Sun, Feb 13, 2000

The Corrupt Church: Revelation 2:18-29

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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Some years ago, musicians noted that errand boys in a certain part of London all whistled out of tune as they went about their work. It was talked about and someone suggested that it was because the bells of Westminster were slightly out of tune. Something had gone wrong with the chimes and they were discordant. The boys did not know there was anything wrong with the peals, and quite unconsciously they had copied their pitch. So we tend to copy the people with whom we associate; we borrow thoughts from the books we read and the programs to where we listen, almost without knowing it. God has given us His Word which is the absolute pitch of life and living. If we learn to sing by it, we shall easily detect the false in all of the music of the world.

- Donald Grey Barnhouse

As we study the letter that Jesus wrote to the church in Thyatira, that is the thought, the corrupt church. A corruption that had infected the people by a woman named Jezebel, and the leadership of this church. And now the tune they are whistling Jesus hates because it goes against all He stands for. So lets read through the longest letter that Jesus wrote to these churches in the Roman province of Asia, beginning in Revelation chapter 2, starting in verse 18. (Read Revelation 2:18-29).

Again, as with the previous letters we have looked at, we are going to be looking at 7 key principles or elements that are found in this letter. We will look at the DESTINATION of this letter, the TITLE or DESCRIPTION OF JESUS, the COMMENDATION, the REBUKE, the EXHORTATION, the WARNING, and finally the PROMISE that Jesus gives to this church. And so, with that in mind, lets look a little closer at the verses we have already read this morning and see what the Lord has for us.



The DESTINATION of this letter is Thyatira. This church was located some 45 miles southeast of Pergamos, and was situated in a long valley. Because of that they were not able to protect themselves from an invading army. Their only hope was to hold off the enemy long enough until the army from Pergamos could come to their defense.

And maybe it wasn’t too strong or powerful, but it had a strong commercial center with many trade guilds. These trade guilds were like unions of today with one big exception. Each one of these trade guilds had associated with them a specific god to worship. Thus, their meetings would include a time of feast and festivals. They would eat meat sacrificed to these gods and many times the worship of these gods would include sexual activity.

Thus, you can see the difficulty for a Christian to try and practice his trade in this city. If they worshiped these gods then their relationship with the Lord would be compromised. If they refused to worship these gods, they would lose their jobs. This was one of the problems the believers were up against in Thyatira.

Some of the industries that were located in this city were "wool-workers, linen-workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leather-workers, tanners, potters, baking, slave-dealers, and bronze-smiths." They also sold a very expensive purple dye and if you remember in the book of Acts, Lydia was a seller of this dye and her home was Thyatira. It is possible, after she got saved, she helped the church get started in Thyatira.

Now, prophetically speaking, we have seen that the Ephesian church represented the apostolic church or the first century church that left their first love. This church continued on till around 100 AD. Next was the letter to the church in Smyrna which represented the persecuted church from around 100 AD to 312 AD. Next was the letter to the church at Pergamos which represents the compromising church. It is a period of time when Constantine tried to unite the church to the world, a mixed marriage, which started the church on a dark path. This went on from around 312 AD to around 590 AD. We now come to the church of Thyatira or the corrupt church that lasted almost 1,000 years. This period was known as the dark ages from around 590 AD to 1517, when on October 31, Martin Luther posted on the church door in Wittenberg his 95 theses and we see the beginning of the reformation movement, which we will deal with next week.

Historically speaking., the church of Thyatira did exist, and the city is still in existence today, and it is called Akhisar in the territory of Anatolian Turkey.

Now the DESCRIPTION OF JESUS that is taken from Revelation chapter 1, is that Jesus calls Himself the "Son of God." The interesting thing we see here is that in chapter 1 of Revelation Jesus calls Himself the "Son of man." Why the departure? One reason may be related to the principle deity of that city, Apollo, who was the sun-god and worshiped under the surname, Tyrimnas. Thus, Jesus is establishing His deity, His sovereignty, His authority as the S-O-N of God as opposed to the S-U-N god. You see, the title "Son of man" speaks of His humility, His compassion, His tender-heartedness towards the church. But here He is coming as the Son of God in judgment against this church.

And thus, His eyes like a flame, which speak of Jesus coming as the one who is examining the ways of this church. His feet like fine brass, which again speaks of judgment. You see, in the Old Testament you will find the metal brass used every place where sin is dealt with through sacrifice. It is the metal of judgment!

As Jesus looks at the church of Thyatira, He does so as one who judges sin for He see’s all and He will surely and swiftly pursue all evil and tread it down as the righteous judge! The name, "Thyatira," means "continual sacrifice." Thus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, the one who was the perfect sacrifice, will judge this church that seems to feel that God’s work on the cross of Calvary was not complete, that there is a further work that needs to be done on our part! Which, of course is untrue, Christ has completed the work!


For those that were saved in this corrupt church, the Lord has the followingCOMMENDATION for them. The work they were doing was done out of the proper motivation - LOVE! They ministered to those in need. They were able to endure and press on during heavy pressure. They were able to touch many lives in the work they did and to their credit, they did not rest upon their past accomplishments, but pushed on, doing more and more work. Now as great as this was, the church as a whole had a big problem, as we are going to see.


These are the things that God opposes in this church, and we are going to see the severity of this, as Jesus REBUKES this church for their practices. It seems that within this church their was a prophetess who was symbolically called Jezebel. It is hard for me to believe that any parent would call their daughter Jezebel when it stood for wickedness, immorality, idolatry. The name "Jezebel" means "chaste" but she was far from that as she was committing spiritual fornication and causing others to follow her ways.

In the Old Testament, from which this name gets its negative idea from, Jezebel was the Sidonian wife of Ahab. And if you remember, Ahab was the king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and He was wicked, he introduced Baal worship to the people of his kingdom. And his wife, Jezebel was no better. You might call them the DEMONIC DUO of the Old Testament. She killed the prophets of God and was caring for the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah. She was an evil influence upon her husband and the nation.

Now what was the sin that this second Jezebel introduced into the church? Spiritual fornication and immorality, just as king Ahab’s wife introduced into the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The sin of this woman was leading the church into sin and saying this is of the Lord. The sin of the people was listening to her! And that is the rebuke to this church, the tolerating of this sin, immorality and idolatry. As Hosea 5:4 says "They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the LORD."You can’t be the bride of Christ and have an affair with the world!

During this period of time in church history, the Bible itself was banned from the common people, taken out of their hands and left for the so-called spiritual leaders. The church was being led by so-called prophets who put their stamp of approval on all kinds of abominations and false doctrines, moving away from the truths of God’s Word! And for those who stood against these abominations, groups like the Huguenots and Waldensians, crying out to return to the simple faith of God’s Word, were being butchered. Thus, the dark ages is a correct picture of this period of time!


Here is the EXHORTATION for this church - REPENT! God in His grace and mercy gave them time to repent of these abominations, from this spiritual fornication and immorality, and yet they refused. They had grown accustomed to these practices and refused to change. Tragically, many today do the same thing. You show them the truths of God from the Word of God and they tell you "Forget it! This is the way I have done it all my life. This is the way my father did it, and his father, and I am not going to change!"

The problem is, if you are wrong, you need to change or you will die in your sins! Paul said in I Corinthians 10:12, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." If your feet are not planted upon the Rock, Jesus Christ, you will fall! You need to humble yourself and come before Him, repent of your sins and He will forgive you of all your sins.

And please understand this. God is not interested in what church you belong to. It doesn’t matter if you are a card carrying member of Calvary Chapel or some other church. And we don’t have cards, if you come to this church, you are a member. The thing that God wants to know is "Who is Jesus to you?" Is He your Lord and Savior? If not, you need to ask Him to be. To forgive you of your sins, and like I said, He will! But unless you repent and come out of all these horrible abominations, you are in trouble, as we are going to see.

VERSES 22-23

Here is the WARNING. God is the one who searches our hearts, He knows what is in our mind, and if you continue down this path, you will die in your sins. Notice that the Lord is going to kill "her children," those who have accepted these things into their life. And Jesus makes a distinction between "her children" and His children! Paul, in Romans 2, beginning in verse 1, said, "Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who ‘will render to each one according to his deeds’: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness--indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God." Romans 2:1-11.

As I have said, "Jezebel" means "chaste" as in a virgin. But that was the farthest thing from her lifestyle. She not only was involved in spiritual adultery, but she got others to follow her down that path. Her name said one thing but her lifestyle said quite another!

One more point before we move on. This is the first time we see this, and now it will continue on through the other churches, all the way through to the church of Laodicea. The Lord tells those in this church that if they don’t repent they will enter into the Great Tribulation. That means the practices of this church, this church system, is in existence today and it will continue on through the tribulation period. That doesn’t mean people within this church can’t get saved, they can. But as a institution, their practices are engraved within them and they refuse to change.

VERSES 24-29

We saw what happens to her children, and now Jesus is going to speak of what is going to happen to His children, those who have repented and come to Him. These are the ones that have not let these false doctrines, they have not let the deep things of Satan affect their lives, but the deep things of God, the truths of God fill their hearts an lives.

And do you see how evil those that followed after this Jezebel are. Instead of searching out the things of God, they were searching out and experiencing the deep things of Satan. How devastating false doctrine can be in the church and yet God has His faithful remnant within that who will overcome these things and they will be rewarded for their faithfulness.

For those that are His, the faithful, here is the PROMISE that Jesus gives to them. Jesus tells them to "hold fast" or "take a firm grip on" the things of God. If we do, Jesus said He will allow us to rule the nations in the kingdom age. Now don’t get power crazy here. That word "rule" is POIMAINO and it speaks of shepherding the nations in the kingdom age as Jesus Christ rules and reigns on this earth. In fact, "It implies the whole office of the shepherd, guiding, guarding, folding of the flock as well as leading it to nourishment." It will be a beautiful relationship in the kingdom age.

Not only will we rule and reign with our Lord, but He will give to us the morning star. Now the morning star was seen in its brightest appearance just before the dawn. And what an encouragement for these people living in the dark ages and for us. Things are not going to continue like this, Jesus Christ, the light of the world, the morning star, is coming back and He will pierce this darkness. You see, we will not go through the tribulation period as her children, Jezebel’s will. We are His, and as Paul says in I Thessalonians 5:9, "For God did not appointus to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ." And in Ephesians 5:6-14 Paul said, "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things thewrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers withthem. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children oflight (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." Great comfort, great hope and the reality of a deliverance coming before the wrath of God is poured out! And we will see this even more when we get to the letter that Jesus writes to the church of Philadelphia in a few weeks.

And so, do not let the Jezebel’s of this world cause you to corrupt your walk. And the reality is, corruption comes in our lives when we first compromise our walk with God. This allows us to justify all kinds of wicked schemes and perverted ideas. And this progression is clearly seen as you move from the church of Pergamos, the compromising church, to the church of Thyatira, the corrupt church, as you look at church history.

Also, don’t add to the finished work of Christ. Don’t add ceremonies, masses, other works or rituals because they do nothing towards your salvation. Jesus is warning us to "hold fast" and not to dwell on the things of Satan. To take a firm grip on the things we already know, the truths of God, that are found in the Word of God. If you do you will not go through the Great Tribulation, you will not die in your sins, but you will shepherd over the nations with Christ as He sets up His kingdom to rule with a rod of iron.

In closing, I want to share with you a few words from A. W. Tozer. I pray that this study is a wake-up call for the church of Jesus Christ and for us individually. And I believe that is the point that A. W. Tozer is making, to awaken us up out of our spiritual sleep. He said:

"Our fathers believed in sin and the devil and hell...[and in] God and righteousness and heaven...Humans, our fathers held, had to chose sides - they could not be neutral. For them it must be life or death, heaven or hell, and if they chose to come out on God’s side, they could expect open war with God’s enemies. The fight would be real and deadly and would last as long as life continued here below...How different today...People think of the world not as a battle ground, but as a playground. We are not here to fight; we are here to frolic. We are not in a foreign land; we are at home...[this idea] has now been accepted in practice by the vast majority of fundamentalist Christians. They might hedge around the question...but their conduct gives them away."

Understand this, there has always been a vast difference between light and darkness as we look at the world, but now the church seems to be allowing the darkness to come right in. Stand firm and don’t fall into spiritual fornication or idolatry and immorality. Enter into the kingdom age with our morning star, Jesus Christ. As Peter said in I Peter chapter 1 beginning in verse 18,"knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because ‘All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, But the wordof the Lord endures forever.’ Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached toyou." I Peter 1:18-25. Remember what Jesus said, "He who has an ear, let him hear what theSpirit says to the churches." I pray that you are listening!

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