One More Church – Philadelphia
In this letter in Revelation 3:7-13, Christ is writing to the Church in Philadelphia. And, though He isn’t writing to the Church in Philadelphia, PA…He is. These letters weren’t just to the churches they were addressed to, they were written to us all…the Church. As we all know, Philadelphia means “brotherly love” and this Philadelphia was set up as a missionary outpost for Hellenism. Its purpose was to spread the Greek language and culture across Asia. Philadelphia was called “Little Athens” and was a prosperous city known for beautiful buildings, and earthquakes…reminds me of LA.
In this letter, Christ introduces Himself in verse 7 this way, “This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open:” Notice, He first introduces Himself as “the one who is holy and true.” He is holy, which means that He is set apart, but he is also true…He is truth in physical form. After this, when He says, “the one who has the key of David”, He is referring to Isaiah 22:22 where it says, “I will give him the key to the house of David—the highest position in the royal court. When he opens doors, no one will be able to close them; when he closes doors, no one will be able to open them.” So, in this passage, Christ is showing that Eliakim, talked about in Isaiah 22 as well as 1 Kings 18 and Isaiah 36, was a prophecy of Christ.
He starts out verse 8 by saying, “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close.” Again, He says he knows all the things they do, but this time He tells them that He has opened a door for them that no one can close. This is one of those things that we have made somewhat cliché. We’ve all seen the mems that say, “If God closes a door, He’ll open a window.” The truth is that if God closes a door, no one can open it. Yes, He always has a purpose for our lives, and He will open another door somewhere else. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bash Christian mems, or say they are wrong in any way. The problem is when they become cliché and lose their meaning.
He finishes verse 8 by saying, “You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me.” This is a beautiful thing. He says that they had little strength. You see, they didn’t trust in their own strength, they just trusted in God. We can all learn from the church at Philadelphia. So often we think we are strong, so we don’t rely on God. We believe we can handle it, so we trust in our own strength. Here’s a news flash, our own strength will always fail us. This church trusted in God’s strength, so they were strong.
In verse 9 He says, “Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love.” It appears that this church was being persecuted by the people of the Jewish synagogue. In fact, Jesus calls them “Satan’s synagogue” and says they claim to be Jews, but they are not. Then He reassures the church that these people will one day bow down at their feet and admit that they are the ones that Christ loves.
There are a lot of churches out there that claim the name of Christ but are really Satan’s synagogue, and some of them might surprise you. You see, this synagogue in Revelation was persecuting Christ’s Church because the church at Philadelphia didn’t believe what they believed. They were trying to undermine what this Church was doing because they didn’t believe it was right. But, what did Jesus say? One day, these people would bow down at their feet and admit that this Church is the ones that Christ loves. As I’ve mentioned before, most of the things that divide us are the doctrines that aren’t even scriptural. Believe me, I’ve been on the judging end of this before, until Christ got ahold of me and showed me where I was wrong.
In verses 10-12a, Jesus tells them, 10 “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. 12 All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it.” Again, He is letting them know what will happen if they are victorious. He says that because they have persevered, He will protect them from the great tribulation, and He clarifies that this great tribulation is a test for those who belong to the world, and clearly this church did not. He goes on to ensure us that He is coming soon. I know that many people say, “but, He said this two thousand years ago,” but we must remember that time is not the same to Jesus. 2 Peter 3:8, “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” So, when He says that He is coming soon, what He is really saying is that we need to be ready because it could be today. Matthew 24:36, “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”
After He tells them that He is coming soon, He says to be careful that no one takes away your crown. So, what crown is He talking about? There are five crowns talked about in the Bible that we can receive in Heaven:
- The Crown of Righteousness 2 Timothy 4:8
- The Crown of Victory 1 Corinthians 9:25-27
- The Crown of Life James 1:12; Revelation 2:10
- The Crown of Glory 1 Peter 5:2-4; Matthew 5:19
- The Crown of Rejoicing 1 Thessalonians 2:19; Daniel 12:3; Proverbs 11:30
He ends verse 12 by telling them that everyone who is victorious will become pillars in God’s temple, meaning they will become permanent fixtures, they will be secure.
Christ ends this letter, in verse 13, the same way He ended all the other letters, by telling them, “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.” Again, He wants us to listen to this warning. He wants us to hear it and examine our own lives. We need to look at the Church at Philadelphia as an example. We can’t trust in our own strength, and we must be victorious!