Revelation chp 3 vs 18 to 29 - The 7 churches of Revelation - Thyatira - The Tragedy of the Altar - JS Gillespie - 20102021

To the church of Thyatira Christ is presented as the "Son of God" (v18). This is the only time He is so presented to any of the 7 churches! Surely such a title goes without saying? Surely the Lord Jesus does not need to introduce Himself to His own church as the "Son of God"? Perhaps here at Thyatira He does? 

The uniqueness of who Jesus is has been eclipsed by affections for other things! 

Historically this church would relate to that period of time between: 

606 AD -  Bonificae assumes the role of universal Bishop of the church up until 

1517 AD - the beginning of the protestant reformation with Luther and his 95 Theses nailed to the church door at Wittenberg.

That is interesting because within this time period lies the development of: 

  • Roman Catholicism 
  • Eastern orthodoxy 
  • Russian orthodoxy 
  • Coptic orthodoxy 
  • Ukrainine orthodoxy 
  • Greek orthodoxy 

Systems of Christianised religion with a lot in common: 

Veneration of 'saints' 
Adoration of relics 
Representations of the image of Christ / God 
Position given to the virgin 
An altar adopted from paganism - often given pride of place in their buildings - ought really to have a sign on it: 'out of order since AD34' 

A very 'crowded' system in which Christ could well be seen as part of something bigger, one of many?? 

In case you think that is a very uncharitable assessment of these systems allow me to remind you of how even the best of men, momentarily lost sight of the uniqueness of Jesus on the Mount of transfiguration; 'let us make 3 tabernacles, one for thee, one for Moses and one for Elijah,' as here the voice from heaven had to declare; 'this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased' 

In a Roman Catholic Church in the centre of Gdansk there is one of the old Roman Catholic churches in the city, built by the Carmelite monks, nominally Christian. There displayed in that place is their shield, a coat of arms, their insignia; a shield with 3 stars: 

  1. a star for Elijah 
  2. a star for Elisha 
  3. a star for the virgin Mary 

Anyone missing?? 

  • This is my body 
  • This my Bride 
  • This is my Building 

The 2 missing features from Revelation chapter 1 are seen here: 

To Pergamos - the Lord presents Himself as the one who has the sharp 2 edged sword - speaking of His discernment but to the church at Thyatira; the Lord presents Himself with:

  1. eyes like a flame of fire - speaking of His perception 
  2. Feet like fine brass - speaking of His judgment 

Here at Thyatira it is perhaps not so much a case of lack of discernment as being quite aware: 

  • of their compromise? 
  • of the error 
  • of the sin 

and yet still deliberately pursuing it, as if God will turn a blind eye? 

The case of Jezebel seems to be a case in point: she was responsible for the murder of priests and of Naboth. 
Both Jezebel and the compromising believers at Thyatira knew their sin and thought they would get away with it! Here it is the perception and the judgment of Christ which is presented. There is no evading His judgment nor His discernment. 

 v20 - "to teach and to seduce my servants" 

2 separate condemnations perhaps here? 

  1. A woman out with her God given sphere - teaching in the church; a significant error. Consider 1 Timothy chapter 2 and 1 Corinthians chapter 14:34 
  2. The seduction as a consequence - error. 

v21 - God does judge sin at times by abandoning men to their own error and sin 

cf. Romans chapter 1: 

  • Idolatry 
  • Heathenism 
  • Atheism 
  • Homosexuality 

Often sin in the life of the believer is 'believing sin'! That is sin from the perspective of grace! Sin with a smattering of Theology. We can be deceived into believing that the grace and goodness of God will not abandon us to the consequences of our sin! I would liken it to that spirit of youthfulness that considers itself: 

  • Invincible 
  • Indestructible 
  • Blaze 

Believing itself beyond vulnerability, taking risks, living dangerously. But with a 'faith' that nothing can harm us surely? Wearing faith as an amulet that protects us from the consequences of our own folly is a deeper folly still! 

v23 - It is often the case that the consequences of the sin and failing of one generation can ultimately reach their fulfilment in the next generation! 

Let us be wary of the: 

  • busy 
  • popular 
  • appealing 
  • easy 

Christianity - especially with what it spawns 

"with death" 

"death" as a definite entity rather than the passive absence of life 


If you are happy with the prophetic aspect of the 7 churches then you will note an intriguing division of the 7 churches. 

When you arrive at the 4th to the 7th churches a phrase begins to appear that does not appear in the first 3: 

2:25 "till I come" 

3:3 "I will come on thee" 

3:10 "I will keep thee from this hour" 

3:10 "behold I come quickly" 

3:20 "behold I stand at the door and knock" 

The last 4 continue until the end! 

"Rule them with a rod of iron" - the moral consistency of life necessary for it to be extended into ministry! 

"I will give Him the morning star" - the neglected Son of God - gifted to them that are Holy.

From a bible teaching series on the 7 churches of Revelation 

Yours by Grace in Christ

Dr J Stewart Gillespie