Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Thyateira (2.18–23)


‘And write to the angel of the assembly in Thyateira:

The son of God, whose eyes are like a flame of fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze, says this:

I know your works and love and faith and service and your endurance, and your last works are better than the first. But I hold this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet, and teaches and misleads my slaves to commit sexual immorality and eat idol-sacrificed food. And I have given her time so she might repent, but she is not willing to repent of her sexual immorality. See, I will throw her into a bed, and those who commit sexual immorality with her into great tribulation if they do not repent of her works. And I will kill her children with death, and all the assemblies will know that I am the one who searches innards and hearts, and I will give each of you according to your works.


Jesus is identified to each assembly by attributes taken from chapter 1, generally in reverse order. Each selected attribute seems intended to tie into the message given to that particular assembly, though the meaning is not always clear. Jesus is the ‘son of God’. This epithet was used for angels and, among Christians, those among the redeemed. However, it also found use as signifying the relationship between a member of royalty (usually the king) and their patron deity. This royal application is likely the intended meaning here, since it is soon followed by allusions to Psalm 2. Identifying Jesus as the ‘son of God’ may be intended to contrast his divinely-ordained kingship against ‘the woman Jezebel’, named for the usurper queen from Israel’s history. Jesus also has the ‘eyes like a flame of fire’. He ‘searches innards and hearts’ for the purpose of passing judgment.

Whether the author had in mind a real woman whom he has derogatorily called ‘Jezebel’ is unknown. Her role here—as a propagator of sexual immorality and idolatry—resembles accusations made against Jezebel in the Hebrew Bible, as well as anticipates the role of Babylon later in the book.



2.7 I will tell of the decree of the Yhwh: He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have begotten you.’

89.26–27 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my god, and the rock of my salvation.’ I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.

110.3 ‘I have begotten you’


1.2 When Yhwh first spoke through Hosea, Yhwh said to Hosea, ‘Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking Yhwh.’


3.7–8 And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me’; but she did not return, and her false sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce; yet her false sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.


2.7.14 ‘I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me.’


1.16.31 And as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, he took as his wife Jezebel daughter of King Ethbaal of the Sidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him.

1.19.1–2 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, ‘So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.’

2.9.22 He answered, ‘What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?’


21.18 When individuals quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or fist so that the injured party, though not dead, is confined to bed


On Mysteries 1.64 I supported this account by handing over my slave for torture, to prove that I was ill at the time in question and had not even left my bed

Dead Sea Scrolls

4Q242 ‘He will be called the son of God, they will call him the son of the Most High.’


8.3 he was overcome by the burning heat, and he fell upon his bed and died in his town Bethulia.

1 Maccabees

1.5 After this he fell upon his bed and knew that he was dying.


4.9 And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’


13.16 ‘But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.’

4 Ezra

7.28 ‘For my son the Anointed One shall be revealed’

13.32 ‘then my son will be revealed’

Cairo Genizah

TS K1.42.31–33 may they fall into bed with sickness as long as he dwells in the place that they stole

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