Not only ancient emperors had the ambition for power, even today in the democratic countries, candidates who run for the office of the presidency do not hesitate to spend astronomical amounts of money to achieve their goal. When a person has power he can have his way and do whatever he likes; he becomes the focus point of the entire world, and this is very appealing.
The Church in Thyatira represents the church from the 8th to the 13th century, the time when authority was of great importance in the church.
26-27 我要賜給他權柄…… 像我從我父領受的權柄一樣。
26-27 I will give authority…just as I have received authority from my Father.
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
Among the seven letters, this one is the only one that clearly says: “These are the words of the Son of God.” Undoubtedly, the sin committed by this church was extremely serious. When the Lord calls Himself the “Son of Man, ” He emphasizes His human nature and identifies with us. But when He calls Himself the “Son of God”, He emphasizes His power and His qualification to judge. In addition, His eyes are like blazing fire — He can see clearly through the inner parts of our souls. His feet are like burnished bronze — metal representing judgment. The emphasis of the entire message is judgment and authority. The Church during this era was struggling for authority and so the Lord strongly rebuked it. Hint, the Papal System started during the 8th century.
THE LORD’S COMMENDATIONS
19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
The best thing passed down by the Roman Catholic Church was doing acts of charity. Today, many churches care only for the human soul, but do not care for the physical needs of a person. This is not what the Lord taught. Their strong point was to do a lot of good deeds.
｢我知道你的行為｣，跟著下面四個詞，有叁個與善事有關。愛心= 關心人的行動；信心= 忠心持久；勤勞diakonian 服務( 跟執事同一字根) ，表示他們是忠心努力行善的人，而且後來比以前做得更多。事實上天主教會能不斷擴展，就是因為他們針對窮人行善。他們沒有甚麽佈道大會或佈道團，但人數卻會不斷增加。很多所謂純正信仰的教會，不做善事，只管靈魂的需要，福音反而傳不開。
Four words follow the phrase“ I know your deeds”. Three of them are related to charity. Love = the action of being concerned about others. Faith = lasting loyalty. Service indicating that they were a group of people who served faithfully doing charity. And they were doing more than what they were doing at first. In fact, the Catholic Church continues to expand because they do charity work towards the poor. They do not hold evangelistic meetings, yet they keep growing in numbers. Many churches that hold fundamental beliefs care only for the needs of the soul and do not do any charity work. You would think that the Gospel would spread faster that way, but it doesn’t.
Take a look at the different missionary organizations around the world and you will notice that many missionaries have become unessential, the most they can do is some planning work or promoting church-planting. Spreading the Gospel is mainly done by local preachers.
In the end, what kind of missionary work is important? Missionaries should go to places that are poor and undeveloped; they should go to the countries where there are not too many pastors and do their best to care for the needs of the poor and the needs of the local pastor. It doesn’t matter if the people who come are only looking for milk and bread, eventually these poor people will come to seek for the Lord.
In North America, most of the people who come to church are middle class, the rich are not willing to come and the poor are neglected. In the 70’s there was a Chinese Church that sponsored some Vietnamese refugees to come to America. After the Vietnamese refugees started coming to church, most of the members of the congregation decided to leave the church; they were bias against the refugees. This is actually contrary to the teachings of our Lord. The best way to help people who are in need is not giving money through a non-profit organization but looking for ways to personally help those who are in need, helping a particular family, caring for a family member who is sick or helping someone who is in need. This is a very good way to serve the Lord.
THE LORD ‘ S REBUKE
20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.
Many Bible commentators have been scratching their heads over this vexing character named “Jezebel”. How could a prophetess, woman preacher, have such great power and influence in the old times? Many churches today still do not allow women to preach at the pulpit, they are not even allowed to be leaders or to teach men; of course, this would have been impossible in the church in ancient times. So, who on earth is this Jezebel?
Jezebel was a queen, but her authority surpassed King Ahab’s. She led astray an entire nation by having them worship idols. Later on, the prophet Elijah alone proved to her on Mt. Carmel that the idols she worshiped were false gods, and killed all the prophets of Baal at once. At that time, she did not admit defeat and wanted to kill Elijah. Here it emphasizes that her authority was above her husband’s; actually, this suggests that the Pope’s authority is over Christ’s authority.
Christ should be the King of the Kingdom of Heaven, but the Pope has stolen that authority and has become the king of the church. Regardless if it’s a man or a woman, the queen should not have imperial authority. They also invented the theory that the Pope is errorless, which is a big mistake, deceiving the people to worship the Pope more than worshiping the Lord. They also lured people to commit spiritual adultery by worshiping idols, the saints and Mary.
Why is there a Pope? There is a Pope because the people crave political power. The Pope can decide on the depositions of emperors and all the kings of the European countries had to listen to him. He is more flamboyant than the president of the US The Lord’s Church was pursuing worldly power and so they developed the Papal system, thus they were severely rebuked by the Lord.
THE LORD ‘ S WARNINGS
21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.
The Church established the Papal system during the 8th century but they did not recognized this time as the start of it. They said that the first Pope was the apostle Peter. At that time, there were many actively opposing voices against the Roman Catholic Church resulting in the split and establishment of the Greek Orthodox Church. Those who passively opposed them formed house churches which later became the Church of the Brethren. These disputes were actually a chance that God gave them to repent, but they refused to repent.
22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.
人病臥在床或病得要死，常因為有罪( 林前11:29-30) 。病與死有可能從罪來的。但這裡說，教會要病臥在床，似乎指教會在屬靈上，將會像沉重的病人一樣無能，教會中信徒將有很多災難性的痛苦無法處理。
Often people are ill in bed or sick unto death because of sin (1 Corinthians 11:29-30). Sickness and death could be due to sin. But here it says that the Church will be cast on a bed of suffering which seems to point out that the Church will become extremely weak spiritually like a person who is seriously ill. The Church will have to face and deal with many sufferings that are disastrous in nature.
Some people think that prevention is better than treatment. Spending time counseling a believer’s family every day, wouldn’t this be much better than to wait until a problem occurs and then intervene? This sounds ideal but in fact it cannot be achieved. If the church goes astray and they deviate from the truth, it will be as if they were sick, they would not have the strength to provide for the spiritual needs of others. The church and the believers will be affected by the agony of the disease.
23 我又要殺死她的黨類( 原文是兒女) ，叫眾教會知道，我是那察看肺腑心腸的，並要照你們的行為報應你們各人。
23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am He who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds.
Jezebel taught God’s people to worship idols; therefore, she herself will suffer severe judgment. But God’s judgment is just and right. He will judge each person according to their doings. He will judge each person differently. He is calling to the multitudes that are under them to repent from their deeds otherwise they will be punished in the same way.
We cannot see through a person’s heart, we can only see outwardly and so might say: “All Catholics are not saved.” Or use a simple formula and say: “Believe in Jesus, repent, confess your sins, then you will be saved .” So, when a person prays and confesses his sins, we say that the person is saved. But is he really saved? Only God can know that. There is no other person who can actually look into a person’s heart but Him. No thoughts can be hidden from Him.
Those who seek absolute authority will use means that are deceitful and cunning. People say: “All politicians will go to hell,” because politicians use sneaky and dishonest ways to obtain what they want.
By reading carefully these letters we realize that bad influence can continue until the end times. The Lord said that those who worship idols will “suffer intensely.” He also said: “Hold on to what you have until I come.” Even though each church only represents one era, we can see from the words that the Lord spoke to the churches that a bad influence will continue to exist until the end last days. False teachings can pollute the church until the end of the world. It is not a matter of just a few hundred years.
The Lord tells the Church in Sardis: “I will come like a thief”, and to the Church in Philadelphia He says: “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world.” This tells us that the Church in Philadelphia, which was a church that loved the Lord and preached the Gospel, was a vigilant church. They will be spared from the seven years of great tribulation. Those who are victorious will be raptured before the great tribulation. In the same manner, those who have been influenced for more than a thousand years with false teachings to bow down to idols and worship the Pope will not receive the eternal abundant life that the Lord gives.
THE LORD ‘ S ENCOURAGEMENT
24 至於你們推雅推喇其馀的人，就是一切不從那教訓，不曉得他們素常所說撒但深奧之理的人，我告訴你們：我不將別的擔子放在你們身上，25 但你們已經有的總要持守直等到我來。24 Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, 25 except to hold on to what you have until I come.’
When the Lord said He will not impose any other burden on them, it showed that they already had burdens. The people who were suffering were those who sincerely sought the Lord, they were oppressed by the ones in authority. Those who are faithful in spite of suffering hardships will surely have an abundant life. The Lord told them to hold on to what they have until He comes. Therefore, the word “perseverance” on verse 19 definitely refers to this group of people, because suffering silently and persevering showed they were true Christians.
When a Muslim suffers persecution, the whole Muslim world rises up against the attacker; when a member of the Falun Gong suffers, his supporters will gather to hold a protest rally against the government. Only Christians suffer silently while they are taken to jail and let people search their houses and confiscate their possessions but they are filled with joy while in prison, singing hymns, praising God and testifying for the Lord. After they are released from prison, they will continue to meet together to worship God. This has not changed in 2000 years. The joy in the Lord does not change even under adverse conditions. Unbelievers become unhappy when their mother-in-law does not treat them well, or their boss does not appreciate them; their happiness lies on the hands of others.
The characteristic of a Christian is to persevere regardless of how difficult the circumstances are outside. Nothing can take away our joy. The Lord will not put on us a burden we cannot bear; He knows how much we can take.
THE LORD ‘ S PROMISE
26 To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations.
The church that seeks political power is a church that is a failure. To the church that follows the commands of the Lord, Christ will give true authority, which is spiritual authority. The Roman Catholic Church sought political power; today, many churches have problems because of political power struggles. Some elders of the church have authority like the director of a company, mistakenly thinking that is spiritual authority.
Doesn’t the Bible mention spiritual authority? Twice, before the Lord Jesus sent His disciples out to preach the Gospel, He gave them authority to heal the sick and to cast out demons so that they would have power when preaching the Gospel. But, when the church craves absolute authority over others, sends out troops to fight, uses money to make people obey them, and have the power to excommunicate people from the church, then, their real spiritual authority is gone.
The Lord said He will give authority over the nations to those who do His will. Who has authority over the nations? Even the United States that is the most powerful country in the world does not have that authority, who then has it? What the Lord is saying is that the Kingdom of Heaven will conquer the world; the Gospel will conquer the world, it will snatch human souls out of Satan’s hands.
27 他必用鐵杖轄管( 牧養) 他們，將他們如同窯戶的瓦器打得粉碎，像我從我父領受的權柄一樣。28 我又要把晨星賜給他。
27 That one ‘will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery’ —just as I have received authority from my Father. 28 I will also give that one the morning star.
The one who is victorious will receive spiritual authority, just like the authority that the Lord Jesus received from God the Father. What kind of authority will they receive? Here, there are several kinds of authorities:
1. exousia epi-authority over 有權柄在世界各國之上。這是主真道的權柄。耶穌在世上傳道的時候，人們覺得祂所傳的有權柄，不像法利賽、文士們只有空洞的話。
1. exousia epi-authority
AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS.
It is the authority of the true Word of God. When Jesus was preaching the Word of God in the world, people felt that He preached with authority, not like the Pharisees or the Scribes who spoke empty words.
2. IRON SCEPTER UNSHEATHED.
The power to rise above the rest; the pottery does not refer to others but to ourselves, “we have this treasure in jars of clay.” In the old times, people would keep important things inside jars of clay , like the scepter of an emperor which was rarely used. When the scepter was not needed, it was put inside the pottery and when it needed to be used, the jar of clay would be broken into pieces to retrieve the treasure. Nowadays, people might use a special box to keep their treasures.
When people are willing to be broken and lay down their own self before the Lord, the Holy Spirit that is inside them will emerge and manifest its power, the sick will be healed, demons will be cast out, the devil will be bound and the evil powers of darkness will be overcome.
3. SPIRITUAL GIFTS. “Morning Star” indicates those leaders with special spiritual gifts. The people from ancient times used this very bright star that appears at dawn to express the hope that they have for the emperor that people support. The Lord wants to give the victorious church a leader with spiritual gifts far greater than the authority of the Pope.
These three kinds of authority are the ones that the Pope and the leaders of the church long for; but at the end, what they obtained was only earthly authority, not spiritual authority or authority from heaven. The Church ought to attach great importance to spiritual authority.