A Study on the 7 Churches (Thyatira)

A Study on the 7 Churches (Thyatira)

This is part three in a seven-part study on the Churches in the book of Revelation.

Almost 2000 years ago Jesus shared a message to seven churches in seven cities located in present-day western Turkey. That message is presented in Revelation 2-3. When John wrote the book of Revelation, there were about 100 churches in greater Asia. So then, the question is: Why these seven churches?  These churches were not the largest or most notable—two of the seven churches had grave issues. Many believe Jesus chose to speak to these churches because their location and ministry are representative of both future periods in church history and the major issues individuals and churches struggle with today.

The Church at Thyatira represents a falling away from truth and profound apostasy. This city had ties to ancient Babylonian mythology which, in addition to being marked by violence and sensuality, had a particular ability to pervert (corrupt) true spiritual principles.

The Church at Thyatira is said to represent a period of grave apostasy. It points to a period of history (roughly 600—1517 AD) wherein various aspects of church doctrine, practice and motive became corrupt. The Inquisitions, the Crusades, the development of the political/military arm of ‘the church,’ the sale of indulgences, the elevation of the clergy, and the embracing of false doctrine took place during this dark time.

The message to the Church at Thyatira reminds believers that the enemy often slyly manipulates, twists and distorts the truth. Believers are enjoined to “Test all things and hold on to that which is good [and true]” (1 Thess. 5:21).    

THE HISTORY

  • The city was located a dozen or so miles southeast of Pergamum
  • The city was a significant city in the days of Alexander the Great
  • It was a connecting city—originally an outpost that connected three roads that led to the cities of Sardis, Pergamum, and Smyrna.
  • The city was designed to be the first line of defense for the more prominent coastal cities.
  • The city was noted for its dyes and for hosting ‘the games.’

WHAT HISTORY REVEALS:

  • As the church was persecuted—it passionately sought God.
    • As oppression and difficulties increased, so did faith. As pressure decreased, so did the passion in their faith.
    • Where there was not a great call to die for their faith, many did not feel compelled to live it out as they had done before.
    • The church at Thyatira represents the dark ages (600AD—1517AD). During this time the church slipped into
    • It is unwise to forget how Satan works. The things Satan did in ancient times he repackaged and did again in this age. When heresies were introduced in the church, the church did not recognize them for what they were.
      • 3000 BC: Nimrod marries Nimrod controls military/political affairs and Semiramis controls religious aspects of society.
      • Semiramis led in establishing an anti-faith, goddess worship, and deity cults
      • Many suggest that the constellations tell the story of a battle in the heavens—that the constellation CASSIOPEIA is another name for Semiramis and DRACO is another name for Nimrod, and that Revelation 12:3-4a references a spiritual battle pitting them against God.
        • In general, this mythology represents an anti-truth. For example, in Babylonian mythology, snake symbols are good (not evil). The ‘star of the dawn’ (see Isaiah 14) did fall from heaven, but the mythology teaches that this was an injustice—one that will be rectified in the end time. There is a chief god, but often this deity is presented as feminine. In this mythology, there is a son of the king associated with light and glory. The king’s son, Tammuz (later called Baal), comes to power through murder and requires violence from his followers. The ancient Babylonian religion was not just simply another faith—it was an anti-faith—a religious system built on distorted truths. Thyatira struggled with being able to discern truth from error, and allowed false teachings to enter and corrupt the church. Satan is a master deceiver and would have believers forget that a half truth is a full lie.
  • 2800 BC: A 130’ tall obelisk honoring Queen Semiramis was set-up in Babylon. A city and the prominent region of southern Mesopotamia (Shinar) is named in her honor.
    • 1000 BC: The sensual and violence-based cults associated with Baal, Molech, Astarte, Ishtar, Isis, Artemis, and Ashtoreth can be traced to Nimrod and Semiramis.
    • 950 BC: King Solomon marries wives who introduce Semiramis-linked religious practices to the northern Kingdom
      • One of the high priests of Baal in Phoenicia is the father of Jezebel. Ahab marries Jezebel (a Phoenician princess). This invites Babylonian paganism to Israel. (See Rev. 2:20-25).
    • 840 BC: Israel moves away from God. God responds by sending prophets to warn against apostasy.
    • 600 BC: Israel does not repent. God allows Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple
    • 550 BC: Persia conquers The religious elite move the seat of power from Babylon to the Pergamum/Thyatira area.
    • 600 AD: A system of anti-faith / antichrist begins to be introduced as church doctrine (see below): 
      • 600: Infant baptism
      • 709: Priests are Fathers
      • 850: Priests can forgive sins
      • 950: Mandatory seasonal fasting 
      • 1079: Celibacy of priesthood
      • 1190: Sale of Indulgences
      • 1215: Transubstantiation
      • 1229: Bible Study/Bible translations forbidden
      • 1439: Purgatory
      • 1530: Traditions are authoritative (binding as Scripture)
      • Immaculate conception and ascension of Mary
      • Infallibility of Pope

AN EVALUATION FROM JESUS CHRIST / WORDS OF PRAISE:

  • I know your deeds…” (Rev. 2:19a)
    • “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”  Matthew 12:36
      • See Romans 2:15-16
    • I know…your love…” (Rev. 2:19b)
      • See 1 Thessalonians 3:12
    • I know…your faith…” (Rev. 2:19c)
      • See 1 Peter 2:2
    • I know…your service…” (Rev. 2:19d)
      • See Ephesians 4:15
    • I know…your…perseverance…” (Rev. 2:19e)
      • See Romans 5:3-4
    • I know…that you are now doing more than you did at first.” (Rev. 2:19f)
      • See Hebrews 6:1-2

WORDS OF CHALLENGE AND WARNING:

  • “But 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…” (Rev. 2:20a)
    • Application: Do not hold to her teaching. Identify and flee from evil. Guard against apostasy and compromise. (1 Thess. 5:21)
  • “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. 2:22)
    • Application: There can be physical consequences to sinful behavior (1 Cor. 11:30, 1 Cor. 5:5). Forgiveness is possible  (1 John 1:9).
  • “I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart… (Rev. 2:23a)
    • Application: There is no future for those who refuse to turn from sin. God sees and knows all. Judgment on the church will come before the Tribulation period begins.
  • I will give to each of you according to your works.” (Rev. 2:23b)
    • Application: Know that judgment and reward are coming. Live accordingly. (Rom. 2:6; Rev. 20:12)
  • He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 2:29)
    • Application: Let His people be quick to hear and quick to follow. (Heb. 3:15)

WORDS OF PROMISE:

  • “But 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)
    • Application: Do your best to maintain your witness. God rewards the faithful (1 Sam. 26:23; Rev. 3:32; 1 Cor. 6:3; Rev. 3:12).
  • “Hold fast what you have until I come.The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.”  (Rev. 2:25-26)
    • Application: Do not slow down—do not give up. (Gal. 6:9; James 1:12-22)
  • I will give him the morning star.” (Rev. 2:28)
    • Application: A reference to glory and reward—the right to be in union with Christ (1 John 4:9) and share in His victory (1 Cor. 15:57; Dan. 12:3)

 

 

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