Refuting 70 ways of losing salvation (13): Adultery with Jezebel Revelation 2: 20-23

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Recently I found an interesting blog which states that we can lose our salvation in 70 ways. For the complete list of the 70 “ways”, kindly refer to:

https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/70-ways-of-losing-your-salvation-1-stop-believing-luke-813/  

You will find links to the rest of the myths at the end of this article. Please refer to them after your finish this  article.

Today we deal with Myth 13: “be cast into a bed of adultery with false teachers and killed with death if you won’t repent of fornication with the doctrine Jezebel Rev 2:20-23”

 

It is easy to understand how one can be caught by the presumption that the church is Thyatira may “lose” her salvation just from looking at the verse “be cast into a bed of adultery with false teachers and killed with death if you won’t repent of fornication with the doctrine Jezebel Rev 2:20-23” is quoted out of its context.

 

One may easily presume that the Jezebel that John is referring to is the same person who married Ahab, Queen Jezebel. As such on first reading, it would seem that the passages in the Old Testament in Kings apply.  

 

Let’s look at the background.

 

Background

 

The letter to the church at Thyatira mentions a self-proclaimed “prophetess” named Jezebel. Some have taken her mention as a symbol, one of several of female figures personifying evil (Zec. 5:7; Mtt. 13:33; Rev. 17+):1

Conceivably there may have been a woman by that name in the local Church at Thyatira, but this is highly unlikely. The name Jezebel is a Phoenician name, and by this time the Phoenicians had disappeared as a separate ethnic identity and had become part of the Greek-speaking world. Furthermore, Thyatira was not located in Phoenicia, but in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).2

Yet, there are reasons for understanding Jezebel to be a real woman within the Thyatiran church:

Many think Jezebel is a symbolic rather than real name, as the biblical Jezebel (I Kings 16:3118:131921; II Kings 9:22) was the sort of woman after whom no parent would be likely to name their child. However, as the name means “chaste,” like the English name “Agnes,” this argument is not all that forceful. Furthermore, Scripture does not portray Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, as licentious, for II Kings 9:22 seems to refer to idolatry rather than immorality. On the other hand, this woman achieved the same results as did her infamous namesake (I Kings 21:25). Finally, Rev. 2:23+, “kill with death,” is very emphatic in Greek; so again it seems more appropriate to preserve the literal threat of physical death rather than favor some allegorical or symbolic meaning. Physical death would be a crystal-clear sign of God’s obvious disapproval, and that is exactly what the text says.3

In favor of a personal identification of Jezebel is that she is distinguished from her followers (Rev. 2:22-23+). The solution may be that a woman by a different name with characteristics matching those of the Phoenician Jezebel resided at Thyatira, but she is given the name Jezebel in the letter to call attention to and condemn her practices as being like those of Jezebel of old. “The approach that has the least objection to it is to take Jezebel as a symbolical name for some prominent woman in the church of Thyatira. She was like the infamous wife of Ahab.”4

Jezebel of Thyatira not only taught error, but exercised teaching authority over men in opposition to role distinctions set forth by Paul (1Ti. 2:12). As Paul explains, such role distinctions are not cultural, but grounded in God’s created order (1Ti. 2:13-14).5 The error of the Thyatiran church was not just that Jezebel was allowed to promote unbiblical concepts, but that she evidently held a position as a teacher over men. This is another point of identification with the strong-willed, domineering Jezebel of the OT.

 

No doubt, both her position of influence and the content of her teaching were repugnant to God.

 

Now that we got that our of the way. Let’s look at what the Lord says about her.

Jezebel

“that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead.

Note Jezebel is called merely a “woman”. The believers are distinctly called “my servants”. There is a possibility that this self proclaim prophetess is not even a believer. Note also she refuses to repent despite the Lord giving patience.

We are also not told “those who commit adultery with her” are believers or not? Assuming they are, note they are made to suffer so that they would repent. Note only Jezebel was pointed out to “unwilling” to repent. As I pointed out she is not (may not be) a believer. There is nothing to suggest that “those who commit adultery with her” did not repent. What is clear is this, they were place under suffering so that they will repent. This means that they were still at that time had that salvation intact.

What was really happening?

A helpful guide to the background of what had happen can be found here: http://www.gci.org/bible/rev/ephesus. Let me reproduce what is relevant:

“We should note that the original Jezebel’s sin was leading Israel into idolatry. She was not accused in the Old Testament of leading a sexually immoral life. Rather, her sin was in teaching others to follow religious immorality and faithlessness to the Lord (2 Kings 9:22).

This indicates that we can take the expressions of censure – “eating food sacrificed to idols” and “committing adultery” – in a figurative sense to mean idolatry. We should also be reminded that the Old Testament presented idolatry, apostasy and infidelity to God in terms of sexual metaphors – as sexual immorality, fornication, adultery and prostitution (Exodus 34:15, 16; Deuteronomy 31:16; Jeremiah 3:6; Ezekiel 23:19; Hosea 9:1). As well, John used adultery as a metaphor of idolatry elsewhere in Revelation (17:2; 18:3).

Specifically, in the church at Thyatira, this Jezebel probably counseled accommodation with the world. Robert H. Mounce says, “The fornication of which Jezebel was not willing to repent was her adulterous alliance with the pagan environment” (The Book of Revelation,p. 104).

Her theology as spread by her counterparts in the Thyatira church would be especially attractive, in that members wrestled with the matter of participation in workers’ guilds. To reject guild membership would cause one to suffer economic deprivation. However, to be part of a guild required participation in its pagan religious festivities. The temptation to compromise one’s Christian beliefs must have been strong for many church members. Robert H. Mounce explains:

“In a city whose economic life was dominated by trade guilds in which pagan religious practices had become criteria for membership, the Christian convert would be faced with the problem of compromising his stand at least enough to allow participation in a common meal dedicated to some pagan deity. To reject this accommodation could mean social isolation and economic hardship.” The Book of Revelation, p. 103)

To be a member of a guild almost certainly would have meant participating in religious idolatry, immorality and debauchery. Thus, there is a dual meaning to the accusation that the Jezebel party practice “sexual immorality.” To summarize, then, Revelation’s “Jezebel” (as well as “Balaam” and probably the Nicolaitans) suggested the Christian could come to terms with the world and still be faithful to Christ.

The Jezebel party probably would explain that “an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4). They would have reasoned that believers need not hurt themselves economically by refusing to accept a few harmless requirements posed by trade guild membership.

“Jezebel is to be counted amongst those to whom the claims of commercial success speak more loudly than the claims of Christ,” says William Barclay (The Revelation of John, volume 1, revised edition, p. 107). The Jezebel party apparently couched its teaching in strong theological wine, providing an excusing rationale that seemed to dispel any contrary arguments. Their theology is called “Satan’s so-called deep secrets” (2:24).

This phrase is usually explained in two ways. It may be an ironic twist on Jezebel’s own claim. Her followers may have claimed to be more spiritually sophisticated. They may have distorted Paul’s teaching, claiming to understand God’s will more deeply than the “self-righteous” majority who thought it ungodly to pay homage to the emperor as a god and to engage in debauchery (1 Corinthians 8:4; Romans 14:17). But Revelation says that the Jezebel party is the one that has fallen into the depths of a spiritual pit Satan has dug.

Another explanation for “Satan’s deep secrets” is that Jezebel, like the later Gnostics, taught that only by descending into the depths of evil could one appreciate the heights of God’s grace. Paul had also been forced to refute a similar idea in the church at Rome (Romans 6:1).

A majority of the church at Thyatira did not buy Jezebel’s reasoning. However, the church still apparently allowed this group’s teaching to continue within its midst. It had the “Corinthian disease” which tolerated sin in the church, possibly in the misguided interest of being big-minded (1 Corinthians 5:1-7).”

You must understand what Jesus pointed out here is not their adultery with this woman which upsets him. It was the tolerance towards Jezebel that he was upset about.

20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

She was in the leadership and was teaching the church. The Lord was upset because she was harming the flock. Jesus was not upset with what the flock was doing per se, He was upset with her influence in the church and the pastors were tolerating it. So Jesus will strike her sons. He is the good shepherd, He will definitely strike the wolves in the church to protect the sheep. The punishment is on her NOT the church.

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The Church

You may then argue that the Lord had told the rest that He would “except to hold on to what you have until I come. (v. 25)” Dear friends, this verse must be read together with this verse “19 I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.”

The legalistic teachers will have to see a doom and gloom picture for the church but the promise of Jesus to the church was far from the picture painted by legalistic preachers.

Just take a look at what Jesus says about the church. You now tell me whether the salvation of this church is intact or not.

The church members at Thyatira were encouraged to continue in the faith – “until I come” (2:25). They were to be overcomers and do Christ’s will to the end. “This is the nearest we have in the seven letters to a definition of the conqueror,” says G. R. Beasley-Murray. “He holds fast the traditions of faith and life delivered to the Church til the coming of Christ (v. 25) and he keeps Christ’s works till the end (v. 26) – whether that ‘end’ be the Lord’s parousia or his own death” (Revelation, p. 93).

The promise of salvation is described as “authority over the nations” (2:26). The overcomer will “rule them with an iron scepter” and “he will dash them to pieces like pottery” (2:27). These statements were taken from Psalm 2:9.

Some scholars feel that the original wording gives a somewhat different meaning than the English. Ruling should be understood more in the sense of shepherding. Wielding an iron scepter should be seen more in the context of a shepherd’s staff or club, used firmly but with tender loving care. If so, there is always the problem of how to understand the companion phrase, “…he will dash them to pieces like pottery” (2:27). The sheep are given guidance; the enemies are shattered.

Whatever the case, the meaning is clear. The now powerless church existing under human government will have power over the nations under Christ. The saints will inherit the earth, as Christ said (Matthew 5:55). And they would judge the world in whatever way that “judging” is to be understood (1 Corinthians 6:2).

The church at Thyatira was also promised the “morning star” (2:28). Several explanations have been offered for this symbol. Perhaps Christ is in view here, if we are guided by his symbolic self-description at the end of Revelation: “I, Jesus…[am] the bright Morning Star” (22:16). To “have” Jesus as the Morning Star would mean to be in his glorious presence – to be with him. This would explain the promise that in the resurrection the saints glorified will be with Christ, wherever he is (John 14:3).”

You may now say to me, “yeah but they need to overcome and be victorious! Otherwise this promise won’t come true”.  Dear brother, do take note what is said by John who wrote 1 John after he wrote Revelation.

1 John 5

for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

You my dear friend, is already an overcomer.

May God grant you the peace to crush Satan under your feet.

That’s myth 13. Here are the rest!

For myth No. 2, please go to: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/70-myths-about-losing-salvation-myth-no-2-hardening-your-heart-hebrews-312-13-3/

 

For myth No. 3, 20 and 50 please refer to:https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/70-myths-about-losing-salvation-myth-3-and-20-you-can-lose-your-salvation-if-you-shrink-back-and-when-you-sin-willfully-3/

 

For myth No: 4 please refer to:https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/70-myths-on-losing-salvation-4-doctrine-of-demons-3/

 

For myth No: 5 please see:https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/70-myths-on-losing-salvation-5-turning-away-to-satan-1-tim-515-2-2/

 

For myth No. 6: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/12/70-myths-on-losing-salvation-shipwrecking-your-faith-2/

 

For myth No. 7: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/14/70-myths-on-losing-salvation-7-spat-out-for-being-lukewarm-5-2/

 

Myth No. 8: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/70-myths-on-losing-your-salvation-8-being-sexually-immoral-or-godless-like-esau-4/

 

Myth No. 9: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/15/70-myths-on-losing-salvation-9-being-castaway-1-cor-927/

 

Myth N0. 10: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/70-myths-on-losing-salvation-10-becoming-worthless-salt-good-for-nothing-but-to-be-cast-out-and-trodden-underfoot-of-men-matt-513-9-2/

 

Myth 11: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/70-myths-on-losing-salvation-11-be-cut-off-as-a-worthless-branch-4/

 

Myth No. 12: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/70-myths-on-losing-salvation-12-remove-your-lamp-stand-if-you-dont-repent/

 

 

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