Letters to the Churches: Thyatira
We see in our Lord’s letter to the church in Thyatira a similar situation to that of Pergamum which we saw yesterday. All of these churches operated in pagan environments where a multiplicity of gods was the norm. Perhaps even the pagans themselves did not believe in them but that was irrelevant. The purpose of acknowledging the gods had more to do with public cohesion and confirming community and common identity than anything else. We see this in communist countries where the leader of the party assumes the role of deity with immense replicas of his image in parades. Pagans will always argue that they are more tolerant than Christians, but both history and contemporary experience prove the opposite.
Though the church in Thyatira had some faithful ones (about all churches do), they have allowed a self-styled prophetess upon whom John bestows the notorious namesake “Jezebel” of Israelite history, queen over the people and her impotent husband, who led them into Baal worship (1 Kings 16:29-19:3; 21:1-29; 2 Kings 9:1-37). So we not only have a case of going along to get along as we saw in Pergamum but now someone in the church positively teaching this false doctrine and adding the element of sexual immorality, apparently even without the help of the Nicolaitans. Please note that two sins always go together in Scripture, both Old and New Testaments: Idolatry and sexual immorality. We see this manifest in our own society. But the Lord will throw her and “her children” (listeners) into great tribulation—which they, ironically, were trying to avoid.
But there is a second level of sin here not mentioned with Pergamum. Though the false teachers of both churches rationalized their sin to get along, in Thyatira they sought to couch their sin with theology—“the deep things of Satan.” Granted, the false teachers probably said, “God,” but John knew the origin from whence their teaching came. In other words, these sought to dress their idolatry and immorality up in subtle doctrinal finery that made their teachings appear knowledgeable and wise so as to dupe the simple-minded. False teachers theologically ground their rationalizations.
Given this precarious situation from both inside (heresy) and outside (persecution) the church, the Lord lays no other burden upon the faithful but to remain so. The one who perseveres and conquers will rule the nations with a rod of iron alongside Christ (a reference to the coming millennial kingdom). Hang on, Christian. In spite of all, conquer through the cross.