The fourth church in this study is the Church of Thyatira – the corrupt church.
The Church of Thyatira seems to be a church that’s fairly well doing even to Jesus. He regards them in such a way that although they may seem as “the last” they will actually be “the first”, “I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first” (Revelation 2:19). This is mirrored in Matthew 20:1-16 in the parable in which a house owner hires laborers to work in his vineyard but pays the first and last workers the same wage, although the first worked hard in the sun. They felt that they were more deserving of a greater reward than the last but the house owner didn’t see it that way. This can be said of Jesus as well. Although the Church of Thyatira is well doing, Jesus still finds fault with them. This being they “sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols” (Revelation 2:20). Just by reading this, I can see that the Church of Thyatira and the Church of Pergamos has the same issue, being that there are those among them that are involved with worshiping idols, eating things sacrificed to idols, and committing fornication while the larger body of the church either isn’t aware or looks the other way. The word that sticks out to me the most in verse 20 is “sufferest”. This is what made me believe that the larger body of the church is just putting up with what’s going on. I double checked my guess by looking at the Greek for the word used – “eaō” – which means “to allow or permit”, “to allow one to do as he wishes”. To gain a deeper meaning of who Jezebel is that Jesus is referencing, let’s take a look at the quick summary below:
Jezebel: Jezebel was Queen as well as the wife of Ahab, king of Israel. She was wicked and killed many of God’s prophets and served the God Baal and at one point had Baal’s prophets come to her (1 Kings 16:31, 18:13, 19). She also caused Ahab as well as Israel to sin, “But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up” (1 Kings 21:25).
Although by this point in time, Jezebel has been dead for hundreds of years, Jesus references her actions and wickedness as a whole and assigns it to the character of those who are following in her footsteps. Jesus follows this by laying out what the punishments will be for those who follow in Jezebel’s footsteps, “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds” (Revelation 2:22). However, for the remainder of the church, Jesus reassures them that they won’t suffer those things and simply need to hold fast to what they already believe in (Revelation 2:24-25).
The reward for overcoming is interesting and references something else in Revelation 12, “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star” (Revelation 2:26-28). Although Revelation 12 is a study for a different time, the first 6 verses talk about the “great wonder in heaven”; a woman who gives birth to a child. This child’s description here mirrors that of the reward received in Revelation 2:24-25, “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne” (Revelation 12:5). Due to this, I believe one of the characters in this “great wonder” can be identified as the church who has overcome in Christ.