|Through a revelation
to the Apostle John, Jesus sent a message to the church at Thyatira. This
congregation had permitted false teaching to go unchallenged. They allowed
a church leader to teach them to participate in religious practices of
idolatry and adultery. She was one of many false teachers who
taught “cheap grace” ---that God's grace meant freedom to do whatever you
wanted to do. Although she was called "that woman Jezebel", this may be
a comparison to Queen Jezebel (wife of Ahab, a king of Israel) rather than
her given name.
The original Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon. They worshipped Baal with religious rites that were in direct disobedience to the laws that the true God had given His people Israel. Ethbaal and Omri (who was Ahab's father and king of Israel) had made a treaty sealed by the marriage of their children, Jezebel and Ahab. (See Zondervan NIV study note for I Kings 16:25, 31)
Ahab was a wicked man and became even more wicked as king of Israel. He built a temple for Baal, began to worship his wife's god, and gave this false religion official status in Israel. Jezebel, Ahab's wife, and the false prophetess Jezebel of Thyatira both introduced pagan practices to the people of God by teaching and encouraging them to practice the sins of idolatry and adultery. Queen Jezebel set out to murder the Lord's prophets so that people wouldn't have access to the knowledge of God. She used her power as ruler to do whatever she felt like doing and to take whatever she felt like taking without regard to God's law or human life. She died a violent death and did not receive the honor of a state funeral.
Jezebel of Thyatira and the people who accepted her teaching also suffered the consequences of their disobedience. Anyone who uses the influence they have to turn people away from trusting and obeying God will not be allowed to enter the Kingdom of God.
Although, obedience to God’s law does not save us from eternal death, trust in God will bring us into a relationship to him that produces his righteousness in us. Belief is not enough. When we trust God, he will lead us into obedience to his teachings. (Romans 8:3-4) Jesus warned us to be wary of those who appear to be righteous, but don’t practice the intent of the law of God---“justice mercy, and faithfulness.” (Mark 8:15; Matthew 16:12; 23:23-27)
For the scripture reference list and related
Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study
Guide: Recognizing false Christian teachers