A Small Change Can Make BIG Difference

Revelation 2:20 reads:

But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

People argue about this a little. Some say it is a reference to a pagan deity. Others suggest that Jezebel was the actual name of a woman, but it is generally agreed that Jezebel is a symbolic name for a real woman in the church who is a false teacher.

Reading about this passage in the New Bible Commentary, I came across a sentence that struck my funny bone.

Some authorities have a curious variant in v 20 and read your wife Nezebel.

Apparently, some translators take the fact that there are a few Greek manuscripts that contain the possessive pronoun ‘your’ and run with it. Coupled with the understanding that the angels (2:18) of the churches are the pastors, this would mean that Jesus was calling out the pastor’s wife by name in very unflattering terms.

Now the passage reads,

But I have this against you, that you tolerate your wife Nezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.

Now maybe it doesn’t change the application of the passage much, but it really reads different. I’m thinkin’ I’d go with the consensus on this one. 🙂

Just so you know, the New Bible Commentary did go on to say that the whole Nezebel thing was likely inaccurate.


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2 thoughts on “A Small Change Can Make BIG Difference”

  1. Hi Crystal,

    I have enjoyed your blogs and think you are putting a lot of thought and purpose into them. The one I read today brought a lot of “food for thought” to my mind, so I hope you don’t mind a response to it.

    I do believe your blog is a wonderful tool of ministry and I hope you continue to publish it.

    I am afraid you will receive what I have to say as negative, I am not trying to be.. I am just trying to communicate some feedback.

    I am not sure all would agree that the “angels” refers to pastors. The word is acutally messengers most often translated angels. John is in heaven – and describing what he sees. If angels are messengers of God – and he is witnessing God giving a message to an angel – then I don’t see how we jump into modern day church government and call that a pastor. Yes, the message is for the church – given to the church by an angel from the throne of God. but pastors are only one part of a five-fold leadership given to lead the church. Prophets, Pastors, Teachers, Evangelist, and Apostles.. to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.. (Ephs.4:11).
    It is only modern day church government that excludes the other four from a position of leadership.

    Then about Jezebel.. you are right to say it is a topic that brings up a lot of argument. That is because it is so often used as a derogatory word to attack women in church. There are so many wounded and exiled woman of God who have been rejected by the church and labeled a Jezebel. It is often used to attack her beauty, her ability and her God given gifts. It goes completely opposite with the way Jesus reached out to women.

    If we study who the real Jezebel was (1Kings 16) she was the daughter of a pagen king married to Ahab king of Isreal. She served Baal. She convinced her husband to do so also. She hated the prophets of Isreal. She falsely wrote letters that caused the destruction of citizens. In 1Kings 21:25 God says this about King Ahab..
    “There was never a man like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols.”

    Fast forward to the book of Revelation and I am more convinced that there was the worship of Baal (this involed sexual prostition in the name of religion as well as the murdering of your babies) going on in the church of Thyatira. They are being accused of tolerating that evil in their midst. They were providing a safe place for withcraft (was it in their hearts, their community? we know they didn’t have buildings called churches, but church was always a term to describe God’s people) ..maybe because they were full of love and good deeds thinking they could love them into repentence.. I don’t know, but they are being rebuked for tolerating and learning the ways of Satan. (vs24). (much like King Ahab was rebuked)

    As I stated in the beginning, so many woman have been abused by the church by being labeled a “Jezebel”. I have been in ministry for almost 30 years and I have yet to meet a pastors wife or any other woman in the church who has this kind of power and control and a heart so full of evil that she should be called a Jezebel.

    1. Thank you Barbara! I so appreciate a response. I enjoy knowing I have “slient” readers, but it is so fun to have interaction and be sharpened. This post was just meant to be kind of goofy. I wasn’t actually making a statement that “angels” were or were not referring to a leader or pastor in the church (though I do lean that way simply because it has always made more sense to me with the “letter to the angel of…” thing.) But I am not convinced and am perfectly willing to be wrong on that count.
      My point was simply that if a person did understand the letter to be addressed to the pastor and they also bought off on the “your wife Nezebel” bit, it comes off with an odd and highly unlikely reading. I was not at all advocating that view. 🙂
      I agree that the reference to Jezebel has to do with a most vile and destructive form of pagan worship, but I don’t necessarily think I could rule out that there might be a particular woman who typified Jezebel in leading people to participate in these abhorrent practices. Again, I have room for it to be representative of a general toleration for wicked pagan worship amongst church members. I just don’t know…
      I probably could have communicated my point better. That’s why it’s so good to have feedback! I see your point about the hurt that can be caused by misapplying this passage and I have heard that term thrown around, but I would think that if there was a woman who was doing essentially the same thing as Jezebel (seducing people into idol worship), it is plausible that this name could be figuratively applied to her.
      This is the first time I have done anything other that a very casual study of Revelation so I’ve not settled on anything. Be patient with me… 🙂

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