18 And to the angel of the church in Thyatira1 write:
The Son of God2, the one who has his eyes like a flame of fire and his feet similar to3 fine brass4 says this: 19 I know your deeds and your love, faith, service5, and perseverance6, and your latter deeds surpass your former deeds7. 20 But I have something against you because you permit8 the woman Jezebel9 , the one who calls herself a prophetess. She both teaches and misleads10 my slaves to commit sexual immorality11 and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time so that she may repent, but she is not willing to repent from her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I am throwing her onto a bed of sickness12 and I am throwing the ones who commit adultery with her into a great affliction, if they don’t repent from her deeds13, 23 and I will strike14 her children with death.15 And all the churches will know that I am the one who searches the minds16 and hearts17, and I will give to each of you according to your deeds. 24 But I say to you, the rest18 who are in Thyatira, as many as who don’t hold this teaching, those who didn’t know the deep secrets of Satan (as they call them)19, I will not cast20 upon you another burden, 25 however, what you have, hold on tight to21 it until I come. 26 And the one who conquers and the one who keeps my deeds until the end,
I will give to him authority over the nations
27 and he will rule22 them with an iron staff
he will break them as clay vessels.23
As I also have received authority from my father, I will also give to him24 the morning star25. 29 The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
1 Little is known about Thyatira other than it flourished in the Roman Empire in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. It would have been relatively small during the time that the Apocalypse was written. It was known for its many trade guilds. Cities of the Empire centered on the trade guilds. Thyatira had all types of goods makers and sellers. In ancient times, the cities were laid out in squares and each guild controlled its squares. The guilds had their own god or goddess in which they paid homage to and they would have feast to these gods. The main god that was worshipped was Apollo, Zeus’ son. The christian who didn’t fall in line with the traditions of the guilds would be a social outcast as well as an outcast in the business community. This may be what lead to the compromise spoken of in this letter to the church of Thyatira. (Osborne*** (Pgs. 151-153).
Thyatira - a perfume; sacrifice of labor Hitchcook’s Book of Names.
2 An allusion to Psalms 2:7. This is confirmed later in verses 26 and 27 as John quotes from Psalms 2:8-9. This is the only time that “son of God” is used in Revelation. Since the main god of Thyatira was Zeus’ son Apollo (the son of the god over all gods), it is fitting to make sure that the church of Thyatira remember who the “true” son of God is. Osborne*** (Pg. 153).
3 ὅμοιοι (similar to)
4 Allusions to Daniel 3:24-25.
5 τὴν διακονίαν (service)
It can also be translated as “ministry”. It really relates to a server who waits on people at a table. In our time, a waiter or waitress. So, service here is what the church in Thyatira was doing for other people, that is, how they served them in other to help them. It could include people inside as well as outside the church family.
Their service was like the savory aroma of a burnt offering to the Lord, the perfume of anointing that comes from our Savior. Jesus modeled servanthood for His disciples. Those who would be the greatest in the kingdom are those who put others first and are the servant of all.
6 The four-fold deeds represents a “persevering witness”. Beale* (Pg. 260).
7 καὶ τὰ ἔργα σου τὰ ἔσχατα πλείονα τῶν πρώτων (and your latter deeds surpass your former deeds)
Greek: “and your last works much of first” or “and your many last works of first”. This is somewhat crude, but the point is made.
If this is referring to witnessing, then it means that the church members were witnessing more now than they did at first. In other words, their love, faith, ministry, and perseverance had grown.
8 ἀφεῖς (you permit)
ἀφίημι can mean many things. It can mean “to leave”, “to let go”, “to forgive”, and “to permit”. Context is the guide. Obviously, the meaning here is “to permit”.
9 An allusion to Jezebel’s incited King Ahab and Israel to compromise and worship Baal (1 Kings 16:31, 21:25). Beale* (Pg. 261).
Jezebel translated means chaste. This may come as a surprise when this name has come to stand for the opposite. This applies to all that is false, for those who masquerade as something else. It appears in surprising places, though this should not be a surprise. The father of lies and deception seeks to displace that which is true. To know what is false, one must know what is true.
Apparently, there was a person or persons who were influencing the rest of the church to compromise and to worship pagan gods. This compromise would have put the members of the church in a favorable place with the local trade guilds. Since the person identified is a prophetess, it could have been a woman. One can see how the allusion to Jezebel can enter into the picture.
10 πλανᾷ (misleads)
or “leads astray”. Idiomatic in nature.
11 A metaphor in the OT for worshipping idols. The OT would stress it as “playing the harlot” with other gods. Osborne*** (Pg. 158). With that said, these worship services did at the time include sexual immorality.
πορνεῦσαι - means to commit fornication This metaphor is used in the OT repeatedly to impart how God views our going after other gods, of putting anything before Him, for He alone is worthy of worship. Immorality is only possible if there is morality. Morality is only possible because God is the source and our reference point, our morning and guiding star. This also serves to illustrate that a given passage can blend the metaphoric and a physical reality at the same time.
φαγεῖν - means to eat (literally or figuratively)
We are what we eat. Eat from the bread of life.
12 εἰς κλίνην (onto a bed of sickness)
Idiomatic in nature. Jesus is going to make her sick. The sickness is part of the great affliction that will come on Jezebel and the ones who do the same deeds as she does.
He gave her over to her desire, which in her case had grown sick. Improper use of God’s gifts is immoral, for it goes against His intent
and design. For example, desire is good and part of how we were created, but desire improperly channeled leads to sin, which leads to death. Our guide is the word of God.
Sickness is but one use of a bed. Sleeping is one, but another activity comes to mind in keeping within the context of harlotry. God warns that she and her adulteress partners will share a bed of tribulation. They will reap the reward of their behavior.
13 ἐκ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῆς (from her deeds)
The TR replaces αὐτῆς with αὐτῶν, thus reading: “from their deeds”.
14 ἀποκτενῶ (strike)
Greek: “kill”. The whole phrase would be “I will kill her children with/ in death”. This could be referring to the 2nd death which makes sense as in that death, one is truly “dead” to God.
The faithful have life and look forward to a transformation from the mortal to the immortal. Those that are not face the prospect of the second death. The children of God have a different promise.
15 Scholars see three different groups here. 1. “Jezebel”, who is teaching the false-doctrines, 2. “The ones who commit adultery with her”, who represent people who are doing some of the idolatry, but have not fully committed, and 3. “Jezebel’s children”, who represent the ones who are fully committed to the teachings of “Jezebel”. Osborne*** (Pgs. 159-160).
16 νεφροὺς (the minds)
It actually means “the kidneys”. Obviously an idiom for the inner part of a person. BDAG says that the kidneys and the heart were the only organs that Egyptian embalmers would leave in the body in ancient times.
17 “the one who searches the minds and hearts” interprets “the one who has his eyes like a flame of fire” in verse 18. It is an allusion to Jeremiah 17:10 and is fitting as it refers to God’s judgement on some in Israel who are practicing idolatry in order to profit in business. That was going on in Thyatira as members of the church there were teaching that the church should fall in line with the trade guilds. It would certainly help people in Thyatira to become a part of the Roman business, political, and religious culture that surrounded them. Beale* (Pgs. 266-267).
18 or “the remaining”.
19 τὰ βαθέα τοῦ σατανᾶ (the deep secrets of Satan)
as they (false-teachers) call them... It could also be translated “the depth of Satan”.
Apparently “Jezebel” was teaching that it was actually beneficial to a christian to practice some of the things of Satan so that they would be aware of them. As Beale* states, “Perhaps the false teachers reasoned that God’s grace could be appreciated most fully by learning the real nature of sin be experiencing it in the midst of Satan’s stronghold”. (Pg. 266 attributed to A. F. Johnson) and Mounce** (Pgs. 105-106).
1 Corinthians 2:10-13 ESV
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, that we might understand the things freely given to us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
There are deep things about Satan and deep things about God. One of the deepest things about God is His love that has no end. One of the deepest things about Satan is the bottomless pit, the dark abyss, and the rebellion that places him there.
20 βάλλω (cast)
21 κρατήσατε (hold on tight to)
Not just holding on, but grasping the gospel message.
There is a contrast between the works of the children of Jezebel and those who do the works of God. The first is based on their own works. The other is based on the work of the Father.
22 ποιμανεῖ (he will rule)
This also means “to shepherd”. There is much debate over the passage. Osborne*** (Pgs. 166-167) says that it contains a secondary meaning “to destroy”. In this case, “shepherding” acts as protection of the ones who are being shepherded. That also means that anyone who threatens the “sheep” will be destroyed by the “shepherd” and his iron staff. The destruction will be complete just as a clay vessel breaks into many pieces. Mounce** (Pg. 106).
His authority comes from God. He who comes from God, comes in His name. The Lord Jesus is His Name. In John’s gospel we are told He was with
From Thayer’s Greek Dictionary there are some other possible meanings or nuances which are interesting to consider:
1a2 to furnish pasture for food
1a3 to nourish
1a4 to cherish one’s body, to serve somebody
1a5 to supply the requisites for the soul’s need
Does He not lead us into green pastures? Is He not the vine? Are not those who accept Jesus called the body of Christ? Was He not the suffering servant? Isn’t He the answer?
He gives as He was given. We are to do the same. In reflecting His light, we experience it all the more.
23 An allusion to Psalms 2:8-9.
24 “him” is the one who conquers”. Faithful christians.
25 τὸν ἀστέρα τὸν πρωϊνόν (the morning star)
The represents the idea of the saints ruling with Christ. It is an allusion to Numbers 24:17. Beale* (Pg. 268). Osborne*** also states that the “morning star” is the planet Venus and the Roman’s would place the symbol on their banners to show Roman invincibility. That imagery would also fit here. (Pg. 168).
2 Peter 1:19 ESV
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.
The morning star has risen, giving light in a dark place. From the darkness of a tomb, to its rightful place in the heavens, the light and life of men shines.
NT = New Testament
OT = Old Testament
ESV = English Standard Version
NASB = New American Standard Bible
KJV = King James Version
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV)
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)
Ἀποκάλυψις 2·18 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Θυατείροις ἐκκλησίας γράψον·
Τάδε λέγει ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, ὁ ἔχων τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ ὡς φλόγα πυρὸς καὶ οἱ πόδες αὐτοῦ ὅμοιοι χαλκολιβάνῳ· 19 οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην καὶ τὴν πίστιν καὶ τὴν διακονίαν καὶ τὴν ὑπομονήν σου, καὶ τὰ ἔργα σου τὰ ἔσχατα πλείονα τῶν πρώτων. 20 ἀλλὰ ἔχω κατὰ σοῦ ὅτι ἀφεῖς τὴν γυναῖκα Ἰεζάβελ, ἡ λέγουσα ἑαυτὴν προφῆτιν καὶ διδάσκει καὶ πλανᾷ τοὺς ἐμοὺς δούλους πορνεῦσαι καὶ φαγεῖν εἰδωλόθυτα. 21 καὶ ἔδωκα αὐτῇ χρόνον ἵνα μετανοήσῃ, καὶ οὐ θέλει μετανοῆσαι ἐκ τῆς πορνείας αὐτῆς. 22 ἰδοὺ βάλλω αὐτὴν εἰς κλίνην καὶ τοὺς μοιχεύοντας μετ ̓ αὐτῆς εἰς θλῖψιν μεγάλην, ἐὰν μὴ μετανοήσωσιν ἐκ τῶν ἔργων αὐτῆς, 23 καὶ τὰ τέκνα αὐτῆς ἀποκτενῶ ἐν θανάτῳ. καὶ γνώσονται πᾶσαι αἱ ἐκκλησίαι ὅτι ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ ἐραυνῶν νεφροὺς καὶ καρδίας, καὶ δώσω ὑμῖν ἑκάστῳ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα ὑμῶν. 24 ὑμῖν δὲ λέγω τοῖς λοιποῖς τοῖς ἐν Θυατείροις, ὅσοι οὐκ ἔχουσιν τὴν διδαχὴν ταύτην, οἵτινες οὐκ ἔγνωσαν τὰ βαθέα τοῦ σατανᾶ ὡς λέγουσιν· οὐ βάλλω ἐφ ̓ ὑμᾶς ἄλλο βάρος, 25 πλὴν ὃ ἔχετε κρατήσατε ἄχρι[ς] οὗ ἂν ἥξω. Ἀποκάλυψις 2·26 Καὶ ὁ νικῶν καὶ ὁ τηρῶν ἄχρι τέλους τὰ ἔργα μου, δώσω αὐτῷ ἐξουσίαν ἐπὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν 27 καὶ ποιμανεῖ αὐτοὺς ἐν ῥάβδῳ σιδηρᾷ ὡς τὰ σκεύη τὰ κεραμικὰ συντρίβεται, 28 ὡς κἀγὼ εἴληφα παρὰ τοῦ πατρός μου, καὶ δώσω αὐτῷ τὸν ἀστέρα τὸν πρωϊνόν. Ἀποκάλυψις 2·29 Ὁ ἔχων οὖς ἀκουσάτω τί τὸ πνεῦμα λέγει ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις.