Saturday, 19 September 2020
“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write,
‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass: Revelation 2:18
The words of Christ Jesus are now directed to the fourth of the seven churches. It is “to the angel of the church in Thyatira.” The name Thyatira is of uncertain origin. Charles Ellicott provides us with a description of the location –
“Thyatira was situated between Pergamos and Sardis, a little off the main road which connected these two cities. It was a Macedonian colony, founded by Alexander the Great after the overthrow of the Persian empire. The Macedonian colonists appear to have introduced the worship of Apollo, honoured as the Sun-god, under the name of Tyrimnas. It has been thought by some that the description here given of Christ—’the eyes of flame’—was selected in allusion to this worship of the Sun-god, under the form of some dazzlingly ornamented image. Certainly close commercial intercourse connected the daughter colony with its mother city. There seem to have been various mercantile guilds in the colony—bakers, potters, tanners, weavers, and dyers. The dye-trade was, perhaps, the most important. Lydia, the seller of purple, was in all likelihood connected with the guild of dyers; and her appearance in Philippi is an illustration of the trade relations of Macedonia and Thyatira. To her the Christian community at Thyatira may have owed its beginning. ‘She who had gone forth for a while, to buy and sell, and get gain, when she returned home may have brought home with her richer merchandise than any she had looked to obtain’ (Trench). The population was of a mixed character, and included, besides Asiatics, Macedonians, Italians, and Chaldeans.”
It is to the angel (meaning the leader) of this church that the Lord instructs John to write, saying, “These things says the Son of God.” Here, the Lord personally identifies Himself as the Son of God rather than the Son of Man (verse 1:13 & again in 14:14). Further, this is the only time He is referred to in this way in the entire book. Like the term “the First and the Last” (1:8) and “He who has the sharp two-edged sword,” (2:12), it is a clear reference to deity.
Just as Christ is the Son of Man – meaning He was born into the stream of humanity, so He is the Son of God – meaning He is begotten of the Father. It is this God/Man “who has eyes like a flame of fire.” This is the symbolism introduced in verse 1:14, and which was explained there as indicating judgment, purification, refinement, and so on.
His gaze can pierce through all things to determine what is hidden and secret as easily as that which is open and evident. In His burning eyes issues forth purification in judgment (as noted in 1:14) such as in the judgment of believers at the Bema seat judgment. In this case, Christ’s eyes are evaluating the entire church at Thyatira. But along with His eyes, it says, “and His feet like fine brass.”
This was noted in Revelation 1:15 and its significance was detailed there. The Greek word used to describe His feet is used now for the second and last time in Scripture – chalkolibanon. As detailed in the commentary on 1:15, the feet being described in this way speak of judgment on works. It is of these works that the Lord will next refer to.
Life application: Thyatira is the smallest of the seven cities being addressed, and yet it has some very big problems as will be seen.
Christ’s eyes burn through any attempt at hiding sin and get to the very heart of the matter, piercing deeply into the soul of man and into the workings of His churches. Nothing in creation is concealed before His piercing gaze.
Further, the judgment of Christ is absolute. It is without bias, it is based on an ultimate standard of perfection, and it is final when rendered.
Churches and congregants that fail to heed the symbolism of how Christ is depicted, and who ignore what that symbolism means in reality, are setting themselves up for real trouble. All humanity is accountable to Jesus Christ for their actions, and every church will be judged by Him in its actions as well. Let us pay heed and ensure that we are living in accord with what is learned here in these opening letters to these seven churches.
Lord, understanding that You see every sin, know every thought, and will judge every action, we ask that You guide us in our walk so that our lives will be acceptable to You. On our own, we mess up at every turn, but if we follow You, it is certain that our steps will be proper. Keep us from straying, and lead us on paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Amen.