CONTENT OF JESUS’ LETTER TO THE CHURCH OF THYATIRA

Jesus’ fourth letter was to the church in Thyatira. Like the church of Pergamos, the church had to deal with the issue of demon worship, represented in the text by the false prophetess Jezebel. Jesus told Apostle John to write the following warning:

18 These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass

 

19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

 

20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

 

21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

 

22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

 

23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

 

24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

 

25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

 

26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

 

27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

 

28 And I will give him the morning star.

 

29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (Revelation 2: 18 – 29)

 

BACKGROUND AND CULTURE OF THYATIRA

LOCATION

Thyatira was a wealthy town in the northern part of Lydia of the Roman province of Asia, on the river Lycus. It stood so near to the borders of Mysia, that some of the early writers have regarded it as belonging to that country. Its early history is not well known, for until it was refounded by Seleucus Nicator (301-281 BC) it was a small, insignificant town. It stood on none of the Greek trade routes, but upon the lesser road between Pergamos and Sardis, and derived its wealth from the Lycus valley in which it rapidly became a commercial center, but never a metropolis.

 

IDOLATRY/DEMON WORSHIP

The name “Thyatira” means “the castle of Thya.” Before it was rebuilt by Nicator, it was regarded as a holy city. It had two temples:

 

  • The first was the temple of the ancient Lydian sun-god/demon, Tyrimnos, another name for the Greek god Appollo.
  • games were held in his honor.
  • the early coins of Thyatira represented this demon as a horseman. Tyrimnos carried a double-headed battle-ax, similar to those represented on the sculptures of the Hittites.
  • Boreatene,  of lesser importance, was a goddess or female demon associated with Tyrimnos.
  • The second temple at Thyatira was dedicated to another demon called Sambethe
  • A prophetess located at this shrine is believed by some to represent the Jezebel of Revelation 2:20
  • The false prophetess uttered the sayings which this demon would impart to the worshippers.

 

 

COMMERCE OF THYATIRA

Thyatira was specially noted for its well organized trade guilds. Every artisan belonged to a guild, which was an incorporated organization, possessed property in its own name, made contracts for great constructions, and wielded a wide influence. The guilds were closely connected with the religious worship of Thyatira. They were opposed to Christianity since they held pagan feasts, with which immoral practices were associated.  There were guilds for wool-workers, linen-workers, makers of outer garments, dyers, leather-workers, tanners, potters, bakers, slave-dealers and bronze-smiths (Wikipedia.com). The guild of coppersmiths and dyers were the most powerful. The latter made purple dyes, which is now called Turkish red.  Acts 16 reveals that Lydia, a dyer of purple, was Apostle Paul’s first convert in the city of Thyatira.

 

MODERN THYATIRA

Thyatira is now represented by the modern Turkish town of Ak-Hissar on a branch line of the Manisa-Soma Railroad, and on the old Ro road 9 hours from Sardis. Ak-Hissar is Turkish for “white castle,” a name derived from a castle located there. The village is of considerable size; most of the houses are of mud, but several of the buildings erected by Caracalla are still standing, yet none of them are perfect. In the higher part of the town are the ruins of one of the pagan temples, and in the walls of the houses are broken columns and sarcophagi and inscribed stones. The population of 20,000 is largely Greek and Armenian, yet a few Jews live among them. Before the town is a large marsh, fever-laden, and especially unhealthful in the summer time, formed by the Lycus, which the Turks now call Geurdeuk Chai. The chief modern industry is rug-making.

 

More to come!

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