God’s Message to the Church at Thyatira and Your Church in Revelation

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Book of Revelation has a message for the 7 churches that could help us examine the health or sickness of our own church, including the Church at Thyatira.

Churches: Past and Present

The Book of Revelation has a message for all churches and not just the 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3. These messages can help us examine the health or sickness of our own churches, including the Church in Thyatira. The 7 churches in Revelation were not figurative churches or types of churches, but actual churches that existed at the time John wrote these messages down. There are many Bible scholars who believe that these churches are examples of the 7 different church ages as well as being messages to the literal churches in the Roman Empire, but we must remember that these letters to the 7 churches were sent to each of the 7 churches that existed then and were to be read to the congregations so that these churches would not die out (And all of them did!). I believe churches would do well to listen to Jesus’ admonishments to these churches and consider them as directed toward their own church. If we don’t take heed of these warnings, our own churches may go out of existence like the original 7 churches listed in the Book of Revelation.


The Church at Thyatira, the hometown of Lydia (Acts 16:11-15), is based upon the Greek name “Thuateira” which means “sweet perfume of sacrifice or odor of affliction.” Thuateira can also mean “a sacrifice of labor,” so these facts are not lost when Jesus speaks to this church about their works in a positive way, but this church had issues. There were believers who were mixing pagan worship and worship of the One, True God and that is something God will not accept. Jesus implores them to repent from the type of worship that mixes with or allows sexual immorality, and today Jesus rebukes churches that teach same-sex marriage as acceptable to God. Some go so far as to appoint homosexuals as pastors and they marry same-sex couples, believing they have God’s blessing, but know this; that church will die out, and if it doesn’t, it is not Jesus’ church anymore. It’s Satan’s own synagogue who has his own sinister ministers.

The Message to Thyatira

Jesus tells John to write “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” (Rev 2:18). This means that this is God Himself writing this message as Jesus is God, therefore, the message has God’s authority behind it. To begin with, Jesus is encouraging the church, telling them, “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first” (Rev 2:19), but there’s a problem and not a minor one. Jesus rebukes the church by saying, “I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols” (Rev 2:20). Who is this Jezebel? In the Old Testament, she was the head of pagan worship that included sexual immorality and was teaching or leading most of the nation of Israel into pagan worship, so apparently, some churches were already allowing those who practice these things to be mixed with worshiping God and that won’t work. Those who worship God must do so in sprit and in truth (John 4:24).

Pagan Worship

Many of the Christians had come out of pagan temple worship, but many still had one foot in the pagan temples and one foot in the church, and God will not accept that. He tells those who are practicing these abominations, “I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, 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” (Rev 2:21-22). That sounds like the kiss of death to this church because she did not repent in time, and we know that this church did die out. That’s why Jesus said, “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” (Rev 2:23). When children disappear from churches, that church will soon disappear.

A Faithful Remnant

It seems in biblical history God always preserves for Himself a remnant of faithful believers, and we find that here where Jesus says, “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” (Rev 2:24). In the meantime, they were told, as we are told, to “hold fast what you have until I come” (Rev 2:25). God originally called Israel to be a kingdom of priests (Ex 19:6; Isaiah 61:6), but He also calls us for this same purpose today (1 Pet 2:5; Rev 1:6, 5:10), but they failed in their mission. Let us not fail, but to the Church at Thyatira (and to churches today), Jesus says, “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and 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” (Rev 2:26-27).


The very same thing that happened to these churches could happen to your church and to my church if we allow sexual immorality into the church and allow it to occur in the church without having church discipline (Matt 18:15-20). Any church that Jesus is finished with could be closed and stay closed. If Jesus sees a church that is not preaching repentance and faith (Mark 1:15), then the glory has departed. The Ark has been lost! Thousands of churches will die again this year and the next and the next, but those who remain will be preaching the Bible faithfully, preaching about Jesus Christ, and preaching the need for repentance, sanctification and holiness, and one that exalts the name and work of Jesus Christ.

Here is some related reading for you: The Seven Churches Described in the Book of Revelation

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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