Revelation 2:20
Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
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(20) A few things.—The Sinaitic MS. has “I have much against thee; but the reading, I have against thee that thou lettest alone, &c., is to be preferred.

Jezebel.—Some adopt the reading, “thy wife Jezebel.” From these words it has been thought that there was some personal influence at work for evil in Thyatira. Whether in the household of the “angel” or not is at least doubtful. The sin alleged against her is the same for which the Nicolaitanes are condemned—fornication, and the eating of things sacrificed to idols. If the above view be right, the leader of the exorcists is a woman—regarded by her followers as a prophetess, as one with a real message from God; but viewed by the Lord of the churches as a very Jezebel, teaching and seducing the servants of God. For letting her alone, for being timid, paying too much deference to her spiritual pretensions, for failing to see and to show that the so-called “deep things” of these teachers were depths of Satan, the chief minister is rebuked. A large number of respectable critics regard Jezebel as a name applied to a faction, not as belonging to an individual. It seems best to view the name as symbolical, always remembering that the Jezebel spirit of proud, self-constituted authority, vaunting claims of superior holiness, or higher knowledge, linked with a disregard of—and perhaps a proud contempt for—“legalism,” and followed by open immorality, has again and again run riot in the churches of God.

Revelation 2:20-21. Notwithstanding, I have a few things, &c. — Yet, observe, there are some things in thy conduct I take notice of, which deserve blame, and call for reformation, namely, thou sufferest that woman Jezebel — Thou givest too much countenance to some evil persons, who, like that wicked woman Jezebel, of old, who defiled Israel with her idolatrous and lewd practices, set themselves to teach, and, on wicked pretences of prophecy and revelation, to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed to idols — Both which are contrary to the truth and purity of the doctrine and worship of my gospel. When the description of the imitators or followers of Jezebel in this verse is compared with what was before said of the Nicolaitanes, Revelation 2:14-15, “the resemblance,” says Doddridge, “appears so great, that I am induced to believe it is the same heresy which is represented under both these views; namely, the doctrine of those who taught it was lawful to dissemble our religious principles, and occasionally to conform to superstition and idolatry, in order to avoid persecution. And as Jezebel was so infamous an idolatress, and so great a mistress of seducing arts, there was an evident propriety in such a representation, 1 Kings 16:31; 1 Kings 21:25.” Some have fancied this was some female heretic. And I gave her space to repent, &c. — Though I have granted these persons a long time to consider the sinfulness of their conduct, and to reform it, yet they are so sunk in depravity and wickedness, that they still remain impenitent and obstinate, and afford no signs or hopes of amendment. So, though repentance is the gift of God, man may refuse it: God will not compel.

2:18-29 Even when the Lord knows the works of his people to be wrought in love, faith, zeal, and patience; yet if his eyes, which are as a flame of fire, observe them committing or allowing what is evil, he will rebuke, correct, or punish them. Here is praise of the ministry and people of Thyatira, by One who knew the principles from which they acted. They grew wiser and better. All Christians should earnestly desire that their last works may be their best works. Yet this church connived at some wicked seducers. God is known by the judgments he executes; and by this upon seducers, he shows his certain knowledge of the hearts of men, of their principles, designs, frame, and temper. Encouragement is given to those who kept themselves pure and undefiled. It is dangerous to despise the mystery of God, and as dangerous to receive the mysteries of Satan. Let us beware of the depths of Satan, of which those who know the least are the most happy. How tender Christ is of his faithful servants! He lays nothing upon his servants but what is for their good. There is promise of an ample reward to the persevering, victorious believer; also knowledge and wisdom, suitable to their power and dominion. Christ brings day with him into the soul, the light of grace and of glory, in the presence and enjoyment of him their Lord and Saviour. After every victory let us follow up our advantage against the enemy, that we may overcome and keep the works of Christ to the end.Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee - Compare notes on Revelation 2:4.

Because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel - Thou dost tolerate, or countenance her. Compare the notes on Revelation 2:14. Who the individual here referred to by the name Jezebel was, is not known. It is by no means probable that this was her real name, but seems to have been given to her as expressive of her character and influence. Jezebel was the wife of Ahab; a woman of vast influence over her husband - an influence which was uniformly exerted for evil. She was a daughter of Ethbaal, king of Tyre and Sidon, and lived about 918 years before Christ. She was an idolater, and induced her weak husband not only to connive at her introducing the worship of her native idols, but to become an idolater himself, and to use all the means in his power to establish the worship of idols instead of the worship of the true God. She was highly gifted, persuasive, and artful; was resolute in the accomplishment of her purposes; ambitious of extending and perpetuating her power, and unscrupulous in the means which she employed to execute her designs. See 1 Kings 16:31 ff.

The kind of character, therefore, which would be designated by the term as used here, would be that of a woman who was artful and persuasive in her manner; who was capable of exerting a wide influence over others; who had talents of a high order; who was a thorough advocate of error; who was unscrupulous in the means which she employed for accomplishing her ends; and the tendency of whose influence was to lead the people into the abominable practices of idolatry. The opinions which she held, and the practices into which she led others, appear to have been the same which are referred to in Revelation 2:6 and Revelation 2:14-15 of this chapter. The difference was, that the teacher in this case was a woman - a circumstance which by no means lessened the enormity of the offence; for, besides the fact that it was contrary to the whole genius of Christianity that a woman should be a public teacher, there was a special incongruity that she should be an advocate of such abominable opinions and practices. Every sentiment of our nature makes us feel that it is right to expect that if a woman teaches at all in a public manner, she should inculcate only what is true and holy - she should be an advocate of a pure life. We are shocked; we feel that there is a violation of every principle of our nature, and an insult done to our common humanity, if it is otherwise. We have in a manner become accustomed to the fact that man should be a teacher of pollution and error, so that we do not shrink from it with horror; we never can be reconciled to the fact that a woman should.

Which calleth herself a prophetess - Many persons set up the claim to be prophets in the times when the gospel was first preached, and it is not improbable that many females would lay claim to such a character, after the example of Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, etc.

To teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication - Compare Revelation 2:14. Whether she herself practiced what she taught is not expressly affirmed, but seems to be implied in Revelation 2:22. It is not often that persons teach these doctrines without practicing what they teach; and the fact that they desire and design to live in this manner will commonly account for the fact that they inculcate such views.

And to eat things sacrificed unto idols - See the notes on Revelation 2:14. The custom of attending on the festivals of idols led commonly to licentiousness, and they who were gross and sensual in their lives were fit subjects to be persuaded to attend on idol feasts - for nowhere else would they find more unlimited toleration for the indulgence of their passions.

20. a few things—omitted in the three oldest manuscripts. Translate then, "I have against thee that," &c.

sufferest—The three oldest manuscripts read, "lettest alone."

that woman—Two oldest manuscripts read, "THY wife"; two omit it. Vulgate and most ancient versions read as English Version. The symbolical Jezebel was to the Church of Thyatira what Jezebel, Ahab's "wife," was to him. Some self-styled prophetess (or as the feminine in Hebrew is often used collectively to express a multitude, a set of false prophets), as closely attached to the Church of Thyatira as a wife is to a husband, and as powerfully influencing for evil that Church as Jezebel did Ahab. As Balaam, in Israel's early history, so Jezebel, daughter of Eth-baal, king of Sidon (1Ki 16:31, formerly priest of Astarte, and murderer of his predecessor on the throne, Josephus [Against Apion, 1.18]), was the great seducer to idolatry in Israel's later history. Like her father, she was swift to shed blood. Wholly given to Baal worship, like Eth-baal, whose name expresses his idolatry, she, with her strong will, seduced the weak Ahab and Israel beyond the calf-worship (which was a worship of the true God under the cherub-ox form, that is, a violation of the second commandment) to that of Baal (a violation of the first commandment also). She seems to have been herself a priestess and prophetess of Baal. Compare 2Ki 9:22, 30, "whoredoms of … Jezebel and her witchcrafts" (impurity was part of the worship of the Phœnician Astarte, or Venus). Her spiritual counterpart at Thyatira lured God's "servants" by pretended utterances of inspiration to the same libertinism, fornication, and eating of idol-meats, as the Balaamites and Nicolaitanes (Re 2:6, 14, 15). By a false spiritualism these seducers led their victims into the grossest carnality, as though things done in the flesh were outside the true man, and were, therefore, indifferent. "The deeper the Church penetrated into heathenism, the more she herself became heathenish; this prepares us for the expressions 'harlot' and 'Babylon,' applied to her afterwards" [Auberlen].

to teach and to seduce—The three oldest manuscripts read, "and she teaches and seduces," or "deceives." "Thyatira was just the reverse of Ephesus. There, much zeal for orthodoxy, but little love; here, activity of faith and love, but insufficient zeal for godly discipline and doctrine, a patience of error even where there was not a participation in it" [Trench].

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee: See Poole on "Revelation 2:4", See Poole on "Revelation 2:14".

Because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel: the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, mentioned Revelation 2:6,15, is so plainly expressed in the latter part of the verse, viz. maintaining the lawfulness of eating things offered to idols, and of fornication; that whosoever this woman was, it is plain she was one of that filthy sect. It is also plain, that she is called Jezebel with allusion to that wicked woman of that name who was the wife of Ahab, of whom we read, 1 Kings 16:31. She was an instrument to bring Ahab her husband to serve and worship Baal. It is also piain, that she was one that pretended to Divine revelations; she called herself a prophetess; and that taught in public, which no women but prophetesses might do, 1 Corinthians 14:34 1 Timothy 2:11,12: and that she taught a community of women, and the lawfulness as of fornication, so of eating things sacrificed to idols, directly contrary to the apostle’s doctrine, 1 Corinthians 9:10. But what she was cannot be determined; for though we allow this church to be typical of the church in the times of popery, and the popish synagogue, which maintaineth both these things to be the antitype; yet certainly there was some famous heretical strumpet in this church, which the governors did not restrain and cast out of their communion; which is the thing Christ had against this church, and the officers in it, who ought to have restrained her extravagancies both in teaching such doctrines, (being contrary to the apostle’s doctrine in the places before mentioned), and from teaching at all, being no prophetess though she pretended to it.

Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee,.... By way of complaint; so the Arabic version renders it, "I have a certain complaint against thee". The impartiality of Christ may be observed in taking notice of the bad deeds, as well as of the good ones of his people, and his tenderness in representing them as few; and these things he had against them not in a judicial way to their condemnation, but in a providential way, in order to chastise them for them, for their good; and they are as follow:

because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel; or "thy wife Jezebel", as the Complutensian edition and Syriac version read; the name of King Ahab's wife, who seduced him, in the Hebrew language is "Izebel", but is read by the Septuagint in 1 Kings 16:31, Jezebel, as here; and by Josephus (a) Jezabela; she had her name from "Zebel", "dung", to which Elijah has reference in 2 Kings 9:37; the Ethiopic version calls her "Elzabel". By her is meant the apostate church of Rome, comparable to Jezebel, the wife of Ahab; as she was the daughter of an Heathen, so is Rome Papal the daughter of Rome Pagan; and as she was the wife of Ahab, and therefore a queen, so the whore of Babylon calls herself; and as Jezebel was famous for her paintings, so the church of Rome for her pretensions to religion and holiness, and for the gaudiness of her worship; and as she was remarkable for her idolatry, whoredoms, witchcrafts, and cruel persecution of the prophets of the Lord, and for murder, and innocent blood she shed; so the church of Rome, for her idolatrous worship of images, for her whoredoms, both in a literal and spiritual sense, and for the witchcrafts, magic, and devilish arts many of her popes have been addicted to, and especially for her barbarities and cruelties exercised upon the true professors of Christ, and for the blood of the martyrs, with which she has been drunk; and as Jezebel stirred up Ahab against good and faithful men, is has this church stirred up the secular powers, emperors, kings, and princes, against the true followers of Christ: and the end of both of them is much alike; as scarce anything was left of Jezebel, so Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, shall be cast into the sea, and be found no more at all: compare 2 Kings 9:7 with Revelation 17:1,

which calleth herself a prophetess; as perhaps Jezebel might do, since she was such a favourer of the prophets of Baal, and so familiarly conversed with them, and kept them, even a hundred of them, at her table: and certain it is, that the antitype of her pretends to an infallible interpretation of the Scriptures, and to have a bulk of unwritten traditions; and which interpretations and traditions are to be regarded as an infallible rule of faith and practice. Now what is complained of in the true members and followers of Christ is, that they suffered this woman

to teach; when it was insufferable for a woman to teach, and especially such a strumpet:

and to seduce my servants to commit fornication; to deceive such who called themselves the servants of Christ, and draw them into the commission of spiritual fornication, which is idolatry; as the idolatrous worship of the Mass, and of images and saints departed:

and to eat things sacrificed unto idols; as Balaam, or the pope, before had done, Revelation 2:14. This may have respect to the latter part of this period, when the eyes of many began to be opened to see these false doctrines and idolatrous practices, and yet had not courage enough to oppose them as they should,

(a) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 13. sect. 1. 4, 7.

Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit {k} fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

(k) Often in the scripture, by fornication they mean idolatry.

Revelation 2:20. ἀλλʼ ἔχω κατὰ σοῦ ὅτι ἀφεῖς, κ.τ.λ. Cf. Revelation 2:4. Grot. incorrectly paraphrases: “I wish you to dismiss that wife.” The sense of the ἀφεῖς[1223] is correctly given by the var. Ἐᾷς,[1224] “that thou let alone.” Connected with ΤῊΝ ΓΥΝΑῖΚΑ ἸΕΣΑΒΉΛ, but in an interrupted construction, is the appositive[1225] Ἡ ΛΕΓ., Κ.Τ.Λ. The juncture proposed by Winer, p. 498, Ἣ ΛΈΓΟΥΣΑ

, is too refined, while the very harshness of the former inartificial construction corresponds with John’s mode. The words ΚΑῚ ΔΙΔΆΣΚΕΙ ΚΑῚ ΠΛΑΝᾷ are to be regarded neither as a so-called hysteron proteron,[1226] nor to be combined in ὴ διδάσκουσα πλανᾷ,[1227] but the accus. τ. ὲμ. δούλους depends upon both verbs, while the infinitives πορνεῦσαι καὶ φαγεῖν εἰδ., which are used with a certain looseness of construction, are nevertheless again connected with sufficient firmness by the prevailing meaning of the διδάσκει, which in its combination with πλανᾷ appears to refer to a false doctrine.

The explanation of the expression τ. γυναῖκα Ἰεσαβήλ[1228] is a matter of controversy, which essentially depends upon the fact, that, as in Revelation 2:14, neither the πορνεῦσαι nor even the φαγεῖν εἰδωλ. is to be understood figuratively or even only in a double sense.[1229] The precedency of the πορνεῦσαι does not show that at Thyatira fornication prepared the way for eating sacrifices to idols,[1230] which in itself, and in view of Revelation 2:14, is improbable, as, on the contrary, the eating of sacrifices to idols gave occasion for unchastity; neither is it to be mentioned, that “in reference to ancient Jezebel, the history expressly intends only fornication, while in reference to Balaam the temptation to eat sacrifices offered to idols is also mentioned,”[1231] for according to 1 Kings 18:19; 1 Kings 21:25 sqq., this is not entirely correct with respect to either Jezebel or Balaam.[1232] Fornication precedes for the reasons for which (Revelation 2:21)[1233] it is alone named; viz., because it was the chief thing among the Nicolaitans in Thyatira. “The woman Jezebel” is manifestly represented as a teacher of a Balaamite or Nicolaitan character. If now “the woman Jez.” collectively is to designate a party and “personified heresy,”[1234] the body of Jews, the synagogue,[1235] cannot be meant,—an explanation which only by the most unnatural artificialness is united with the declaration that the false doctrine of Jezebel alludes to πορνεῦσαι and φαγ. εἰδωλ.,—but the Nicolaitan false teachers must be represented under the figure of Jezebel.[1236] But partly the designation τὴν γυναῖκα, which is attached to a name sufficient for that sense, partly the further limitation ἡ λεγουσα έαυτ., κ.τ.λ., which has in itself something that is individual, decides the view that a particular woman is meant; not the wife of a bishop,[1237] nor a woman who is actually called Jezebel,[1238] but some woman who under the pretence of being a prophetess had approved the doctrines of the Nicolaitans, and for that reason was designated a new Jezebel, as Ahab’s wife formerly in the O. T. church, by the introduction of the worship of Baal, and fornication,[1239] which was combined with the worship of Baal and Ashtaroth, gave the greatest offence.[1240] That the woman in Thyatira did not actually have the name Jezebel, but rather that this name was understood symbolically, does not follow from the fact that in the Apoc. all names except that of the composer are of a symbolical character,[1241] for that is not the case;[1242] but from the fact that it is applied to the false doctrines and godlessness, which have been designated already by the name of Balaam, of entirely similar notoriety with that of the wife of Ahab.

[1223] On this form, Winer, p. 77.

[1224] John 11:44; John 11:48; John 12:7.

[1225] Cf. Revelation 1:5, Revelation 3:12, Revelation 14:12.

[1226] κ. πλανᾷ κ. διδ. Pric.

[1227] Grot.

[1228] Cf. Critical Remarks.

[1229] Of proper and improper fornication. Hengstenb.

[1230] Bengel.

[1231] Hengstenb.

[1232] See on Revelation 2:14.

[1233] Cf. also Revelation 2:22.

[1234] Hengstenb.

[1235] Alcas., Züll.

[1236] Andr., Areth., Vitr., Eichh., Hengstenb., Ebrard.

[1237] Grot., Klief., who regards the σου after γυν. as indisputable.

[1238] Wolf, Beng.

[1239] 2 Kings 9:22; 1 Kings 21:23 sqq.; 2 Kings 3:2; 2 Kings 9:30 sqq.

[1240] C. a Lap., Calov., Heinr., Herd., Ew., De Wette, Stern, etc.

[1241] Hengstenb.

[1242] Cf. Revelation 2:13.

Revelation 2:20. Women (cf. Acts 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5, and the later Ammia in Philadelphia: Eus. H. E. ver 17. 2) occasionally prophesied in the early church, and false prophetesses were as likely to exist as false prophets. This “Jezebel of a woman, alleging herself to be a prophetess,” seems to have been some influential female (as the definite imagery of Revelation 2:21-23 indicates); her lax principles or tendencies made for a connexion with foreign and compromising associations which evidently exerted a dangerous charm upon some weaker Christians in the city. The moral issue corresponds to that produced by the Nikolaitan party at Pergamos (εἰδ. φαγεῖν, πορνεῦσαι), but the serious nature of the heresy at Thyatira appears from the fact that it was not simply propagated within the church but also notorious (Revelation 2:23) and long-continued (τέκνα), thanks to obstinacy among the Ahabs and adherents of this prominent woman (Revelation 2:21). They prided themselves on their enlightened liberalism (Revelation 2:24). The definiteness of her personality, the fact of her situation within a Christian church which had jurisdiction over her, and the association of her practices with those of the Nikolaitans, who were members of the church, render it impossible to identify this libertine influence of Jude with a foreign institution such as the famous shrine of the Chaldean Sibyl at Thyatira (Schürer: Theol. Abhandlungen, pp. 39 f., a theory suggested by Blakesley, in Smith’s DB), or with the wife of the local Asiarch (Selwyn, 123). Besides it was not the cults but the trade-guilds that formed the problem at Thyatira. Jastrow points out (p. 267) that for some occult reason female sorcerers were preferred to men among the Babylonians; “the witch appears more frequently than the male sorcerer”. Hillel (Pirke Aboth, ii. 8; see Dr. C. Taylor’s note) had already declared, “more women, more witchcraft”. For the connexion of women and sorcery cf. Blau’s Altjüd. Zauberwesen 18 f., 23 f.—ἡ λέγουσα κ.τ.λ., an irregular nomin. absolute, characteristic of the writer. This LXX peculiarity of a detached participle thrown into relief, which is not confined to the Apocalypse (cf. Php 3:16-19, etc.), renders the participle almost a relative (Vit. i., 202); but indeed any word or group of words, thus singled out as characteristic of some preceding noun, tends to become independent and to take its own construction (II. 8f). See Zephaniah 1:12 (LXX).

[903]. Jude

20. a few things] Should be omitted: it has come in from Revelation 2:14, while the real construction is as in Revelation 2:4, “I have [somewhat] against thee, because …,” or better, “I have [this] against thee, that.…”

that woman Jezebel] There is some authority for the reading “thy wife Jezebel,” and even if the possessive pronoun be not rightly inserted in the Greek text, it is a question whether the article ought not to be understood as equivalent to one. If the sense “thy wife Jezebel” be right, the allusion must be to 1 Kings 21:25 : there is some one (or something) at Thyatira who is, to the Angel of the Church, such a temptress as Jezebel was to Ahab. No doubt, if we suppose the Angel to be the Bishop, it is probable that his actual wife is intended; but even then the name Jezebel must have this meaning.

As a plain matter of verbal exegesis, “thy wife Jezebel” seems, in this context, the more natural translation. But it has its own difficulties. What analogy is there between a faithful servant of Christ, culpably tolerant of a bad wife, but not sharing her faults himself, and Ahab, who “did sell himself to work wickedness,” and “did very abominably in following idols?” It may be added, that except in Jehu’s taunt (2 Kings 9:22), which need not be meant literally, there is no evidence whatever of Jezebel’s unchastity: her behaviour towards her husband, as well as her influence over him, makes it probable that she was a good wife, in her own way.

On the whole, the best editors decline to adopt the reading which would make the sense “thy wife” certain: and this being so, it seems better to translate as the A. V. Who “Jezebel” was—whether a real woman, or a personification of a sect,—is almost equally doubtful on any view: but it seems simplest to suppose a real person.

to teach and to seduce] Literally, according to the right reading, and she teacheth and seduceth.

my servants] The possessive pronoun is emphatic—she leads those who belong to Me to act as do those in slavery to devils.

to commit fornication] No doubt to be taken literally, not (as so often in the O. T.) as a metaphor for idolatry: since this is mentioned coordinately.

Revelation 2:20. Ἔχω κατὰ σοῦ) Not only some MSS., but by far the most witnesses, exhibit this reading,[37] which the others, by supplying of themselves πολλὰ, or πολὺ, or by inserting ὀλίγα from Revelation 2:14, confirm by this very separation into the extremes. In such places the shorter reading is almost always genuine. See App. Crit. Ed. ii. on this passage. In the 19th verse the comparative πλείονα prefers the last works to the first, but it is not opposed to ὀλίγα. The Lord had neither many nor few things against the angel at Thyatira, but that one thing only which is expressly mentioned, as against the angel of the church at Ephesus, ch. Revelation 2:4, where Andreas writes that ἕν, one thing, only is blamed. Wherefore the denunciations against these two are more gentle than those against the angel of the church at Pergamos, against whom the Lord had a few things.—ὅτι ἀφεῖς τὴν γυναῖκα Ἰεζάβελ, ἡ λέγουσα ἑαυτὴν προφῆτιν, καὶ διδάσκει καὶ πλανᾷ τοὺς ἐμοὺς δούλους) Wolf says, that he does not understand how ἀφεῖς can be said in Greek. But ἀφεῖς is read Exodus 32:32, in the most approved editions: Chrys. hom. 3, ad Pox. Ant. in the notes of Ducæus, quotes ἀφεῖς, Exodus 32; and in the Apocalypse it is supported by the agreement of all the MSS.,[38] if you except the silence of one or two which are more carelessly collated. Comp. Marck. on Ap. ii. § 46, 53. From ἕω (Ion. ἕημι, in the common dialects ἵημι) is formed ἀφέω, ἀφέεις, ἀφέει, although ἀφεῖς only, and that contracted, is in use. However it is, there was no reason why John himself should not write ἀφεῖς, equally with the Greek copyists, the meaning being free from doubt. Arethas, who substitutes ἀφίης, in other places used Greek forms better than those employed by John, as they appeared to himself to be suitable. See below on ch. Revelation 16:13. The same reasoning applies to the following words,[39] as far as relates to the MSS., καὶ διδάσκει καὶ πλανᾷ, the meaning of which also is obvious. For first the verb ἀφίημι is also put absolutely in Matthew 3:15 : next, the defining of its object is here subjoined: thou permittest that woman, namely, to teach, and she does actually teach, etc. So ch. Revelation 11:3, I will give to My two witnesses that they prophesy, and they shall prophesy. Comp. also Revelation 13:16. See App. Crit. Ed. ii. We have given ἡ λέγουσα for τὴν λέγουσαν, which is otherwise free from difficulty.[40]—τὴν γυναῖκα) Many long ago read, τὴν γυναῖκά σου. Certainly she had a husband, for she had adulterers, Revelation 2:22. The word σοῦ appears to be a gloss,[41] but it is suitable to the subject itself. But it is elegantly said, woman, for thy wife; either because such an ellipsis is of frequent occurrence, Acts 7:20, or because the person spoken of here was an adulteress: comp. John 4:18; Acts 24:24 : and, the woman Jezebel; though the very name of Jezebel would indicate a woman: for she usurped the office of teaching, contrary to that which is becoming to a woman.

[37] Cypr. 72 and h add “multa.” Rec. Text, with Amiat. MS. of Vulg., adds ὀλίγα. But ABC oppose the addition.—E.

[38] ABC support ἀφεῖς, an Alexandrine form: Rec. Text, without good authority, ἐᾶς.—E.

[39] ABC read καὶ διδάσκει καὶ πλανᾷ τούς. But Vulg. h Cypr. support Rec. Text, διδάσκειν καὶ πλανᾶσθαι.—E.

[40] Ἡ λέγουσα is the reading of AC. But Vulg. h. Cypr. 72, “quæ se dicit.” Rec. Text, τὴν λέγουσαν.—E.

[41] ABh Syr. Cypr. read σου; but C Vulg. and Rec. Text omit it.—E.

Verse 20. - But I have against thee that thou sufferest. This is certainly fight. "A few things" (ὀλίγα) is an insertion in some inferior authorities. Others insert "many things" (πόλλα); the Sinaitic inserts "much" (πόλυ); while the best authorities have nothing between κατὰ σοῦ and ὅτι; and then ὅτι must be rendered "that" rather than "because." The construction is the same as in ver. 4. There is a right and a wrong suffering; and the Church in Thyatira exhibits both. The enduring of tribulation (ὑπομονή) is commended; the toleration of evil (ἀφεῖς) is rebuked. It is not said that Jezebel receives sympathy or encouragement, but merely that she is let alone; her wickedness is left unchecked, and that is sinful. For this use of ἀφίεναι, comp. John 11:48; John 12:7. It is difficult to decide between "the woman" (τὴν γυνααῖκα) and "thy wife" (τὴν γυναῖκα σοῦ), authorities being much divided; the balance seems in favour of the former. But even if "thy wife" be preferred, there is no need to understand Jezebel as indicating a distinct person. We are in the region of figures and metaphors. Perhaps all that is indicated is that the angel of the Church at Thyatira is suffering from the tolerated presence of a baneful influence, as did Ahab, "whom Jezebel his wife stirred up" (1 Kings 21:25). And if it is not certain that any individual false prophetess is signified, it is scarcely worth while to speculate as to who this individual is. Jezebel may be a person, or she may be a form of false doctrine personified. If the former, Jezebel is doubtless not her real name, but a symbolical name of reproach, and what her name and status were we have no means of knowing. In any case the error represented by the name is closely akin to that of the Nicolaitans and to "the doctrine of Balaam." Whatever differences of detail there may have been, all three made Christian liberty a plea for an antichristian licence which claimed to be above the moral Law. And she teacheth and seduceth. This is an independent statement, and must not, as in the Authorized Version, be made to depend upon "thou sufferest." For the construction τὴν γυναῖκα Ιεζαβήλ ἡ λέγουσα, compare τῆς καινῆς Ιερουσαλὴμ ἡ καταβαίνουσα (Revelation 3:12). The word for "seduce," or "lead astray" (πλανᾷν), in the active is frequent in St. John, especially in Revelation (Revelation 12:9 13:14; 19:20; 20:3, 8, 10; John 7:12; 1 John 1:8; 1 John 2:26; 1 John 3:7). A comparison of these passages will lead to the conclusion that the word implies seduction into error of a very grave kind. It is not clear whether "fornication" is to be understood literally, or, as often in the Old Testament, in the spiritual sense of idolatry. The former seems more probable. "My servants" means all Christians, as is clear from Revelation 7:3 and Revelation 22:3; it must not be limited to those in authority in the Church. (For "things sacrificed to idols," see notes on ver. 14.) Revelation 2:20A few things


Thou sufferest (ἐᾶς)

Used absolutely. Toleratest.

That woman

Rev., the woman. Some translate thy wife.


Used symbolically, but with reference to the notorious historic Jezebel. She was the daughter of Ethbaal, king of Sidon (1 Kings 16:31), formerly a priest of Astarte, and who had made his way to the throne by the murder of his predecessor Pheles. Ahab's marriage with her was the first instance of a marriage with a heathen princess of a king of the northern kingdom of Israel. This alliance was a turning-point in the moral history of the kingdom. From the times of David and Solomon many treaties had been concluded between Phoenicia and Israel; but it was at the same time the special business of the kingdom of the ten tribes to restore the ancient rigidness of the nationality of Israel. Jezebel looked down with perverse pride upon a people whose religion she neither understood nor respected. Though the ten tribes had yielded to idolatry in the worship of the calves, the true God was still worshipped and the law of Moses acknowledged. From the time of Ahab's marriage the apostasy of Israel became more decided and deadly. She was "a woman in whom, with the reckless and licentious habits of an Oriental queen, were united the fiercest and sternest qualities inherent in the old Semitic race. Her husband, in whom generous and gentle feelings were not wanting, was yet of a weak and yielding character which soon made him a tool in her hands.... The wild license of her life and the magical fascination of her arts or her character became a proverb in the nation. Round her and from her, in different degrees of nearness, is evolved the awful drama of the most eventful crisis of this portion of the Israelite history" (Stanley, "Jewish Church"). She sought to exterminate the prophets of Jehovah (1 Kings 18:13), and inaugurated the worship of Baal the Sun-God on a magnificent scale. Two sanctuaries were established, one for each of the great Phoenician deities, at each of the two new capitals of the kingdom, Samaria and Jezreel. The sanctuary of Astarte or Ashtaroth (the Phoenician Venus) at Jezreel was under Jezebel's special sanction, and there is reason to suppose that she ministered as a priestess in that licentious worship. Four hundred priests or prophets were attached to this sanctuary and were supported at her table. The sanctuary to Baal at Samaria was large enough to contain all the worshippers of the northern kingdom. Its staff consisted of four hundred and fifty priests, and the interior contained representations of the Sun-God on small pillars, while a large statue of the same deity was set up in front. At these sanctuaries Ahab in person offered sacrifices.

Expositors are divided as to the symbolic import of the name in this passage, some referring it to a single person - "some single wicked woman in the Church of Thyatira inheriting this name of infamy in the Church of God," giving herself out as a prophetess, and seducing the servants of Christ to commit fornication and to eat things offered to idols. Others interpret the name as designating an influential heretical party in the Church: but, as Alford remarks, "the real solution must lie hidden until all that is hidden shall be known." It is clear, at any rate, that Thyatira, like the Church of old, had sinned by her alliance with a corrupt faith and practice.

To teach and to seduce (διδάσκειν καὶ πλανᾶσθαι)

The best texts read καὶ διδάσκει and she teacheth and seduceth. So Rev. For seduceth see on err, Mark 12:24, and see on deceiver and error, Matthew 27:63, Matthew 27:64. The word πλανᾶν to seduce is found oftener in Revelation than elsewhere in the New Testament. It never means mere error as such, but fundamental departure from the truth.

To commit fornication and to eat things sacrificed to idols

Both sins of the historical Jezebel. See 2 Kings 9:22, 2 Kings 9:30; Jeremiah 4:30; Nahum 3:4.

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