Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Notes on Revelation 2:18-29

[Tomorrow morning in Sunday school at Kosmosdale Baptist Church I plan to teach from Revelation 2:18-29, "the letter to the church in Thyatira;" below are some of my teaching notes for this lesson.]


18 And write to the angel of the church in Thyatira:
Thus says the Son of God, having eyes like a flame of fire and feet resembling fine bronze:
19 I know your works– your goodness, faithfulness, service, and perseverance[1]– and that your last works surpass your first [works].[2] 20 But I have this against you: you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches, and she seduces my servants to fornicate and to eat meat sacrificed to an idol. 21 And I gave her some time[3] so that she might repent, but[4] she doesn’t want to repent from her fornication. 22 Look! I will throw her into a sick-bed and those committing adultery with her into great affliction, unless they repent from her evil works. 23 And I will destroy her children in a plague. And all the churches will know that I am the searcher of minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira– as many as don’t keep her teaching: whosoever doesn’t know “the deep things of Satan” (as they say)– I tell you: I will not place another burden upon you, 25 except [that you[5]] hold fast to what you have until I come. 26 And to the victor, the one keeping my works, I will give him authority over the nations. 27 And he will rule them with an iron rod; he will shatter them like ceramic pots– 28 as I also receive [authority] from my Father– and I will give him the morning star. 29 Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says to the churches.


Thyatira was an industrial town on inland Asia Minor. The town was by a river on a plain and had no natural defenses. The town was often subject to fires due to its many foundries. This was the least important city (imperially speaking), and yet the longest letter, in Revelation 2-3. The church in Thyatira was subject to persecution due to the trade guilds, which controlled all the business in the town and which were run like powerful fraternities, with degrading initiation rites, debauchery, and frequent hazing.

Introduction of the Author

Commendation of the Thyatirans’ works

Condemnation of the Thyatirans’ Tolerance of Jezebel

th;n gunai:ka Ijezavbel (ten gunaika Iezabel) “the woman Jezebel” almost certainly refers to a certain individual within the congregation at Thyatira (rather than to a sect in general), as the singular “woman” is used, and it would be awkward symbolism for the entire sect to be spoken of as claiming to be “a [singular] prophetess,” as groups of mixed gender in the Bible are normally referred to using masculine terms, and as the punishment for “Jezebel” is differentiated from the punishment of “her children” in subsequent verses.

Prophetesses are mentioned in a few places in the NT record. The word for prophetess is used of Anna in Luke 2:36 and the daughters of Philip were said to prophesy in Acts 21:9. In the apostolic era, prophets ranked only behind apostles in their importance to the church. The “Jezebel” in Thyatira was obviously accepted into the congregation of Thyatira as a prophetess, but she used her position to lead others astray. She is referred to as Jezebel, bringing to mind the OT queen of Israel, who is identifies with harlotry and witchcraft (1 Kings 9:22); Jezebel promoted the worship of foreign gods.

Impending Judgment Against Jezebel and Her Followers

“Religious infidelity is often spoken of in the OT under the figure of harlotry (e.g., Jer 3:6; Eze 23:19; Hos 9:1).”[1] Idolatry such as that to which Jezebel enticed Israel in the OT was often accompanied by literal sexual perversion, and idolatry was not much different in this respect during NT. The fornication that is here mentioned in association with other cultic practices, and which is mentioned later in this book alongside idolatry three times (19:21; 21:8; 22:15), cannot be understood as something entirely spiritual, but literal sexual immorality is in view.

metanohvswsin (metanoesosin) “repent,” preceded by eja;n mh; (ean me) “unless,” is a negative third class conditional clause indicating that, as things stand, it is probable that those committing adultery will not repent, and so they will receive judgment.

nefou;V kai; kardivaV (nephous kai kardias) “kidneys and hearts:” this refers to the entire spiritual/ mental/emotional/volitional component of a person and can thus be translated “minds and hearts” within the same meaning. This forms part of an allusion to Jeremiah 17:10. The statement from Jeremiah is especially applicable to the congregation in Thyatira because Jeremiah, like John, was dealing with people who were practicing idolatry due to economic motives (cf. Jer 17:3, 11; 11:10-17, 20).[2]

ajpoktenw: ejn qanavtw (apokteno en thanato) “I will destroy… in a plague.” Although this phrase could be a Hebraism meaning “I will certainly kill,” the difference in the words (rather than the normal manner of using cognates to express intensification), the strong similarity of this phrase to Eze 33:27 in the LXX (wherein rbd, the word for “plague,” or “pestilence, is translated with a form of qanatoV), and the later Greek use of qanatikov to mean “disease” all seem to indicate that this phrase should be translated, “I will destroy… in a plague.”

Encouragement to the Remnant in Thyatira

ta; baqeva tou: Satana: (ta bathea tou Satana) “the deep things of Satan,” followed by the quotation formula, wJV levgousin (os legousin) “as they say,” was apparently a phrase actually employed by “Jezebel” and her followers. Some have tried to understand wJV levgousin (os legousin) “as they say” as applying to the faithful group in Thyatira, so that ta; baqeva tou: Satana: (ta bathea tou Satana) “the deep things of Satan” is an accusation made by the godly against “Jezebel”’s followers. On the other hand, the Lord, in this section, is addressing the godly in the second person, and levgousi;n is in the third person.

Others have tried to understand tou: Satana (tou Satana) “of Satan” as an addition to– or substitute for– part of a phrase that was actually employed by the Jezebelite sect. This would be grammatically absurd, however, as wJV levgousin (os legousin) “as they say” introduces a phrase that would all be understood as a quote from the third party.

ta; baqeva tou: Satana: (ta bathea tou Satana) “the deep things of Satan” were actually taught, under this name, by later Gnostic sects such as the Cainites. Carpocratians, and Naasenes. In the early form of this– thought to be found in Thyatira– it seems that the Jezebelites believed themselves impervious to any spiritual danger from sin, so they claimed to participate in ta; baqeva tou: Satana: (ta bathea tou Satana) “the deep things of Satan”– such as the fornications and participation in idolatrous festivals previously mentioned– in order to prove their freedom from any hint of legalism.

Admonition to the Remnant in Thyatira

Promise to the Victor

ejousivan epi; tw:n ejqnw:n (exousian epi ton ethnon) “authority over the nations.” This phrase begins an allusion in Revelation 2:26b-27 to Psalm 2:8-9 (especially in the words of the LXX).[3] Psalm 2 is Messianic in nature, promising that the Messiah will receive authority over the nations. The Thyatirans who keep Christ’s works– persevering through temptation and persecution as He did– will also participate in Christ’s rule.

The Lord Jesus Christ, who declares Himself to be the morning star in Revelation 22:16, here promises to give the morning star to those who overcome and keep His works. This promise continues the idea of believers participating in the reign of Christ. The ideas in these verses– of the Messiah (and, by His extension of grace, those in Christ) ruling with an iron rod or scepter and manifested in brilliance like the morning star– are ancient, as seen in the prophecy spoken through Balaam in Numbers 24:17. Significantly, 2 Peter 1:17-19 refers to “the morning star” arising in believers’ hearts immediately after a reference to Psalm 2.

Charge to Heed the Word

[1]Thomas, 218.
[2]Beale, 264.
[3]Aune, 209.

[1]The list of accusatives (th;n ajgavphn-th;n uJpomonhvn) are taken as describing the “works.”
[2]The referent of “first” at the end of the sentence is the same as that of “last” earlier in the sentence, and so “works” is added in the translation for clarity.
[3]crovnon, which is literally rendered “a time,” in translated to mean “some time.”
[4]The second kai in this verse is taken as adversative, and it is thus translated “but” (Aune, Revelation, 197).
[5]The subject of the phrase has been re-iterated in the translation for clarity.
[6]Thomas, 218.
[7]Beale, 264.



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