The Church at Thyatira, Part 3 of 6 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
• They were wrong in principle. The Lord said, “Thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach.” The New Testament principle is clear on this matter. Paul says, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:12-14). The Scripture teaches the headship of the man over the woman, something which has its roots in the order of creation itself and which is mandatory for the church. Even though the Bible is clear that a woman is in subjection to the man and that a woman is never to usurp authority over the man (1 Timothy 2:11-12), Romanism has reversed this order and millions of Roman Catholic men worship an image of Mary and offer prayers to her.
• The church at Thyatira was wrong in precept. The Lord said of this woman, she leads His servants astray. The thought is that of deception. It is interesting to observe how many of the false cults have been founded or promoted by women. Seventh Day Adventist, Spiritualism, Christian Science, and Theosophy have all been steered into error by women. That is not to say that men have not spawned false cults, because they have. But the Scripture teaches that a woman is much more susceptible to error in spiritual things than is a man, and for this reason, the woman is refused permission to teach in the church.
• The church in Thyatira was wrong in practice. The Lord says of the followers of Jezebel that they “commit fornication, and . . . eat things sacrificed unto idols.” In other words, they were guilty of the gravest sins against man and God. Both of these sins are soundly condemned in Scripture, and both bring with them the direst penalties. Our Lord said she “calleth herself a prophetess.” Just as Jezebel in Elijah’s day took the lead in changing the religious doctrines and deeds of the people, so the self-styled prophetess in Thyatira boldly taught her nefarious philosophy—that Christians could engage in these practices without sinning—with little or no opposition.
She (Jezebel) assumed the title “prophetess.” She professed in the assembly at Thyatira to teach with authority. And as she taught, she seduced7 the minds of the people and trained them to follow her, instead of following Him who stands in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.
Rome professes to teach with authority, she claims to be the only church that cannot err in matters pertaining to faith and morals. The average Roman Catholic knows next to nothing about the meaning of Scripture. Taught to “hear mother church,” Roman Catholics know only what “the church teaches.” Rome dreads the light and fears the Bible. Here in Thyatira, her teaching, and her doctrine, is certainly the beginning of the Papal system (read carefully Revelation 17 and 18). At Thyatira, pagan practices and idolatry were mingled with Christian works and worship. Christ said that the method of Jezebel, the self-styled prophetess, was “to teach and seduce My servants.”
The papacy was elevated to a place of secular power under Gregory 1 (a.d. 590), and later by Gregory VII, better known as Hildebrand, (a.d. 1073-1085). The introduction of rituals and church doctrine supplanted personal faith in Jesus Christ. Worship of the Virgin and Child and the Mass were made a definite part of the church service. Purgatory became a positive doctrine, and Mass was said for the dead. The bogus documents labeled “Donation of Constantine and Decretals of Isidore” were circulated to give power and rulership to the pope.
In Revelation 2:20, the Spirit continues by saying, “(Jezebel) leads my servants astray. She teaches them, and seduces them “to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.” This woman at Thyatira lured God’s “servants” by pretended utterances of inspiration to the same libertinism, fornication, and eating of idol meats, as the Balaamites and Nicolaitanes (6:14, 15). By a false spiritualism, these seducers lead their victims into the grossest carnality, as though things done in the flesh were outside the true man, and were, therefore, indifferent. Today we know Rome has led a great mass of humanity to follow Mary instead of following Christ, to pray to Mary instead of to the one Mediator and Intercessor (1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 8:348). Rome has led teeming millions to the Pope instead of to Christ. Those of us who read, believe, and accept the Bible as God’s final word to man, ask, “How can people be so blind?” There is but one God; there is but one Church; there
is but one door to Heaven. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Paul clearly teaches that Jesus is the “Mediator between God and men,” and John plainly tells us that “if we confess our sins (to Jesus) He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And yet millions confess their sins to men. God pity some poor religious leaders when they stand before the Righteous Judge, to receive their due reward!
“Fornication” and idolatry were the two great sins in the assembly at Pergamos. These two satanic deadly evils were taught, practiced and condoned in the assembly at Thyatira. Fornication, as used here, symbolizes the professing Christian living in the world, condoning the world, fellowshipping in the world. This terrible sin began with the reign of Constantine, and grew into the Papacy. Constantine was the first to bring church and state together. He bestowed expensive Temples, crowns of gold and much wealth upon the professing church in his day, and the unholy union of church and state was perfected in the Papacy. Such union is spiritual fornication, and certainly brings judgment. In the end, it will bring horrible and final judgment upon the systems of spiritual fornication. The Roman system is one of baptized paganism. Most of its doctrines—its holy days, its rites, its dogmas, its ceremonies, its vestments, its titles—are definitely pagan in their origin. If you will study Bible history, you’ll find that statement to be one hundred percent true.
Jesus Christ is the head and the foundation of the New Testament Church. “Other foundations can no man lay than that which is already laid—Jesus Christ, the Lord.” All worship, all prayer, all service and all gifts are to be in His name, to His honor and glory, and they are to be given and performed out of a heart of love—not from fear or necessity. All religions on earth can be cataloged under two Headings: (1) fear, and (2) love. Under fear, you can list every religion on earth except one—Christianity. It can be listed only under love. It is sometimes referred to as “the Christian religion,” but Christianity is much, much more than a religion. Christ is not second to Mary. Christ is not second to any bishop, preacher, evangelist, pope, or what-have-you. He is the head of the Church. He will judge the “quick and the dead.” He pleases the Heavenly Father—and He is the One with whom we have to do. Through His shed blood and His broken body we enter boldly into the holy of holies. Through His death, burial and resurrection we are saved. Through His power we are kept. We are commanded to do all that we do to the glory of God in Jesus name.
Catholicism is certainly in the forefront of the message to the church at Thyatira. The supremacy of the Roman’s pope is simply the development in full of the dispute among the disciples as to “Who shall be the greatest” (Mark 9:33, 34). Of course, popery had a beginning—and it certainly did not begin with Peter, because Peter was not a pope; he was just an ordinary human being like all the rest of the disciples.
21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
From this verse, we may conclude that Jezebel had been warned earlier, but to no avail, either by John or by some other Christian leader. The Lord “gave her space to repent.” “Space” is time. There has been plenty of time and plenty of reasons for repentance, but there has been no repentance. As so often happens, the Lord’s longsuffering and patience was misconstrued. Because God does not strike down wickedness the moment it rears its head, men deceive themselves and imagine that He never well. “Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance” is the way Paul puts it (Romans 2:4). God stays his hand in government for the sole reason that men might have the opportunity to repent. Apparently, the woman who was causing the trouble at Thyatira, far from seeing God’s hand of mercy in the absence of judgment, simply congratulated herself on her apparent success. The wickedness she was spreading went on and on.
From its beginning, the Papacy reigned as queen for more than 1000 years. Rome never repented. The Reformation came along, and for 300 years now in many countries, Rome has been in the minority with Protestantism in the majority. But the Papacy is unchanged. It is as it was in the beginning. In fact, Rome boasts that she never changes—semper idem, always the same.