Friday, 25 September 2020
“Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden. Revelation 2:24
There are two main changes between this text and other Greek texts. The words “and” and “will” are not found in them. Including the word “and” gives an inappropriate sense of what is being said to the various addressees. Instead, saying, “Now to you I say, to the rest in Thyatira,” provides a logical division between those already addressed who had been a part of the inappropriate actions of Jezebel and the others. The inclusion of the word “and” eliminates this important division.
Jesus is speaking to all “the rest in Thyatira.” He then explains that by saying, “as many as do not have this doctrine.” With these words, one can more clearly see why the word “and” is inappropriate. He has given His words of correction and warning to those who held to her doctrine. He now addresses those who do not. They are those “who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say.”
The words here are variously explained. First, is the term used by these people, “the depths,” which is then qualified by Jesus as “of Satan,” or is the term used by these people, “the depths of Satan”? It isn’t known for certain, but it seems unlikely that a supposed group of Christians would claim they followed “the depths of Satan.” Another option is that the saying was used by those who were not a part of this group. Looking from the outside, they may have said in an ironic manner, “They claim they know the depths of God, but they are caught up in the depths of Satan.”
This is not uncommon, even to this day. When an aberrant cult is noted for their incorrect doctrine, they are acknowledged as such. The cult – for example, the Mormons – might say, “We are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” But those who understand their aberrant doctrine might say, “You are followers of the teachings of Satan.”
Whatever the intent here is, Jesus clearly identifies their doctrine as aligned with Satan, just as He had done when using the term “synagogue of Satan” in verse 2:9. Many involved commentaries talk about what the term, “the depths of Satan,” means. But they are unnecessary. Jesus has already explained the behavior of Jezebel and those who committed her many offenses with her.
She was obviously claiming that her conduct was a deep teaching that could only be fully appreciated by those who followed her. She was claiming that her path was the true path to higher enlightenment and communing with God. But in fact, it was an alignment with the works of the devil. For those who had not followed her, Jesus then says, “I will put on you no other burden.”
Some see this as a connection to the trials and sufferings a church may face. But that conclusion doesn’t logically follow in light of this verse. Rather, Jesus is saying that the conduct of the church is acceptable (verse 2:19), but they needed to remove the wicked strumpet Jezebel from the congregation. With that, He would be pleased, and He would add nothing else to consider them a church in right standing. She was the main hindrance to a positive relationship with the Lord. Once she was removed, there would be a harmonious relationship between them and Him.
Life application: In addition to their faithful service, the church at Thyatira had kept away from what was obviously wrong in Jezebel’s doings. However, they had not excommunicated her. She was most likely teaching doctrines which supposedly revealed deeper and hidden truths of God, something that cults have continuously done since then as well. The problem was that the things she taught were neither “truths,” nor were they “of God.”
Her proclamations and actions came from Satan, and Satan’s teachings are always false and destructive. As Jesus said in John 8:44, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
Always be careful of someone who proclaims “something deeper” or “something new.” Check everything you hear against the Bible, and also be cognizant of what has been considered orthodox throughout church history. Jesus Christ doesn’t change and neither does the word that proclaims Him. Hold steadfast to sound doctrine and His instructions won’t be burdensome.
Thank You, Lord God, for the promise of teaching us if we will just listen to Your words. Thank You also for the promise of the glory that lies ahead which You promise to Your redeemed people. In this troubled world of strife and anguish, the promise of rest is our hearts’ desire. Our hearts sing out in joy at the prospect of sharing eternity with such a kind and wonderful Savior – Jesus – whom You sent to bring us back to You! Hallelujah to Your name. Amen.