Note: This is a continuing evaluation of the book The Days of Vengeance written by David Chilton. Chilton at the time of writing this was a partial preterist who later in life (after a massive heart attack) turned to full preterism. Sections will be taken from the book and commented on to the fullest extent possible. A PDF of the book can be found here.
Now it is time to focus on Thyatira. The single most important thing in this letter is the inclusion of Jezebel in the description against the church. This will conclude the un-holy trinity of deception upon the church. But before that, a general description of the city is in order,
Every imaginable manufacturing industry was strictly controlled by the guilds: In order to work in a trade, you had to belong to the appropriate guild. And to be a member of a guild meant also to worship pagan gods; heathen worship was integrally connected with the guilds, which held their meetings and common meals in pagan temples. Two central aspects of the required pagan worship were the eating of meat sacrificed to idols, and illicit sexual relations. Any Christian who worked in a craft or trade was thus presented with severe problems: his faithfulness to Christ would affect his calling, his livelihood, and his ability to feed his family.
The local god, the guardian of the city, was Tyrimnos, the son of Zeus; and Tyrimnos-worship was mixed in Thyatira with the worship of Caesar, who was also proclaimed the incarnate Son of God. The conflict of Christianity and paganism in Thyatira was immediate and central – and so the first word of Christ to this church is the proclamation that He alone is the Son of God (the only place in the Revelation where this specific designation of Christ is used). The letter to this church begins with an uncompromising challenge to paganism and statism, affirming the definitive, absolute uniqueness of Jesus Christ. (DOV, 56)
Despite this grim picture, it is incredible how consistent Jesus is at presenting Himself as what the church needs. This isn't to say that Christ changes from church to church. But He empowers where we are weak and reveals the truth we need to regain. While many good things could be said for this church, the biggest exegetical point is in the warnings,
The elders were allowing false doctrine to have a place in the church. Christ again calls the heresy by a symbolic name, as He had before (Nikolaos and Balaam); this time, the cult is identified with Jezebel, the wicked queen of Israel during the ninth century B. C., who led the covenant people into the idolatrous and adulterous worship of pagan gods (1 Kings 21:25-26; cf. 2 Kings 9:22, where her actions are specifically called “harlotries” and “witchcraft”)...
Regardless of the rationale involved, the doctrine was heresy, and was not to be tolerated. That is the precise term used here: You tolerate this woman, the Lord accuses them. And by tolerating her, the elders were placing the entire church in jeopardy, for she teaches and leads My servants astray, so that they commit fornication and eat things sacrificed to idols. This must be clearly understood: Orthodox, Biblical Christianity is intolerant. A church that tolerates evil and false doctrine is a church under judgment; God will not long tolerate her. This is not to say that Christians should be intolerant of each other’s mistakes, idiosyncrasies, and differences over nonessentials. But when it comes to clear violations of Biblical law and orthodox doctrine, the government of the church is required by Scripture to put a stop to it before it destroys the church.
“Jezebel” was, figuratively if not literally, leading Christians into fornication and idolatrous communion, the effective abandonment of the Christian faith for paganism and state-worship. Was there literally a woman leading the Judaizers in this local area? The possibility is at least indicated by the specific accusation against the angel/bishop of Thyatira: “You tolerate your wife, Jezebel. “It may be that the arch-heretic of Thyatira was the leading pastor’s wife! On the other hand, Christ may be pointing in a more general way to the angel’s failure, like Adam, properly to guard the Bride – a central function of the priestly calling. Because he had failed, she had become a Harlot. (DOV, 56)
The church was unable to succeed in the general market place and it was being corrupted slowly from within by licentious living. How is the church suppose to feel about its missions and Christ? Well it seems for a church this low, the only answer is to remember Christ's Divine authority (pg 57-58),
The faithful Christians in Thyatira were suffering from both the heathen world outside and the compromising heretics within the church. They probably were tempted to doubt whether they would ever win in this struggle. The most prosperous and successful Christians were the ones who were the most faithless to Christ; it looked as if the orthodox were fighting a losing battle. They were so powerless by now that they were unable even to oust the apostates from the church. Yet Christ promises the angel/bishop: He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of a potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received from My Father. This is a reference to the Father’s promise to the Son, as recorded in Psalm 2:8-9: Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware. God the Son has been granted the rule of all the world, and all nations will come under His messianic kingship. (DOV, 57-58)
There are many who think we live in the days of the Laodicean church. But I think I disagree. I think if anything could describe the America church right now it would by Thyatira.