REVELATION 2Revelation of Jesus | Revelation of JohnT: REVELATION 2:1-29TO THE SEVEN CHURCHESEPHESUS 2:1-5 FIRST LOVE2:2,6 FALSE APOSTLES AND NICOLAITANSSMYRNA 2:8,9 TRIBULATION, POVERTY, SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN2:10 PERSECUTIONPERGAMOS 2:12,13 THRONE OF SATANANTIPAS2:14 DOCTRINE OF BALAAMNICOLAITANS2:16,17 REPENT, OR ELSETHYATIRA 2:18-20 YOU TOLERATE JEZEBELTHE TRUE CHURCH2:21-23 JEZEBEL’S SICKBED2:24-29 HOLD FAST


THE TRUE CHURCH

Obviously the official “Jezebel” church of the Middle Ages is not the Church that Jesus commends in the message to Thyatira. So who were the true people of God during the Thyatira era? They are described as having “works, love, service, faith, and…patience.” They also “allow” Jezebel—to some extent they are influenced by her and do not effectively protest against her. But with the passage of time they become more effective in rejecting her—“as for your works, the last are more than the first.”

The names of individuals and groups that rejected the papal system and were true to God are lost in the mists of legend and history, and much of what is known comes from those who accused them of heresy. The Paulicians, Cathari and Waldensians were among those who rejected some of the worst errors of the papal church. These movements, particularly the Cathari, had serious doctrinal errors, and naturally the question arises, why would these groups with their doctrinal errors be considered the “true church of God” rather than the papal church, which had a different set of doctrinal errors?

The answer is that God can and does tolerate many conflicting doctrinal positions, but the characterization of the papacy as Jezebel shows what He will not tolerate. Jezebel introduced the worship of false gods and slaughtered the priests of God who would challenge this false worship. The papal church did the same, promoting the worship of the saints and viciously persecuting those such as the Cathari and Waldensians who rejected idolatry and corruption and attempted to follow the scriptures rather than church tradition.[1] They were forced to retreat further and further into remote mountain areas, and finally, “thanks to the Inquisition… the Cathari were utterly rooted out in the course of a little more than a century, and the Waldenses greatly repressed.”[2]

But just as prophesied, “As for your works, the last are more than the first.” The true church became more biblical in her doctrines and more effective in her resistance to the Jezebel abuses of the Roman Catholic system. John Wycliff (1320-1384) defied the papacy, translating the scriptures into English and denouncing the Papal and monastic systems, even going so far as to identify the pope as antichrist. His followers became known as Lollards, and they carried the translated scriptures throughout England, where they were noticed by university students and taken to Europe, particularly to Bohemia where they had an influence on John Huss. His heroic martyrdom in AD 1415 was an example for the reformers who followed.

Continue to next section: 2:21-23 JEZEBEL’S SICKBED



[1] In the middle of the seventh century the Paulicians arose, who “rejected monasticism, the external sacraments, the cross, images, and relics…The Catholic hierarchy they repudiated. They opposed the externalism of current orthodox religious life (Walker, History of the Christian Church, p. 235). “The Cathari seem to have been men and women of uprightness, moral earnestness and courageous steadfastness in persecution.” These groups had some serious doctrinal errors, which to a certain extent were corrected by the Waldenses, who arose near the end of the twelfth century.

The fundamental teaching of the Waldenses was that the Bible is the sole rule of belief and life. “As unbiblical, they rejected masses and prayers for the dead and denied purgatory…they believed prayer in secret more effective than in church. They defended lay preaching by men and women…At the Reformation they readily accepted its principles, and became fully Protestant” (Walker p. 251-253).

At first the Roman church sent missionaries to try to convert the Waldenses and Cathari. An alternative movement, the Pauperes Cathokici, was set up with many of the same practices of the Waldenses, but under strict supervision by the church. Although many were won back to the church, the “heretic movement” continued to grow and spread, threatening the stability of the church in southern France, northern Italy and northern Spain. A crusade was organized against them in 1209 which led to twenty years of destructive warfare. The result was the extermination of the Cathari.

[2] Ibid p. 254