“Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols“
Nevertheless I have a few things against you
Jesus turns from commendation to condemnation of the church at Thyatira.
because you allow that woman Jezebel
The trouble in Thyatira was tolerance. The word “allow” means to tolerate. The church at Thyatira tolerated a false teacher by the name of Jezebel. The church distanced itself from this problem and let it lie to fester only to become a greater problem later. Tolerance is a concept of compromise.
The Jezebel of the Old Testament was King Ahab’s queen. She was a Canaanite and daughter of a pagan priest named Ethbaal, a worshipper of Baal. He killed his brother to become King of Sidon, Lebanon. Jezebel may have been a priestess who worshipped Astarte, later called Aphrodite [the Romans called her Venus], the goddess of lust.
When King Ahab of Israel brought his wife to Samaria, the capital of the northern tribes, she brought her religion with her. Baal was a fertility god. Baal worship used both male and female temple prostitutes to appease him. Jezebel built a temple to Baal and an altar to Astarte. With this came hundreds of prophets to promote her religion.
“Now it happened, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, ‘Is it peace, Jehu?’ So he answered, ‘What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?’” (2 Kings 9:22).
Jezebel fancied her religion, a Phoenician Baal cult in Israel that promoted harlotry and magic. She seduced her tolerant and weak husband to persecute the Lord’s prophets and led Israel into idolatry. Her name stood for anything that endangers orthodox teaching. The Jezebel counterpart of this verse is a symbolic name for a person who distorts doctrine.
Some manuscripts read “your wife” instead of “that woman.” If so, this would mean that this Jezebel was the pastor’s wife! However, the strongest manuscript evidence does not support this.
who calls herself a prophetess
Jezebel was a self-styled and self-appointed prophetess, but she was no true prophetess. Just because people claim something does not make it true. Many people claim religious status in our day, but this does not mean they carry authentic biblical authority.
Jezebel taught that it was permissible to belong to a trade guild. Belonging to a trade guild included idol worship and sexual immorality at religious feasts.
to teach and seduce My servants
This phony priestess both taught and seduced her followers. “Seduce” means deceive. Jezebel was probably beautiful, brainy, personable, but deceptive. The church at Thyatira was more interested in the delivery than the content. The church of our day is more interested in form than substance.
Jezebel seduced God’s servants. She seduced Christians.
to commit sexual immorality
Committing “sexual immorality” is not the same as committing adultery. This is a much more general term than “adultery” and means to engage in any illicit sex act. This could range from fornication to prostitution. A person who commits this sin, sins against his own body (1 Corinthians 6:18). It is God’s will that we abstain from sexual immorality by consecrating ourselves to Him (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
“Sexual immorality” here is sex acts associated with idol worship. Jezebel taught Christians to engage in sexual promiscuity in idol worship. The Jezebel of this verse attempts to draw God’s people into sexual immorality through religion.
and eat things sacrificed to idols
The combination of religion and sex is a great problem. Jezebel taught the church to combine paganism and Christianity. The appeal for this combination was sex. Whenever we combine Christianity with paganism, truth always loses out.
Unadulterated tolerance is not biblical.
A church may think that unrestricted tolerance is a virtue, but the Bible demands that we choose. Indifference will not do. It is not right to go along with the permissiveness of unadulterated tolerance.
Some churches have scanty standards. These churches are indifferent to sexual immorality, abortion, or euthanasia, “This is just a matter of preference.” Their central operating principle is “choice.” They want autonomy in determining what is true. This is unadulterated relative thinking, a philosophy perfect for a pluralistic society.
Pluralism demands toleration. Toleration used to mean patience and longsuffering with people. Now tolerance means that all views are equally valid. That is a major shift in thinking. Not only are all views equally tolerable, but all views are equally valid. In this situation, we kill truth. The only truth left is tolerance, which, in reality, is no truth. Values then have no value.