Revelation 2:20

The works done at Thyatira did not stand on their own for good works are necessary, but not sufficient in Christian service. The world is full of organizations which focus on beneficent works to fellow man. This cannot be the measure of acceptability to God because many of these organizations embrace beliefs and practices which are directly opposed to God’s Word (e.g., Shriners, Masons). Therefore, works alone say nothing about an organization’s relationship with God. It is the sharing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that makes service Christian.

you allow
In contrast to the church in Ephesus which could not bear false apostles and hated the Nicolaitans, the church at Thyatira tolerated a false prophetess, Jezebel.

We ourselves do not need to actively teach or promote error to come under Christ’s corrective judgment. All we need do is tolerate those in our midst who do so. The failure to confront those teaching error in our midst is a fundamental error of the modern church and reflects a generation of church-goers more likely to quote Matthew Mat. 7:1 than John John 3:16.

that woman Jezebel
See Jezebel.

The MT indicates that Jezebel may have been the wife of the angel of the church.1

calls herself a prophetess
Scripture recognizes numerous women who fulfilled the role of prophetess : Miriam, sister of Aaron (Ex. Ex. 15:20); Deborah (Jdg. Jdg. 4:4); Huldah (2K. 2K. 22:14); Noadiah (Ne. Ne. 6:14);2 Isaiah’s wife (Isa. Isa. 8:3);3 Anna (Luke Luke 2:36); the daughters of Philip the evangelist (Acts Acts 21:9).4 But nowhere does it record a true prophetess that is self-proclaimed.

Jezebel may have been a prophetess of sorts, but her prophetic powers were not from God. “Employing her intellectual faculties in the service of Satan, and not of God; but claiming inspiration, and probably possessing it, wielding spiritual powers, only they were such as reached her from beneath, not such as descended on her from above.”5 The Thyatiran church was making the serious mistake of attributing her spiritual powers to God. Unlike the Ephesian church (Rev. Rev. 2:2+), they had failed to “test the spirits” (1Jn. 1Jn. 4:1).

Perhaps the most telltale aspect of those who are not truly hearing from God is their incessant self-proclamation.6 This is often evidence of pride and an inability to produce the genuine gift of the Spirit which they claim. God’s Word indicates a different pattern for those who would serve Him in humility: “Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips” (Pr. Pr. 27:2), “For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2Cor. 2Cor. 10:18).

This problem was not unique to the church at Thyatira, for Ezekiel’s day experienced it:

Likewise, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own heart; prophesy against them, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Woe to the women who sew magic charms on their sleeves and make veils for the heads of people of every height to hunt souls! Will you hunt the souls of My people, and keep yourselves alive? And will you profane Me among My people for handfuls of barley and for pieces of bread, killing people who should not die, and keeping people alive who should not live, by your lying to My people who listen to lies?” ’Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I am against your magic charms by which you hunt souls there like birds. I will tear them from your arms, and let the souls go, the souls you hunt like birds. I will also tear off your veils and deliver My people out of your hand, and they shall no longer be as prey in your hand. Then you shall know that I am the LORD. Because with lies you have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and you have strengthened the hands of the wicked, so that he does not turn from his wicked way to save his life. Therefore you shall no longer envision futility nor practice divination; for I will deliver My people out of your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.” ’ (Eze. Eze. 13:17-23) [emphasis added]

How similar this sounds to the modern church which has no shortage of self-proclaimed “prophetesses” who frequent various conferences, peddling their ministries as being inspired by the Holy Spirit while teaching concepts which contradict God’s Word.

to teach
“In her own eyes, Jezebel’s alleged special revelations from God qualified her as an authoritative teacher in the church. Some others agreed and she became a recognized leader.”7 Scripture indicates that although women can have great wisdom (Pr. Pr. 31:26) and work alongside men instructing other believers (Acts Acts 18:26), in the assembly they are not to occupy teaching roles over men (1Cor. 1Cor. 14:34; 1Ti. 1Ti. 2:12). The reason for this prohibition is not cultural , but reflects God’s created order (1Ti. 1Ti. 2:13) and recognizes differences between men and women (1Ti. 1Ti. 2:14). The teaching role of women is primarily to be instructing other women (Tit. Tit. 2:3-4) and children (2Ti. 2Ti. 1:5, 2Ti. 3:15).

The sin, apparently involving the majority of the Thyatira church’s members, was twofold. First, they violated the biblical teaching that women are not to be teachers or preachers in the church (1Ti. 1Ti. 2:12). That led them to tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. They compounded their error of permitting her to teach by allowing her to teach error.8

In our own day, this Scriptural restriction on the teaching role of women has been twisted by the feminist agenda which distorts the Scriptures using techniques not unlike that of “Christian homosexuals” who deny the plain meaning of the text. As a result, the Christian church is reaping the whirlwind with self-proclaimed prophetesses as well as female “bishops” and pastors usurping roles which God has ordained strictly for men. If a woman believes “God is calling her to be a pastor,” she should think again! God does not contravene His own word.

is πλανᾳ῀ [plana] meaning “To cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way.”9 Most often, it denotes deception, which by its very nature leads astray. Our ability to be led correlates with the strength we give to our desires. Jezebel’s seduction was much like that of the Balaamites in the church at Pergamum (Rev. Rev. 2:14+). See the discussion of stumbling block at Revelation 2:14.

eat things sacrificed to idols
Jezebel led the church at Thyatira into the same error as the Balaamites in the church at Pergamum:

Satan seems to have used commerce to undercut the church in Thyatira, for unless one was a member of a trade guild, one had little hope of commercial prosperity; indeed, one’s commercial existence was in jeopardy. Two characteristics of these guilds were incompatible with Christianity: first, they held banquets, often in a temple, and these banquets would begin and end with a formal sacrifice to the gods, so the meat eaten at these affairs was meat offered to idols (Acts Acts 15:29). Second, these functions were, as would be expected, occasions of drunken revelry and slack morality.10

Pagan worship was associated with trade guilds in that each guild had its guarding god. Guilds for wool workers, linen workers, manufacturers of outer garments, dyers, leather workers, tanners, potters, bakers, slave dealers, and bronze smiths were known. Membership in a guild was compulsory if one wanted to hold a position. . . . Guild members were expected to attend the guild festivals and to eat food, part of which had been offered to the tutelary deity and which was acknowledged as being on the table as a gift from god. At the end of the feast grossly immoral activities would commence.11

See Worldly Churches. See commentary on Revelation 2:14.


1 “The textual question may be summarily treated. Two uncial manuscripts (A and 046 == Q, of the 10th century) and many cursives and versions insert σοῦ [sou] [your] after τὴν γυναῖκα [tēn gynaika] [the woman/wife]. The decisive weight of textual authority however appears against this (א, C, etc.), and the addition is readily explained by dittography.”—Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1989), 117.

2 Noadiah opposed Nehemiah in his work of reconstruction.

3 “Isaiah’s wife was called a prophetess because the son to whom she gave birth was prophetic of the Assyrian conquest.”—John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 1997), Isa. 8:3.

4 Although the daughters are not called prophetesses, they are said to prophesy.

5 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 140.

6 “Now to do this was to take the place of the Spirit, who indeed spake ‘not from Himself,’ but ‘what He heard’ from the Lord in glory.”—William R. Newell, Revelation: Chapter by Chapter (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1994,c1935), 54.

7 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), 215.

8 John MacArthur, Revelation 1-11 : The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 100.

9 James Strong, The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1996), G4105.

10 Monty S. Mills, Revelations: An Exegetical Study of the Revelation to John (Dallas, TX: 3E Ministries, 1987), Rev. 2:20.

11 Thomas, Revelation 1-7, 207-208.