The letters to the seven churches, 2:1-3:22

iv] Thyatira


In the letter to the church at Thyaitira, Jesus announces that he is well aware of the growth in their faith and love. Yet, the Lord notes that like the believers in Pergamum, the church is somewhat syncretic, allowing themselves to be infected by pagan idolatry and immorality. There have been opportunities for the church to repent, but it has failed to do so, and therefore tribulation must ensue. None-the-less, those who have remained faithful will not be unduly burdened. Those who endure to the end will receive divine "authority" and get to see "the morning star."


i] Context: See 2:1-7.


ii] Background: See 1:1-8. Thyatira was an unimportant trading center with little recorded history and few archaeological remains. It lay on the overland route between Pergamum and Sardis on the south bank of the Lycus river. As a trading center is would have had numerous craft guilds. One of the trades was the dying and manufacture of woolen goods, cf., Act.16:14. Being a trading and manufacturing town, and not a center of Roman administration, life was lived at a pragmatic level. At this time, the guilds tended to include a pagan god in their craft and this was celebrated at communal meetings, often with associated debauchery. The temple to the pagan sun-god Apollo, well known at the time, was likely a cultural focus in Thyatira. Again, this type of environment was very compromising for believers, given that attendance was be expected. To this end Jezebel, like Baalam and the Nicolaitans, provided the answer, join in with the "sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols."


iii] Structure: The letter to the church in Thyaitira:


to whom, v18a;

"to the angel of the church in Thyatira."

from whom, v18b:

"He who is the Son of God."

Analysis of the church:

strengths, v19;

weaknesses, v20-24.


"hold on to what you have until I come", v25;


the one who endures is blessed, v26-29.


iv] Interpretation:

In the seven letters to the churches, 2:1-3:2, John reveals the not yet reality of the kingdom of God, a kingdom inaugurated, yet to be realized. He lets us see the Christian fellowship warts and all. As it was for the church in the first century, so it is for us. We stand at the crossroads of history, of God's now / not yet reign, compromised in the face of a hostile environment. We have survived to this moment in time between the cross and Christ's return, and if we are to share in God's promised reward we must repent, we must turn around to Christ and renew our faith in him, and then we must press forward in faith, we must endure, persevere, conquer.


John outlines in some detail the weaknesses of the church at Thyaitira. It is a church compromised by sexual immorality and pagan idol-worship. This is a church which is allowing itself to be sucked into the secularism of the age, adjusting its beliefs and practices in line with the surrounding pagan culture. This problem has developed, not by pressure from without, but by pressure from within. Heretical teachers or teachings, a Jezebel revealing "Satan's so-called deep secrets", is promoting a compromise with pagan shibboleths. So, the problem John identifies is syncretism. John's description of the problem is probably literal. Church members have adjusted their lifestyle to that of their neighbors, becoming involved in pagan public life, an involvement which has inevitably led them into a participation in the pagan cult. This behavior may stem from the best of intentions, of building bridges to the pagan community for gospel opportunities. John's / Jesus' reference to the "sexual immorality" and "adultery" of some members in the church may also be literal, but it may also just be metaphorical. The church at Thyaitira is like Israel, an unfaithful bride of Christ who chases after foreign gods / another husband, cf., Hosea. Like Israel, the church is unfaithful to God, flirting with other belief systems, and so will have to face the judgment of the one "who searches mind and heart", cf., 2 Kings 9:22.

Thankfully, it is not all bad news. Those who hold firm to their faith, those who are "victorious", will receive divine authority over the nations, v26. John is adapting Psalm 2:8-9, and is probably referring to the authority possessed by believers to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth. Those who are faithful to this end will get to see "the morning star", "the assurance of the coming dawn, when lamplight will be swallowed up in the light of eternal day", Wilcock.

Text - 2:18

Thyatira - a compromising church, v18-29: i] Introduction: The Lord, the one with piercing eyes and trampling feet, the judge over heaven and earth, instructs John to write to the believers in Thyaitira.

tw/ aggelw/ thV en ... ekklhsiaV grafon. Tade legei "to the angel of the church in [Thyaitira] write: These are the words ..." See 2:1.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[the Son] of God" - The genitive is adjectival, relational.

oJ ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "whose" - the one having. The participle serves as a substantive.

wJV "like [blazing fire]" - as [a flame of fire] - Comparative.

puroV (r roV) gen. "fire" - of fire. The NIV treats the genitive as adjectival attributed, but possibly idiomatic / material, "a flame consisting of fire." Apollo, the pagan sun-god, is no match for the brilliance of the Lord.

oJmoioi adj. "[feet] like" - [and the feet of him] similar to. Predicate adjective.

calkolibanw/ (on) dat. "burnished bronze" - bronze. Dative complement of oJmoioi, "similar to."


ii] Analysis of the church, v19-24: a) Strengths, v19. This is a church of good works, of love and faith / faithfulness, of service and perseverance, a church of growth and vigor, unlike the first three church which were on a slide in the face of tribulation. The strong praise for this church is but a prelude to what follows, so Swete.

sou gen. pro. "[I know] your [deeds]" - [i know the works] of you. The genitive is adjectival, possessive, or verbal, subjective. Obviously extending to love, faith, service and patient endurance; "I know your love, and your faith ....."

thn pistin (iV ewV) "faith" - [i know your works and the love and] the faith. Accusative direct object of the verb "to know." "Faith" in God is the likely sense, rather than "faithfulness". "I know how you have fulfilled your Christian duty", which duty is then detailed in two pairs, "love and faith", and "service and endurance."

twn prwtwn adj. "[more than] you did at first" - [and the service and the endurance of you, the last more] of the first. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being ablative, of comparison; "more now than you did at first", TEV.


b) Weaknesses, v20-24. "Tolerance for the heretic", Osborne, is their main weakness. The church has given "Jezebel" her head, allowing her to lead them astray into syncretism; they are compromised, adjusting their life to the values of the pagan / secular society, "the whore of Babylon". Involvement in pagan worship by some members, probably by nominal association, is condemned. John's pointed criticism of their sexual immorality may indicate lax sexual morals, but may also be metaphorical, referring to the tendency of some members to chase after other gods, to play the harlot with other belief systems.

alla .... kata ... oJti "Nevertheless, [I have this] against [you]" - See 2:4.

thn gunaika Iezabel "that woman Jezebel" - [you permit] the woman jezebel. The accusative "Jezebel" stands in apposition to "the woman." John again draws on OT imagery to describe the problem facing the believers in Thyaitira. "That woman", or if the variant sou is read, "your woman", Jezabel, the idolatrous queen of Israel, the wife of Ahab, is used to illustrate a pervasive evil influence infecting the church and leading members into fornication and idolatry. Jezabel may represent an individual, a teacher in the church (she "calls herself a prophet"), the wife of the leader, or party, even theological movement (so Alford). John's prophetic imagery, as usual, does not specify the actual evil.

hJ legousa (legw) pres. part. "who calls [herself a prophet]" - the one calling [herself a prophetess]. The participle serves as a substantive.

kai ... kai "[by her teaching she misleads]" - and [she teaches] and [deceives my servants]. The syntax from this point is "problematic", Aune. The act of "teaching and seducing" is somewhat awkward together such that the NIV, TEV, etc., rework the clause "she lures my servants by teaching", Cassirer. Although rare, kai can take a consecutive sense and it is possible that the second one here does just that; "and she instructs the church and as a result she beguiles / lures my servant to practice sexual immorality ........"

emouV adj. "my [servants]" - The use of the adjective rather than the personal pronoun mou is possibly emphatic.

porneusai (porneuw) aor. inf. "sexual immorality" - to fornicate [and to eat sacrificed food / meat]. As with fagein, "to eat", the infinitive probably introduces an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of the seducing; "beguiling / luring my servants to practice sexual immorality .......". Mathewson suggests it is adverbial, consecutive, expressing the result of the teaching and seducing / luring.


auth/ dat. pro. "[I have given] her" - [and I gave time] to her. Dative of indirect object.

iJna + subj. "to [repent]" - that [she might repent]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that she might repent."

ek + gen. "of" - [and she does not wish to repent] from [the fornication of her]. Expressing separation, "away from"; "she does not care to turn her mind from unchastity", Berkeley.

authV gen. pro. "her [immorality]" - The genitive is usually taken as verbal, subjective, drawing out the action of the verbal noun, "engagement in illicit sex, act of fornication, prostitution, sexual immorality" which she does, but adjectival, possessive, is also an acceptable classification where the emphases falls on her character, the sexual corruption which she possesses.

kai "but" - and. Usually taken as an adversative here, so Aune, ....

metanohsai (metanoew) aor. inf. "-" - [she is not willing] to repent. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the negated verb "to will, want, wish." "I gave her time to repent, but she refused to repent of her sexual immorality", ESV.


idou "so" - behold. Emphatic injunction; imp. of eidon, now an idiomatic "take note / pay attention."

klinhn (h) "a bed of suffering" - [i am throwing her into] a bed of ????. The bed is undefined so we end up with numerous guesses, eg., "sickbed", ESV, "bed of pain", REB. The imagery is possibly of a prostitutes infected bed, a bed infected with venereal diseases, "a bed of infection for her and her lovers, infected with a disease which, unless they repent, will eat away at them." As noted above, a metaphorical sense for the immorality of the church is possible, and the language of this verse certainly supports this view. "Jezabel's accommodation of Greco-Roman religious practice is compared to immorality and adultery", Koester, in much the same way as Israel's flirtation with pagan god's is described as adulterous by Israel's prophets, particularly Hosea.

touV moiceuontaV (moiceuw) pres. part. "those who commit adultery" - [and] I am throwing the ones committing adultery [with her into great affliction]. The participle serves as a substantive, object of an assumed "I am throwing."

met (meta) + gen. "with" - with [her]. Expressing association.

eiV + acc. "-" - into [great affliction]. Spacial, metaphorical. Those who commit adultery with the harlot Jezebel, find themselves in the same infected bed, and so suffer accordingly.

ean mh + subj. "unless [they repent]" - Best classified as introducing a exceptive clause expressing a contrast by designating an exception. Jezebel's lovers face the same end as Jezebel, unless they repent.

ek + gen. "of [her works]" - from [the works of her]. Expressing separation.

authV gen. pro. "her" - of her. As in v21.


en + dat. "-" - [and i will kill the children of her] with [death]. The preposition if probably adverbial here, modal, expressing the manner of the killing, "and her children I will kill with pestilence", REB, but possibly instrumental, expressing the means of the killing, "by pestilence." Judgment is certainly not metaphorical ("I will exterminate", Moffatt - a touch of Dr. Who!!!), but obviously "her children" are, in that they represent the followers of Jezebel, just as Jezebel, the evil wife of Ahab, herself is metaphorical in that she represents the evil influence that is leading the church astray.

oJti "[will know] that" - [and all the churches will know] that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what the churches will know.

oJ eraunwn (eraunaw) pres. part. "I am he who searches" - [i am] the one searching [the kidneys = minds and hearts]. The participle serves as a substantive, predicate nominative of the verb to-be. Note the presence of the personal pronoun egw, "I", emphatic by position and use. Our God is the one who knows our innermost secrets, cf., Jer.17:10.

ekastw/ dat. adj. "[I will repay] each" - [i will give to you], each. The adjective probably serves as a substantive standing in apposition to "you", "I will give to you, each one of you"; "Each person's conduct will decide what reward or punishment I will assign to them", cf., Barclay. Barclay generously includes "reward", but probably punishment is what is in mind; "I will requite every one of you according to what your deeds have deserved", Cassirer, cf., Jer.17:10.

uJmin dat. pro. "of you" - [i will give] to you, [each]. Dative of indirect object.

kata + acc. "according to" - according to [the works of you]. Expressing a standard, "in accordance with, in conformity with, ...."


de "now" - but/and. Transitional, indicating contrasting step; "but to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching", ESV.

toiV loipoiV adj. "to the rest" - [i say to you], to the ones remaining, [to the ones in thyatira]. The adjective serves as a substantive standing in apposition to the dative of indirect object ,"you."

uJmin dat. pro. "of you" - [i say] to you. Dative of indirect object.

toiV dat. art. "-" - the ones. The article serves as an adjectivizer turning the prepositional phrase "in Thyatira" into an attributive adjective limiting "the ones remaining", "who are in Thyatira", ie., those not following Jezebel.

en + dat. "in" - in [thyatira]. Local, expressing space.

o{soi pro. "to you who [do not hold to her teaching]" - as many as = those who [do not have = hold to this teaching]. Serving as the nominative subject of the verb "to have / hold"; "those who have not followed this evil teaching", TEV. The teaching of Jezebel, not her method of teaching, but the content of her teaching. Is the teaching of Jezebel the same, or different to, the Nicolaitans, or even the teachings of Balaam?

oi{tineV pro. "-" - those who [do not know]. The pronoun serves as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to know." As David's Gk. notes, "the entire clause stands in apposition to the o{soi clause." So, the teachings of Jezebel are the "deep things of Satan."

tou satana (aV a) gen. "Satan's [so-called deep secrets]" - [the deep things] of Satan. The genitive is adjectival, idiomatic / source, "from Satan; "the deep things / the mysteries which Satan reveals." TH has this as verbal, subjective, "truths / secrets Satan reveals", but unlikely to be objective, "secrets about Satan." "Deep" in the sense of mysterious, but possibly "weighty, important", TH. Koester suggest two possible approaches to "the deep things of Satan":

First, the phrase is a parody on the "deep things of God", 1Cor.2:10. The deep things of God, revealed by the Spirit, stands against those who thought that their spiritual wisdom allowed them to eat meat offered to idols without compromising their faith and this because they know that there is only one God and that participation in pagan celebrations is nothing more than a sham. Yet, as Paul points out, not only does such behavior potentially lead a believer of weak faith astray, it ignores the Satanic reality intwined in pagan idolatry, so Osborne, Smalley.

Second, leaning toward the view that Jezebel represents a heretical teacher, rather than a theological perspective, some commentators (cf., Mounce) argue that Jezebel instructs believers on the secret knowledge of Satan's involvement in the world such that members of the church are able to participate in pagan celebrations without being affected by them, ie., they are taught to understand the demonic dimension of idolatry and are prepared to resist it. Koester thinks this second option is unlikely.

wJV "-" - as [they say]. Here this comparative particle with legousin, "they say", produces a Semitic idiomatic saying, something like "as X have / has said." The plural "they" indicates a vague subject, following "Semitic idiom", David's Gk. So lit., the clause runs as follows: "but I say to you, to the ones remaining, the ones in Thyatira - as many as ........ those who .......... - as I have just said = I say to you, I am not putting on you another burden"; "I say I will not burden you with anything else", Koester.

ef (epi) + acc. "on [you]" - [i am not putting] on [you another burden]. Spacial, "upon, on." "I will lay no further burden upon you, except that you hold on to what you have until I come!", Phillips. Some commentators (eg., Beale) suggest that the "burden" is the requirement on Gentiles for table fellowship with Jesus, Acts 15:24. John seems more concerned by an association with pagan cultic life and the Satanic influences that ensue.


iii] Instruction, v25. Christ lays no other burden on his church other than to hold fast to the faith, to hold fast to the apostolic gospel.

plhn "except" - Here as an adversative / contrastive conjunction, "I do not lay on you any other burden, but that / except that"; "however, in any case", BDF #449. Possibly pared with v24b, ou ... allo, "no other .........." plhn, "than ......"; "I lay upon you no other burden but to hold fast what you have until I come", TNT.

o} pro. "what [you have]" - [hold fast to] what [you have]. Taking the pointing as read, the pronoun introduces a relative clause serving as the object of the verb "to hold fast." Presumably "what you have" is the Christian faith = "you must continue to believe strongly in me", TH. The heretics hold firm to the teachings of Balaam and the Nicolaitans, John's readers are to hold fast to "the body of accepted Christian doctrine ", Osborne. Koester suggests that the call "to hold fast" serves to define the "what" in terms of brotherly love and a resistance to idolatry, but this is somewhat of a stretch.

acriV ou| a]n + subj. "until [I come]" - An indefinite temporal construction, normally acri, "until", with ou|, pro., and possibly with an indefinate a]n + subj., giving the sense "up to the time when"; "[be faithful] to the end when [I return]."


iv] Promise, v26-28. For those who endure, those who hold firmly to the apostolic gospel, Christ promises the blessing of eternal life. As for the present, the church is given the responsibility of making known the gospel, a divine message which no dark powers can emasculate. To make the point, John quotes Psalm 2:8-9. This Psalm was taken to apply to the messiah, but here it is applied to the Christian church, the body of Christ. It is an amazing thought, but believers are given the privilege of sharing messianic rule with Christ. Although not stated, this rule, in the here-and-now, is usually understood in the terms of gospel communication, the power of which breaks the bonds of pagan myths, setting the seeker free.

oJ nikwn (nikaw) pres. part. "to the one who is victorious" - the one conquering [and the one keeping]. As with oJ thrwn, "the one enduring / keeping", the participle serves as a substantive. The durative present tense is probably driven by the intended aspect of "keeping". Given that the conquest of the powers of darkness is complete in Christ, a believer need only face the death-rattles of darkness with perseverance / endurance / fortitude. Note the slight change in wording from the promise in the previous letters to the churches; "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give ......" John picks up on this phrase in v28. The "one enduring / keeping" simply reinforces the "hold fast what you have until I come", v25.

kai "and" - Possibly epexegetic here; "to the one who conquers, that is, the one who does my will to the end."

oJthrwn (threw) pres. part. "does" - the one keeping. The participle as above; the present tense is imperfective / durative, ie., he keeps on keeping on. It is likely that "keeping" parallels "holds fast to", v25, just as "my works" parallels o}, "what". So the sense is "the one who conquers and perseveres with my works."

mou gen. pro. "my [will]" - [the works] of me. The genitive is usually treated as verbal, subjective, but adjectival, possessive, or better, idiomatic short-talk, is possible, "the one who ..... perseveres unto the end with the works which I have instructed my followers to do, I will give him ....."; "to him who perseveres in doing my will to the end", REB = "keeps my words", Aune. Of course, it is certainly possible that a subjective / possessive sense is intended such that the "works / deeds" are actually Jesus' deeds. Osborne takes this line arguing that Christ's deeds "are the basis for Christian victory. The evil deeds of Jezebel (2:22) or the incomplete deeds of the individual Christian (2:23) are insufficient." With this approach "keeps" = "believes".

autw/ dat. pro. "-" - [i will give authority over the nations] to him. Dative of indirect object. Quote: Psalm 2:8-9.

epi + gen. "over [the nations]" - Here expressing subordination, as NIV, an uncommon use of the preposition. The Psalm has "I will give you the Gentiles", which John takes to mean the right to exercise "authority over" the Gentiles. This authority is usually understood to mean the right to proclaim the gospel of God's grace to the Gentiles / nations, but v27 may be indicating something more.


en + dat. "with [an iron scepter]" - [and he will shepherd them] with [a rod made of iron]. The preposition here is adverbial, modal, expressing manner, but possibly instrumental, expressing means. The imagery of shepherding / ruling / governing with an iron rod illustrates a complete controlling rule.

wJV "like [pottery]" - as [the vessels made of clay is broken]. Comparative; "smashing them to pieces like earthenware", REB - as earthenware pottery is easily smashed. Since the victory of the cross and the defeat of Satan and his minions, Christ exercises complete authority over the nations / Gentiles. Secular authority may seem all powerful, but it is nothing more than a sham, the death-rattles of a wild beast. Note the typical use of a singular verb with a plural neuter subject, "the vessels ... is broken."

wJV "just as" - as [i also have received authority from the father of me]. Comparative; "like I received it from my Father" = "in line with / in accord with the authority that was bestowed upon me by my Father." The object of eilhfa, "I have received", is assume to be exousia, "authority", given that for Jesus to give the church authority over the nations he must have received authority from the Father.


autw/ dat. pro. "I will give] that one" - [and i will give the morning star] to him. Dative of indirect object. The singular "him" refers to "the one who is victorious", v26, this one is those believers who persevere in the faith, so "I will reward them with the morning star." For dwsw, "I shall give", "I shall bestow the morning star", Cassirer, is probably short-talk for "I will grant him (them) to see the morning star", Moffatt. The morning star / day star refers to Venus, a planet, although the ancients didn't know the difference. For them it was the largest star and served to herald the coming day by appearing just before dawn. So, as Moffatt has it, the promise is that those who demonstrate fortitude, who persevere, will see the morning star and the coming dawn of the new age, the day of glory.


oJ ecwn (ecw) pres. part. "whoever has [ears]" - the one having [ears let him hear what the spirit says to the churches]. See 2:7.


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