Revelation 2:23

will kill her children with death
A futuristic use of the present tense: “I am killing”. An indication of imminency of the judgment. Gen. 2:17).”1

Jezebel’s children are probably those who follow her spiritual teaching. 1Ti. 1:2) ‘in the faith,’ so Jezebel had won many to her hedonistic brand of pseudo-Christianity.”2 God will cut them off as were Ahab and Jezebel’s children by Jehu (2K. 2K. 10:6-7).

shall know
Middle voice, γνώσονται [gnōsontai] : “the churches themselves shall know.”

The judgment of God often serves two purposes: to chasten or eliminate the one being judged; and to serve as warning to others who might otherwise follow a similar path (Deu. Deu. 17:13; Deu. 19:20; Deu. 21:21). The one who led the children of Israel to worship other gods was to be stoned so “all Israel shall hear and fear, and not again do such wickedness as this among you” (Deu. Deu. 13:11). When judgment fell upon Ananias and Sapphira, “great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things” (Acts Acts 5:11).

minds and hearts
Νεφροὺς καὶ καρδίας [Nephrous kai kardias] , kidneys and hearts, but translated minds and hearts.3 Here is the explanation of Christ’s selection of title in the letter to Thyatira: “the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame” (Rev. Rev. 2:18+). Nothing escapes his gaze. See commentary on Revelation 1:14.

God alone searches the minds and hearts, for we ourselves cannot. The condition of our fallen mind and deceitful heart make it an impossible task. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings” (Jer. Jer. 17:9-10).

Christ knows the heart of men. “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man” (John John 2:23-25).

according to your works
The fellowship in Thyatira, consisting both of believers and unbelievers, would be judged according to their works. The threat of being judged according to our works should send a shiver up the spine of all who are acquainted with their own depravity as a member of Adam’s race. Yet multitudes are unaware of how far short their works fall when measured against the requirements of a perfect and Holy God. Rather than recognizing their desperate need of the righteousness of Christ, they continue forward trusting in their own righteousness (Luke Luke 10:29; Luke 18:9; John John 9:41; Rom. Rom. 10:3) unaware that before God it “is as filthy rags” (Isa. Isa. 64:6).

Eventually, God will grant them what they desire—the opportunity to stand before Him and be judged according to their works:

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (Rev. Rev. 20:12+)

At the resurrection of the unsaved dead, the dead are judged according to their works as recorded in “the books.” These books will reveal their lack of perfection. Then, another book, the Book of Life will be consulted to verify that they have not availed themselves of the blood of Christ to obtain the righteousness provided by God (Rom. Rom. 3:5, Rom. 3:21-26; Rom. 10:3; 2Cor. 2Cor. 5:21; Php. Php. 3:9; Jas. Jas. 1:20). Lacking both perfection and a relationship with the Perfect One, they will find their destiny in the Lake of Fire (Rev. Rev. 20:15+).

Believers too will be judged for their works. But the judgment they face is infinitely different than that of the nonbeliever for it is a judgment for rewards. Even if the believer is devoid of works, he himself escapes the wrath of Almighty God (1Cor. 1Cor. 3:13-15), for his righteousness is provided by God Himself (Jer. Jer. 23:6).4

Biblical faith is to bring forth the fruit of the Spirit and the works thereof which are an indication of true faith:

It is indeed one of the gravest mischiefs which Rome has bequeathed to us, that in a reaction and protest, itself absolutely necessary, against the false emphasis which she puts on works, unduly thrusting them in to share with Christ’s merits in our justification, we often fear to place upon them the true; being as they are, to speak with St. Bernard, the “via regni” [way of royalty], however little the “causa regnandi” [cause of royalty].5


1 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 2:23.

2 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), 62.

3 “The only things left in the body cavity by the Egyptian embalmers.”—Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), s.v. “nephras.”

4 If the life of a professing believer is truly devoid of all good works, then Scripture indicates the profession is suspect (Jas. Jas. 2:14-26).

5 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), 144.