What Is The World Coming To: Revelation 2:18-29 – Keeping Christians from Corruption

Grace For The Journey

We continue our study through the Book of Revelation, going verse-by-verse through this final book of the Bible in which God brings to completion His great plan and program for mankind.  You will remember the three-fold outline derived from chapter 1, verse 19.  Jesus gives to John a three-point outline of the book.  He says, “Write down the things which you have seen (chapter 1), the things which are (chapters 2 and 3), and the things which will take place after this (chapters 4 and following).  So in chapter 2 we continue to look at “the things which are.”  We are looking at the seven churches in Asia Minor during John’s day.  Thus far we have looked at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamum.  This morning, we look at the church at Thyatira.  And as we read about the church at Thyatira, we see once again that Jesus also has a word for the church that we are a member of.

Jesus is doing the speaking here.  He is going over the X-Ray report of the health of the church.  He sees beyond the superficial.  He sees directly inside the church and reports about the church’s health and gives the church’s prognosis.  Remember the pattern as we study . . .

  • Jesus identifies Himself in a way that speaks to the particular need of each individual church;
  • Then He provides a word of commendation – something good the church is doing;
  • This is followed by a word of condemnation – something bad the church is doing. 
  • This is followed by a word of correction and exhortation – something for the church to do that will lead to reward.

Recently I was reminded of some famous words spoken by former tennis pro John McEnroe.  They are the words, “You cannot be serious.”  John McEnroe was known for saying that phrase an awful lot on the tennis court, so much so that he even titled his recent memoir, You Cannot Be Serious.  McEnroe would hit a ball he thought was inside the court and the judge would call it out, or his opponent would hit a ball back to him that McEnroe thought was outside and the judge would call it in.  And McEnroe would frequently take issue with the judge by saying, “You Cannot Be Serious!”

As I read the X-Ray reports of the health of these churches, I wonder whether our Lord Jesus may have just as easily said a time or two, “You cannot be serious.”  The most helpful exercise for us as a church body is to consider what our Lord Jesus would say to us if He were going over our own X-Ray report.  What we learn as we read about the church in Thyatira is that there are some things we should be taking very seriously.  I want you to see them with me . . .

I.  We Must Take Seriously The Christian’s Maturity: Verses 18-19.

Verse 18 states, “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass.”  Jesus is described as the One who has “eyes like a flame of fire” and “feet like fine brass.”  These two descriptions refer to the omniscience and omnipotence of Jesus Christ.  The phrase, “Feet like fine brass” refers to our exalted Lord’s strength and power.  He is all-powerful: omnipotent.  The phrase “Eyes like a flame of fire” refers to our Lord’s burning, piercing, and penetrating eyes of judgment.  He is all-knowing: omniscient.  His eyes can see right through our superficial selves; He can hear the thoughts and see intents of our hearts.  Someone has said, “There is the person you think you are; there is the person others think you are; but then there is the person the Lord knows you are.”  You and I may cover up who we really are when we are around others, but the Lord knows.  He knows all things.  He has “eyes like a flame of fire.”

In verse 19 Jesus says, “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.”  These are good works: love, service, faith, and patience (actually the correct order in the Greek text is love and faith, service, and patience (or endurance).  The phrase I want you to underline there is where Jesus says, “as for your works, the last are more than the first.”  That is Jesus’ way of saying, “You are growing spiritually; you are maturing in spiritual faith.”  We must take seriously the Christian’s maturity.  Jesus expects Christians to grow in the faith.  He expects us to “grow up” in our faith.

It is a shame that some Christians seem to never grow up, they just grow older in their faith. 

Physical maturity

Does not

Necessarily indicate

Spiritual maturity.

A person can be in his 80s, a member of a church all his or her life, and still be a “babe in Christ.”  When we receive Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ expects us to grow spiritually.  We should be reading our Bibles regularly, learning more and more and more about Jesus.  As an old song tells us, “More about Jesus would I know; More of His grace to others show.”  The church in Thyatira took this seriously.  They were known as a church that was growing spiritually.

Jesus says, “Nevertheless, I have a few things against you.”  Or we could say, “these good works notwithstanding.”  I like that word, “notwithstanding.”  I read about a little boy who was told to use the word “notwithstanding” in a sentence.  He said, “I wore-out the seat of my trousers, but notwithstanding!”  Well . . . nevertheless . . . notwithstanding these good works, Jesus says, “I have few things against you.”  This statement takes us to our next action point. 

Secondly . . .

II.  We Must Take Seriously the Christian’s Theology: Verses 20-25.

Christian theology is studying what the Bible teaches about the things of God.  We learn about these things so that we may live-out these things where God has placed us. 

Theology helps us live

According to God’s Word

As we live in this world.

The Christians in Thyatira lived in a city well-known for its trade guilds or labor unions.  Thyatira was a bustling business city of commerce.  People who lived in Thyatira were members of special guilds in accordance to their trades.  For example, there were bakers, potters, shoemakers, bronze smiths, leatherworkers, and makers of wool, linen, and those who dyed garments.  There were a number of people who were employed in the work of purple dye.  You remember reading in Acts 16 about Lydia of Thyatira.  Lydia is described there as “a seller of purple.”  This dye was very costly.  The dye was obtained by catching a shellfish and slitting its throat.  The drops of purple from that shellfish were used to dye garments.  It was very expensive – a pound of purple dye costing somewhere around 3-year’s wages of the average working man. 

Each of these trades had a particular guild, a special kind of labor union, in accordance to each trade.  If you were going to be successful in Thyatira, you belonged to one of these guilds.  These guilds were the center of social life as well as business life.  That may not sound too bad, but . . .

What made belonging to these guilds bad

Was what its members were expected to do.

Remember that the Greek and Roman culture in John’s day was a culture saturated with the worship of false gods and goddesses.  History tells us that each of these labor guilds had its own particular god or goddess.  Members of the guilds would frequently participate in certain feasts and festivals wherein the gods and goddesses were worshiped as part of the feasts.  If you did not participate in these feasts it was bad for business.  How would you like to try to earn a living as a Christian in Thyatira?

If you were going to “make it” in the business world in Thyatira, you were under a lot of pressure to compromise some of your beliefs.  There arose within the church a teacher who began to teach that it was okay to do this.  She taught that participating in these worship feasts of false gods and goddesses was really no big deal.  The church sinned by allowing her to teach this false doctrine.  Jesus identifies this false teacher by the symbolic name, Jezebel:

Verse 20 says, “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”  Jezebel is a symbolic name, symbolic of the Jezebel of the Old Testament.  You can read of her in 1 Kings 16 and 2 Kings 9.  Jezebel is the wicked Phoenician wife of Ahab who led the Northern Kingdom of Israel into idolatry and immorality.  Jesus refers here to a woman in the church who “calls herself a prophetess.”  In other words, “I have not called her into the ministry.  She has called herself.  She is a false teacher, teaching a false theology.  She is seducing My servants to commit sexual immorality and things sacrificed to idols.

Members of these guilds participated in feasts that centered upon the worship of false gods or goddesses.  The false teaching of “Jezebel” was a teaching that approved of this practice.  In essence, Jezebel said, “Hey, it is okay to participate in these feasts.  Remember, it is good for business.  So just do it.  God knows your heart.  It is okay.  God will understand.”  Well, it is not okay.

Jesus states in verse 21, “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.”  God’s judgment is not immediate.  As the Bible says in 2 Peter 3:9, “God is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”  But this false teacher did not repent.

Jesus then declares in verse 22, “Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.  God says, “I will punish this false teacher by casting her into a sickbed.”  That is, “I will send an illness to her and to those who follow her teaching.”  They will suffer “great tribulation.”  This is not THE “Great Tribulation” of Revelation chapters 6-16, but rather a general, but serious time of affliction.  God sends affliction to His people in order to bring about repentance.  The Bible asks in Hebrews 12:8, “What son is there whom a father does not discipline?”  God disciplines us because He loves us.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 23, “I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”  This is a strong Hebraism.  God says, “I will strike her children dead.”  There is a sin unto physical death for the unrepentant Christian.  We are reminded of 1 Corinthians 11 that the Bible says that God brought about an early death to those who were flippantly participating in the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).  God takes seriously the false teacher and so should we.

False teachers and teachings have plagued the Christian church for over 2,000 years.  Like Jezebel in Thyatira, other false teachers have been women.  Ellen White “called herself a prophetess” and perverted Christianity in forming the Seventh Day Adventists.  Mary Baker Eddy “called herself a prophetess” and perverted Christianity by forming the Church of Christian Science.  But men have also “called themselves prophets” and perverted Christianity such as, Joseph Smith of Mormonism, and Charles Russell of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

The church at Thyatira sinned by allowing this false teacher to teach.  Our Lord Jesus Christ will be just as angry with us if we allow just anyone to teach here at our church family at First Baptist.  We must take seriously the Christian’s theology.  Paul did.  That is why he said in Galatians 1:8, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”

I’m glad that our Minister of Bible Study, Discipleship, and Missions, has renewed our teacher’s covenant, asking each Sunday School teacher to take seriously the sacred task of teaching Christian theology through our Bible Study Ministry and agree to teach in agreement with our church’s doctrinal statement.  Our Bible Study teachers are expected to teach in accordance to the Baptist Faith and Message and they are expected to live godly lives of superior moral conduct.  We must take seriously the Christian’s theology.

Christians today are equally tempted to set aside their convictions in the interest of business.  It is tempting to seek the approval and acclaim of the secular world.  We are tempted to engage in behavior that we are told is “good for business.”  An employer invites employees to participate in certain “office parties” where highly questionable conduct is on the agenda.  Whether you really follow the Lord Jesus Christ or whether you just use the language of Christianity will be determined by whether, or how, you conduct yourself at those functions.

The people of Thyatira were members of special guilds and worshiped the false gods in their feasts.  You and I are members of a special guild called “the Body of Christ.”  We are instructed in Scripture to partake of the Lord’s Supper wherein we will worship and declare our gratitude and allegiance to the One True Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

III.  We Must Take Seriously the Christian’s Eternity – Verses 26-29.

Jesus says in verses 24 and 25, “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.  But hold fast what you have till I come.”  They were to stick with it . . . Keep on keepin’ on.  I do not know who said it first, but it is a good statement: “The faith that finally fizzles at the finish was faulty from the first.”  Hold fast what you have.

Jesus declares in verses 26 and 27, “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations – He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels – as I also have received from My Father.”  Christians will rule with the Lord Jesus Christ during the spectacular time of the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-6).

Then Jesus says in verse 28, “And I will give him the morning star.”  What is the “morning star?”  The better question is, “Who is the Morning Star?”  In Revelation 22:16, our Lord Jesus identifies Himself as, “The Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

In Revelation 22:16, we have one of the most interesting names as Jesus calls Himself, “the bight “and morning star.”  This was to fulfil a prophecy, given all the way back in the Old Testament by the prophet Balaam, who said in Numbers 24:17, “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star will come out of Jacob; a sceptre will rise out of Israel.”  Jesus does  not refer to Himself as a “star.”  He is not just a star among many stars …He is unique and there is no one else like Him!  Instead, He called Himself, “The Bright Morning Star!”  The wise men used a star as a point of reference.  They were trying to find a certain place and a certain person!  For thousands of years, mariners and travelers have used the stars as a guide and as a point of reference.  By using this title, Jesus wanted us to understand that He is our point of reference and sure guide!  

In Biblical times and in early astronomy the “Morning Star” was the brightest star a person saw in the sky – just before daylight . . . but today we know that this “bright morning star” is actually not a star at all.  Instead, it is the planet Venus as it appears before sunrise in the western sky.  Many still refer to it as “the morning star!”  We have already said that the morning star is unique in that it is not a star at all but the planet Venus.  Some say that Venus is unique among the planets of our solar system.  It is not the closest planet to our sun, yet it is the hottest.  But there is something even more unique about this planet!  If we could somehow look down on all of the planets in our solar system from above, they would all be turning in a counter-clockwise direction . . . that is all of them except Venus which turns in a clock wise position.  

Jesus is unique!  There is no one else like Him.  He is the only one who can be our true point of reference.  What does the “morning star” do day after day?  We know that as Venus arises in the western sky around 4:00 am . . .

  • Soon the birds will begin to sing.  
  • Shortly after that, in the eastern sky, the sun will begin to rise.

The bright morning star

Represents the promise

Of a new day and it

Indicates that something

Better is coming!

Today as we live in a dangerous, dark world, and many have lost hope, but, on the horizon we see “the bright morning star.”  It tells us that something better is coming; that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ will come again!

We must take seriously the Christian’s eternity.  We live not for this life only, but for eternity.

Verse 29 concludes this letter to Thyatira with, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Adrian Rogers tells about a wealthy Roman man who had a lavish estate and he had a servant named Marcellus.  The Roman man also had a son, but for some reason or other he had come into disagreement with his son.  When the wealthy Roman wrote his will, he wrote in his will that he would leave everything to his slave, Marcellus.  When the time came that the wealthy Roman man died, his will was read.  And they read where the Roman man said, “I leave my entire estate—everything I own—I leave to my slave, Marcellus.  To my son, I leave him only one thing.  He can choose any one thing he wants from my estate, but just one thing.”  The son said, “Very well.  I choose Marcellus.”

The Bible says in John 1:12, “As many as received Jesus (as many as choose Him), to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”  When you choose Jesus, you receive all the blessings the Father gives in Him and through Him.  When the end comes, you will meet Jesus face-to-face and it will be a glorious meeting when you are greeted by the “Bright and Morning Star.”

Will you think of that this morning?  Ask God to open your spiritual eyes and ears to hear and receive God’s gift of abundant life and eternal life that comes through Jesus.

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

What Is The World Coming: Revelation 2:12-17 – Commitment Or Compromise?

Grace For The Journey

As we continue our series of studies verse-by-verse through the book of Revelation, we are dealing with the seven churches in Asia Minor.  Today we are looking at the third of the seven churches.   We have looked at the church of Ephesus and the church of Smyrna.  As we go through the text, we will hear Christ’s pattern as He addresses each church . . . There is a commendation, a condemnation, and a correction.

I remember a T-shirt I saw not long ago.  It was a picture of fish swimming in one direction with a sign of the Christian fish swimming in the opposite direction.  Underneath was the phrase: “Go against the flow.”  That shirt was a reminder to me that Christians were expected to act differently than non-Christians.  There is something about us that is to be different.  Not mean, ugly, arrogant, and prideful.  We have a are to have a sweet-spirit and we are different.  We “go against the flow.”  People should look at the church and see something different; people who act differently, etc.  They should be attracted to the difference.  When Christians go in the same direction as non-Christians they are just “going with the flow” instead of against the flow.  If we are going with the flow rather than against the flow, we have likely compromised something.  The question for us from what Jesus teaches about the church at Pergamum is, “Commitment or Compromise?”

I.  We Must Always Remain Committed.

Sharp two-edged sword.  The sword is a symbol of justice.  The Roman proconsul resided in the city of Pergamum.  The sword was a reminder of who was in control.  The Romans were in control.  Had power to execute.  Jesus says, “I am the True Power.”  I am the one with the double-edged sword.  Seen before in 1:16.  Hebrews 4:12.  Jesus is the true power, the true sovereign.

He says in verse 13, “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.”  Jesus knows.  He knows what we are thinking and feeling . . . He knows what is going on in our lives . . . He knows all about us.  Isn’t that encouraging?  He knows!

Christians at Pergamum dwelt, “where Satan’s throne is.”  Pergamum was the official center in the province of Asia for worship of the emperor.  Once a year every citizen was required to take a pinch of incense and confess, “Caesar is Lord.”  This is why Jesus refers to Pergamum as the place “where Satan’s throne is” and where “Satan dwells.” 

The church is commended for standing firm in Christ.

“… and you hold fast to My name.”  That is, they kept true to Jesus even though they lived in a devilish place.  The church is also commended for staying faithful to Christ.  “and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr (better, ‘witness’), who was killed among you.”

This church was commended for staying faithful to Christ even in the midst of severe persecution.  Antipas – some speculate he was one of the church’s early pastors.   Christian tradition has it that Antipas was locked inside of a brass bull which was heated with flames of fire so that Antipas was literally roasted to death.  Christ referred to Antipas as His “faithful witness.”  Same words applied to Jesus in 1:5.

Jesus says they stood firm and they stayed faithful.  So must we.  Jesus knows where we dwell and what is going on in our lives.  Some work in hellish, difficult, and trying places.  Stand firm in Christ.  Stay faithful to Christ.

II.  We Must Always Reject Compromise.

Verses 14 and 15 go together.  They deal with a condemnation from the Lord, “But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.”  It seems “the doctrine of the Nicolaitans” is tied closely to the “doctrine of Balaam,” so that to “hold to” the doctrine of one is to “hold to” the doctrine of the other.

The doctrine of Balaam is found in the Old Testament (Study Numbers 25 and 31).  These chapters tell the story of Balak, King of Moab.  He wanted to hire Balaam to curse the Israelites.  Every time Balaam opened his mouth, only blessing came out.   Balak wanted Balaam to curse them, but he could only speak what God told him to speak, so only blessing came out.  It seems, however, that Balaam really wanted to collect the money Balak offered him for cursing the Israelites.  So apparently Balaam “taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel,” specifically, by “sacrificing to idols, and committing sexual immorality.”  

This is what Jesus means by referring to the doctrine of Balaam.  Since Balaam could not curse the Israelites, he apparently told Balak that the best way to get to the Israelites was by getting the Moabite women to go after the Israelite men.  Thus, by intermingling with the women, the Israelites would become fragmented and weak.  They were drawn away to false gods – idolatry.  They were drawn away to sexual immorality – by committing fornication and adultery.  These two sins of idolatry and sexual immorality are apparently the chief sins of the Nicolaitans. 

Jesus condemns the church at Pergamum because there are some within the church who have been led away to follow the teaching of the Nicolaitans, namely idolatry and sexual immorality.

Point of application: 

Never Compromise

Your Loyalty


Never Compromise

Your Integrity.

“Pergamos” means “thoroughly married.”  Fitting since this church has become “married to the world.”  Pergamum was proud of . . .

  • Its library, 200,000 volumes (before printing press, photocopiers, internet!). 
  • Of its temples dedicated to different gods, including Asclepius (the god of healing (you see the symbol of Asclepius in much of modern medicine; the symbol of a serpent entwined around a staff). 
  • Its three temples which were dedicated to Roman emperors.

Apparently some within the church were teaching that it was okay to compromise their Christian beliefs in the face of emperor worship.  “What harm is there in taking a little pinch of incense and saying ‘Caesar is Lord?  Or be involved with the temple feasts in honor of Caesar.”

The issue is loyalty.  Idols have many faces.  They may be a mixing of our faith with elements of other faiths.   The problem with this compromise was that it clouded the truth that Jesus is the only way and confused the teaching of the Word of God, the Bible.

Adrian Rogers, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennesee served on the Peace Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention during the time of “The Battle For The Bible.”  He told about an intense incident during a Committee Meeting, “One man said to me in that Peace Committee, he said, ‘Adrian, if you don’t compromise we’ll never get together.’  I said to that dear friend, ‘We don’t have to get together.  The Southern Baptist Convention doesn’t have to survive.  I don’t have to be the pastor of Bellevue.  I don’t have to live.  But I am not going to compromise the Word of God.’”

Compromise causes us

To live too much in the world


Look too much like the world.

The issue is also about integrity.  This church is condemned by our Lord for the behavior of some within; not all.  There are some within who have done ungodly things.  Compromising the moral commands of Scripture to be chaste and pure.  They have gone the way of the doctrine of Balaam, committing sexual immorality with others.  What will happen to these folks? 

Verse 16 tells us, “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”  Who is Jesus speaking to?  The church in Pergamos.  Jesus tells them they needed to repent or else He would come to them quickly and will fight against whom?  Those sinning in the church!  Think of it!  Some of you who are in trouble this morning; fighting with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Never compromise your loyalty and integrity.  Some are tempted to compromise at work, in social life, and personal life.

III.  We Must Always Receive Correction.

 Correction Begins With Repentance.  The word mean “turn; change of mind; change of heart; change of behavior.”  Not just being sorry.

Correction Ends With Reward

Verse 17 says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”  Feasts would be observed in the name of the emperor.  Jesus says do not partake of that.  Remain committed to Christ.  Refuse to compromise Christ.

Jesus uses two symbols that speak against the pagan feasts of the city of Pergamum. 

1) Hidden manna refers to the manna Moses told the people to place in a jar and placed inside the ark of the covenant.  Spiritually, God feeds His people in ways the world does not know. 

2) White stone.  Alludes to practice of giving a stone to special people such as victors of the Roman games or elite members of certain guilds.  They would receive a stone that was used as a ticket to feasts held in the city of Pergamum.  New name no one knows.  This should be taken with Revelation 19:12 where it speaks of the Second Coming of our Lord, who will come having “a name written no one knew except Himself.”  Whatever this new name means, it is to be connected with Jesus.  He knows us.  He possesses us.   As the hymn goes, “Now I belong to Jesus.  Jesus belongs to me.  Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity.”

Compromise or commitment?  Going against the flow?  Vance Havner said, “What we live is what we really believe.  Everything else is just religious talk.”

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”