In His letters to the seven churches the Lord commended what met with His approval, where such was found to exist. In some of them there was little to commend, and in one of them nothing at all to the church’s credit with the consequent warning of rejection by the Lord. There were evidently some in Thyatira whose conduct in general the Lord approved, and concerning whom He made some laudatory remarks, “I know thy works, and thy love and faith and ministry and patience, and that thy last works are more than the first”, Rev. 2. 19 R.v. Unlike some of the other churches where deterioration had occurred, Thyatira showed some improvement, in that their more recent “works" were better than they had been at first; “more than the first" suggests there had been an increase in the quality of their works, cf. e.g. the use of “more” in Matthew 6. 25 and Mark 12. 43, To this church, the Lord appeared as the One “who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire”, omniscient in the detection of falsehood and evil, and quick to judge it; cf. Heb. 4. 13.
His scrutiny of their “last works" merited His commendation that they were “more than the first”. The church was characterized by love, faith and hope, the three cardinal graces; although hope is not specifically mentioned, endurance is, and endurance stems from hope, Rom. 8. 25.
The Lord’s praise was not unqualified; there was a “but”, as in the case of Ephesus; cf. Rev. 2. 4, 20. “But I have this against thee, that thou sufferest the woman Jezebel" r.v. In this passage, Jezebel is a symbolic idea. The Old Testament Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, was a woman who personified evil. The church at Thyatira suffered behaviour on the part of some which was reminiscent of Jezebel’s conduct. Ahab’s wife Jezebel completed his ruin, because he “went and served Baal, and worshipped him’, as a result of their marriage, 1 Kings 16. 31. Jezebel was responsible for the slaughter of the Lord’s prophets, and it was she who threatened Elijah with death when he had recalled the nation to God at Carmel and had slain the prophets of Baal. If Ahab sold himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, it was because he was aided and abetted by Jezebel, for she stirred (him) up. She was an altogether evil woman, and in her Ahab found the wife he deserved. She stands for idolatry, persecution of Gods people, unscrupulousness, and incitement of others to evil ways.
The tolerance of the Jezebel influence by the church at Thyatira led to the Lord’s indictment of it, “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 to idols”. These things are to be understood in a spiritual sense, cf. James 4. 4; 1 John 2. 26. The church was permitting “the table of demons" to coexist with “the table of the Lord”. 1 Cor. 10. 21. It was an affront to the Lord, and an evil which, were it not repented of, would be visited with “death" upon those who were guilty of it, Rev. 2. 21-23.
There were those at Thyatira who had “not this doctrine”, although they had “suffered” it, and the Lord addressed them, “But to 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”, v. 24. The Lord would “cast upon (them) none other burden. Howbeit that which ye have, hold fast till I come”, v. 25 r.v. The Lord had commended them for their love, ministry, faith, patience and “last works" which were “more than the first”. It was these, against the expectation of the Lord’s coming, that they should hold fast: such things were worthwhile and were not to be let go. “Hold fast" is a frequent exhortation in Scripture; the church at Philadelphia was exhorted – “hold fast that which thou hast, that no man take thy crown”, 3. 11, and this in the expectation of the Lord’s coming, “I come quickly”. “Hold fast" is a familiar exhortation in the Hebrew Epistle, cf. 3. 6, 14; 10. 23, in the first two of which “the end" is in view. The Lord said, in an eschatological context, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved”. Matt. 24. 13. The promise was given to Thyatira, “And he that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations”, Rev. 2. 26 r.v., which “end" was coincident with His coming.
There is always a danger of failing to hold fast to what we have, a tendency to “drift away from them’, Heb. 2. 1 r.v. The Lord would “cast upon (them) none other burden" than the command that they should hold fast what they had ; they were not exhorted to extend the area of what they already had, but to maintain and conserve it till He come, when their steadfastness and faithfulness would be rewarded by authority over the nations".
The LocalChurch: a Practical Guide for Young Believers. 64 pages; 60p plus 15p postage From, Precious Seed Publications, 43 Chantry Road. Moseley, Birmingham B13 8DN, England.
We have often received requests to reprint the series of articles “When Thy Son Asketh Thee" that appeared in Precious Seed during the years 1958-1 960. We are now able to make this reprint available to readers, with a uniform page layout, a new title, an additional final chapter, and an attractive cover consisting of a full-colour photograph of an old Mid-Wales bridge. These are sometimes difficult days for younger believers, exercised about seeking assembly fellowship and service, with its demands on commitment to the Lord, His Word, and His people in their assembly gatherings. The style of the book is not that of doctrine; rather the author discusses in a homely way the problems raised, all based of course on the New Testament. We believe that the book will be useful to all those who have a heart for the spiritual welfare of young believers; it can be distributed to such believers for their instruction and enlightenment, and we trust that its reading will produce a beneficial effect and a better understanding of the principles behind the local church.
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