In the letter to the “messenger” in Thyatira, a structural change occurs. In the first three letters, the call to heed the Spirit’s voice preceded the promises to overcomers. From this point forward, it follows the promises and concludes each letter. This serves to emphasize the need to “hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches” through the seven letters sent by the risen Son of Man.

The city of Thyatira was situated fifty-five kilometers southeast of Pergamos and eighty kilometers from the Aegean Sea. Its proximity to Pergamos explains why the doctrines of the Nicolaitans also infiltrated this congregation. The gospel reached Thyatira at an early stage, but the details of its establishment are unknown. Most likely, it was an area reached by Paul’s earlier missionary activities that were based in Ephesus.

The city produced a dye used in the production of a purple fabric that was highly prized around the Mediterranean. Its economy was dominated by trade guilds for the bronze, linen, leather, pottery, and dye industries, and it would be difficult for a tradesman unaffiliated with a guild to conduct business in Thyatira. Each guild had its own religious rituals, and membership would necessitate participation in them.

  • (Revelation 2:18-19) - “And to the angel of the assembly in Thyatira, write: The Son of God declares these things, the one who has his eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet like glowing copper: I know your works and your love and faith and ministry and endurance, and that your last works are more than the first.


Jesus is the one with the flaming eyes and feet “like burnished bronze.” The designation “Son of God” occurs only here in Revelation, and it is a verbal allusion to the second Psalm - “Yahweh has said to me: You are My son. I, today, have begotten you: Ask of me and let me give nations as your inheritance, and as your possession, the ends of the earth.”

In the opening vision of the “one like a son of man,” Jesus has “feet like burnished brass as if it had been refined in a furnace.” The reference to the “furnace” invokes the story of the “fiery furnace” in which the three compatriots of Daniel were cast when they refused to render homage to the king’s “great image.” They were delivered from death by “one like a Son of God.”

Jesus was refined in such a “furnace” when he endured death on behalf of his saints. But now, the “fiery furnace” from Daniel becomes the model for the “lake of fire burning with brimstone.” All men who render homage to the image of the “beast” will be cast into this horrific place. For them, there will be no miraculous delivery - (Daniel 3:24-25, Revelation 19:20).


Jesus knows the church’s “last works are more than the first.” This is in sharp contrast with the church at Ephesus where the earlier works of testimony were greater than the later ones.

  • (Revelation 2:20-21) - “Nevertheless, I have against you that you suffer the woman, Jezebel, she who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and leading astray my own servants to commit fornication and to eat idol-sacrifices; and I gave her time, that she might repent, and she wills not to repent from her fornication.

Despite its previous faithfulness, Jesus rebukes the church’s “messenger” for tolerating the false prophetess “Jezebel.” Her teachings parallel those of the ‘Nicolaitans’ (“to eat idol-sacrifices and to commit fornication”). Like that group, she promotes accommodation to the idolatrous culture of the city.

Jezebel” was probably not her real name. She is modeled after the Old Testament pagan queen Jezebel who promoted the worship of Ba’al and persecuted the prophets of Yahweh, including Elijah. Allusions to the ministry of Elijah appear in the vision of the “two witnesses” - (1 Kings 16:31, 18:4-19, 19:1-2, Revelation 11:3-7).

The term “fornication” is metaphorical for idolatry. Note the explanatory “eating meat offered to idols.” The “lovers” and “children” of Jezebel are adherents of her doctrine.

This woman is a “prophetess,” which is a verbal link to the “False Prophet” described in Chapter 13. Like Jezebel in Israel, the “False Prophet” causes others to engage in idolatry, especially the rendering of homage to the “image of the Beast” - (Revelation 13:11-18, 16:13, 19:20, Daniel 3:1-7).

Jezebel” is presented as a harlot-like figure because of her seductive powers, and this also links her to the “Great Harlot, Babylon” that causes the earth’s inhabitants to drink the “wine of her fornication” - (Revelation 17:1-6, 18:3, 18:8-9).

  • (Revelation 2:22-25) - “Behold, I cast her into a bed, and them who are committing adultery with her, into great tribulation, except they repent out of her works; and her children will I slay with death; and all the churches will get to know that I am he, the one who searches reins and hearts, and will give to each one according to your works. But to you, I say, to the rest who are in Thyatira, as many as have not this teaching, such as have not come to know the deep things of Satan, as they say, I do not cast upon you any other burden; nevertheless, what you have, hold fast till I come.

Thus, at local level, “Jezebel” is a version of end-time “Babylon” that is already at work even in the church. The threatened judgment on her and her “children” anticipates God’s final judgment on the “Great Harlot.” Anyone who partakes of her sins will also receive “her plagues” - (Revelation 18:1-6).


This deceitful prophetess “deceives” Christ’s servants, and this is another verbal and conceptual link to the book’s visions about “Babylon the Great.” Note the parallels:

  • Satan deceives the whole world - (12:9, 20:3, 20:8-10).
  • False Prophet deceives the inhabitants of the earth - (13:14).
  • Babylon deceives all the nations through her sorceries - (18:23).
  • The False Prophet deceives those who receive the mark of the Beast - (19:20).

Jesus allows her time to repent. If she refuses, he will “cast her into a couch along with them who fornicate with her.” The “couch” refers to a sickbed, and this is indicated by her punishment with “great tribulation” and “plagues.” Christ will “kill her children with death” (apoktenō en thanatō), a verbal link to the first four seal openings when the four horsemen were authorized “to kill…with death” - (apokteinai en thanatō - Revelation 6:1-8).

He who searches reins and hearts” is an expansion of the phrase “his eyes like a flaming fire.” Nothing is hidden from his eyes. The phrase alludes to the passage in the book of Jeremiah when Yahweh pronounces judgment on the Israelites who commit idolatry for economic gain:

  • (Jeremiah 17:10-13) – “I, Yahweh, search the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings… Yahweh, the hope of Israel, all that forsake You shall be put to shame. They that depart from me shall be written in the earth because they have forsaken Yahweh, the fountain of living waters.

In the church, “the rest” or “remnant” are the believers who have not been corrupted by Jezebel. This may link to the vision of the “woman clothed with the sun” and the “REMNANT of her seed” that are persecuted by the “Dragon,” a group identified as those who “have the testimony of Jesus.” Likewise, faithful saints must “hold fast what you have till I come” – (Revelation 12:17).


The prophetess claims it is permissible to “know the deep things of Satan.” Possibly, this is the slogan propagated by her supporters (“as they say”). More likely, in her mind, she is teaching the “deep things of God,” deeper spiritual insight that supposedly protects initiates from harm during idolatrous religious rites.

Jesus exposes this doctrine for what it truly is - the “deep things of Satan.” As Paul taught, idolatry is communion with demons - (1 Corinthians 10:20).

And the “deep things of Satan” is a link to the “Abyss,” the deep pit from which the “Beast,” demons and Satan ascend to deceive men and “wage war against the saints”- (Revelation 9:1-2, 11:7, 13:1, 17:8, 20:1-3).

  • (Revelation 2:26-29) - “And he that overcomes and keeps throughout my works, I will give to him authority over the nations; and he will shepherd them with a scepter of iron, as vessels of earthenware are dashed in pieces: as I also have received from my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.

Jesus received his authority to rule the nations through his death and resurrection. He now shares that authority with his faithful disciples - (Psalm 2:8-9, Revelation 1:5, 12:1-5).


Revelation follows the text of the Greek Septuagint where the Hebrew term for “smite them” has been changed to “shepherd.” Jesus reigns in paradoxical ways. Just as he “overcame” by dying for others, so believers overcome Satan and participate in Christ’s reign by laying down their lives for the “Lamb” and his “testimony” - (Revelation 12:10-11).

The “morning star” symbolizes his reign, an image from the prophecy by Balaam. Jezebel’s deceptions parallel the false doctrines of the Nicolaitans and Balaam. His prophecy referred to the “star from Jacob and a scepter from Israel that shall crush” - (Numbers 24:17, Psalm 2:8-9, 2 Peter 1:17-19).

He that has an ear, Hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” Once more, the pronoun switches to the singular and the noun to the plural number. The message is applicable to a much larger audience than the marginalized congregation in Thyatira.

Moreover, the Greek verb rendered “saying” is a progressive present, portraying continuous action. The Spirit continues to declare this to all the churches and every believer who has “ears to hear.” The message remains applicable from the time these words were spoken until the arrival of Jesus on the last day.



Absent Church?

He Nullified Death