Previous: Revelation 2:18


19 "I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. - Revelation 2:19

As we have already seen, the tone of this letter is pretty negative, but even this church received a mild commendation for doing some things right. The omniscient Son of God told them, "I know your works." The New Testament is very clear that a person can only be saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and that this salvation does not depend on good works (Ephesians 2:8-10). Those who are born again are redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19).

At Thyatira, and in countless other churches during the past 2000 years, many members hoped that their good deeds would outweigh their bad deeds in the Day of Judgment. This would especially be true where a culture of tolerance for immorality existed. Professing Christians who knew that their habits were not pure might try to compensate by doing good things. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus gave a dreadful warning to those who try to act like Christians without knowing Him personally.

21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' 23 And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' - Matthew 7:21-23

On the other hand, in a church like Thyatira, where false teaching and immorality are taking their toll, there would naturally be some - or even many- who oppose the mistakes that were being made. Their good works would be true and acceptable offerings to the Lord to demonstrate their devotion to Him and their care for others. The point is, Jesus knew what they were doing, and He also knew their hearts. Let's look at these good works.

There are four words for "love" in the Greek language. C.S. Lewis showed that three of them belong to a category he called "Need-loves." They are based on our emotional need to receive affection from others. Lewis called the other category "Gift-love." This is God's love, a sacrificial love that comes from His very nature, and may be replicated by Christians because of their relationship with Him. He illustrated it this way:

"Need-love says of a woman 'I cannot live without her"; Gift-love longs to give her happiness, comfort, protection - if possible, wealth.'" (

The three words in the "Need-love" category are: storge - "familial affection," philos - "friendship," and eros - "romantic love". The one word in the "Gift-love" category is agape. Jesus endowed this word with special meaning. It came from a common verb, agapao - "to love, to wish well". It was not used often as a noun, but He began to use it to express God's unconditional love.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

He taught that this was the kind of affection that we should display to others because of His work within us.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. . .
We love Him because He first loved us. - 1 John 4:11, 19

He gave us the "Great Commandment:" to love God with all our being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:35-40). By doing so, we would automatically fulfill all of the requirements of the Law. He also elevated it to the highest virtue for His disciples by giving them a "New Commandment" to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:34-35).

The Greek word used for "service" is diakonia. This is also the basis for the biblical office of Deacons. They were the special godly assistants to the Apostles that were chosen in Acts, chapter 6 to meet the needs of the widows and others in the church. Most churches have Deacons to oversee this kind of ministry, but all Christians are expected to serve others (Matthew 20:25-28).

"Faith" is the same as "belief." It is essential for salvation (John 1:12; Hebrews 11:6). It is also the virtue that trusts God in the midst of trials (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Peter 1:6-9). Godly members of the Church at Thyatira would need to exercise this faith as they tried to be overcomers: standing against the false teaching and declining morality of the majority.

The fourth example of their good works is "your patience." This word is also translated "perseverance, " and "endurance." It was not easy for the godly remnant in this environment to stay true to God's Word and resist the evil changes that were taking place.

"And as for your works, the last are more than the first." Jesus' summary of the faithfulness of the remnant was, that in spite of the increasing falsehood around them, they were the real thing, and they were more active than ever in standing for the truth.

It is also likely that the others in Thyatira, who were slipping into false teaching, were also doing more good works than ever in the false hope, as we mentioned above, that they will be saved by their good deeds.

Next: Revelation 2:20


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