“THE THINGS WHICH ARE . . . .” -  THE  PEOPLE OF CHRIST - Revelation 2-3

 THE PERVERTED CHURCH AT THYATIRA - Revelation 2:18-29

We are in the second section of the Book of Revelation, The Things Which Are, which is a consideration of the Church Age. This section contains seven letters of Jesus to local churches of the first century. But these letters are not only relevant to the people in the churches of the first century. These letters have personal relevance to every individual Christian as well as to the church throughout history. These letters also have a prophetic application to epochs in Church history. The church in Ephesus was seen as the miss-placed passion church where there was a lot of passion in ministry but that passion became miss-placed because it led to leaving one’s first love passion of Jesus. Smyrna was the church that was persecuted and this church showed us how Jesus encourages those who are persecuted for their faith. Then there was polluted church of Pergamos where we saw a church who had entered into an objectionable marriage with the world. Now we turn to the church in Thyatira, a church that became perverted doctrinally.

Revelation 2:18a -  “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,” 

Thyatira is located about 40 miles southeast of Pergamos. It was a city founded by Alexander the Great as a Macedonian colony after his defeat of the Persian empire. It was later named Thyatira by the Roman Seleucus Nacator. Thyatira was located in a rich agricultural area. The city was known for it’s dye industry.  Lydia, who was converted under Paul’s ministry here was referred to as, “a seller of purple.” (Acts 16:14). [1]

This lady by the name of  Lydia who was converted by the Lord, instantly sought to minister to those around her -

  • Acts 16:11-15 - “Therefore, sailing from Troas, we ran a straight course to Samothrace, and the next day came to Neapolis,12 and from there to Philippi, which is the foremost city of that part of Macedonia, a colony. And we were staying in that city for some days.13 And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there.14 Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshipped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul.15 And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” So she persuaded us.”

It’s very possible that this zealous convert was instrumental in the planting of the church at Thyatira.

The main pagan god of this city was Apollo the sun-god. Apollo was worshipped by the people here under the Macedonian name of Tyrimnas.[2] Outside of the city there was a temple dedicated to “Sambatha.” Sambatha was a prophetess who was associated with being Jewish and by some Chaldean and others Persian. In the center of the temple was “The Chaldean’s Court.” 

Thyatira was also known for having a diversity of races amongst it’s populace. Today the city is named Ak-Hassar, (lit. “white castle”). It has a population of 15 - 20,000 and is known for it’s manufacturing of scarlet cloth. There are approximately nine mosques in this city. [3]

“Thyatira” means continual sacrifice. The importance of this designation will be elaborated on further in this chapter. But Thyatira was the least important of the seven churches politically, however the letter to Thyatira is the longest of those written to the seven churches in this section of Revelation.[4] Therefore, it is likely that the message to Thyatira is significant beyond this local church.

The message of Jesus to the Thyatiren church applies to all churches as well as to each of us individually. Historically this church addresses the church during the period of 590 to 1517 AD. The message of Jesus to the next four churches address church conditions in epochs of history leading up to and including the present day church. It is in His letters to these last four churches that Jesus begins to address His return as well as the Tribulation period. What Jesus says to these last four churches is important because these last four churches characterize what churches will be like historically and in particular leading up to His return and the last days.

Revelation 2:18b - ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:” 

This is the only place in the Book of Revelation where Jesus identifies Himself as “Son of God.” It’s important to distinguish that here Jesus does not identify Himself as the “Son of Man,” or “Son of Mary,” but as “the Son of God.”

“Son of God” occurs 47 times in the New King James Version of the Bible: once in the Old Testament (Daniel 3:25) and 46 times in the New Testament: 7 times in Matthew (4:3,6; 8:29; 14:33; 26:63; 27:40,43,54); 3 times in Mark (1:1; 3:11; 15:39); 6 times in Luke (1:35; 3:38; 4:3,9,41; 22:70); 10 times in John (1:34,49; 3:18; 5:25; 9:35; 10:36; 11:4,27; 19:7; 20:31); 2 times in Acts (8:37; 9:20); 1 time in Romans (1:4); 1 time in 2 Corinthians (1:19); 1time in Galatians (2:20); 1 time in Ephesians (4:13); 5 times in Hebrews (4:13, 14; 6:6; 7:3; 10:29); 6 times in 1 John (3:8; 4:15; 5:5,10,12,13,20); and 1 time in Revelation (2:18).  

“Son of God” is used to express the deity of Jesus. Accepting Jesus as “Son of God” is critical to our relationship with God. We see this in the apostle John’s first epistle. A summary of incidents where John connects knowing Jesus as the “Son of God” is valuable to emphasize the critical importance of knowing Jesus as the “Son of God.”

First, an abiding relationship with God centers on the confession that Jesus is the “Son of God.” In 1 John it states:

  • 1 John 4:15 - “ Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

Our intimacy with God comes from understanding the nature of God by looking at Jesus. God abides in the person who confesses Jesus as Son of God.  And the person who confesses Jesus as Son of God is “in” or in a relationship with God. Therefore, knowing Jesus as Son of God is essential to our relationship with God.

Second, power to be an overcomer in this world comes from knowing Jesus as “Son of God.” John is inspired to write:

  • 1 John 5:5 - “Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 

When we see the deity of Jesus we see that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

Third, the assurance or inner witness of the Holy Spirit that we are children of God comes from knowing Jesus as “Son of God.” John continues:

  • 1 John 5:9-13 - “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son.10 He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son.11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

The word of the Spirit to those who believe is that Jesus is God. That Jesus is God is the essence of Spirit given truth. Eternal life is in Jesus. Spiritual life is contingent on knowing that Jesus is God. It’s not enough to think Jesus is an angel (like Jehovah’s Witnesses) or even a divine being a little above the angels but less than God Himself. Jesus is God in the flesh who has come down to us in the incarnation to redeem us by His grace. And when we receive Jesus, the Son of God, as Savior by faith, He gives us eternal life.

Fourth, we know Jesus is God by His designation “Son of God.” John continues:

  • 1 John 5:20 - “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”
  • 1 John 5:20 - “And we know that Christ, God’s Son, has come to help us understand and find the true God. And now we are in God because we are in Jesus Christ his Son, who is the only true God; and he is eternal Life.”  (Living Bible)
  • 1 John 5:20 - “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” ( New American Standard Version)

Jesus came to reveal who God is to us. God Himself, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, came to reveal the character and nature of God to humanity. Jesus came to proclaim the good news of salvation that we can be reconciled to Him. By referring to Jesus as “Son of God” we learn of His deity and the nature of God, i.e. how much He loves us.

Fifth, if Jesus is the “Son of God” then we see the height of God’s work to reconcile the world. The Apostle Paul was inspired to declare the incredible truth:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:19 - “that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” - What a wonderful salvation God Himself has provided for us. He initiates it and works it out, we need only accept or receive it by faith:

  • John 1:12 - “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:”
  • John 3:16-19 - “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.19 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Do you know Jesus as “Son of God”? Have you experienced His eternal life? Have you been born again? Have you received Jesus? Are you a child of God?

“Eyes life a flame of fire”

The gaze of Jesus cuts through any smoke screen or facade put up to hide something from Him. His stare cuts through the darkness. All our works will be tried as by “fire” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).  The church at Pergamos had entered into an objectionable marriage with the world. Now in Thyatira the church was degenerating into perversions. The culprit behind such corruption is of course Satan. The devil is the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Lies, rationalizations and deceit accompany perversity. The truth-gaze of Jesus exposes such deception.

“His feet like fine brass”

Brass is a metal that typifies judgment. Brass is produced with heat. The serpent of brass lifted up on a pole by Moses in Numbers 21 typifies the judgment of Satan on the cross (compare Number 21:4-9; John 16:8-11; Colossians 2:14-15).

Of this portion of Scripture John F. Walvoord states,

“Their diversion from the true worship of Jesus Christ the Son of God was so serious that it called for a reiteration of His deity. The description of His eyes as a flame of fire speaks of burning indignation and purifying judgment. In a similar way His feet are declared to be  like fine brass (Gk. CHALKOLIBANO). This word, found only here in the Bible, has puzzled scholars.  It seems to represent an alloy of precious metal such as gold, silver, brass, or copper. . . ‘a mixed metal of great brilliance.’ The point in mentioning it here is in reference not to it’s quality as metal, but to its brilliant appearance enhancing the revelation of Christ as a glorious judge.”[5]

Revelation 2:19 - ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.” 

There are commendable things in this church. Jesus does not just bypass the good to focus on the bad. Jesus recognizes the good but does not overlook the bad. Jesus is a Just Judge.

Jesus expresses His awareness and intimate knowledge of those at Thyatira. The Thyatirans were commended for  their good works of love, faith, service and perseverance. Jesus said that they were a growing church and their works were increasing.

Jesus says, “that your deeds of late are greater than at first.” This is important because it tells us increase does not necessarily indicate spiritual health. A church can be doing more (like in Ephesus) or even growing in numbers, but can still have problems like we see further in this letter of Jesus. The true indicator for spiritual health is adherence to God’s word. If a church compromises God’s truth to grow larger, it is off course and needs to be corrected.

Revelation 2:20-21 - “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.21 “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.” 

After His commendation of the church in Thyatira Jesus moves on to correct them. What does Jesus have against the Thyatiren church?

You allow” (Greek eao) means to allow, permit, leave one alone, let be. In classical literature the meaning of this word is giving up as in conceding an argument. This word appears thirteen times in the New Testament. In Acts 27:40 it is translate as “cutting loose the anchors, they left them (eao) in the sea (NIV).”[6] Therefore, the first problem for this church was that it’s people didn’t care enough to resist false teaching. Their lack of care led to their being seduced by false teaching. They weren’t maintaining Biblical truth. The Bible wasn’t a priority for them. This is always at the root of a church and individual Christians being perverted.

This church was commendable for it’s “works, love, service, faith, . . .  patience; . . . your works, the last are more than the first.” The problem with the church in Thyatira was that they were too permissive or tolerant of false teaching and therefore were seduced and drawn into sexual immorality.  Perhaps they might say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter if you’re homosexual, you’re so loving an individual (or couple), God will understand, don’t worry, join us.”  Or perhaps, “So what if we can’t support these traditions with Scriptures, the priest says they’re true, so they must be.”

A healthy church cares about and contends for God’s Biblical truth:

  • Jude 3 -  “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
  • Galatians 1:6-10 - “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”
  • Galatians 2:11-16 - “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?15 “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,16 “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”  (Emphasis added.)
  • 2 Timothy 2:15 - “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

“Jezebel” was allowed to function in the church at Thyatira. Who was Jezebel? The name “Jezebel” means without, uninhabited, without a husband, chaste. Our initial impression may be to link being chaste with being a virgin. But in the case of this Jezebel, she is without a husband and that husband is God!

John F. Walvoord states, “. . . , it is possible that there was actually a woman leader in the church at Thyatira and that her dominant position may have been derived from the fact that Lydia, another woman, had brought them the message in the first place.” [7]

Jezebel is an infamous figure in the Bible. What does the Bible tell us about this woman? There are ten aspects of Jezebel. Let’s look at the Biblical references.  

First, Jezebel was a self- proclaimed prophetess. Jesus said, “Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, . . .” This is evidence that we’re talking about someone who is proud and opinionated. She “calals herself” a prophetess. In other words she took this title to herself rather than having received it from the Lord or through church authority. The implication is that God didn’t call her to be a prophetess, she called herself.

A “prophet” or minister of God is not self-appointed but called and anointed by God. This is what the Bible clearly teaches. John the Baptist “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” (John 3:27). The Apostle Paul was inspired to write:  

  • Galatians 1:11-12 - “But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Jezebel, much like Satan, was a usurper and self-proclaimed to her position.

Second, Jezebel’s teaching contradicted God’s word. Jesus continues of Jezebel that she was guilty, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.”  Just like Balaam, Jezebel used sexuality and lust to lure God’s people away from the One True God.

Sexual immorality and eating food offered to idols was strictly prohibited in the Bible (e.g. Acts 15:22-29; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21). A sign of a false prophet is whether or not their words line up with God’s word. Those God calls always abide by His word; they do not contradict it.

In our day there is a great push to legitimize same sex marriage and Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transexual and really any gender whim a person might have. Our world is so confused and deceived that they are literally proclaiming that a person’s physical sexual organ does not determine gender but what a person feels does. This trendy mindset is being pushed on the church. And unfortunately, portions of the church are legitimizing such debauchery by ordaining homosexual and lesbian priests and pastors and stating “love” between two people trumps the truth statements of God’s Holy Word.

In light of what Jesus says about Jezebel and how God’s people allow her to “teach” (Greek didasko- to teach, learn instruct through discourse) and “seduce” (Greek planao lure from safety, lead astray, deceive, cause to err, seduce, cause to wander, lead out of the way) them to “commit sexual immorality” (Greek porneuo to act like a harlot, indulge in unlawful lust, practice idolatry or spiritual adultery, commit fornication or sex outside of marriage) it isn’t much of a stretch to see how today the church is being taught and seduced to accept, adopt and even encourage and legitimize LGBT lifestyles. The world is adding licentiousness to their lustful ways be legislating immorality. But the church is too often an unholy partner in such sin. In this sense we see the church of Thyatira in our day.

When God through Moses was preparing Israel to enter the Promised Land, there was a warning against false prophets which stated the following:

  • Deuteronomy 13:1-5 - “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder,2 “and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’3 “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.4 “You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice, and you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.5 “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.”

We need to scrutinize all things through the lens of scripture and test all things holding to what is good according to God’s word and discarding the rest (1 Thessalonians 5:21). The Bible mention this in the example of the Bereans, Thessalonains and the recipients of John’s first epistle:

  • Acts 17:10-11 - “Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:21 - “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” 
  • 1 John 4:1 - “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

Third, Jezebel was unrepentant. Jesus continues, “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.”  Jesus gave this “Jezebel” “time to repent” but she would not repent. “Repent” (Greek metanoeo) means to think differently, to reconsider, to have a change of heart and mind that leads to a change in life action. It means to see your sin as God does and to leave such sin behind and torn to or return to God. Jesus’ mercy is extended even to Jezebels. But if that Jezebel refuses to repent, they cannot be helped, they cannot be redeemed.

What we see of Jezebel’s life type in Scripture is the result of an unrepentant heart, a hard heart.

  • Jeremiah 7:9-15 - 9 “Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know,10 “and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’?11 “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says the Lord. 12 “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel.13 “And now, because you have done all these works,” says the Lord, “and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer,14 “therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.15 “And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren—the whole posterity of Ephraim.”
  • Matthew 11:20-24 - “Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent:21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.22 “But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.23 “And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.24 “But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.”

Repentance is essential to reconciliation with God. It is called for by God and it is offered by His grace. Those who teach a Gospel or reconciliation without repentance are not true to God’s word. Repentance is offered and required in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. We can teach nothing less.

Fourth, Jezebel represented an unholy alliance. In the Old Testament it states of Jezebel:

  • 1 Kings 16:31 - “And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him.”

Jezebel represented an unholy alliance because she was the unbelieving wife of King Ahab of Israel. Ahab’s marrying of Jezebel marked a further decline of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and served as an act of open disdain and rebellion against the Lord.

God had previously warned in His word against kings intermarrying with unbelieving spouses:

  • Deuteronomy 7:1-6 - “When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess, and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Canaanites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than you,2 “and when the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them.3 “Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son.4 “For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly.5 “But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire. 6 “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”

Ethbaal, father of Jezebel, was high priest of Ashtoroth. Ashtoroth is another name for Simeramus, the Babylonian religious deity of sensuality and fertility. Worship of  Ashtoroth took place  in “groves.” In these groves worship of Ashtoroth took on a sexually immoral flavor via ritual harlotry and worship through prostitution. 

Ashtoroth in the Bible is referred to as “The Queen of Heaven.” Solomon was seduced by this god (1 Kings 11: 5 and 33). Jeremiah was inspired by God to speak out against this false worship. God’s people were attributing their blessings to the “Queen of Heaven” rather than to God:

  • Jeremiah 44:17-25 -  “But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, were well-off, and saw no trouble.18 “But since we stopped burning incense to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.”19 The women also said, “And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven and poured out drink offerings to her, did we make cakes for her, to worship her, and pour out drink offerings to her without our husbands’ permission?” 20 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the people—the men, the women, and all the people who had given him that answer—saying:21 “The incense that you burned in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem, you and your fathers, your kings and your princes, and the people of the land, did not the Lord remember them, and did it not come into His mind?22 “So the Lord could no longer bear it, because of the evil of your doings and because of the abominations which you committed. Therefore your land is a desolation, an astonishment, a curse, and without an inhabitant, as it is this day.23 “Because you have burned incense and because you have sinned against the Lord, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord or walked in His law, in His statutes or in His testimonies, therefore this calamity has happened to you, as at this day.” 24 Moreover Jeremiah said to all the people and to all the women, “Hear the word of the Lord, all Judah who are in the land of Egypt!25 “Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: ‘You and your wives have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled with your hands, saying, “We will surely keep our vows that we have made, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.” You will surely keep your vows and perform your vows!’

There is indeed a consequence to worshipping gods other than the One True God. For Israel the consequence was being removed from the Promised Land into Babylonian captivity. There is always loss when we worship anything or anyone other than the One True God.

Fifth, Jezebel led her husband away from the LORD. It states of King Ahab:   

  • 1 Kings 16:32-33 - “Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.33 And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.”

Jezebel influenced her husband to turn away from the One True God to pagan gods and idols. Unholy alliances always lead a believer away from the LORD. For example, when a believer is considering marrying an unbeliever with the notion that they will “save” them, they are setting themselves up for a great deal of conflict, grief, and disappointment. A believer should not even consider marrying a person unless that person is also a solid believer and grounded in their faith.

Sixth, Jezebel sought to destroy God’s prophets. It states:  

  • 1 Kings 18:3-4 - “And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the Lord greatly.4 For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the Lord, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.)”

The ultimate aim of Jezebel was to destroy God’s ministers. Jezebel resorted to bloodthirstiness to get her will accomplished.

Seventh, Jezebel sought to destroy Elijah. It states:   

  • 1 Kings 19:1-2 - “And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword.2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.”

Elijah was one of the greatest prophets of the Bible. He defeated the prophets of Baal and instituted a great revival back to God for God’s people (cf. 1 Kings 18). But Jezebel sought to persecute anyone who would rise and oppose her. He wrath was especially raised by those who arose against her plans and was successful in their opposition.

Eighth, Jezebel was ruthless. We see this in the account of Naboth’s vineyard. Naboth had some property that King Ahab wanted. Ahab asked Naboth to sell it to him but Naboth didn’t want to relinquish property that had been in his family. This caused Ahab to be depressed like a spoiled child who didn’t get their way. Look how Jezebel handled the situation:   

  • 1 Kings 21:5-16 - “But Jezebel his wife came to him, and said to him, “Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat no food?”6 He said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite, and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money; or else, if it pleases you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’ ”7 Then Jezebel his wife said to him, “You now exercise authority over Israel! Arise, eat food, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”8 And she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, sealed them with his seal, and sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who were dwelling in the city with Naboth.9 She wrote in the letters, saying, Proclaim a fast, and seat Naboth with high honor among the people;10 and seat two men, scoundrels, before him to bear witness against him, saying, “You have blasphemed God and the king.” Then take him out, and stone him, that he may die. 11 So the men of his city, the elders and nobles who were inhabitants of his city, did as Jezebel had sent to them, as it was written in the letters which she had sent to them.12 They proclaimed a fast, and seated Naboth with high honor among the people.13 And two men, scoundrels, came in and sat before him; and the scoundrels witnessed against him, against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth has blasphemed God and the king!” Then they took him outside the city and stoned him with stones, so that he died.14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned and is dead.” 15 And it came to pass, when Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, that Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead.”16 So it was, when Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, that Ahab got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

What we see here is Jezebel sought to seize land by way of inquisition. Jezebel resorted to falsified testimony. Truth was relative and only a means to her end. She wouldn’t let truth get in her way of getting something she wanted. She would cast truth aside if that was what prevented her from getting what she wanted. Jezebel was willing to get ahead by stepping on those who got in her way.

Ninth, Jezebel was a seductress. Eventually people like Jezebel get their comeuppance.   And when Jezebel was cornered and about to get hers, she relied on seduction to try and work her way out of her problem:

  • 2 Kings 9:30 - “Now when Jehu had come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she put paint on her eyes and adorned her head, and looked through a window.”

Jezebel was not above resorting to sexually seductive means to preserve herself and her desires. The above verse shows us that when her executioner came she sought to seduce him. It also indicates that she was self-centered and preoccupied with and dependent upon her outward appearance. Jezebel was old and decrepit. What a sad pitiful image it was to see old Jezebel paint her face and pretty herself up in an attempt to deflect her punishment. No amount of makeup and alluring motions could veil the darkness within this seductress.

Tenth, Jezebel was eaten by dogs and died in disgrace. It says of Jezebel’s death:

  • 1 Kings 21:23 - “And concerning Jezebel the Lord also spoke, saying, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’
  • 2 Kings 9:31-37 - “Then, as Jehu entered at the gate, she said, “Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?”32 And he looked up at the window, and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” So two or three eunuchs looked out at him.33 Then he said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses; and he trampled her underfoot.34 And when he had gone in, he ate and drank. Then he said, “Go now, see to this accursed woman, and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.”35 So they went to bury her, but they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands.36 Therefore they came back and told him. And he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel;37 ‘and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as refuse on the surface of the field, in the plot at Jezreel, so that they shall not say, “Here lies Jezebel.” ’ ”

Jezebel learned that when you live by such sinful seductive ways it’s a dog-eat-dog world. Jezebel’s end is disgrace and being devoured by her own standard of treachery. Such is the inevitable fate of those who follow her ways. That Jezebel’s demise was prophesied by God’s prophet indicates her demise was approved by God. 

It’s interesting to note here the comments of Walter Martin in his classic work The Kingdom of The Cults :

“It is one of the strange historical peculiarities of the saga of cultism that at least six cults were either started by women or were influenced in  a major way by the allegedly weaker sex, (Christian Science - Mary Baker Eddy; Unity - Myrtle Fillmore; Spiritism - the Fox sisters; Jehovah’s Witnesses - Marie Russell; Theosophy - Helena Blavatsky and Annie Besant; The Peace Mission Movement [Father Divine] Sister Pennyt and Faithful Mary [Viola Wilson].” [8]

It should also be noted that “Seventh Day Adventism is a reflection of its prophetess, Ellen G. White.” [9]

The Bible speaks of many godly women used by God, but in Jezebel we see a woman taking power in her own strength, contradicting God and being used as an instrument of evil. Such is a sobering thought for us all.

Jesus goes on to say to the church in Thyatira:

Revelation 2:22 -  “Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.” 

The workbench of the  sexually immoral is a bed. God would reward her sinful behavior with the irony of being cast into a sickbed. Today we see this in the numerous sexually transmitted diseases which continue to spread from one to another who enter into sexually immoral relationships. But there is something of far greater concern than the the proliferation of sexually transmitted diseases.

Will the church go through the Tribulation? Pastor Chuck  Smith comments on this verse -

Is the Church going to go through the Great Tribulation? I must answer, ‘Yes, a part of the Church will be going through the Great Tribulation.’ The part of the Church that does go through is the church of Thyatira, the woman Jezebel who failed to repent of her spiritual adultery and spiritual fornication.”[10]

If those in Thyatira-like churches do not repent of their false teaching and sexual immorality, they will go through the Tribulation. We will see in great detail the wrath of God on the Christ-rejecting world when we study Revelation 6-19. Suffice it to say that the Tribulation is a period in history that you don’t want to be around for.

Revelation 2:23 -  “I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.” 

Jesus is implicating ALL those who are linked to the Thyatira church type in some way. Since those who do not repent will go through the Tribulation and there will be a great deal of death in this period of time, they can expect that their children will die as a consequence of their unrepentant attitudes.

Revelation 2:24 -  “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. 

Clearly Jesus makes a distinction between those who are true to Him and those who are not. Jesus looks past church names to the heart of people and selects those who are true to Him.

 “depths of Satan”

The word “depths” (Greek bathos) means profundity, mystery, deepness, deep things, depth, extreme depth. [11] This is a reference to the esoteric mysteries of the Babylonian false cultic religion. The priests of the Babylonian false religion would say that they alone know the mysteries, the deep things. The high priest in Babylonian religion was an interpreter of bathos or deep things.

When we look at the corresponding historical period of church history, this was a time when the church restricted the availability of God’s word to the people. This was done in part because of the high illiteracy rate of the masses. But we definitely see the church making little to no attempt to educate the laity so they could receive the truth of God’s word for themselves. The church therefore, put themselves into a position of being the interpreter of the deep things of God.

Jesus went to the cross to remove the primary obstacle to a saving relationship with God, sin. The Good News of that message is in God’s word. The purpose of the Church is “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). And God’s word is the prime provision of God for such equipping – “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Jesus exhorted His followers to build their lives on His word (Matthew 7:24-27). The early church was built on God’s word (e.g. Acts 2:42; 6:7; 8:14; 11:1; 12:24; 13:5-7, 44, 46; 17:13; 18:11). And if the churches are to be what God designed the Church to be, they too must be scripture centric and build on God’s word.

Limiting the accessibility of God’s word to people limits their ability to know it. Preventing people from accessing the word of God kept them from the power of God revealed in His word. For instance, look at the inspired words of the writer of Hebrews where it states:

  • Hebrews 4:12-16 - “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. 14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Who wouldn’t want to come boldly before the throne of God’s grace to find grace to hep in times of need? But such blessing was kept from God’s people. That is tragic.

Revelation 2:25 -  “But hold fast what you have till I come.” 

Here we have the first reference to the return of Christ in the letters to the seven churches. This is why it is believed that these last four churches will exist in some way until the return of Jesus.

Revelation 2:26a -  “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end,”

“And he who overcomes”  - We overcome by faith:  

  • 1 John 5:4 - “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.”

“and keeps My works until the end,” – Notice Jesus doesn’t speak of our works by of “My works.” Works belong to Jesus not us! Our focus shouldn’t be on what we have to do to be saved but on what He has already done to provide us with salvation. Salvation is offered to us by God’s grace as a gift of God to be received by faith. Any subsequent works are a show of our appreciation not to earn us salvation.

What are Jesus’ Works?

1.) To do God’s will -

  • John 6:38 - “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”
  • Isaiah 53:10-12 - “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,  And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many,  And made intercession for the transgressors.”
  • Matthew 16:21 - “From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.”
  • Luke 18:31-33 - “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished.32 “For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon.33 “They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

2.) To fulfill the Old testament -

  • Matthew 5:17 -  “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.”

3.) To give life -

  • John 10:10,28 - “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.28 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”

4.) To save sinners -

  • Luke 19:10  “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

5.) To Destroy Satan’ works -

  • Hebrews 2:14 - “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,”
  • 1 John 3:8 - “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”

6.) To complete God’s revelation to man -

  • Hebrews 1:1-4 - “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”

Where do our works fit in ?

1.) Our works or efforts cannot justify us before God -

  • Romans 4:2-8 - “For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”4 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, 1 And whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.”  (See also Ephesians 2:1-9; Titus 3:5)

2.) Our works cannot make us righteous before God -

  • Romans 9:30-33 - “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith;31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone.33 As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

3.) Our works cannot substitute for God’s grace -

  • Romans 11:6 - “And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.”

4.) By saving us, God creates us to do good works which He planned for us beforehand - WORKS FOLLOW SAVING FAITH.

  • Ephesians 2:10 - “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

5.) God will reward us for doing the works He assigns us to do -

  • 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 - “each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”

6.) The Bible is what God uses to equip us to do good works -

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 - “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

What is the “work of God”?

John is inspired to write in his gospel:

John 6:28-29 - “ Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”

Faith in God is the work of God. God creates human beings with the capacity to believe. Since the Fall of humanity we are created with a sinful nature (e.g. Genesis 3ff.; Psalm 51:5). But God’s prevenient grace, or the grace which goes before us, enables us to willfully receive by faith or reject His offer of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross and bodily resurrection. This is the work of God.

Revelation 2:26b-27 - “to him I will give power over the nations— 27 ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron;  They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—  as I also have received from My Father;” 

Here we have reference to the millennial reign of Christ on earth. See Psalm 2:8-9.

Revelation 2:28 -  “and I will give him the morning star.” 

Jesus is the “Morning Star” and therefore He is promising Himself to those who overcome. At the end of the Revelation of Jesus Christ Jesus says:

  • Revelation 22:16 - “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”

The beauty of this statement is amplified by Jesus’ earlier words:

  • Revelation 2:24 - “. . .  I will put on you no other burden.”

Jesus acknowledges that the Thyatirens have been burdened with Jezebel’s teaching. But He will not put a further burden on them. Instead Jesus offers Himself to them; a personal saving eternal relationship with Him, not based on their works, but on the Good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Jesus is not One to put burdens on His sheep. Instead we can hear His words:

  • Matthew 11:28-30 - “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Revelation 2:29 -  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ 

The message of Jesus to the church in Thyatira is one we should all listen to.

According to Revelation 2:24, there are those within the church of Thyatira who have not bought into the false doctrines being taught in the church. Those who have not bought into the false teaching will be given “power over the nations.” (2:26).

Jezebel’s desire in the Old Testament was to rule and control by corrupting people and preventing them from following the One True God. Jezebel wanted people to follow her and her pagan god, not the God of the Bible.  She married Ahab to influence the world for her pagan god. We see her true colors in her dealings with Naboth (1 Kings 21:5-16).

Jesus is saying, if you remain true to Me and My word, you will rule with Me. If you try to rule via the tactics and doctrine of Jezebel, you will not rule with Me but will be cast into the bed of Harlots who will go through the Tribulation.

A Galatian Parallel

There is another New Testament letter written to a group of churches which were situated in Asia Minor (just like the seven churches of Revelation). Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia is of particular importance to our study of the church at Thyatira. The problem being addressed by the apostle Paul in this letter parallels the problem of the church at Thyatira.

Paul stated twice that there were those who sought to “pervert the gospel of Christ” (Galatians 1:7; 5:10). Paul stated that salvation is based on God’s grace; salvation is a gift of God offered in His grace and received by faith. Anything added to this Good News of the Gospel is “a different gospel which is not another” (Galatians 1:6-7). Paul was inspired by God to charge that any addition to this revealed truth and Gospel was unacceptable and anathema or “accursed.”

Here’s a summary of Paul message to the Galatians:  

1.) “a different gospel, which is not another” -

  • Galatians 1:6-9 - “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.”  (Emphasis added.) 

There are two related Greek terms used here to express difference – allos and heteros. Allos speaks of a numerically comparitive difference and refers another of the same sort. Jesus used allos when He spoke of the Holy Spirit saying, “another Helper” or another just like Jesus (cf. John 14:16). Heteros speaks of a   qualitative contrast difference or another of a different sort. This is the term Paul used when he said, “I see another law” contrasting the law of sin and death with the law of the spirit of life in Christ (compare Romans 7:23 “another law” with Romans 8:1-2).

If I come inside from working in the heat and I ask for something to drink I may be given a cold glass of water and one might not be enough so I will ask for a second of the same type by saying, “Please give me another  (allos) glass of water.” But if when I come inside I find that my young grandchild has been experimenting with a new Orange-Catchup-Maple Syrup-Picante Sauce and Vinegar juice drink and this is what I am lovingly offered, I may drink it out of love, but then I quickly ask for “another” drink and say, “Please give me another drink, something different (heteros) to drink!  Oh PLEASE give me something else (heteros) to drink!!!”

Paul used the term heteros when speaking of “another Gospel” which was really not a Gospel or good news at all. Therefore from this verse we get the message that there are those who are teaching a Gospel different from the true Gospel. But there is no other Gospel than the One preached by Paul. There is only one Gospel and this particular Gospel alone saves.

2.) A perverted Gospel cannot be tolerated.

  • Galatians 1:7 - “which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”

Notice that those who Paul referred to as troublemakers (1:7) weren’t preaching an entirely different Gospel. The troublemakers may have preached salvation in Christ. But they added the necessity of works and tradition to the gospel. According to Paul this was to “pervert” the Gospel.

This term “Pervert” is a very strong term. “Pervert” (Greek metastrepho) means,  “to transform into something of an opposite character; turn.”   Examples of the use of this term are “the sun shall be turned into darkness,” (Acts 2:20); “laughter into mourning and joy to heaviness,” (James 4:9).  [12] The idea of this term is changing something into its opposite.

The seriousness of adding to the Gospel could not be clearer. To add to the Gospel  is to change it into soothing that is opposite to what was originally intended.  

3.) The True Gospel is from God not men.

  • Galatians 1:10-14 - “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. 11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.”

Paul gives personal testimony that his gospel is from God not men. When he sought God through religious means based on men’s traditions the result was to persecute the church which God ordained.  When Paul followed after men, he found himself on the wrong side of God. Paul was very zealous for traditions and advanced in his religious pursuits. But he was still unsaved and in need of a Savior.  

4.) The True Gospel is by grace through faith in Christ.

  • Galatians 2:16-21 - “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!18 “For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.19 “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.21 “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” 

Paul states that we cannot make ourselves righteous by keeping the rules of the law in our own strength. The only way to be saved is to by faith identify with the cross work of Christ and accept His work on our behalf. To accept Christ by faith and then try to live a righteous life by way of adhering  again to laws is a sinful way motivated by a sinful mindset. If we think that we can attain righteousness before God by our own efforts, we cast God’s gracious plan aside and for us the death of Christ becomes empty.

5.) Works righteousness is futile

  • Galatians 3:10 - “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.”

A person cannot have it both ways. Either we follow Christ by faith OR by our own efforts try to keep the law. To do the later is futile because it necessarily requires us to keep ALL of the law and no one can do that (Romans 3:23).

6.) The purpose of the Law is to lead us to Christ

  • Galatians 3:24 - “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

The purpose of the law is to lead us to the cross of Christ and deposit us there on our knees looking up at Christ. When we see that it is futile to try to work our way to heaven, that is exactly where we will wind up, at the foot of the cross.

7.) A perverted Gospel cannot save.

  • Galatians 5:1-4 - “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.2 Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Christ will profit you nothing.3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law.4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”
  • Galatians 5:1-4 - “So Christ has made us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get all tied up again in the chains of slavery to Jewish laws and ceremonies. 2 Listen to me, for this is serious: if you are counting on circumcision and keeping the Jewish laws to make you right with God, then Christ cannot save you. 3 I’ll say it again. Anyone trying to find favor with God by being circumcised must always obey every other Jewish law or perish. 4 Christ is useless to you if you are counting on clearing your debt to God by keeping those laws; you are lost from God’s grace.” (Living Bible) 

Notice the following:

1.) JESUS LIBERATES FROM THE BONDAGE OF SELF DEPENDENT WORKS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND KEEPING THE TRADITIONS OF MEN - 5:1

2.) IF YOU TRY TO SUPPLEMENT THE GOSPEL,  JESUS WILL PROFIT YOU NOTHING. IT’S EVERYTHING OR NOTHING!  - 5:2

3.) IF YOU USE THE LAW OF WORKS (TRADITIONS) TO SAVE YOURSELF YOU ARE OBLIGATED TO KEEP ALL OF THE LAW  (AND NO ONE CAN DO THAT) - 5:3; 3:10

4.) THOSE WHO EMPHASIZE WORKS RIGHTEOUSNESS CAN’T RELATE TO JESUS - 5:4

YOU CAN ONLY BE SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST AND ONLY BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST, NOTHING ELSE AND NOTHING ADDED, NO MORE - NO LESS!

8.) Walk in the Spirit and love

Galatians 5:13-26 - “13 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”15 But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! 16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.17 For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” 

Victory in the Christian walk cannot be attained in our own strength, trying to do so results in futile fleshly works. Victory comes by walking in the Spirit and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

9.) We can only rely on Christ and His cross

  • Galatians 6:14 - “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

The only reliable basis for salvation is the cross of Christ, nothing else. Not works or traditions. Only the cross of Jesus Christ.  

10.) Does speaking the truth make us enemies?

  • Galatians 4:16 - “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?”

If people are sincerely interested in truth, they will welcome the message of Paul in this epistle. If a person is sincerely interested in pleasing God, not me, then the message of this epistle will be welcomed and have a liberating effect.

THE POINT OF GALATIANS THAT APPLIES TO THYATIRA AND IT’S TYPE CHURCH  IS THAT THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST ALONE CANNOT BE SUPPLIMENTED IN ANY WAY - TO DO SO RESULTS IN NULLIFYING THE GRACE OF GOD.

Historical Application

John F. Walvoord states the following in regards to applying historically what is stated by Jesus to the church at Thyatira -

“The message to the assembly in Thyatira seems to foreshadow that period of church history known as the Middle Ages preceding the Protestant Reformation. In that period the church became corrupt as it sought to combine Christianity with pagan philosophy and heathen religious rites so that much of the ritual of the church of that period is directly traceable to comparable ceremonies in heathen religion. During this period also there began that exaltation of Mary the mother of our Lord which has tended to exalt her to the plane of a female deity through whom intercession to God should be made, and apart from whose favor there can be no salvation. The prominence of a woman prophetess in the church at Thyatira anticipates the prominence of this unscriptural exaltation of Mary. Along with this, the church experienced spiritual depravity, and idols in the form of religious statues were introduced. Not only gross immorality but spiritual fornication resulted, much as was true in the church of Thyatira. . . . . The participation in idol worship and eating things offered to idols also foreshadows the departure from the scriptural doctrine of the finished sacrifice of Christ. In the Middle Ages the false teaching of the continual sacrifice of Christ was advocated, transforming the observance of the elements of the Lord’s Supper into another sacrifice of Christ. This fundamental error of the church in the Middle Ages has been corrected in modern Protestantism by the recognition of the bread and the cup as symbols, but not the sacrifice itself, which Christ performed once and for all upon the cross of Calvary. In contrast to the false doctrine exalting the Virgin Mary to the role of deity and co-redeemer, Christ introduces Himself in this message to the church of Thyatira as the Son of God, the One to whom alone we owe our redemption and in whose hands alone our final judgment rests.” [13]

There are many traditions that have been adopted by the Roman Catholic church which find their roots in the Babylonian cult. But more importantly, these traditions find no scriptural support and indeed contradict scripture. In our study of the church at Pergamos we listed unscriptural traditions that crept into the church. Below are more false traditions and practices in Roman Catholicism which are addressed via Christ’s letter to Thyatira.

A summary of unscriptural traditions (as well as scriptures cross referenced to show the contradiction) are as follows:

  • Purgatory (A.D. 600)  - Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 9:27
  • Title of pope given to Boniface III by emperor Phocas (A.D. 607) - Galatians 2:11-14; 1 Timothy 6:15
  • Doctrine of kissing the Pope’s foot (A.D. 709) - Romans 3:23;  Revelation 19:10
  • Worship of the cross, images, and relics authorized (A.D. 786) - Exodus 20:1-6; Leviticus 26:1;2 Kings 18:4-6;  Isaiah 42:8; 1 John 5:21
  • Use of holy water (A.D. 850) - John 4:5-26
  • Canonization of dead saints by Pope John XV (A.D. 995)
  • Fasting on Fridays during Lent (A.D. 998) - Galatians 4:8-14; Colossians 2:16-17
  • Celibacy of the priesthood by Pope Gregory VII; priests and nuns forbidden to marry (A.D. 1079) - 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 27; 1 Timothy 4:1-3
  • Mechanical praying with beads, or the Rosary, invented by Peter the Hermit (A.D. 1090) - Matthew 6:7-8
  • The inquisition (A.D. 1184) - 2 Timothy 2:24-26; 1 Peter 3:15-17
  • Sale of indulgences (A.D. 1190) - Matthew 6:19-21, 24; Romans 3:24; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:2; 2 Peter 3:16; 1 Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19;  Peter 1:7,18-19
  • Transubstantiation (A.D. 1215) - Hebrews 9:24-27
  • Establishment of communion wafer (A.D. 1220)
  • The Bible forbidden to laymen; only the priest could read the Bible; he would inform the people of God’s message (A.D. 1229) -  John 14:26; 16:8, 13;  1 Corinthians 2:13-16; 1 John 2:27
  • Communion cup forbidden to the people (A.D. 1414) - Acts 2:42
  • Doctrine of purgatory decreed of  by the Council of Florence ( A.D. 1439) - Luke 16:19-31; Hebrews 9:27
  • Seven sacraments affirmed, including baptism, penance, holy communion, confirmation, holy matrimony, holy orders, and extreme unction (A.D. 1439) - 1 Corinthians 1:17
  • Ava Maria approved (A.D. 1508)
  • Jesuit priesthood order founded by Ignatius Loyola (A.D. 1534)
  • Roman Catholic tradition granted equal authority with the Bible (A.D. 1545) -  Psalm 119; 1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • Apocryphal books added to the Bible by the Council of Trent; these books are not accepted as inspired literature by the Protestant movement, (they do have some historical value) (A.D. 1546) - Revelation 22:18-19
  • Immaculate Conception of Mary introduced (A.D. 1854) - Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 1:47; 11:27-28Luke 1:47; Romans 3:23
  • Infallibility of the Pope declared (A.D. 1870) - Romans 3:23; Galatians 2:11-14
  • Public schools condemned by Pius XI (A.D. 1930)
  • Assumption of the Virgin Mary proclaimed by Pius XII (A.D. 1950) - ; Romans 3:23

Mary proclaimed to be the Mother of the Church by Paul VI (A.D. 1965) - Matthew 12:46-50; Luke 1:47; 11:27-28; Romans 3:23[14]

There were some particularly grievous traditions adopted by the Roman Catholic church during this period in history and what follows are details on these traditions.

1.) “Thyatira” means “continual sacrifice.”

The King James Bible Commentary states,Thyatira, which means continual sacrifice, is the church of clerical domination. It designates the period in the history of the church from the sixth or seventh century to the Reformation in the sixteenth century. The dominant church of that period promoted continual sacrifice in its services.” [15]

The Roman Catholic Church teaches in Vatican II:

“there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind ‘that all the faithful ought to show to this most holy sacrament [wafer which allegedly has been transformed into Christ’s body] the worship which is due to the true God, as has always been the custom of the Catholic Church. Nor is it to be adored any the less because it was instituted by Christ to be eaten.’ [quoting Trent] . . . he is to be adored  there because he is substantially [physically] present there . . . whole and entire, God and man . . . permanently . . .  through that conversion of bread and wine which, as the Council of Trent tells us, is most aptly named transubstantiation . . . in the Eucharist we become partakers of the body and the blood of God’s only son . . .[and] the partaking of the body and the Blood of Christ has no less an effect than to change us into what we have received.”[16]

The basis of the Roman Catholic church is the mass. The mass is the  “continual sacrifice” of Jesus in the TRANSUBSTANTIATION of the elements into the literal body and blood of Jesus. The taking in of these transubstantiated elements is what is believed to convey grace to the recipient and continues the atoning work in that person. The Catholic priests who administer the elements make sure that all of the elements are consumed in the ritual because they believe the elements have turned into the actual body and blood of Jesus.

BUT JESUS SAID - “IT IS FINISHED!”

  • John 19:30 - “ So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
  • Hebrews 9:24-28 - “ For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;25 not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another—26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”

When the church gathers together to share in Holy Communion it is a wonderful experience and God uses it to heal,  rekindle hope, and bring to remembrance the cost of our great salvation. The effect of the communion event on the participants is mysterious to a great extent. But the elements do not literally turn into the actual body and blood of Jesus. The key to understanding the mystery of the elements of communion according to Jesus is – “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The word that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63; cf. context of John 6:22-71). The power of communion is God applying these awesome symbols to our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit and enriching our faith as we worship Him.

2.) Power play and accumulating wealth

The Roman Catholic church has more wealth in land holdings, art works, and in their own banks than most nations in the world today.  Much of this wealth was accumulated in the Middle Ages by way of Indulgences and Inquisition.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches:

“The Church . . . teaches and commands that the usage of indulgences - a usage most beneficial to Christians and approved by the authority of the Sacred Councils - should be kept in the Church; and it condemns with anathema those who say that indulgences are useless or that the Church does not have power to grant them.” - Vatican II[17]

Just as Jezebel used an inquisition to obtain Naboth’s vineyard, the Roman Catholic church of the Middle Ages accumulated massive wealth by way of INQUISITION. These Inquisitions took place from 1227 to 1492 and involved sudden abduction, torture and death in the form of being burned at the stake. The Inquisitions were the Churches’ means to squash opposition. Anyone who would not give wholehearted allegiance to the pope and submit to being a Roman Catholic was guilty of treason and punished by death.

In his book entitled, A Woman rides The Beast, Dave Hunt writes:

“When the inquisitors swept into town an ‘Edict of Faith’ was issued requiring everyone to reveal any heresy of which they had knowledge. Those who concealed a heretic came under the curse of the Church and inquisitors’ wrath . . . . ‘Heretics’ were committed to the flames because the popes believed that the Bible forbade Christians to shed blood. The victims of the Inquisition exceeded by hundreds of thousands the number of Christians and Jews who had suffered under pagan Roman emperors. . . . The Inquisition, established and repeatedly blessed by the popes, was an open assault upon truth and justice and basic human rights. It was the perfect setup for bigots, villains, enemies, and crazies with overworked imaginations to seek revenge, rid themselves of a rival, or gain personal satisfaction of having become important to the Church. . .. The property of the heretics was confiscated and divided between the inquisitors and the popes. . . . In 680 the Sixth General Council decreed that even dead heretics should be tried and condemned. Corpses that had lain in the grave for decades were dug up, tried, and found guilty. At that point the past assets of the deceased were confiscated, causing heirs to lose everything, including, in many cases, all civil rights.”[18]

Wealth was also obtained by way of selling INDULGENCES. Indulgences involved going to a priest and buying forgiveness for your sins before or after the fact. If you had  a party to go to this weekend and you wanted to be covered for any sin you might enter into, you’d go to the local priest and pay for an indulgence so you could indulge yourself. It’s pre-forgiveness.

Under Pope Leo X (1513-21) a Dominican Friar by the name of Tetzel was commissioned to sell indulgences. Specific prices were posted by the roman Chancery to be paid to the Church for the absolution form certain sins, (e.g. “a deacon guilty  of murder could be absolved for 20 pounds.”)[19]  “Tetzel claimed that repentance was not necessary for the buyer of an indulgence and that the indulgence gave complete forgiveness of all sin.”[20] “Tetzel’s technique was to frigthen the poor peasants with the flames of hell until women screamed and men cried for mercy. Then calling attention to his money box, he would cry out, ‘When your money rattles in my chest, your sins are forgiven. Pay for the sins of loved ones who are dead, and they will escape from purgatory to heaven.’”[21] It was practices such as these that led to the Protestant Reformation.

All of this reveals that the Thyatiren type church of Roman Catholicism moved very far away from the original church of the Scriptures. Jesus said:

  • Matthew 10:8b - “Freely you have received, freely give.”

One can hardly imagine Christ having anything to do with such manipulative fundraising tactics. Such tactics require repentance and a return to trusting God for income as He touches people’s hearts to give:

  • 2 Corinthians 9:7-8  “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.”

3.) Closing the Bible.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches:

‘the task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God . . . has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone . . . it is for the bishops, with whom the apostolic doctrine resides, suitably to instruct the faithful entrusted to them in the correct use of . . . the New Testament . . . by giving them translations of the sacred texts which are equipped with necessary and really adequate explanations.”[22] - Vatican II. “The Church to which is confided the transmission of the Revelation does not draw solely from the Holy Scriptures her certainty on all points of Revelation [ but also from Tradition and the magisterium] . . . .” The Catechism of the Catholic Church.[23]

Jezebel exalted herself as a “prophetess.”  The implication is that she had a new word that would compete with God’s word. The Roman Catholic church of the Middle Ages taught that the Bible was only to be read by the priests. The Bible was to be read only by the priest and only read in the Latin language. The priests were the only interpreters of the “bathos.”  All efforts to make the Bible available to the laity were met with stiff persecution of the meanest sort by the Roman Catholic church. The aim was to maintain authority over the people by withholding the Bible from them. 

But God gave the Bible to all mankind so that all people could benefit from it’s light and revelation. The Scriptures are food for our spirit and light for the path of life in God.

  • Matthew 4:4 - “But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”(Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 8:3)
  • Job 23:12 - “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food.”

Even the young are encouraged to search the Scriptures:

  • Psalm 119:9 - “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.”

God has given us His Word to reveal truth to us. We are called to be “DISCIPLES” or literally “LEARNERS” :

  • John 8:31-32 - “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.32 “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

We can go to God’s Word because it is INSPIRED or literally, “GOD-BREATHED.” Because it is God-breathed and from the heart of God it is totally adequate for all our needs. The Bible is not based on the opinions of people but is God’s revealed will for us and to us. The Bible is written in the language of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit moved human agents to write what was on the heart of God. Because of that we who have the Spirit within us can understand this Word because the Spirit within us enables us to do so. This is what the Bible teaches in the following verses:

  • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 - “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
  • 2 Peter 1:19-21 - “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”
  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-14 - “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
  • 1 John 2:27 - “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”

We are encouraged to be student’s of God’s Word who know it well and can apply it to daily life:

  • 2 Timothy 2:15 - “ Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
  • Colossians 3:16 - “ Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Peter Waldo of Lyons, France, was a rich merchant who became convinced that the Bible should be made available to all people.  He hired two priests to translate the Bible into the language of the common people and began to distribute the word and teach from it’s pages. Those who followed him were called Waldenses. There slogan was “THE WORD OF GOD SPEAKS, AND WE OUGHT TO OBEY IT.” Peter Waldo openly declared, “”THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH IS CHRIST, THE LORD, AND ONLY GOD HIMSELF CAN FORGIVE SINS.” The Waldenses were called the “THE POOR MEN  OF LYONS” because they literally followed Jesus’ invitation to “Sell all that you have, and give to the poor.” The Waldenses were forbidden to preach and were excommunicated form the Roman Catholic church. They were hunted down by the “Crusades” and brought before the inquisition. The Roman Catholic church at this time decreed that the Bible was not to be read or be found in the possession of the laity. [24]

There were others who rose up against false traditions of the church. John Wycliffe, John Hus, Savanarola, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Ulrich Zwingli, and they too were persecuted by the church.

To sum up here, Ulrich Zwingle the Reformer from Switzerland on August 13, 1522 stated:

“If I am cast into prison . . . it will be easier to transport a rock from our Alps than to move me as much as a hand’s breath from the Word of Jesus Christ.”[25]

Why not the Apocrypha?

The Bible accepted by Roman Catholicism “adds new portions to the books of Esther and Daniel plus seven additional books, which were written between the testaments . . . . The Catholic Church refers to these extra books as ‘deuterocanonical works’ - those that are canonical or scriptural for Catholics but which were never part of the Jewish Bible.” [26]

The Apocrypha (lit. “hidden, secret”) contains teaching which contradicts the accepted 66 book canon of the Bible which is accepted by all Christendom. Examples of such false teachings are:

1.) Preexistence of souls (also held by Mormons) - Wisdom 8:19,20                                                         2.) Cruelty to slaves justified - Ecclesiasticus 33:25-29                                                                           3.) Atonement and salvation achieved by almsgiving - Excclesiasticus 3:30                                              4.) Suicide justified - 2 Maccabees 14:41-46                                                                                                 5.) Prayer for the dead - 2 Maccabees 12:44-45

There are further reasons why the Apocrypha are not viewed as inspired or canonical:

1.) These writings were never in the Hebrew Canon.

2.) Neither Jesus or any other New Testament writer ever quoted from these books - NOT EVEN ONCE!

3.) No mention of these apocryphal books was mentioned in any catalogue of canonical books given in the first four centuries.

4.) These Apocraphal books were never asserted to be divinely inspired or to possess divine authority in their contents.

5.) These books contain many historical, geographical, and chronological errors.

6.) The apocrypha teaches doctrine and upholds practices which are contrary to the Canon of Scripture. [27]

4.) Profiting from the dead.

The Roman Catholic church teaches:

“Those imperfectly purified ‘undergo a purification after death.’ Sins are expiated in Purgatory ‘through a cleansing fire’ and we ‘must strive to accept this temporal punishment for sin as a grace.’” - Catechism of the Catholic Church - paragraphs 1030, 1031, and 1054.

This contradicts the teaching of the Bible which states:

  • Hebrews 1:2-3 - “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Emphasis added.)

Jezebel profited from Naboth’s demise. The doctrine of PURGATORY was developed during the Middle Ages. This doctrine taught that those who died went to purgatory where they were required to work off or purge the remaining effects of their sin. You could however speed the process by praying for the dead. To do so you would go to church and light a candle on their behalf. The church would charge you for the lighting of each  candle for each loved one. The Roman Catholic church is charging for these candles to the present day.

5.) Seizing authority.

Jezebel was driven by a lust for power. During this period of history the bishop of Rome DAMASIS took the title of the Babylonian high priest which was PONTIFEX MAXIMUS. It was during this period of history that the  idea of APOSTOLIC SUCCESSION FROM “PETER” was instituted. “PETER” was the name given to the Babylonian priest interpreter who was able to understand the bathos or mysteries. In the same way the pope of the Roman Catholic church claim the solitary right  to decree what is infallible truth. On the pope’s coat of arms there are TWO KEYS CROSSED TOGETHER WITH THE WORDSJANUS” AND “CYBELLUS” INSCRIBED ON EACH KEY.   In the Babylonians cult the “Peter,” the interpreter would use two mystical keys Janus and Cybellus to interpret the mysteries or deep things concerning the Babylonian religion. THESE TWO KEYS ARE STILL WORN ON THE COAT OF ARMS OF THE POPE TODAY.

The concept of ONLY A PRIEST CAN FORGIVE SIN VIA CONFESSIONALS comes from the Babylonian cult as well.[28]

But as we learned in our study of Pergamos, every Christian is a priest before God and church leaders should serve as shepherds of the flock of God not lord it over people and heap burdens upon them.

6.) Worshipping Mary

The Roman Catholic Church teaches:

Mary “did not lay aside this saving office but by her manifold intercession continues to bring us the gifts of eternal salvation.’ She is ‘Mediatrix’ and ‘the cause of salvation for herself and the whole human race.’” - Catechism of the Catholic Church - paragraphs 969 and 494. In the booklet Devotions in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help a prayer states, “ In thy hands I place my eternal salvation, and to thee do I entrust my soul . . . . For , if thou protect me, dear Mother, I fear nothing; not from my sins, because thou wilt obtain for me the pardon of them; nor from the devils, because thou art more powerful than all  hell together; nor even from Jesus, my Judge himself, because by one prayer from thee, he will be appeased. But one thing I fear; that, in the hour of temptation, I may neglect to call on thee, and thus perish miserably. Obtain for me, then, the pardon of my sins . . . .”[29]

This contradicts what the Bible teaches:

  • 1 Timothy 2:5 - “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,”

Jezebel’s Sidonian religion was rooted in the Babylonian cult. The Babylonian cult exalted Simeramus as a goddess.  MARIOLOGY is a passionate practice in the Roman Catholic church. Many worship Mary and see her as a coredemptrix with Jesus. Yet Jesus discouraged any such thought. Observe what the Bible says  -

  • Luke 8:19-21 - “Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd.20 And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.”21 But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.”
  • Luke 11:27-28 - “ And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!”28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

The Bible states that Mary needed a Savior the same as all people do -

  • Luke 1:46-47 - “And Mary said:  1 “My soul magnifies the Lord,47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”

Perhaps the final words recorded of Mary in Scripture should be the final words on this topic.

  • John 2:1-5 - “On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

These last words of Mary, “Whatever He says to you, do it” should be the final word on this subject.

There are many more aspects of Roman Catholicism that derive their origin form the Babylonian religious cult. Roman Catholicism incorporates idolatry (I.e. statues) in it’s confines. There needs to be repentance in the Roman Catholic church.

 7.) Another Gospel?

The Roman Catholic Church teaches:

  • “If anyone say that the sinner is justified by grace alone, meaning nothing else is required to cooperate in order to obtain the grace of justification . . . let him be anathema.” - Council of Trent - Canon 9 - 24th Session.
  • “If anyone says that the sacraments of the New Law [of the Roman Catholic Church] are not necessary for salvation but . . . that without them . . . men obtain from God through faith alone the grace of justification . . .let him be anathema.” - Council of Trent, 7, General, 4[30]
  • “From the most ancient times in the Church good works were also offered to God for the salvation of sinners . . . [by] the prayers  and good works of holy people . . . the penitent was washed, cleansed and redeemed . . . Following in Christ’s steps, those who believe in him have always . . . carried their crosses to make expiation for their sins and the sins of others . . . [to] help their brothers to obtain salvation from God . . . .” [31]

The Bible teaches that salvation IS by grace through faith ALONE!:

  • Ephesians 2:8-9 - “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
  • Titus 3:4-5 - “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared,5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,”

While the Roman Catholic Church pronounces an anathema upon those who hold to the scriptural belief that salvation is by grace through faith alone, they are more tolerant of others. We see this in an excerpt from the Roman Catholic Catechism - “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims.” - Catechism of the Catholic Church - paragraph 841.

Further examination of the catechism reveals the following requirements of salvation:

  • Water Baptism - (Paragraph 1256)
  • The Sacraments - (Paragraph 1129)
  • Participation in meritorious masses (Paragraphs 1414, 1417)
  • Membership in the Catholic Church (Paragraph 846)
  • Purgatory to achieve holiness (Paragraph 1030)
  • Good Works (Paragraph 2016)[32]

The Gospel

As stated earlier, the apostle Paul spoke directly about anyone adding to the Gospel he has preached:

  • Galatians 1:6-10 - “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.”

To add or subtract from the Gospel is a very dangerous thing and puts one in the threat of being under the anathema pronounced by Paul in Scripture. What is the “Gospel”? The apostle Paul clearly states the Gospel in his writings and notice how he bases the Gospel on God’s Word. The Gospel is described in Scripture in the following verses:

  • Acts 20:24 -  “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”  (Emphasis added.)
  • Romans 1:16-17 - “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
  • Romans 10:9-13 - “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 - “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.”

In the December 19th, 1998 issue of World  magazine an article entitled A Different Y2K Crisis by R. Albert Mohler Jr. the present day tension between Scripture and tradition was discussed The article stated the following:

“Looking to Christianiity’s third millennium, Pope John Paul II has declared “The Great Jubilee of the Year 2000” - and indulgences from the punishment for sin are a centerpiece of the jubilee celebration. The practice that brought Luther to his break with Rome is once again front and center in Catholic practice as the new millennium approaches.

“In “Incarnationis Mysterium,” a papal bull declaring the jubilee year, John Paul has reopened one of the most difficult issues separating evangelicals and Roman Catholics, spawning a “Y2K” crisis of immense theological significance.

“The pope’s new statement isn’t really new; the Roman Catholic church has never repudiated indulgences, though it did seek to reform the practice, and to clarify that the indulgence removes punishment but not guilt.

“Pope Clement VI was the first to declare that the Roman church possessed a “Treasury of Merit” stored up by the merits of the saints and available at the disposal of the church. Clements’ 1343 papal bull declaring a jubilee year opened the door for the offer of indulgences, which became a widespread practice within just a few years. Indeed, the medieval church largely financed its expanding operations through the sale of indulgences and masses for the dead.

“In the 16th century, Pope Julius II sought to finance the building of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome through the sale of indulgences - a practice that soon burned indignation into the heart of a young Augustinian monk named Martin Luther.

“It was the appearance of Johannes Tetzel, a Dominican monk, selling indulgences for the building of St.Peter’s that so offended Martin Luther. The more Luther heard of Tetzel’s preaching, the more he saw the evil of the practice.

“The famous “Ninety -Five Theses” Luther nailed to the Wittenburg church door opened with an attack on the theological heart of the indulgences issue.  His words still thunder through the centuries: “those who believe that they can be certain of their salvation because they have indulgence letters will be eternally damned, together with their teachers” (Thesis 32).  “Any truly repentant Christian has a rich right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without indulgence letters” (Thesis 36).

“Later, Luther was to decry the “shameful outrage and idolatry of indulgences,” which he had come to see as a slander to the atoning work  of Christ and a denial of justification by faith. The Reformation revealed the great divide on issues as central as grace, law, justification, faith and authority in the church, but it was the practice of granting indulgences that sparked the explosion.

“John Paul II’s recent declaration did not come as a shot out of the blue. In fact, indulgences were affirmed by the Council of Trent, called in the 16th century to answer the Reformation.

“As recently as 1967 Pope Paul VI released an encyclical defining an indulgence as “the remission in the sight of God of the temporal punishment due to sins which have already been blotted out as far as guilt is concerned; the Christian believer who is properly disposed gains it on certain conditions with the help of the church which, as the minister of redemption, authoritatively dispenses and applies the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints.” He also extended this to the dead, whose punishments in purgatory can be relieved through the intercession of the living.

“Extending the  matter even further, in 1985 John Paul II allowed indulgences to be granted to those watching a service by television, who otherwise met the requirements of those physically present. In his jubilee bull, the pope  listed a wide range of acts that could earn an indulgence, ranging from a sacred pilgrimage to Rome, the Holy Land, or to the cathedral or other stipulated church in their area; by acts of service to others; by even one day of abstaining from “unnecessary consumption” (including alcohol and tobacco); or by donation to the poor.

“While admiring the pope’s brave fight in defense of human life and human rights, his courageous confrontation with modernity, and his stalwart insistence on the objective reality of truth, evangelicals must insist that the church has no power to forgive sin, that the work of Christ is complete, and that the entire complex of purgatory, indulgences, penance, and the treasury of merit is utterly without biblical foundation.

“There is but one “only true indulgence,” insisted Luther, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Or, as the Apostle Paul wrote the church of Rome: “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.’”[33] (Emphasis added.)

LET’S FOCUS ON JESUS AND IF NEED BE, REPENT OF UNBIBLICAL ADD-ONS.

LET’S GET BACK TO THE SIMPLICITY OF WHAT GOD REVEALS  TO US THROUGH HIS WORD .

LET’S BE PURIFIED FROM WHAT HAS PERVERTED THE CHURCH OF GOD.

For a more in depth study of Roman Catholicism and it’s Babylonian roots read Alexander Hislop’s book The Two Babylons (Loizeux Brothers: Neptune New Jersey, 1916.) as well as Dave Hunt’s book, A Woman rides the Beast (harvest House Pub.: Eugene, Oregon, 1994.


[1] John Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press: Chicago, 1966, p. 71

[2] A Plummer, The Pulpit Commentary - Revelation, Macdonald Pub. Co.: McLean, Virginia, p. 65

[3]William Smith; revised and edited by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet, Smith’s Bible dictionary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997.

[4] Henry Morris, The Revelation Record, Tyndale House Pub, Inc.: Wheaton IL; Creation-Life Pub.: San Diego, CA, 1983, p. 59

[5] John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ, Moody Press: Chicago, 1966, p. 72

[6] Thoralf Gilbrant, International Editor, The Complete Biblical Library - The New Testament Greek English Dictionary - Delta-Epsilon, the Complete biblical Library: Springfield, MI, 1986, p. 199

[7] John f. Walvoord, Ibid., p. 73

[8] Walter Martin, The Kingdom of The Cults, Bethany Fellowship, Inc., Pub.: Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1977, p. 223

[9] J. Mark Martin, Seventh-day Adventism and the Writings of Ellen G. White, Calvary Community Church: Phoenix, AZ, 1997, p. 7

[10] Chuck Smith, What The World Is Coming To, The Word For Today: Costa Mesa, CA, 1993, p. 36

[11]James Strong, New Strong’s dictionary of Hebrew and Greek words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[12]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[13] John F. Walvoord, Ibid., p. 75-76

[14] Raul Ries, Ibid., pgs. 58, 75-76

[15]Jerry Falwell, executive editor; Edward E. Hinson and Michael Kroll Woodrow, general editors, KJV Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1994.

[16] Austin Flannery, O.P. gen. Ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and the Post Conciliar Documents, rev.ed. (Costello Pub., 1988), vol. 1, pp. 104,107, 109. As quoted by Dave Hunt, A woman Rides the Beast, Harvest House Pub. : Eugene, Oregon, 1994, p. 368

[17] Austin Flannery, O.P. gen. Ed., Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and the Post Conciliar Documents, rev.ed. (Costello Pub., 1988), vol. 1, pp. 71. As quoted by Dave Hunt, A woman Rides the Beast, Harvest House Pub. : Eugene, Oregon, 1994, p. 178

[18] Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides The Beast,I Harvest House Pub.: Eugene, Oregon, 1994, p. 252-253

[19] Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides The Beast,I Harvest House Pub.: Eugene, Oregon, 1994, p.185-186

[20] Earle E. Cairns, Ibid., p. 290

[21] Marvin L. Galbreath, Ibid., p. 30

[22] Austin Flannery, O.P. gen.ed., Vatican II: The conciliar and Post conciliar Documents, rev. ed. (Costello Pub., 1988), Vol. 1, p. 71. - As quoted from Dave Hunt in A Woman Rides The Beast, Harvest House Pub.: Eugene, Oregon, 1994, p. 379,755.

[23] Catechisme de L’Eglise Catholique (Libareria Editrice Vaticanna, 1993), p. 32. As quoted from Dave Hunt in A Woman Rides The Beast, Harvest house Pub.: Eugene, Oregon, 1994, p. 332.

[24] Marvin L. Galbreath, 20 Centuries of Christianity, Light and Life Press: Winona Lake, IN,1970, p. 26

[25] Dave Hunt, Ibid. p. 328

[26] John Ankerberg and John Weldon, the Facts On roman Catholicism, Harvest House Pub.:Eugene, Oregon, 1993, p. 33.

[27] Greg Durel, “ECT +% - A Biblical Response” Ex-Catholics For Christ Conference 1999 - Tapes, Produced by The Berean Call - 800-937-6638; Good News For Catholics - 800-228-7412; Proclaiming the Gospel - 972-495-0485

[28] Jon Courson, Tree of Life Tape, Tape #761 - Revelation 2:18-29, Applegate Christian Fellowship, 7590 Hwy. 238, Jacksonville, Oregon  97530

[29] Devotions in Honor of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, official ed. (Liguori Pub., undated) , p. 46-47. As quoted in Dave Hunt, A Woman rides The Beast, Harvest House Pub.: Eugene, Oregon, 1994, p. 434

[30] Dave Hunt, A Woman rides The Beast, Harvest House Pub.:Eugene, Oregon1994, from quote on p. 346

[31] Dave Hunt, Ibid. p. 346

[32] Mike Gendron, “ECT  +5 - A Biblical Response” - 1999 ExCatholics For Christ Conference - Video Tape. Produced by The Berean Call - 800-937-6638; Good News For Catholics - 800-228-7412; Proclaiming the Gospel - 972-495-0485

[33] R. Albert Mohler Jr., A Different Y2K Crisis, World Magazine, December 19, 1998, p. 21-22R