The letter to the Church at Thyatira (continued) picture above is 19th-century painting of Jezebel by John Liston Byam Shaw.
(Click on this link to open the passage in a new window if you wish to read it now. I will cite the verses as I explain their meaning.)
Christ judges those who corrupt His Church vs. 22-23
22 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,
I will cast her on a bed [of suffering] — There is a pun here. Christ said that he would cast her into bed (klinê). She had drawn many into her bed of immorality. The bed she would end up in would be a bed of sickness and suffering.
Those who participate in her teaching, commit adultery. Many take this in a spiritual sense. It can be taken literally, as well. Her heretical teaching involved recommending people commit immorality with temple prostitutes for their advancement in the trade guilds. Prostitutes would have been a part of the trade guild meetings.
23 and 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.
Gustave Doré Death on the Pale Horse (1865) above
I will strike her children dead means literally, “I will kill her children with death.” This is perhaps a Hebrew idiom meaning “strike someone with plague or pestilence.” Cf. Rev. 6:8 for the same idiom.
24 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.
Jezebel’s teaching included what purported to be “Satan’s so-called deep secrets” — this phrase is taken as a quotation from Jezebel’s teachings. One committed sin — by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing immorality with temple prostitutes. Some have suggested she taught this would help them in their spiritual warfare with the Devil.
This is compromise with Satan and sin in order to get along in society. The false teaching changes, certainly, but the compromise is still the same. If we are in step with society around us, we will get benefits from our peers. But if we compromise, we will forfeit our relationship with God. I John 2 makes this clear — 15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
Christianity has always been a sub-culture within the dominant pagan culture all around the church.
See Hebrews 13 —
12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
The issue is who we trying to please. If we please Christ, we displease the surrounding pagan culture. Christ makes up for our loss with the world — Matthew 19 makes this clear.
27 Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” 28 Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you… 29 …everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
Faithfulness is rewarded by Christ vs. 25-26
25 Only hold fast what you have until I come.
26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations… .
God will give his people authority over the nations — God’s people will share from heaven in his rule over the nations as his kingdom is manifested on the earth.
“The new element in the New Testament is not eschatology, but what I call the tension between the decisive ‘already fulfilled’ and the ‘not yet completed,’ between present and future. The whole theology of the New Testament, including Jesus’ preaching, is qualified by this tension.” (Oscar Cullmann, quoted by Nally, see below). See also the chart that illustrates this tension.
This chart comes from a SlideShare® website.
A WWII Analogy helps us understand
D-Day is past; V-Day is in the future. Meanwhile, we who follow Christ live “between the times.” We know that Christ is Victor and Deliverer now, but we also know that there is more to come. This fits in with the definition of “eschatology” and a proper understanding of “the last days.” The biblical notion of eschatology embraces both an “inaugurated” emphasis (we are already in the Kingdom and enjoy blessings as disciples of Jesus) and a “future” accent (we await future events like the final coming, the resurrection, the Final Judgment, the new heaven and new earth, and so forth). (see Nally below).
27 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.
In the phrase He will rule them “rule” is poimaino — “to shepherd.” This is a quotation from Psalm 2. God will fulfill it where Christ’s kingdom is manifested on this earth.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
The morning star refers to Numbers 24:17 where Christ is called the star out of Jacob.
(Link to verse)
29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
For verse 29, see the post on the Ephesian letter earlier.
We move into Chapter 3 next time.
Mounce, R. H. (1979). The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament series). Grand Repids, MI: Eerdmans.
Nally, J. R. (2019). “The Already and the Not Yet,” III Millennium website. Accessed February 3, 2019 from http://reformedanswers.org/answer.asp/file/43089
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