The Message to Thyatira: The Compromising or Permissive Church

The Message to Thyatira: The Compromising or Permissive Church

Revelation 2:18-29 (ESV) ~ “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze. “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 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, 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. 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. Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 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. And I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’



          Compromise will destroy a church. We live in a world of compromise where people seek their own interests at any cost. People sell their souls for the possessions, power, and pleasures of this world. People young and old alike will compromise and go along; they will do almost anything…

  • to get attention
  • to be popular and acceptable
  • to secure their jobs
  • to get promotions
  • to get good grades
  • to get more money
  • to get bigger houses
  • to live in a better neighborhood
  • to get more power


On and on the list could go, but the point is clearly seen. People compromise what they know is right in order to get what they want. This was what the members of the church at Thyatira were doing. The church at Thyatira is a picture of the compromising church, a church full of believers who were compromising with the world in order to fulfill their personal desires.


The Recipients:

  • The minister is responsible for the church; therefore, the Lord addresses this letter to him. The minister is to proclaim the truth to the church that is compromising with the world. If some of the members have begun to compromise with the world, it is the minister’s duty to declare the Word of Christ to them, to proclaim exactly what Christ says in this message. And note how serious the problem of compromise is to Christ. Thyatira was the smallest of the seven churches, but this message is longer than any of the others. Christ has more to say to a compromising church than to any other.


The Speaker – Jesus:

  • Note how Christ describes Himself to the compromising church.
    • Christ declares that He is the Son of God. He is the One to whom a person owes his life. A person is not to give his life over to the world nor to anyone else. He is to give his life to the Son of God, to Jesus Christ Himself. A person is…
      • to believe Christ
      • to follow Christ
      • to obey Christ
      • to become attached to Christ
      • to love Christ
    • No person, especially a believer, is to compromise with the world. There is to be no attachment and no love for the world. A person owes his life, all he is and has, to the Son of God.
  • Christ declares that His eyes are like a flame of fire. Christ sees all. He sees when a person is compromising, compromising in the dark, behind closed doors, in parked cars, in the offices and houses of the world. He sees all compromise that lies, steals, cheats, commits immorality, becomes intoxicated, takes drugs. He sees all seductive teaching and misleading of people within the church. He sees and hears and rewards all according to their works (Revelation 2:23). And note: He also sees and aids the faithful to stand fast when they are tempted (Revelation 2:25).
  • Christ declares that His feet are like brass. Christ is able to step down hard upon all seductive teaching and compromise. He rules and He judges. His feet shall crush all those who compromise with the world. In addition, His feet shall crush all false teachers of compromise. The reason is clear: He is the only true spokesman and messenger of God. All others are false. Therefore, they must be judged and cursed. Note that Jezebel was claiming to be a prophetess, a spokesman, a messenger of God.
  • Preacher’s Outline and Sermon Bible – Commentary – Revelation.


The Commendation:

  • Thyatira was a very active church, involved in all kinds of works for the Lord. And note: Christ says that He knows all about their works for Him:
    • There were works of love and service. These would include ministries that especially showed love. That is, ministries that concentrated upon showing care and interest, concern and provision. Such ministries would include…
      • evangelism: reaching out to the lost
      • the youth: growing and developing them
      • the adults
      • the senior adults
      • the college students
      • the needy
      • the orphans
      • the hungry
      • the homeless
      • the shut-ins
      • the foreigners
      • the prisoners
      • the poor
      • the single parent and child


  • There were works of faith and patient endurance. These would include ministries that demanded strong faith and endurance in order to carry them out. It would include…
    • lacking the money or personnel or space or some other resource, but believing God and sticking to it until the ministry was operating.
    • facing opposition, but believing God and going ahead and persevering in the ministry.
    • facing a difficult ministry such as visiting unbelievers or prisoners or derelicts or whatever, but trusting God and going ahead anyway.
    • being required to sacrifice time or money or possessions, but doing it because one believes God.
    • being tired and weary and not wanting to participate in a particular ministry, but trusting God and going ahead and persevering in it.
    • feeling inadequate and incapable, but accepting the challenge, believing God, and enduring in the ministry.
  • There was even a significant growth in the ministries of the church. The church grew and expanded. It reached out more and more. It was apparently as active as it could be, ministering to the community in every way that a church should, and it continued to grow.


  • Think of the kind of church being described: dynamic, vibrant, alive—meeting all the social needs of the community—having all the ministries that ranged all the way from a clothes and food closet over to reaching out to the lost in a regular visitation program. The church was full of activity and energy and crowded with people. Yet, the church was a far cry from what it should have been. It was a compromising and corrupted church.
  • It was allowing a teacher to teach who compromised with the world, and it was allowing the worldly to be baptized and accepted into the church without repenting and separating from the pleasures, possessions, and immoralities of the world. The church appeared to be the most alive and dynamic church in the area, but it was not—not to the Lord. To the Lord the church was corrupt because of its compromise with the world. This is the discussion of the next note.


The Complaint: False Doctrine and Worldliness

  • The complaint immediately arouses our interest, for the name Jezebel is used. The church is charged with allowing a Jezebel to teach in the church. This means two things.
    • The church was tolerating a false prophetess to teach within the church. Note that she called herself a prophetess. She claimed that God had called and gifted her to teach and proclaim the truth. Therefore, the church appointed her as a teacher and gave her the right to teach within the church.
    • The church was tolerating false teaching, seduction, fornication, and idolatry. This is exactly what is said in the verse.
      • First, Jezebel, the false teacher, was actually teaching in the church. Contrary to Christ and the Word of God, the church was allowing her to spread her false teaching.
      • Second, Jezebel, the false teacher, was being allowed to seduce the Lord’s servants. She was arguing, presenting reasonable arguments, deceiving, misleading, and beguiling the servants and followers of the Lord. And the church was allowing it.
      • Third, Jezebel, the false teacher, was seducing the believers to commit fornication, that is, all manner of immoral acts. How could such teaching be allowed within the church? By a very insidious teaching, and note: the teaching has continued on down through the centuries, so much so that it now infiltrates many churches. She was teaching…
        • that believers could not separate themselves from the world, not entirely, not without becoming exclusive and snobbish.
        • that believers needed to be sensible in dealing with the world and its functions: they needed to be participating in some of the world’s functions in order to be friendly, keep their jobs, secure promotions, help their businesses, keep from being considered fanatical, and win the lost.
        • that believers could reach the world more easily by associating and fellowshipping with the world.
        • that if a person really worshipped God, he would be acceptable to God even if he did not know about Jesus Christ; that Jesus Christ is not the only way to God; that He is not the only Savior.
        • that believers should attend the social functions of neighbors and fellow workers and not be exclusive and separatists.
      • Fourth, Jezebel, the false teacher, was seducing believers to commit idolatry. Some of the functions of the trade guilds and unions were usually held in the temple precincts of false gods. Sometimes the socials involved a simple thank-offering to the god, much like our offering of thanks at meals. The very first piece of meat was laid upon the altar to the god. Then the rest of the meat was served to the guests. Some of the believers were participating in these functions, actually participating in the functions that gave thanks to false gods.


The Warning

  • There is the warning to those who compromise and are corrupted. Note five significant points.
    • There is a warning to Jezebel. She is to be cast upon a bed of sickness. This probably means some venereal disease or some disease such as cirrosis of the liver due to excess drinking. Her judgment was to match her sin, to be a direct result of her sin. She was to reap what she sowed.
    • There is the warning to those who gave in to her seduction and life-style, to those who refused to turn to Christ and to separate themselves from the world. They were to suffer great tribulation. The idea is some severe affliction, deep suffering, pressing distress.
    • There is the warning to the children of Jezebel. Who are they? Real children or those who swallowed her false teaching and worldly life-style? In either case, they were to be killed. What does this mean?
      • It could mean the chastising hand of God such as fell upon some of the Corinthian believers
      • It could mean the second death, the judgment of eternal death when we stand face to face with Christ in the final judgment day.
    • There was still time for all of these to repent (Revelation 2:22). Imagine! Christ still loved and reached out to Jezebel, this false teacher, and her followers, despite all the corruption they had caused in this great church. Christ still gave them a chance to repent. Christ said that the judgment woud only happen if they failed to repent of their deeds.
    • Note why Christ is going to judge those who compromise with the world and corrupt the church.
      • Christ is going to judge those who compromise so that all the churches may know and acknowledge that He is the Christ, the Sovereign head of the universe. He is the One who searches the minds, thoughts, and hearts of people.
      • Christ is going to judge those who compromise so that every person will be treated fairly and justly; so that justice will be executed within the church and the world—perfectly executed.


The Counsel: Hold Fast

  • Note the reference to the “depths of Satan.” Compromise with the world—refusing to separate from the world and to live a pure and holy life—is living in the depths of sin. It is being planted and imbedded, immersed and enmeshed in the depths of Satan, in the very depth of Satan’s life-style.
  • But note the glorious promise to the faithful believer who has separated himself from the world and its pleasures and possessions: Christ will put no other burden upon him. What does this mean? It means two things.
    • No other burden can refer to the prohibition laid upon the Gentile Christians by the Jerusalem Council. They were forbidden to eat meat offered to idols (Revelation 2:20; Acts 15:19-29; Acts 15:20, 28-29).
    • No other burden can mean that Christ does not expect the believer to completely separate himself from the world, not in the sense that he has to live as a hermit. We are to live in the world but not of it. There are obvious pleasures and sins of the world and of the flesh that we must not touch. But there is much upon earth that we are to use and enjoy as we walk from day to day. Christ does not put the burden of extreme restrictions upon us; He only demands that we separate and have nothing to do with things that harm and destroy our bodies, minds, and souls.
  • Now, note the counsel: we are to hold fast until Christ comes. We are to hold fast…
    • to the commitment that we have already made to Christ.
    • to the spiritual growth that we have already achieved.
    • to the ministries that we have already launched.
  • We are not to give in to the seductions of the world no matter how appealing and attractive.


The Promise: to the overcomers:

  • Two wonderful promises are made to the believer who overcomes and does not compromise with the world—who overcomes the seduction, fornication, immorality, drunken and loose parties, idolatry, and false teaching of the world—who keeps on living and working for Christ.
    • The overcomer is given power over the nations (Psalm 2:8-9). This is clearly the promise of ruling and reigning with Christ throughout eternity. The day is coming when Jesus Christ will return to earth and conquer all the forces of evil. Every knee shall bow and confess that He is the Lord God of the universe. The overcomers shall participate in that day, the glorious day of redemption with Jesus Christ. They shall be given positions of rule and service throughout the universe. They shall serve the Lord Jesus Christ in the new heavens and earth.
    • The overcomer is given the morning star. This is Jesus Christ Himself. Revelation 22:16 calls Jesus, “the bright and morning star.” The hearer and overcomer is to receive Jesus Himself forever and ever, never to be away from Him again.


Note: the person who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to this church. Let him separate from the world. Let him never compromise and become corrupted with the sins of the world. Let him never allow a Jezebel—a compromising or corrupt person—to teach in the church.
Pastor Andy Lambert

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