Jesus Addresses Thyatira -2
v.21-23 “And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death. And all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”
We might conclude that this woman was no newcomer to the church for she had “time to repent”. Seemingly, she had been around for a while under the watchful eye of Jesus, and could have turned away from her evil practice. Because she didn’t, Jesus issues this decree: “Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed.”
Although speculative, this might allude to an untimely death. Perhaps, because of her unrepentant sin, God made a determination to strike this woman down and kill her as He did the ancient Jezebel (1 Kings 21:23; 2 Kings 9:30-37); which is also consistent with New Testament teaching (see—I Cor.11:27-30).
“And those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation unless they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death.” This somewhat different admonition to the converts of Jezebel (taken to mean “her children”) has led some commentators to see this judgment finding its ultimate fulfillment in the future. Whereas, Jezebel is cast into a sickbed, which might be an untimely death, her converts are first cast into great tribulation, and without repentance then to certain death.
Let’s consider it.
The phrase “into great tribulation” might refer to the period Jesus spoke of as a time of “great tribulation” (Matt.24:21), or the second half of what we commonly call the Tribulation. If so, then it would suggest that a line of converts dating back to Jezebel do exist in our day, will not be raptured, and will enter the Tribulation; ultimately to endure its suffering, and finally death unless they repent.
I personally agree with this idea because I believe all seven of the congregations addressed by Jesus in this Book are representative of the Church today, and thus are recipients of His admonition. In other words, as surely as we have congregations that have left their first love not unlike Ephesus; congregations that are being persecuted not unlike Smyrna; congregations that are carnally minded not unlike Pergamos; there are congregations with idols not unlike Thyatira.
Okay, but who are these children of Jezebel? I see it as the Roman Catholic Church. It has idols, teaches unsound doctrine, and yet consists of born again believers, as there were in Thyatira (note the next verse). I am not suggesting that a Catholic is evil. “For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13), regardless of church affiliation. But I do believe that Catholicism, in practice, beguiles members with its idols, rituals, and false doctrines, and thereby harbors “children of Jezebel” trusting in those things as God’s revelation without knowledge that “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).