself led this type of lifestyle. Most people who teach license in this area do so because they themselves are involved in it.
Ephesians 5:3 – But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.
God has called the bride of Christ, the church, to be holy. We are to be set apart from the world. All types of sexual immorality are to be be actively avoided as believers pursue a holy life.
Sexual immorality is one of the top methods of temptation Satan uses against the church. And it is sadly often successful. Many well-known church leaders have fallen prey to these attacks.
The text is clear. Jesus is not happy with any type of sexual immorality. And there are many types of sexual temptation which assail the church. Fornication, adultery, divorce and remarriage for all types of unscriptural reasons, and pornography are all not only prevalent but widely accepted in Western culture.
Application: As believers, we must stand strong against these temptations. We must understand that we are in a war. These are weapons of the enemy. We can’t surrender or give in. The battle first takes place in our mind. And every time lustful thoughts pop up, we must attack them. We cannot be complacent because it is war. Take every thought captive to Christ, both the wrong way of thinking which infiltrates the church and our own minds, which if we are not careful will allow themselves to be convinced by what the world is selling.
Food sacrifices to idols – In Paul’s teachings we see that technically speaking since an idol is nothing it is not sinful in and of itself to eat food sacrificed to an idol.
However, there are many cases when it is not wise to do so. If our eating causes a brother to stumble then it is wrong (Romans 14:20-21). It can be a bad testimony when we are trying to share the gospel. And those are some of the reasons that the Council at Jerusalem had told the believers they should not eat food sacrificed to idols (Acts 15:29). It was one more area this woman was encouraging the believers in a licentious lifestyle for the sake of pleasure rather than pursuing holiness.
IV. Warning (22-23)
- What is Jesus going to do if there is no repentance?
- Who is the “her” in verse 22?
- Who might “her children” refer to in verse 23?
- What does the judgment of Jesus teach us about His character?
- In light of this warning, what should you do?
Romans 2:6-8 – He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.
Matthew 16:27 – For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. I will throw her onto a sickbed – In this context “her” is this woman who was seducing the church. Jesus is going to throw her “onto a sickbed.” That seems to mean that Jesus would inflict her with some sickness or disease as a judgment for her sins. Note that in verse 21 we see that she refused to repent. It looks like for her the time is up and she has already crossed a line of willful sin from which she has decided not to return.
For the others who were caught up in her sins, Jesus still said there was a chance to escape judgment if they would repent.
From this we can learn that the patience of God has limits. There are times when He makes up His mind to judge. And there are times when He gives further opportunities to repent before executing judgment. It is a frightening thing to have gone beyond that line and be past the point of receiving more patience and opportunities.
Application: Do not put God to the test. Do not keep pursuing a lifestyle of sin and thinking, “I can repent later.” You don’t know when God’s patience will run out. You don’t know when the opportunities to repent will be gone and you will find yourself facing God’s judgment with no way out.
2. Those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation unless they repent of her works – In a literal sense, I believe that this is referring to the specific individuals in the church of Thyatira who cast lots with this lady and joined in the sexual immorality that she was pushing. As such, the great tribulation that they faced is not clear, though it would be some type of serious discipline, perhaps also sickness or health related like her.
At the same time, we may take this in a wider sense as well. There are many “Jezebels” in the world and modern culture is filled with sexual immorality. All who choose that instead of Jesus will face His justice. Some will face it in this world. One specific generation will be alive when THE great tribulation comes (that is written about later in Revelation). And even those who escape it in this world will face an eternity of tribulation in hell.
3. I will strike her children dead – Probably this is a reference to “spiritual” children, meaning all the people who come after her and follow her worldly ideological thinking.
4. I am He who searches the mind and the heart – As we saw above in regards to Jesus’ eyes of flaming fire, here we see again His omniscience. He knows all. He sees all. Many think that they can keep their sin secret. Some people go to church and look good on the outside, but are engaging in a secret double life of sin and sexual indulgence.
1 John 1:5-7 – This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
We are called to live in the light as He is in the light.
Application: Wherever you are, remember that Jesus is right there by your side. Whatever you are thinking about, remember that Jesus can see your thoughts. So do not indulge in lustful thoughts, but instead fight the battle of purity at every moment without giving in.
5. I will give to each of you according to your works – So the key point is God’s justice. A person engaging in sexual sin may think, “no one sees me; no one will catch me.” But in the end each person doing that will be judged.
Revelation 22:14-15 – Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.
Application: Let us have our robes washed by the blood of Jesus and live in the light as He is in the light. If we choose Him rather than the pleasures of this world, we will enter the eternal city with the tree of life. But those who pursue this world will be outside.
V. Counsel (24-25)
- What do we learn about the church from the phrase “to the rest of you in Thyatira?”
- What are the “deep things of Satan” Jesus refers to? How does this reference reveal more clearly what Jesus thinks about sexual immorality?
- What counsel does He offer the real believers in this church?
- Practically speaking, what can you do to “hold fast what you have?”
1 Corinthians 16:13 – Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
James 4:7 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. To the rest of you – Jesus had one piece of counsel for those who were involved in immorality, repent. For all the others, He had another piece of counsel.
2. The deep things of Satan – In this phrase we can see clearly what Jesus thinks of immorality. And we can see the the root where this sin comes from. Behind Jezebel then and the media onslaught seducing people to sin sexually today, is a systematic plan of Satan to seduce people away from enjoying the fruits of a right relationship with God. This is one prong in a many pronged attack against people whereby Satan tries to keep a clutch on souls and prevent them from joining God’s kingdom.
Application: We need to be aware that these temptations come from Satan himself. The world often says not to worry because these things “don’t hurt anyone” or is “innocent fun.” These are lies and we need to discern them as such.
3. Only hold fast what you have until I come – The faithful believers who were in the church were doing well generally. They had works, service, and love. So they are called to persevere and not give up. And that is important. Finishing the race is a lot harder than starting the race.
Reflection: What are some practical ways you can hold fast?
VI. Promise and Reward (26-29)
- What specifically does the believer in Thyatira need to conquer?
- What temptation do you need to conquer?
- What does “the end” refer to?
- What does Jesus promise those who conquer?
- Do you think this means ruling the nations now or later? Why? If later, when?
- What do you think the morning star in verse 28 refers to?
- What is the Spirit saying to you in this passage? What do you need to obey?
2 Peter 1:19 – And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Revelation 22:16 – “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. The one who conquers – We see this phrase in each of the seven letters. Like in the last letter, in this church the believers needed to conquer temptation in the world, specifically sexual temptation. They needed to conquer the world’s (through Satan’s) seduction.
2. To him I will give authority over the nations – Note that Jesus says it is to the one who conquers and keeps His works “until the end” that that will be given this authority. Thus this indicates that it is not in the normal process of life on earth. It doesn’t mean that during your life on earth as a believer you have some type of spiritual authority over the world around you yet because that is not yet the end.
Rather the end is when a person faces Christ, either after death and when He comes again. When Jesus comes again, He will set up His millennial kingdom on earth, and believers will be given positions of authority in this kingdom.
1 Corinthians 6:2 – Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world?
2 Timothy 2:12 – If we endure, we will also reign with him.
Matthew 19:28 – Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Application: The world’s political system is broken and corrupted. Governments disappoint us. One day Jesus will set up a kingdom and we can part of it. So don’t be disillusioned by this world. Instead set your eyes on Him and work on building His kingdom.
3. And I will give him the morning star –
Jesus refers to Himself as the morning star. The one who overcomes will enjoy a personal relationship with Jesus forever. He will be the light and bring about perfect joy and goodness. Satan appears as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He makes big promises and tells you how happy you will be be. But at the end of that tunnel is only sin, shame, and sadness. But where the world can never satisfy, Jesus does.
4. He who has an ear let Him hear what the Spirit says to the churches –
Application: Spend some time in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in how to apply what you have learned in this passage.
7 Churches Of Revelation E-Book Study – If this study is helpful, you can download our letters to the 7 churches study in PDF or other E-book versions.
Revelation Study Paperback
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