By Elizabeth Prata
I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. 20‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality. 22‘Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. 23‘And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:19-23).
There are so many warnings about false teaching. There really is NO reason to tolerate it. The first instruction ever given to the church is in Matthew 18, to discipline unrepentant church-going sinners! Jesus taught much against the dangers of false teaching, using vivid language of ravenous wolves shredding the sheep. Paul warning of unaddressed sin spreading like gangrene. Peter warned of satan roaming the earth looking for someone to devour. The letters to the churches in Revelation were written well after all the previous epistles. The Thyatirans should have known better.
We should always be pursuing holiness, and tolerating sin is the opposite of slaying sin. It is a massive failure.
In Thyatira’s case, not only had they tolerated a false prophetess who was usurping a place of leadership, but she had been doing it unabated for so long that she had spawned a second generation of like-minded idolater usurpers.
But let’s start with the first and pervasive thought that comes to our mind as we read the letter. It is obvious that this church had tolerated sin. It had tolerated acts of immorality and certain involvement with idols, as verse 20 indicates it. And not only had it tolerated, but it had allowed the woman who was teaching that to have reached a point of prominence where she was articulating it and leading Christians astray, as well as collecting around her some false believers. The Lord promises that He’s going to judge, and He’s going to judge that church severely, sparing only those, according to verse 24, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them. (The Church that Tolerates Sin part 1)
Think on this: the pollution from the Jezebel false prophetess was polluting the church and bringing judgment upon them. On the surface everything looked fine, though. The letter opens with Jesus exclaiming that the church had love, faith, service, and perseverance! Yet all was not well. The leaven of tolerating this Jezebel woman’s usurpation was going to bring severe judgment. Yes, ‘Jezebel’ and her like-minded children will be judged, but so will the people who allowed it!
Most churches tolerate sin of some kind all too often. Congregants divorce and it goes unremarked. Gossip spreads on prayer chains and people overlook it. People steal from God by failing to give cheerfully, and no one knows (except the church Treasurer and Jesus). But there are consequences for tolerating sin. Tolerating false doctrine or a false teacher has the most devastating consequence of all.
“In the case of the church at Thyatira, as of the churches in Sardis and Laodicea, the situation was far more serious. Here not merely a small minority was indifferent but large numbers had actually yielded to the demoralizing influence of false teaching, and I might add of sin.” [Charles Erdman, "The Revelation of John, Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966. p 56].
False teaching pollutes the church. False teachers pollute the church. False prophecies pollute the church. The tolerance of the Thyatiran leadership allowed sin to permeate their church and pollute it. They weren’t even struggling against it! They were simply caving in and letting it run rampant.
Since sin always worsens, it never, EVER rectifies itself, the sin in the Thyatiran church had descended to “the deep things of satan.” Thankfully, those deep satanic things are not spelled out in the letter, because we don’t need to know specifics. Suffice to say, tolerating false a prophetess means that satan’s things will simply embed deeper and deeper.
Worse, her sinful example will inspire others to do the same. And in Thyatira, that is exactly what happened. She had been tolerated so long that the church had descended to the evils of idolatry and the deep things of satan. AND she had spawned a second generation of false prophetesses!
"He says, “I’m going to kill her children.” What does He mean? I don’t think He means His bondservants who were following her. He means the second generation of her falsehood. It tells me this, that this thing had been around long enough in this church - remember, we’re in 96 A.D. and this church has been around for 40 years, this thing has been around long enough that there is a second generation of people propagating the same stuff. That’s her children. She has begotten a generation who are advocating the same thing…" (
Thyatira: The Church That Tolerates Sin Part 2)
Let’s look at a modern day example: Beth Moore. Moore is a false prophetess, teaching false doctrine, prophesying, leading women astray. Southern Baptist Convention leadership and her own church leadership tolerated Moore, a false prophetess usurping a place of leadership not designed for a woman, bringing false teachings to women, living a life not designed for wives to lead. Her own pastor vaulted her to the initial position of preaching on Sundays and teaching co-ed classes. Knowing this was forbidden and after cursorily questioning the legitimacy of this, Moore seized at the opportunity to put herself in a position not designed for her, and never let go.
When it was obvious that her usurping and prophesying was getting out of control, and that her local pastor was not going to do anything about it, SBC leaders also tolerated her usurpation. Some even congratulated her for it.
Does sin ever lay passively around, helplessly spread? No. Sin is aggressive and it will permeate if given even a minute chance, and that is what happened with Moore. Other like-minded, usurping women watched Moore carefully, and seeing no leadership objections and certainly no discipline or consequence to her sin, they vaulted forward. This is the second generation of her children (Revelation 2:23).
I’ve read so many women online who “credit” Moore for the ground-breaking she did in making it possible for them to teach, preach, and prophesy.
There are tons of comments like these from many women, either as well-known as Wilkin or less well known. It’s a steady stream online of women praising Moore for leading the way into egalitarianism and acceptance of women usurping in the church. The comments remain the same- they “credit” Moore’s example of a Thyatiran Jezebel for clearing the path for them to preach. Women have even been ordained in the SBC now, with leaders perfectly open about it. This must stop. Moore laid the groundwork for this result and leaders tolerated it to the point where it’s accepted now, but the rug can be pulled out and new ground work laid, one that stands upon biblical principles and is acceptable to Jesus.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He did not tolerate false prophetesses in his church leading people astray then, and He does not tolerate it now. He also doesn’t accept leaders tolerating this kind of sin, either. He will judge.
My exhortation for the leaders attending the upcoming SBC annual meeting is to re-think your stance on women teaching men and preaching. Not because I said so. But because Jesus did. We do not want to have our denomination descend int the “deep things of satan” anymore than it already has. It robs Jesus of glory! It harms His people.
My request to readers is that since there are caravans of good men heading to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Nashville June 15-16 with intent to persuade those tolerating this female usurping sin and other sins to rectify it, please pray for these men to be successful. Please pray for the ones who oppose curbing the leftward drift of our denomination, too.