The fourth letter in Revelation 2-3 was written to the church in Thyatira:
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 as your works deserve. 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.’ (Revelation 2:18-29 ESV)
This is another interesting letter. It is very long, and it addresses two different groups within the church in Thyatira.
What does Jesus say about the church in Thyatira? 1) He knows their works, love, faith, service, and patient endurance. 2) He knows that their latest works exceed their first works.
This seems to be a reference back to the church in Ephesus. Not only does Jesus mention works and love together, along with faith, service, and endurance, he also compares their latest works with their earlier works. When addressing the church in Ephesus, Jesus found their later works lacking. But, for the church in Thyatira, he finds their later works to surpass their first works. Again, this indicates that Jesus was talking about love in relation to works when addressing the church in Ephesus; he was not talking about loving Jesus per se.
What does Jesus have against the church in Thyatira? 1) They tolerate the teaching of “Jezebel”.
Again, we are not told the identity of “Jezebel”, but we are told the results of this teaching: sexual immorality and idolatry. As with the church in Pergamum, false teaching is that teaching which leads people toward unrighteousness instead of toward righteousness and maturity in Christ. Apparently it is too late for “Jezebel” or those who teach in this manner in Thyatira.
What is Jesus’ remedy? 1) For those who are following this false teaching: Repent. 2) For those who do not follow this teaching: hold fast.
Again, this is similar to previous letters. Those who are following teachings that lead to unrighteousness should repent, turning back toward righteousness found in Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, those who are not following false teachings are encouraged to hold fast, trusting in Jesus to take care of them and the false teachers. Interestingly, they are not told to fight against the false teachers. Apparently, by standing fast in their faith and living in works, love, faith, service, and endurance, they are demonstrating the truth of their teaching. When their lives are compared with the idolatry and immorality of those who follow “Jezebel”, they also demonstrate the lack of truth in the false teaching.
Perhaps this can help us learn how to respond to false teaching. Of course, it also shows how important living a life of righteousness in this regard. If we live in a manner that demonstrates the righteousness of Jesus Christ, we are proclaiming the truth of our message far louder than any words could proclaim it.