Beware of Jezebel

David Bast

READ : Revelation 2:18-29

You tolerate that woman Jezebel. (v. 30)

The church in Thyatira is the mirror image of the church in Ephesus. Where Ephesus had orthodoxy but had lost its love, Thyatira continued to grow in love, faith, and service (v. 19) but failed to exercise doctrinal and moral discipline (v. 20). Christ identifies the main problem here as tolerating “that woman Jezebel.”

Who, or what, was Jezebel, and why was she such an issue? In the Old Testament, Jezebel was the wicked queen of Ahab who pushed Canaanite fertility religion upon the people of Israel. “Jezebel” here is a code name for a church leader who was promoting immoral behavior through her false teaching.

Churches have a responsibility to hold their leaders accountable for what they teach. The issue is not just what false teachers are doing to themselves, serious as that is (and Christ’s words of judgment in this letter ought to be enough to give any leader pause). The real problem is what false teachers do to ordinary believers. Such teachers—especially those who suggest that sexual immorality is no big deal—are leading people away from Christ. There is only one way that is right—the way of purity and holiness in following the Lord Jesus Christ. All other ways lead to death, as the final fate of Jezebel and her followers will make clear (vv. 22-23).


Oh Lord, “who searches mind and heart” (v. 23), make and keep me pure.