The Revelation of Jesus Christ #5 - Thyatira

Over the last several weeks, we have been studying what the Apostle John calls, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ" - specifically, we'll be looking at the first few chapters that address the 7 churches in Asia.

Today, we're exploring Revelation 2:18-29, the letter to the Church at Ephesus. There is a general 'framework' that Christ uses when He addresses each of the churches:

  1. He greets the church and identifies Himself with one of the phrases used to describe Him from Revelation 1. When He addresses the Thyatiran church, He says: ‘The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze...." (referencing Revelation 1:12-16).
  2. Christ addresses the current state of the church, giving encouragement for the areas they are doing well, and correction for the areas that need repentance.
  3. He offers a challenge to change - to repent from the area of sin
  4. He describes what the consequences of inaction/lack of repentance will be.
  5. Finally, Christ delivers the promise of blessing and life that are assured to the ones who put His words into action


  • -Politically insignificant but economically wealthy city
  • -Main industries: metal workers (guild of the coppersmiths) & dealers/makers of specially dyed purple cloth (guild of the dye-ers)
  • -Located between Pergamum & Sardis – not on a major trade route – dealers had to travel to distribute their wares
  • -Acts 16:14 – Apostle Paul’s visit to Philippi – 1st convert is Lydia of Thyatira, dealer of purple

What is so special/expensive about the purple dye?

Purple dye was expensive because of the difficulty in extracting it. Thousands of mollusks were required to dye a single yard. Purple dye was derived from the mucus of the hypobranchial gland of the Murex shellfish. This snail was especially prominent in Lydia’s home town of Thyatira (Acts 16:14; Revelation 1:11, 2:18, 24), a city 250 miles southeast of Philippi in the Roman province of Asia (modern day Akhisar, Turkey). Murex produces a deep blue violet dye that, unlike others, is colorfast and permits the washing of garments.

This celebrated purple dye is cited in texts dating as early as 1600 BCE. Aristotle (384-322 BCE) and Pliny the Elder (23-79) document that snails were gathered in autumn or winter and kept alive until a huge quantity had been collected as each shell produced only a single drop of dye. The dye was extracted by crushing smaller shells and piercing larger ones. The milky fluid was then put into brine where vinegar was added and was then left in the sun until the color gradually transformed from a yellowish hue to a deep purplish red. It was then boiled down to further concentrate it. It took approximately 12,000 shellfish to extract 1½ grams of pure dye. One gram of purple dye was valued more than ten grams of gold and a pound of wool dyed with a favored purple could be sold for 1,000 denarii, a sum that would take a laborer three years to earn. A whole cloak of such material might cost three times that amount.

Info on purple dye gleaned from the Blog -Many thanks for the background!

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