The Spirit of Jezebel

Revelation 2:18-29

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
October 2022

“A good woman is the best thing on earth… An evil woman is the most dangerous thing on earth”[1]

There are many godly women in the Bible.  There are some good role models for women in Scripture.  There is Abigail, Rebekah, Ruth, Esther, Hannah and many others.

There are some in the Bible that you have never heard about.  We just finished a study of II Samuel and found one of the godliest women.  Her name was Rizpah.

There are many good women in the Bible.  There also some very wicked women in Scripture.  Let’s think of just some of the women that would make the top ten bad girls of the Bible list.  They come from all different races.

There is Delilah, who was Samson’s girlfriend. She was a Philistine.  You can read about her in the Book of Judges.  Samson falls in love with a woman, a beautiful woman, a beautiful pagan woman.

Israel was at war with the Philistines, and he falls in love with a Philistine.  He is sleeping with the enemy.  He does not marry her but has a relationship with her.

The enemy finds out about it and bribes Delilah a lot of money to find the secret of his strength.  He refused to tell her, but she kept asking and finally said, “If you really love me, you will tell me.”   He finally tells her in a moment of weakness, and she cuts his hair.

There is Potiphar’s wife.  We read about her in the Book of Genesis.  She was an Egyptian and she was married.  She wanted to have an affair with one of her young attractive foreign slaves, but he said no.  She did not like to be rejected and she was rejected more than once.

As the saying goes, “hell has no fury like a scored woman,” so this seductress ends up framing Joseph for rape.  She falsely accused Joseph of a sex crime and had him thrown into prison.  You can read about that story in Genesis 39.

There is Herodias.  You can read about her in the gospels.  She was a Roman.  She was married to a politician.  She was married to Herod Antipas.  He was the son of Herod the Great, the ruler who tried to murder Jesus when he was an infant.

Antipas was the ruler of Galilee during the ministry of Christ.  Herodias was married to Antipas’ brother, but she had an affair with Antipas, got rid of her old husband and married him.

John the Baptist did something that is not done too much these days.  He preached against sin.  He said that certain things are right and certain things are wrong.  He said that Herodias’ marriage was wrong.

She hated him for that.  She hated him so much that she had his head cut off.  That was how she got her revenge.

The one who has the reputation as the most wicked woman in the Bible was Jezebel.  She was the meanest woman in the Bible.  She was “bad to the bone” as our pastor says.

If Judas was the worst person in the NT, Jezebel was the worst person in the OT.  She was Phoenician.  She was a Phoenician princess.  Her dad was the king of Phoenicia (modern day Lebanon).

She married the king of Israel (King Ahab).  She became this notoriously wicked queen.  You can read about her in I Kings and II Kings.

Today, we learn that there is a Jezebel in the NT, as well as the OT.  Her real name was not Jezebel.  We don’t know what her real name was, but we know that she was not born Jezebel.  Her mom did not call her Jezebel, but Jesus did, because she acted just like Jezebel.

We are going to see today what some characteristics of a modern-day Jezebel look like.  There are many churches today that have a Jezebel in it.  How many?  We do not know.  Some preachers act as if there is one in every church.

Jesus wrote letters to seven churches.  Only one of them had a Jezebel in them.  Only 14% of the churches that Jesus wrote had a Jezebel in the church.  Not every church has a Jezebel in it but some big mega churches might have more than one Jezebel in them.

We are going to look at the NT Jezebel today.  She is found in the fourth of Jesus to the seven churches, the letter to the Church of Thyatira.

It happens to also be the longest letter Jesus wrote to the seven churches.  The shortest letter was to the Church of Smyrna.  The longest letter was to the Church of Thyatira.

Thyatira was a small city.  It was an insignificant city.  It was not important politically.  It was just a trade town, but the church in this small city received the longest letter from Jesus

This was the church that had Jezebel in it.  She was a member of that church.  What was she like?  What is the Spirit of Jezebel?  How are people like her today?  What are some myths about this passage?  How does it apply to us today?

Jesus gives this church a serious warning.  Jesus threatens people in this church with tribulation, sickness and death, if they don’t repent.  That is not the nice Jesus you hear preached in church too much these days.

Jesus says that He will judge us according to our works.  I will repay each of you according to your works (Revelation 2:23).

He also gives them two promises.  He promised that they will share in Christ’s millennial rule on the earth. Jesus says they will have authority over the nations (Revelation 2:26).

That is a very interesting promise to this church because the city of Thyatira was not important politically. It didn’t rule over anything.  He also promised that they will be given the morning star (Revelation 2:28).

Jesus says, “I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16 NIV).  He promises to give Himself to them.

Christ’s Character

To each one of these seven churches, Jesus tells him something about himself.

To the Church of Ephesus, Jesus holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands (Revelation 2:1)

To the Church of Smyrna, the persecuted church, Jesus is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again (Revelation 2:8).

To the Church of Pergamum, Jesus has the sharp, double-edged sword (Revelation 2:12) and would use that sword against members of the church who did not repent.  That is not the Jesus that you hear much about in church.

To the Church of Thyatira, Jesus is Son of God.  He is not just the human Son of Man.  He is the divine Son of God.  This is the only time in these letters that we see the words “Son of God.”

In fact, Revelation 2:18 is the only time in the whole book that we see the title “Son of God.”  It is common in the NT, but this is the only time in Revelation we see this title of Jesus.

We are also told that Jesus’ eyes are like blazing fire and His feet are like burnished bronze (Revelation 2:18).   It is a picture of omniscience, and it is a picture of judgment.

Jesus said, “I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds” (Revelation 2:23 NIV)

Jesus has penetrating eyes, like a flame of fire.  He sees everything in our church.  He sees everything in our lives.  He sees the good things you do for Him that no one else sees.  He sees the bad.  He can see in the dark. He sees everything (every action, every word, every thought).  He knows everything.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 NIV)

People can accuse you of all kinds of things, but Jesus is the only one who knows the truth.  He is the only one who searches the hearts. Jesus not only sees; He judges.

Fire is an instrument of judgment.  The wicked will be judged by fire (Revelation 19:11-12; II Thessalonians 1:7-8). The unsaved will be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:15).

Even Christians will face fire when they see Jesus. The works of Christians will one day face fire and be judged (I Corinthians 3:10-15).  Bronze is also picture of judgment in the Bible.

Christ’s Commendation

Jesus gave this church a mixed review.  There were some things the church was great at doing.  There were other areas it was terrible at doing.  Jesus begins His letter talking about the good things they did.  He starts with a commendation.  He starts positive.

I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and  that you are now doing more than you did at first. (Revelation 2:19 NIV)

Jesus said a lot of good things about this church. This church had four good points.  Jesus commended this church’s LOVE.  He commended their FAITH.  He commended their SERVICE.  He commended their PERSEVERANCE. It was a working church.  They refused to quit.  They kept on ministering.

In many ways, the Church of Thyatira was the exact opposite of the church of Ephesus.  The Church of Ephesus was doctrinally sound.  They did not tolerate false teachers.  They kept them out of the church, but they did not have any love.

The Church of Thyatira had love.  They had plenty of love, but they tolerated false teachers and false prophets in the church.  There are only two times the Greek word for “love” (αγαπη) is used in Revelation.

It is used once in the Church of Ephesus and once in the church of Thyatira.  Ephesus was the church that did not have love. It lost its love.  Thyatira was a church that had love.

The Church of Ephesus’ first works were greater than its last works.  He told the church to go back and do the first works again.  The Church of Thyatira had greater works in the end than they had in the beginning.

Jesus said, “you are now doing more than you did at first” (Revelation 2:19 NIV).  Their last works were greater than their first works.  This was a church that kept getting better.  It kept improving.  It kept making progress.

Their last state was better than the first.  We should be constantly growing and improving spiritually.  Our church should as well.

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (II Peter 3:18 NIV).

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. (II Peter 1:5-7 NIV)

Are you growing?  Are you doing more spiritually than you did ten or twenty years ago or less?

Christ’s Criticism

This was a good church, but Jesus had one criticism, just one.  Just because a church is strong in one area does not mean that it cannot be weak in another area.

We can be very strong in one area.  Some are strong in prayer but weak in bible study.  Some are strong in worship but weak in evangelism.

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:21 NIV).

What was the problem with this church?  It had one fatal flaw.  Many churches today have the same problem.  They allowed a heretic in the church.  Jezebel was in that church and it was their own fault, because they allowed it.  They allowed moral and doctrinal error in the church.

Their biggest problem is that they were too tolerant.  That is what Jesus said.  Nevertheless, I have this against you: You TOLERATE that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet (Revelation 2:20 NIV).

The world praises tolerance.  Tolerance is a virtue today.  Should it be?  Yes and No.  There are some things we should tolerate and some things we should not tolerate.

We don’t tolerate babies playing with sharp objects or kids running out in the middle of the street. We don’t tolerate cancer in your body. We cut it out, because cancer will kill us. We do not tolerate rapists, murderers and child molesters.

Teachers do not tolerate wrong answers on tests.  They do not say that any answer is acceptable.  We should not tolerate sin. The church should not tolerate moral error. It also should not tolerate doctrinal error.

The real problem in this church was NOT Jezebel. Jezebel was just the symptom of the problem.  The real problem in this church was the leaders.  Some church leaders are like dictators.  They try to micromanage everything.  Many of us have been in churches with pastors with big egos.

Other leaders never take a stand on anything.  They avoid conflict and don’t want to offend anyone, because they might leave the church.  Some churches tolerate things that they shouldn’t.

At Thyatira, there was a powerful, influential, strong-willed woman who had a big following.  She publicly promoted error and none of the leaders of the church had the courage to stand up to her.  None of them had any backbone.

Two Common Errors

There is a lot of misunderstanding about Jezebel in the church today.  There are two common errors.

1) The Chauvinist Error

Some men have used this passage to bash women.  One preacher called this the church that had a woman problem.[2] One preacher said their problem was that they let any woman teach in the church.[3]

The Apostle Paul did say, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man” (I Timothy 2:12 NIV).  That is true but the office of prophet in the Bible was not limited to men.

There were female prophets in the OT (Miriam, Deborah).  There were female prophets in the NT (Anna, Philip’s daughters).

In fact, God said in the OT, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons AND DAUGHTERS will prophesy” (Joel 2:28 NIV).  Women in the Bible were allowed to prophesy in the Bible.

Jezebel was not condemned for being a woman or even a strong woman.  Jezebel was NOT condemned for being a woman prophet in the church but for being a FALSE prophet in the church.

2) The Charismatic Error

The second error is very popular in the church today, especially in charismatic churches.  Many in the church today talk about Jezebel as a demonic spirit.

Not only is Jezebel called a demonic spirit, but she is perhaps the most powerful demon in history.  This demon is said to be controlling, domineering, and manipulative.  We do know that there are demons behind false doctrine and false religion.

The Apostle Paul said, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught BY DEMONS.” (I Timothy 4:1 NIV)

On the other hand, Jesus did NOT call this Jezebel a spirit.  He called her a woman.  He said, “You tolerate THAT WOMAN Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet.”  The Jezebel in Revelation 2 was NOT a demon. It was an actual person.

In fact, nowhere does the Bible actually talk about a Jezebel spirit.  That is not to say that it does not exist, but the Bible does not mention it.  Jesus does not mention a demon being in this church.

Jesus does not say that there is a woman in the church, who has a demon.  He does not say that there is a woman in the church who has a Jezebel Spirit, and you need to cast the demon out of her.  You need to have an exorcism.

Whether the Bible does not specifically talk about a demon spirit called Jezebel, there are people today who act just like her.  There are people today who have the spirit of Jezebel.

A Spirit Alive Today

This spirit is alive and well in the body of Christ today.  This spirit can operate in men and women.  It infiltrates churches and can destroy them but what is it?  What does that look like?  What is the spirit of Jezebel?

There are multiple websites about Jezebel.  There are books on Jezebel.  Michael Brown has a book on Jezebel.  This spirit is described in a number of ways.

It is described as a domineering and a controlling spirit.  It is described as an intimidating spirit.  It is described as a spirit of witchcraft and sorcery.  It is described as an emasculating, man-hating spirit. It is described as a radical feminist spirit.

Today, we want to ask this question:  What does the Book of Revelation say about Jezebel?  That is where some people might be shocked.

Jesus does not condemn her for being a feminist or being a witch.  He does not condemn her for being a woman.  He does not call her a demon spirit.  What does Jesus say about Jezebel?

There are people like Jezebel in the church today.  There are some modern-day Jezebels.  What are the signs of a Jezebel spirit from this passage?  Do you have a Jezebel spirit?  Let’s look at four signs of this spirit from Revelation 2.

Do You Have a Jezebel Spirit?

1) You have a Jezebel Spirit,  if you claim to be something you are not

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, WHO CALLS HERSELF A PROPHET (Revelation 2:20 NIV). This Jezebel claimed to be something that she was not.  She called herself a prophet.

God did not call her a prophet.  She called herself one.  She claimed special revelation.  She called herself a prophet.  She was prominent.  Everyone one else respected her.  Jesus insulted her and called her Jezebel.

Her problem is that she did not have a call.  She usurped the office without a call from God.  The tragedy today is that many today think they are prophets.  They call themselves prophets.  Others think they are a prophet, but they are not a real prophet. They are self-appointed and self-proclaimed.

That is a huge problem in the church today.  People go around in the church with big heads.  They think they have a special anointing.  They think that they have special God-given authority.  They think they are apostles, and everyone should listen to them.  Some claim to be Bible teachers who do not teach the Bible.

The Bible says that we are to test the prophets.  There are easy ways to test true and false prophets.  A prophet is someone who speaks for God.  They will claim to have a word from God.  They will say that God spoke to them.

It is very easy to apply two simple tests to these people.  The first test is the SCRIPTURAL TEST.  God has already spoke in His word.  If someone else says that God has spoken again, compare what they say to what God has already said.

What Jezebel taught plainly contradicted what Scripture teaches.  The Bible does not tell us to commit sexual immorality and to commit idolatry. Islam has some false prophets.  There are people that claim to be prophets.  They claim to have a revelation but their revelation contradicts Scripture.  That is the first test.

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (I John 4:1-3 NIV)

The second test is the PROPHETIC TEST.  If they make a prediction and if they say that the prediction comes from God, does it come to pass?

Some predicted that Donald Trump would win a second term.  Some said that he would remain president after the election.  It is one thing to say that I think he will win.  I believe he will win the election.  It is another thing to stand up and say that God told me that he will win.

It is very dangerous to not just make a prediction about something and claim to have a word from God and make God out to be a liar.  That is taking the name of the Lord in vain.  God takes that very seriously.  He says that He will not hold the person guiltless who take His name in vain (Exodus 20:7).

 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death.”

21 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NIV)

2) You have a Jezebel Spirit, if you have a lot of power and influence

Jezebel had power.  She had power in the OT.  She had power in the NT.  The OT Jezebel had a position of power.  She had a position of power in the government.  She was the wife of the king, and she controlled him, because he was a weak man.

The NT Jezebel also had power in the local church.  She had a strong personality.  She was liked.  She was popular.  She had influence.  She had followers.  She had disciples.  Jesus mentions her lovers and her children (Revelation 2:23).  People came to her for guidance.

They were not literal children.  They were spiritual children.  She had followers and she was given some position in the church.  She was given a platform.  She was allowed to teach or prophecy in the church.

She had a big following.  She claimed to have secret knowledge.  If you come to her, you will learn the deep truths of God.  Jesus said that people who came to her learned some deep truths, but they were “the deep secrets of Satan” (Revelation 2:24 NIV).

3) You have a Jezebel Spirit, if you use that power to deceive others

Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she MISLEADS my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. (Revelation 2:20 NIV)

The OT Jezebel seduced people.  She led her husband and the ten northern tribes in the worship of Baal.  Jezebel introduced idolatry to the people of God in the OT.

The NT Jezebel introduced idolatry to people in the church.  She used her power and influence to deceive others.  She deceived others doctrinally.  She deceived others morally.  She led them into theological error.  She led them into sin.

She taught the Doctrine of Balaam.  In the Church of Pergamum, there were people who believe the Doctrine of Balaam.  They were called Nicolaitans.  In the Church of Thyatira, a woman was actually teaching this doctrine in the church.

One characteristic of a Jezebel Spirit is deception.  Who was she deceiving?  Christians.  How did she do it?  How could real Christians worship idols and commit sexual immorality?  You say, “They must have been pretty stupid.”

Thyatira was the place known for its trade guilds.  They had a guild for almost every trade.  In order to get a job, you had to be a member of a trade guild. You had to join the union.

The problem is that each guild was dedicated to an idol.  At the guild meetings, they ate food offered to idols.  There was a lot of alcohol consumed at these meetings.  There were a lot of women at these meeting.  Immorality was associated with these guild meetings as well.

The burning question of that day was this: Is it right for a Christian to join a trade guild?  It is not the burning question today.  They did not deal with race issues (BLM, CRT).  They did not deal with people trying to change their gender.  They just dealt with trade guilds and whether they were allowed.

One prominent and outspoken woman in this church said that she had a word from God on the matter.  She said that Christians could participate in these clubs.  She told people what they wanted to hear.  You can fit it with everyone else and not have to be different.

Aftercall, idols were not real.  They don’t exist.  God wants you to support your family.  If you join one of these clubs, you will have more opportunity, make more money and be able to support your family, as you are called to do.  That led to idolatry and immorality.

4) You have a Jezebel Spirit, if you do are not open to biblical correction

I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. (Revelation 2:21 ESV)

A final characteristic of this spirit is stubbornness and pride.  Jesus loves everybody.  He even loved Jezebel. Now, Jezebel was wicked.  She was deceiving and seducing God’s people.  She taught error in the church.  You expect instant judgment, but Jesus was patient with her.

He did not judge her right away.  He gave her time to repent but she refused to repent.  She was not open to correction or rebuke.  She did not think she had done anything wrong.  In fact, she looked down on everyone else.

Jezebel was not submissive to church leaders.  She was not accountable. That is a dangerous place to be in.  Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy. (Proverbs 29:1)

Modern Lessons for Today

1) False teaching takes place in some churches today.

False teaching takes place in bad churches.  It also takes place in some churches that have some really good points.  They might be great worship churches.  They might be good at evangelism or spiritual gifts.  They might be churches where they take care of people.  They love people but still have false teaching in the church.

2) Some leaders allow false teaching to take place.

They do not do anything about it.  They may not encourage it, but they do not stop it.  They don’t stop it for a number of reasons.  Some leaders do not know the Word very well.

Some do not want to offend anyone.  Some want to be inclusive and accept everyone.  Most churches do not practice church discipline today.  We should beware of a church that does that.

3) True believers can be deceived.

They can fall into deep sin.  Many think that if you are a true Christian you cannot fall into sin, especially sexual sin.  All you have to do is to read the Bible.  Many believers fell into sin.  Some fell into deep sin.

Solomon was a believer.  He fell into idolatry.  David was a believer he fell into sexual sin.  Jesus says that true believers can fall into sin.

By her teaching she misleads MY SERVANTS into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols (Revelation 2:20 NIV).

4) We need to be careful who we follow.

Just because people say they are a prophet does not mean they are one.  Just because someone says that God spoke to him or her does not mean that He has.  Test the spirits.  Some false teachers are extremely gifted.  They may be great public speakers but what they say has to be evaluated with Scripture.

5) Jesus is not pleased with everyone.

He is not pleased with every church.  He is not pleased with every Christian.  Jesus said, “Nevertheless, I have this against you.”  Those are words that no church wants to hear from Jesus.

Those are words that no Christian wants to hear from Jesus: “I have this against you.”  Jesus was not pleased with Jezebel, and He was not pleased with the leaders in the church who allowed her to continue to deceive people.

6) If we sin, we need to repent

We do not talk about this too much in church today.  We only talk about the unsaved needing to repent.  Some Christians need to repent as well.  If we are living in sin, are we open to biblical rebuke or, like Jezebel, do we refuse to repent.

7) If we don’t repent, expect judgment.

This is something else almost never preached in church.  When was the last time that you heard anyone preached in church if you continue to live in open sin and rebellion and profess the name of Christ, you might get sick or die?  Sometimes, we are told the exact opposite.  We are told that God never makes anyone sick but notice the words of Jesus here.

So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. 23 I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. (Revelation 2:22-23 NIV)

The good news is that judgment is not inevitable.  If you repent, you won’t be judged.  Jesus knows the group in the church that followed Jezebel and the group that did not.  He searches the minds and hearts.  Only God can search our hearts.  Jesus is God.

[1] Vance Havner, Repent or Else, 45.

[2] Ken Trivette, “Dear Thyatira:  You have a Woman Problem” (spoken recording), n.d.

[3] Stephen Anderson, Understanding the Book of Revelation, 47.

One Response to The Spirit of Jezebel

  1. Alison Conger says:

    This lesson is so good and anointed. I definitely do not want to operate like Jezebel did! It’s very sobering to see how such erroneous beliefs and deceptions can creep in. It’s convicting as well. I dont want to have those attributes. I want the mind and heart of Jesus. I pray I listen to His discipline and repent.

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