Jesus was not concerned that Jezebel was a woman overseer in the church. Jesus was concerned that Jezebel was a bad leader, one who falsely claimed God’s anointing, and led God’s own astray.


Bad Leaders

Bad Leaders are bad leaders, whether male or female.

Self-Proclaimed Prophet

Now there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of services but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in -everyone.- 

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good

– To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom

– and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit

– to another faith by the same Spirit,

– to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit

– to another the working of powerful deeds,

to another prophecy,

– to another the discernment of spirits,

– to another various kinds of tongues,

– to another the interpretation of tongues. 

All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the SPIRIT chooses.

1 Corinthians 12:4-11 (NRSV)
By Gebhard Fugel – Own work (fotografiert in der Ausstellung “Gebhard Fugel 1863-1939. Von Ravensburg nach Jerusalem”. Galerie Fähre, Altes Kloster, Bad Saulgau, 2014), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32072418

It is the first thing Jesus spoke about. Jezebel was not a prophet by the Spirit’s anointing and appointment.

She was a prophet by her own choosing and pronouncement.

Credentials are only valuable when God gives them. Credentials from human institutions do not necessarily carry God’s divine anointing, God’s approval, God’s authority, and God’s supernatural empowering.

Jezebel claimed credentials that were, in God’s eyes, false.

False Preaching and Practice

What Jezebel taught, evidently, felt right to this otherwise faithful church. The two issues had to do with eating food sacrificed to idols and engaging in illicit sext. A number of scholars think this might have been in conjunction with the guilds. Thyatira was known for their guilds, and guilds were always associated with a Greek or Roman god, usually Minerva.

Christians were struggling under mounting persecution from those of Jewish faith as well as government officials. Finding work, navigating buying food and other necessities, dealing with emperor worship, and the laws concerning public honoring of patron gods, all made simply trying to live harder and harder.

Now, as a self-proclaimed prophet, Jezebel was teaching God’s easing of boundaries.

You can see how at least some believed this was possible.

Much had changed, and rapidly, in how the scriptures were understood concerning the Law. The Council of Jerusalem established that Christians were no longer bound by Torah Commandments concerning circumcision, the inclusion of non-Jewish persons, and the restrictive food laws. Jesus had drawn disciples from all walks of life, and had included women. Men no longer covered their heads in prayer. Women as well as men, Jews as well as Gentiles, enslaved persons as well as highborn persons taught, led, and prophesied.

By Andrija1234567 – сопствено дјело, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=99633372

The issue of eating food sacrificed to idols had been discussed at length. Paul cautioned believers to do what was gracious, what was Spirit-led, what was good for the community.

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who considers it unclean.

Romans 14:14 (NRSV)

whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NRSV)

Nevertheless, Paul warned believers about abusing their freedom in Christ.

Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become enslaved to one another.

Galatians 5:13 (NRSV)

Throughout the Greek scriptures, intimate union with Jesus, and with other believers through the indwelling Holy Spirit, was the guiding principle for understanding how to live. Because of this, Paul warned,

Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?

Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.”

But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.

Shun sexual immorality!

Every sin that a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against the body itself.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:15-20 (NRSV)
We were bought with a price | “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one,  I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one.” Jesus, in John 17:22-23 (NRSV)

Jezebel’s false teaching pushed freedom to the point of transgressing this intimate union.

Unrepentance

Apparently, this situation had been going on for some time. Jesus had already been at work, providing one opportunity after another for Jezebel to repent. Considering the patience and love Jesus extended towards Judas Iscariot, for the three years of Judas’s tenure with the disciples, I imagine Jezebel had many, many chances to return to God.

But, Jesus said, she is unwilling.

Think about that.

Jezebel was unwilling. Not unknowing of her wrong. Not unable or too weak. Not unsure how to repent.

Jezebel simply did not want to.

Deep Things of Satan

What Jezebel had been teaching must have sounded wise, sounded like superior spiritual enlightenment. Paul spoke of the deep things of God when he began his first letter to the believers in Corinth. He wanted them to be able to see the difference between the true wisdom of God and the counterfeit experience of spiritual depths that were really not that at all.

Now, Jesus was saying, Jezebel’s teaching was not reaching deep into the well of God’s wisdom, it was reaching deep into the well of God’s adversary, Satan.

But I speak to the rest of you in Thyatira, however many who are not holding onto her teaching, however many who do not experientially realize and know the depths of the Accuser (Satan)

Revelation 2:24
By Byam Shaw – http://www.ronaldecker.com/shaw.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9039336

No Other Burden

Jezebel, like Judas Iscariot, had gone beyond the point of no return. She freely chose God’s wrath, being unwilling to remove herself from those things God intended to cleanse the universe of.

But for her adherents, and for the church in Thyatira, there was still hope. Those who followed Jezebel were to turn away from the preaching and practices of Jezebel and return to Jesus. 

And for the rest, I will not beset you with another burden, Jesus told them. Except, take hold of what you have until whenever I may come.

Those who heeded Jesus’s words would be considered conquerors, and would receive jurisdiction over the nations. Theologians have offered some ideas about what that might mean.

  • To reign with Christ over the whole earth during the millennium, with particular interest in unsaved nations.
  • To be part of the saints who will reign in heaven with Christ.
  • To reign over other Christians of lower rank or status in the new earth.
Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. ,the basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, dating to the reign of the Ostrogothic king Theodoric (496-526), flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/15831739446 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This thinking comes largely from the reference Jesus made to Psalm 2

Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage
    and the ends of the earth your possession.
You shall break them with a rod of iron
    and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

Jesus paraphrased YHWH’s words in Psalm 2:8 and quoted YHWH’s words in Psalm 2:9 (NRSV)

In Psalm 2, it is Messiah who has the staff, and the authority. Because of believers’ intimate union with Christ, because we are in Him and He in us, we share in that authority,

Finally, Jesus promised to give each faithful believer the Morning Star, just as the assemblies in Pergamos were promised the Hidden Manna, both emblems of Jesus Himself. Those who shine with the light of Christ will one day see how they are part of the Morning Star that lights the entire cosmos.


Many who read Revelation from a futurist or historicist point of view feel Thyatira represents the church from 606-1517 CE, when Catholicism in the west was the entirety of the western church. Those from a spiritual approach see universal truths applicable to every age (I lean more towards this view). And, along with preterists, I think it is safe to assume there really was a woman named Jezebel who led believers astray in Thyatira.


4 thoughts on “Revelation 2: Thyatira, Jezebel

  1. Reblogged this on Zero Lift-Off and commented:
    Sister/Professor Joanne, thank you for this wonderful blog: Revelation 2: Thyatira, Jezebel.

    And I quote: “It is the first thing Jesus spoke about. Jezebel was not a prophet by the Spirit’s anointing and appointment.
    She was a prophet by her own choosing and pronouncement.
    Credentials are only valuable when God gives them. Credentials from human institutions do not necessarily carry God’s divine anointing, God’s approval, God’s authority, and God’s supernatural empowering.
    Jezebel claimed credentials that were, in God’s eyes, false.” graceandpeacejoanne

    This was so fascinating and propelled me to look deeper into this piece of very important history that I thought might offer some additional insights that are very relevant today! And oh was I sensing revelation in the air as I began to formulate a clearer vision of what this all could offer to the current people of tis gravely troubled world perhaps in the nick of time for some, including me of course!

    To me there must have been too much pride involved in her not relenting and admitting fault, in order that she might repent and reconcile with God her error. But another thought came to my mind that I was thinking does delve into the question of whether or not her being a woman in and of its self could have played a role in her self-inflicted demise via another snare of the Devil. The following statement I quote was one that jumped off the page because I think there is a parallel with events occurring today.

    “Jezebel was teaching God’s easing of boundaries.”

    That word boundaries is to me so very important to understand what Jezebel was up to and how being tempted by Satan comes in many forms of outward behavior and inner thinking that can ensnare a soul.
    I began to look at how “boundaries” have been stretched, altered and in some cases done away with in today’s haphazard social order and even the natural biological constructs! And if I’m correct in this then think of how many people are not only overriding God’s “will” by basically rebelling but are also blaspheming Him.
    The whole transgender thing to me is absolutely a blatant affront and denial of God’s authority and absolute truth.

    This Scriptures came to mind immediately!

    Genesis 5:2 “Male and female He created them, and He blessed them. And in the day they were created, He called them “man.” 3When Adam was 130 years old, he had a son in his own likeness, after his own image; and he named him Seth.…”
    Read the full reblog essay here.

    http://lawrencemorra.com/2022/08/13/pride-and-greed-has-a-serpentine-grip-on-humanity/

    Like

    1. This is such a turbulent time for Christians, and even other faith groups as cultures are changing rapidly, including laws and norms, and even such things as genders and family groups–changes few of us imagined in the twentieth century.

      We know for certain what Jezebel was teaching–two issues that were both controversial for the church, disruptive, even, to the Body of Christ.

      These are times, then, when we who have the Spirit of Christ need to listen ever so closely to what Jesus would have us do in response.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes Sister Joanne I agree, and I just thought about a TV commercial that used to be on regularly where a woman is talking about a home improvement service and at one point she states how “change is good” implying that people should pick up the phone and get your order in for some change to their homes! But, I think we agree that tradition is a very good thing, especially if it is “tried, tested and proven” over a long period of time to be “the right thing to do or follow,” so sometimes “no change is required” and just adhering to or “staying on the right path” is all that matters! But we’re in a period when the opposite is being promoted, of “radical change being a good thing!” With all this Radical change going on today one who comes along as a newcomer, the youngest among us, has to say to his or her self what is all of this and what is the best or right way, where even morality appears just relative to one’s own point of view, so as far as a right way is there even one to begin with! And so we can agree confusion is rampant in this societal climate and did Jesus ever say to just be confused, not at all; we know who plays that tune since the beginning of all this hardship since the fall in the Garden. But to so many maybe it’s now anything and everything goes and one just merely do their own thing and it’s a done deal; be happy the way you choose!

        I can say unequivocally that in the Catholic Church there is now a supposed pope who says it’s only fair that all religions and even pagan superstitions get to do their thing and be accepted by all other groups and religions, a kind of blending of all faith, sort of a giant melting pot of beliefs and that is fine; as he just demonstrated joining in with a pagan tribal religious ceremony in Canada recently, actually partaking of the pagan rite! So I have to say to this I know God told us through the ages and in His word in the Holy Scriptures to discern, and if I really do that because of my belief in the one God the Creator, our Father in heaven through Jesus Christ then the Holy Spirit or Comforter will teach me all things I must know firstly then by my discerning or reasoning ability I should and will see no good in all of this pandemonium at all; but instead seeing it for what it really is, a set-up for the coming antichrist which we have been forewarned about an is going to try take the place of Jesus in the Church, then claiming to be God!

        And as you stated succinctly here, “Jezebel was teaching two issues that were both controversial for the church, disruptive, even, to the Body of Christ;” and to me that would be transgressing God or being blasphemous! So how can this current state of confusion for so many or even mayhem be any less and if anything much worse than controversial with the levels of trickery as well the global reach and damaging effect all of it has on multitudes of souls; far exceeding the numbers of humans around back in Jezebels time! Then I ask; how can this listing or actually even sinking ship be righted, and soon enough to prevent the major disaster from occurring just up the road figuratively; other than the “Second Coming” for which I do hope and pray is very soon!

        Thank you sister Joanne for this thought provoking article!
        God bless you and yours.

        Brother in Christ,
        Lawrence

        Liked by 2 people

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