Thyatira, seated on the river Hermus, is 61 kilometers (38 miles) from Pergamos and 51 kilometers (32 miles) from Sardis. The city was located in the northern part of Lydia of the Roman province of Asia, and bordered Mysia on the north and Lydia on the south. Thyatira, which in the Greek language means daughter, got its name in 290 B.C. in honor of the birth of King Seleucus I Nicator's daughter. Thyatira's modern name is Akhisar (Akhissar), which means a white colored castle.
Thyatira was a prosperous trading town that was an important location on the Roman road from Pergamos to Laodicea. It also hosted a major cult of the pagan god Apollo (son of Zeus). The city was famous for its dyeing and was a center of the indigo trade. Its trade guilds, for which it was well known, were more organized and in far greater numbers than in any other ancient Asia Minor city. Among its ruins were found inscriptions relating to a guild of dyers. Evidence suggests these artisans made use of the madder-root for making purple-colored dyes.
Every artisan in Thyatira belonged to a guild. Guilds were incorporated organizations that could own property in its own name and enter into contracts for construction projects. As such, they wielded a significant amount of influence. Two of the most powerful guilds were those of the coppersmiths and the dyers.
During his second missionary journey (Acts 16:13 - 15) the apostle Paul traveled to Philippi. On a Sabbath day, he meets a woman named Lydia, from Thyatira, who is praying near a river. Lydia is a seller of purple (either of the dye or cloth dyed in this color). She listens to Paul's preaching and becomes so convicted in God's way of life that she, along with her entire household, are baptized (likely on the Holy Day known as Pentecost). It is likely Lydia, when she traveled back to Thyatira, helped spread the gospel throughout the city.
Revelation's Seven Churches
Thyatira is the fourth of seven churches who receive a spiritual evaluation directly from God through Jesus Christ.
18. And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These things says the Son of God, He Who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass. 19. I know your works, and love, and service, and faith, and your endurance, and your works; and the last are more than the first. 20. But I have a few things against you, because you allow the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants into committing fornication and eating things sacrificed to idols.
21. And I gave her time to repent of her fornication, but she did not repent. 22. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their works. 23. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He Who searches the reins and hearts; and I will give to each of you according to your works.
24. But to you I say, and to the rest who are in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, and who have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will not cast upon you any other burden, 25. But hold fast what you have until I come. 26. And to the one who overcomes, and keeps My works unto the end, I will give authority over the nations; 27. And he shall shepherd them with an iron rod, as vessels of pottery are broken in pieces; as I have also received from My Father; 28. And I will give him the morning star. (Revelation 2:18 - 28, HBFV)
Who is Jezebel?
God criticizes his church in Thyatira for allowing a female, who is given the symbolic name Jezebel, to teach false doctrine to believers (Revelation 2:20 - 23). The real life Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab, considered the most evil king of ancient Israel. Her notorious life earned her the spot as the fifth most mentioned woman in the entirety of the Bible!