The Corrupt Church

The Corrupt Church

Pastor Don Carpenter

The Jesus Letters / Revelation 2:18–29

Neville Chamberlain was known for his policy of appeasement. As the prime minister of Britain before World War II, he knew that the country was still weary from the first World War, and wanted to avoid a European war at all costs. The problem was that at the same time Hitler was planning to overrun Europe, including Britain. Chamberlain did not want Britain to have to confront Hitler and his army, so in September of 1938 he reached an agreement with Hitler that resulted in the Munich Pact. Italy and France joined Britain in agreeing to surrender parts of Czechoslovakia to Germany in return for Hitler’s agreement not to invade any other European countries. Chamberlain confidently came home proclaiming, “Peace in our time.” They really believed that by giving into Hitler’s demands he would stop, or limit, his aggression. And, at that point, America was standing back hoping the whole thing would go away. But Hitler arrogantly ignored the pact, taking most of Czechoslovakia and invading Poland. It became obvious that France and Britain were in his sights as well. The Munich Pact is now a universal symbol of the failure of the policy of appeasement.

What caused Chamberlain and the others to actually believe that appeasement would work? I believe that it is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature and reality of evil. When we suffer under the illusion that evil can be reasoned with, and agreements made that will be lived up to, then we are at the mercy of evil. When we recognize evil for what it is, then we have begun to disarm it and are prepared to deal with it. We begin to live in the world of reality.  

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The one thing we do know (about Thyatira) is that it was a great commercial centre, especially of the dyeing industry and of the trade in woollen goods. It was from Thyatira that Lydia, the seller of purple, came (Acts 16:14). From inscriptions discovered, we learn that it had an extraordinary number of trade guilds. These were associations for mutual profit and pleasure of people employed in certain trades. There were guilds of workers in wool, leather, linen and bronze, makers of outer garments, dyers, potters, bakers and slave-dealers.

Here, we think, was the problem of the church in Thyatira. To refuse to join one of these guilds would mean to give up all prospect of commercial existence. Why should a Christian not join one of these guilds? They held common meals. These would very often be held in a temple; and, even if not, they would begin and end with a formal sacrifice to the gods, and the meat eaten would be meat which had already been offered to idols. Further, it often happened that these communal meals were occasions of drunken revelry and slack morality. Was it possible for a Christian to be part of such occasions?

Here was the problem at Thyatira: the threat came from inside the church. There was a strong movement, led by the woman referred to as Jezebel, which pleaded for compromise with the world’s standards in the interests of business and commercial prosperity, maintaining, no doubt, that the Holy Spirit could preserve them from any harm. The answer of the risen Christ is uncompromising. Christians must have nothing to do with such things.

1 William Barclay, The Revelation of John, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., vol. 1, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 112–113.

The believers in their love, had allowed terrible theological corruption to eat away at the church like a cancer. In His letter to the church, Jesus the Great Physician gives the only prescription for this kind of cancer, radical surgery. This is how to deal with the Jezebel problem.

The Author’s Credentials

Revelation 2:18 KJV

And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

The Comfort – Son of God

John 3:16 KJV

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

The Warning – Eyes of Fire and Feet of Brass

Revelation 1:14–15 KJV

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 

And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Daniel 10:6 KJV

His body also was like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.

First, the letter opens with a description of the risen Christ which has a threat in it. His eyes are like a flame of fire and his feet like polished bronze. The description is taken from that of the angelic messenger in Daniel 10:6: ‘His face [was] like lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze.’ The flaming eyes must stand for two things—blazing anger against sin and the awful penetration of that gaze which strips the disguises away and sees into the depths of a person’s heart. The bronze feet must stand for the immovable power of the risen Christ. A message which begins like that will certainly be no soothing tranquilizer.

1 William Barclay, The Revelation of John, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., vol. 1, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 114.

The Author’s Commendation

 Revelation 2:19 (KJV)

 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.

The letter goes on to use terms of the highest praise. The love and loyalty and service and endurance of the church at Thyatira are matters for congratulation. We must note how these great qualities go in pairs. Service is the outcome of love, and patient endurance the product of loyalty.

1 William Barclay, The Revelation of John, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., vol. 1, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 114.

last works are greater than the first Their love for God and one another increased, in contrast to the church in Ephesus (vv. 4–5)1

1 John D. Barry et al., Faithlife Study Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012, 2016), Re 2:19.

The Author’s Condemnation

You Suffer (Allow) Jezabel

This woman is called Jezebel and, therefore, her character must be discovered in the original Jezebel, than whom few women have acquired a worse reputation for wickedness. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon, and the wife of Ahab (1 Kings 16:31). When she came from Sidon, she brought her own gods and caused Ahab and his people to worship Baal. It was not that she would have wanted to banish the worship of Yahweh, if the prophets of Yahweh would have accepted Baal in addition to Yahweh. She slew the prophets of the Lord and at her own table supported 450 prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:13, 18:19). She was Ahab’s evil genius; in particular, she was responsible for the murder of Naboth in order that Ahab might gain possession of the ground where his vineyard stood (1 Kings 21). And she left behind her a name for ‘whoredoms and sorceries’ (2 Kings 9:22).

All this must mean that Jezebel of Thyatira was an evil influence on the life and worship of the Christian Church. It must be clearly understood that she had no wish to destroy the Church; but she wanted to bring into it new ways which were, in fact, destructive of the faith.

1 William Barclay, The Revelation of John, 3rd ed. fully rev. and updated., vol. 1, The New Daily Study Bible (Louisville, KY; London: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 116–117.

You Suffer (Allow) Her To Have Status as Prophetess

2 Corinthians 11:13–16 KJV

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 

And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 

Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. 

I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little.

You Suffer (Allow) Her to Teach and Seduce the Sheep To Spiritual Infidelity.

1 Corinthians 14:34 KJV

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

1 Timothy 2:12 KJV

But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

** The seduction of Jezabel often used the men as puppets in order not to be exposed as a usurper of authority.**

You Suffer (Allow) Someone Tapped Into Demonic Power to Have Access to the Sheep.

Revelation 2:24 KJV

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.

I Gave Her A Chance

Revelation 2:21–22 KJV

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

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

I know The Heart

Revelation 2:23 KJV

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.

Hang On, I’m Coming

Revelation 2:25–29 KJV

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

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

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. 

And I will give him the morning star. 

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

If someone has cancer, an operation is usually performed to cut out the malignancy. The reason is simple: if left alone, it will metastasize; that is, it will spread. No one wants a cancer to spread, so it is cut out or otherwise removed from the body so that the patient can be healthy again. And, of course, when the doctors tell the patient, “We got it all,” everyone is encouraged and rejoices.

The same thing should be true in the church. The reason to excommunicate the one refusing to be disciplined is to protect the rest of the body from being infected with that disease. Sin, like cancer, needs to be cut out so it will not spread.

1 Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 61.

Doctrinal Corruption can destroy a church from the inside out. It is especially dangerous when someone, fueled by demonic power, comes in claiming to be teaching the truth but instead seducing well meaning sheep away from the truth. We saw with the Church at Ephesus, one can have doctrine and lose his first love. Here we see you can have love, and lose doctrine. It takes radical surgery to deal with the Jezebel problem.

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 11:00 AM September 30, 2021.

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