21 July 2012Revelation 2:18-29
"But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call 'the deep things of Satan', to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden; only hold fast to what you have until I come." (vv. 24-25)
This is the longest of the seven letters, written to the church in the town of Thyatira, about 40 miles south east of Pergamum. Under the Romans it had grown as a centre for manufacturing, not least in making clothes. In Acts 16:11-15 there is a mention of Lydia, "a dealer in purple cloth", who also had a house across the Aegean Sea in Philippi, so it can be presumed that Thyatira was something of a trade centre.
In common with messages to other cities, at the start of this letter the people in the church are praised; in Thyatira specifically for their "love, faith, service and patient endurance" (v. 19). However, Jesus goes on to criticise a woman in the fellowship who is named Jezebel, although this might well be a generic name for someone who is leading others in the fellowship astray. She is denounced for her false teaching and ways of advocating easy compromise with the immorality and idolatrous ways of a pagan world. It is also clear from the letter that Jezebel has been given time to repent, but has not done so (verse 21).
The letter then becomes a call for more general repentance, a wake-up call for those who had been led astray by the persuasive logic of compromisers. In verse 24 Jesus acknowledges that some have remained strong and their task now is to hang on until he returns. Such people will be given Christ's power and authority, the symbol being "the morning star" (v. 28) - surely worth persevering for?
- In an increasingly secular society, to what extent is it possible for your faith not to be compromised?
- The church always lives with the tension of needing to be relevant in the world, and yet not pursuing the ways of the world? Is this possible without compromise? How?