Feb 102018

Revelation 2:21-29

To the Church in Thyatira – Part 2

21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.

  • Note that Jesus wants all to come to repentance – even the woman who has undermined, destroyed and polluted his church. “I gave her time to repent.”
  • God gives everyone the opening to repent. The sad part is that most people do not want any part of repentance.
  • Repentance plays such a huge role in the Christian life. Repent and believe the good news – it must always come back to this.
  • Luther nailed it in the first of his 95 Theses (pun intended) – the Christian life is all repentance. It is not something you do once and then you are let off the hook.
  • We live in the absolution and we live repenting at the same time. It is a continual cycle.
  • You go through your day thinking of the law and when you lay down at night you are thinking “I really blew it today – when the guy cut me off the road, when I was short with my wife – blew it again with the kids – Lord have mercy.”
  • Then the absolution you heard Sunday morning is ringing in your ears and the taste of the communion is in your mouth and you think “oh, he does forgive me – I can sleep knowing that I am justified even though my sanctification was crappy this week.”
  • This has got to be better than trying to measure if you are improving day by day / week by week.

22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,

  • Look who is doing the judging – Jesus. He doesn’t say “well I hate to do this but…” no, he just makes the declaration.
  • Who are those who commit adultery with her? The church. The outside world is just messing with her, but the church is the Bride and when the Bride is messing around, it is adultery.
  • So who will be judged with her? The unrepentant church.

23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.

  • Who are her children? Those who follow her.
  • The remainder if this verse is so important. What we believe, what we want to take from other religions or other denominations does not matter, no matter how good they sound or if we think it will bring all of us together – what matters is what Jesus thinks – and I can tell you Jesus is not into religious kumbaya.

24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.

  • John stops here to offer some pastoral exhortation.
  • The rest of you? You are doing well. Those who remain true to Christ in the presence of such tempting falsehood are recognized.
  • ‘Who do not hold to this teaching’ – this lends credibility that ‘sexual immorality is a metaphor for false teaching.
  • ‘the deep things of Satan = the same as the teaching and sin of Jezebel – the syncretism and universalism that that denies the exclusiveness of Jesus and the uniqueness of Christianity.
  • Beware of any teacher who tries to introduce you to the “secret” teachings he has uncovered. There are no secrets; God has revealed all we need to know in the Bible and it was written so that we might know him.

25 Only hold fast what you have until I come.

  • Just keep on keeping on. Hang on, remember what you have – Jesus.
  • Hold on! That is the message from Christ to his followers fighting to stay faithful in the face of great opposition and temptation. When the world offers you a prize for denying Christ and following after the material things of life, hang on to Christ. When the world’s powers come knocking at your door and denies you access to your house of worship, hold on to Christ. When some persuasive teacher on the radio, television, or internet tries to convince you of some teaching that does not square with Scripture, hold on to Christ. Hold on to what you have because he is coming back!
  • How does one hold on to Christ in the face of physical persecution, material seduction, and religious compromise? These are tough issues that we may one day face.
  • Read the Bible, confess your sins, receive the absolution and stay in close fellowship with your church family.

26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,

  • The one who conquers (repents) – the one who keeps Jesus’ works (right teaching).
  • Jesus has the authority to give because all authority has been given to him. Matt 28:18

27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.

  • In the context of the last days where the nations are judged, the Christians are brought up into the reign of Jesus.
  • The Christians are spared from the judgment, but we will see the nations judged on the basis of Jesus. Psalm 2:6-12
  • What we are seeing here (26-28) is the separating of the sheep and the goats Matt 25:31-46

28 And I will give him the morning star.

  • To be honest, no one seems quite sure what this means. I am sure to the readers, they may have known, but whatever it is, it is Jesus’ to give.
  • Although the 1st century readers would not know this yet, Jesus is called the Morning Star – see Rev 22:16
  • Whatever glory he has as the Morning Star, he will share with his church.

29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

  • The typical closing to the letters.

  41 Responses to “The Weekend Word”

  1. For clarification, i have a question:
    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteohsness.” 1 John 1 :9
    Would the Lutheran say, “but not until you get to church for confession and absolution?

  2. Did Jean not give the Church the following office:

    “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld”?

  3. LOL!! Not Jean, but Jesus.

  4. Not the point of my questikn, Jesus… errr Jean. 😇

    I asked whether or not the confession, to have efficacy, must be made in church and according to prescribed ritual

  5. Thank you, but…
    Not the point of my questikn, Jesus… errr Jean. 😇

    I asked whether or not the Lutheran confession, to have efficacy, must be made in church and according to prescribed ritual

  6. Well, that was weird… I only hit “reply” once. 😐

  7. The efficacy is in the cleansing of a guilty conscience. Since faith comes from hearing, there is great efficacy in hearing the announcement of Christ’s forgiveness given in accordance with the Word of God.

  8. It seems that John’s epistles are written to the churches and it seems that an office was given. Therefore I would think one would go to where one could here the absolution. This is why pastors make house call to those who can’t get out – to share the word, to pray with the individual, to administer the body & blood and to hear the confession and deliver the absolution.
    But, I guess confession in your head works also.

  9. Whenever Christ promises grace, we should ask: How is it applied to me?

    This is the physicality of the Christian faith that is preserved in sacramental traditions.

  10. Well, i.would reply that the OBJECT of efficacy is getting squared away with God… hopefully, one’s conscience would be cleared by faith in that…
    However, if one cant clear their conscience thru confessing to God alone… then the Lutheran way is a good place for them to land … Or the Roman Catholic way or any similar … i guess ….

    sorry about the caps….

  11. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteohsness.” 1 John 1 :9
    Would the Lutheran say, “but not until you get to church for confession and absolution?

    It strikes me as bizarre that Lutherans would says that you have to go to church to confess your sins to God and be forgiven.

    Didn’t Luther rediscover and believe and practice the priesthood of all believers?? Isn’t that one of the things he’s best known for??

  12. Em,

    You’ve nailed the difference between us.

    You wrote: “However, if one can’t clear their conscience thru confessing….”

    That’s just it, we can’t. In your #1, you quoted from Scripture: “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteohsness.

    It is Christ who does the cleansing, not me or my confession.

    Absolution is a real thing. It is the grace of God in my ear, on my tongue, and sprinkled on my head.

  13. bob1,

    “It strikes me as bizarre that Lutherans would says that you have to go to church to confess your sins to God and be forgiven.”

    Who said that? But let me ask you: Where in Scripture does it commend churchless Christianity?

  14. “Absolution is a real thing. It is the grace of God in my ear, on my tongue, and sprinkled on my head.”

    What about reading it in His Word. Wouldn’t this also be considered a physical means of grace?

  15. bob1 – but we did not say you had to church to confess your sins. You allowed Em to frame the storyline -a false storyline at that.
    What we said is you go to where God established the office of the ministry to hear the absolution.
    Some of our traditions have a whole liturgical and sacramental churchlife where God delivers his grace continually.
    If as I pointed out that John was talking to the corporate church, doesn’t it make sense that the church is instructed to do these things corporately?

  16. “the one who keeps Jesus’ works (right teaching)”

    Out of curiosity, I checked the Greek text on “keeps my works” and can find nothing that even vaguely references “right teaching”. Is this an allegorical or “spiritual” interpretation of the text? Just wondering…

  17. I guess I’ll answer my own question….

    Yes Joel, it is the ultimate Sacrament out of which all the other Sacraments proceed. So those of us that can’t go to a Lutheran Church for whatever reason can still be comforted by His Word, whether we’re in church or not.

    “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

    “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”

  18. In my opinion, the works of Jesus are the ones He commended this church for.

    ““ ‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.”
    (Revelation 2:19 ESV)

    Faithfulness and love…

  19. What Joel G says #14 and #17

    This doesn’t have to be an “either or,” does it? We can approach God individually, and corporately. He offers forgiveness of sins individually and corporately. Unless we really
    don’t have any individuality…

    My personal belief is that God utilizes and acts on His Word no matter how it’s received — sacramentally, personally, or whatever and wherever.

    God says, “My Word shall not return void.”

  20. JoelG,

    I agree.

    On the other hand there is much spiritual and psychological value in praying the liturgical prayers of repentance and hearing the absolution given.

  21. Another distortion @ 12…
    Regarding clearing one’s conscience… I wash my face in the morning… Of course it is the soap and water that does the cleansing, but twas me what washed me face 😁

    Now im done as i know one of the Lutes is going to point out that i had to go to the basin for the process and thus, “one must go to church for cleansjng” … sigh

    God keep

  22. Absulltely Michael,

    I experienced that myself. Those things are for our benefit.

    At the same time Bob1 is right. It’s “ both and….”

    In my humble opinion, of course…

  23. JoelG,


    There are many concepts like that which get lost in binary thinking…

  24. I think its funny that all of the non Lutherans are making claims for positions that neither Jean nor I have spoken for.
    I don’t see where we have claimed anything as a unique Lutheran teaching. We find it quite scriptural and until anyone addresses if John is speaking of a corporate action or an individual action we will differ — but not because we are defending a ‘Lutheran’ position. I think by far the majority of the Christian church today and down through the ages have held to confession and absolution.
    But in the spirit of getting along – to each his / her own.

  25. MLD,

    I’ll go this far with you…I think evangelicalism has a much weaker view of the corporate church than liturgical churches do…which makes some of this very foreign to their ears.

  26. Michael at #18,

    There are “your works” and “my works.” They are not the same thing.

    Jesus in verse twenty-six says: “…who keeps my works until the end….”

    How do we keep the works of Christ? Through preaching and teaching correct doctrine. By faith in those works, which must be proclaimed and taught.

    It is the implanted Word. But, as always, the works of Christ must be applied to the sinner. Thus, we cannot separate the works from right teaching.

  27. “There are “your works” and “my works.” They are not the same thing.”

    I disagree.

    “How do we keep the works of Christ? Through preaching and teaching correct doctrine.”

    Again, I disagree. Strongly. I don’t see those works mentioned in Matthew 25, for example.

  28. Sound teaching would be part of faithfulness…but not all teach…

  29. Joel at #17,

    You will never hear MLD or I say that one must be Lutheran or hear the absolution from another.

    All I would say at this point, is that as I get older, and my veneer of immortality begins to wither, I’m finding that the things that Christ says in his Word are actually for my benefit, not as a kill joy.

    He is not arbitrary or legalistic. He loves us and comes to us, taking into account the frailties of the human frame. As far as I’m concerned, I’m learning how to say “yes” to Christ more, and “no” to my old Adam more. But most of this is I’ve learned from the school of experience.

    I love your heart.

  30. Duane, good question that I cannot answer fully as I am separated from my notes – these lessons are my talking points from classes taught at my church in the past. After this last move to AZ it would be a search to find the study work.
    First to my interpretive grid, when it comes to Revelation, and I know I have said this in the past and may have put it in the introduction to this study – after about Rev 1:11 I take everything in the book as symbolic, spiritual, allegorical etc – John is after all looking at a vision.

    I think that Jesus’ works as mentioned here are in contrast to the works of Jezebel which I think over the past 2 weeks I have identified as false teaching or teaching against the true teaching of the church. “that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” Rev 2:20 – so the part of the church following this Jezebel needs to repent of HER works (which I see as her teaching) “unless they repent of her works,”

    The next teaching is about the church’s works which I made a big theme last week (and Michael mentioned here) – “and I will give to each of you according to your works.” which I think stems from how well they follow the proper teachings.

    When we get to the passage you bring up, I don’t know that we can take it in isolation from what has been discussed in just the previous few verses. Right before the passage in question, the speaker again refers to proper vs false teaching “who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan.” And then he tells them how to overcome, conquer – by holding to the works of Jesus which in this case I think refers to the truth of Jesus and what he has taught.

    That’s the best I can remember how I put it together. 🙂

  31. I found someone that agrees with me… 🙂

    “Here it is Jesus’ “works,” with an implied contrast between his “works” here and both Jezebel’s “works” in 2:22 and the “works” of all Christians in 2:23. It is only Christ’s deeds that can be the basis for Christian victory. The evil deeds of a Jezebel or the incomplete deeds of the individual Christian are insufficient. Moreover, Jesus’ words (2:25) must be lived out in deeds (2:26). Belief necessarily leads to action. The “works” themselves are spelled out in 2:19—love, faith, service, endurance. The Thyatirans have lived these in the past and now must exemplify them even more. Finally, both verses end at the eschaton. Jesus’ “coming” (v. 25) is the “end” (v. 26). As in Mark 13:13 (par. Matt. 10:22; 24:13), “The one who endures to the end will be saved.”

    Osborne, G. R. (2002). Revelation (p. 165). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

  32. Michael at #27,

    In my tradition, good works are the fruit of the Spirit. They flow spontaneously from a free and willing spirit of a good tree.

    “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak”. The Spirit has bound himself to the Word. The Trinity is one God in three persons, who share one essence, one will, etc.

    Thus, you are not going to find the Spirit speaking non-Christ words to anyone. Christ is the truth. The Spirit will guide us in Christ and His Word.

  33. Michael – I don’t know who Osborne is and I don’t like to battle in cut and paste – I think it is more worthy to speak what we believe.
    Now, I find that Osborne totally ignores all of the references to teaching – good and false in this short passage in Rev 2. Why is teaching mentioned so many times?

  34. I did speak what I believe…then I checked to see if I was talking out my hindquarters.

    He mentions teaching in context of the passage…he (and I) think there’s much more to these messages than just admonitions about false teaching.

  35. #30 MLD

    Thank you. It is the only time that the phrase is used in the NT. The grammatical structure of the phrase makes it much more likely to be interpreted as Michael did in #18. It is not a contrast with “false teaching”, but an exhortation to be the imitation of Christ in love and faithfulness.

    #26 Jean

    That’s good LCMS teaching, but it does not find application here at least in keeping with the “clear meaning of Scripture”.

  36. Michael, I probably missed it but where does Osborne speak to ‘teaching’ in his quoted passage?

  37. Duane, you may have misunderstood. I did not say that the works of Jesus were a contrast to false teaching. What I said was the works of Jesus were used to contrast the works of Jezebel – which I think are clearly shown to be her false teachings which was leading the church into false worship – I highlighted the pertinent phrases in that last comment.

  38. #29 – Thanks Jean. I’m sorry for being impatient.

  39. Duane,

    I agree that the phrase “keep my works” is unusual, but to say that your interpretation – “an exhortation to be the imitation of Christ in love and faithfulness” – is any more “clear” than MLD’s I would disagree with.

    One of the good things about historic Lutheranism is that we do not dogmatize exegesis. Therefore, we can enjoy good fellowship even where we differ in the exegesis of a text.

    Thank you for bringing up an alternative thought for verse 26.

  40. MLD,
    I only quoted a snippet of a commentary…the part addressing what we were discussing.
    I can post the rest if you like, but it’s really long…

  41. #39 Jean

    Just trying to go from the Greek text…

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