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Milepost 4: Thyatira

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Milepost 4: Thyatira

Primary References: Revelation 2:18-29

The church of Thyatira was full of great love and works. They faced many battles between the flesh and spirit as the influence of the trade guilds coerced them to serve the guild’s pagan gods to earn a living. Offsetting their great works was their tolerance of the teachings of the female false prophet, Jezebel.  She seduced many to eat things sacrificed to idols and commit fornications.  Thyatira and Ephesus are interesting contrasts.  Ephesus lost its love while Jesus commends Thyatira for its love.  Ephesus did not tolerate false doctrine while Thyatira allows Jezebel to seduce and corrupt the church.  Both churches fell short of God’s standards.

The church period of Thyatira represents the Middle Ages (600 A.D. - 1500 A.D.), a period from the fall of Rome to the beginning of the reformation.  During this time, warlike Asian heathen barbarians subjected Europe to a series of invasions and occupations while Islam’s political and spiritual spheres of influence grew to engulf increasingly larger portions of Western Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa.  The church’s signature works of the middle ages occurred in Europe where it was instrumental in winning the hearts and souls of several diverse groups of people including the Romanic, Keltic, Germanic (Teutonic), Slavic, and Greeks.  Rome’s fall and the end of its established societal order introduced many new challenges to the gospel’s European promulgation.  Gone were the days of highly educated centralized population centers.  Missionaries now had to explore the wildernesses seeking the lost who often lacked even rudimentary levels of education.  As a result, the church not only spread the gospel but also laid societal foundations such as education, literature, and art.  Through this time, the church became a disciplinary institution characterized by its legalistic, hierarchical, ritualistic, and romantic character.  The medieval church founded universities, built lofty cathedrals, stirred up the crusades, and meddled in the affairs of sovereign nations often dictating who could and could not reign.  Like Thyatira, the strength of the medieval church was their love, faith, and works.  Through the middle ages, the church’s works grew in magnitude and number so their works at the end where greater than at the beginning.

The medieval church also institutionalized many of the rituals and doctrinal errors of the Pergamos church age.  At the same time, it was difficult, if not impossible, for lay people to challenge the clergy since physical and language barriers blocked access to scriptures.  Few copies of the Bible existed and access to these was restricted to priests.  Over time, these conditions contributed to the priest’s dictates becoming more absolute while their corruption flourished.  Not surprisingly, this volatile combination led to several church crises with the most pronounced occurring in the tenth, eleventh, and fourteenth centuries.  Eventually, priesthood corruption culminated in the infamous papacies of Alexander VI (Borgia, 1492-1503), Julius II (1503-1513), and Leo X (1513-1521), who was renounced by Adrian VI in 1522.  The following table summarizes the church of Thyatira.