Previous: Revelation 2:21

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. - Revelation 2:23

Next Jesus said, "I will kill her children with death." This is an unusual description of the fate of Jezebel's unrepentant followers. It could mean a dramatic or violent death similar to Jezebel's. More likely, it a reference to the "second death" mentioned in Revelation 2:11; 20:6, 14; and 21:8. See our notes on death from chapter 1, verse 18. We discussed that physical death was separation of the body from the soul and spirit. The body is dead and ceases to function. There is also spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1), which is separation of one's spirit from God. This separation ends when one is born again (John 3:3) and a connection is re-established between a person and His Creator. The last, and worst, separation is called the "second death:" eternal separation from God. A person who dies physically while he is still dead suffers this second death.

When this dreadful judgment takes place, Jesus says, "and all the churches shall know." This knowledge will not only affect the Church at Thyatira, or only the Church of the Middle Ages, but it will be a warning to all churches throughout history.

What is this valuable lesson about Jesus and those who claim to know Him but do not obey Him? It is this: "That I am He who searches the minds and hearts." In verse 19 above, we saw that Jesus did commend this Church for their good works but He warned that their efforts could not save them (See also: Matthew 7:21-23). God sees what each person does. But He also knows their thoughts. The word translated "minds" is actually the Greek word for kidneys. In those days people supposed that thoughts originated in the kidneys and emotions came from the heart.

As you probably know, scientists have not understood many things about the human body until more recent times. Aristotle, the most brilliant person of his time, thought that the brain was a radiator to cool the blood! In the early days of our country people thought that illness was caused by bad blood, so they had doctors and barbers let blood out when they were ill. It wasn't until the 1860's that doctors really understood germs. Even now we are trying to grasp the amazing facts of genetics. Obviously, the Creator knew how thoughts were processed by the brain, but until it was time for the human race to gain that knowledge, His revealed Word used idioms that people would understand (like "kidneys" for minds).

Those who have received Christ personally as their Savior will tend to produce good works (Ephesians 2:8-10; Titus 3:5, 8). However those good deeds will be the fruit of a changed life, not an attempt to purchase salvation.

On the other hand, those who stubbornly try to accumulate credit for their efforts, instead of relying on the substitutionary death of Jesus in their place, will indeed be judged on the basis of their performance. To them Jesus says, "And I will give to each one of you according to your works." If they insist on paying their own way into heaven they will fail miserably, but if that is what they want, they will be judged by that standard. In Romans the Apostle Paul warns against trusting in good works.

10 As it is written:"There is none righteous, no, not one;
11 There is none who understands;
There is none who seeks after God.
12 They have all turned aside;
They have together become unprofitable;
There is none who does good, no, not one." - Romans 3:10-12

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. - Romans 3:19-20

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, - Romans 3:23

When we get to Revelation chapter 20, we will study the "Great White Throne Judgment" of unbelievers. Their recorded works will be brought up as a basis for their judgment.

And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. - Revelation 20:12

True believers in Christ will already have been judged - and acquitted- on the basis that their name is in "The Book of Life" (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27; 22:19). Since Jesus died for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2), All names were apparently written in this book "from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 17:8). True believers' names are not blotted out of this book (Revelation 3:5), but those who do not trust Jesus' substitutionary death will evidentially have their names blotted out (John 3:16-18, 36).

This verse has been addressed to those who have rejected the gift of eternal life. The next verse is for those who are true believers.

Next: Revelation 2:24-25


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