To the Church in Philadelphia
7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:7-13
Philadelphia freedom. The city of brotherly love. Philadelphia Eagles, Flyers, Rocky Balboa. “Yo Adrian.”
We’re not talking about Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We’re talking about a little city roughly 38 miles southeast of Sardis in biblical times. It was a city of commercial importance conveniently located as the gateway to the high central plateau of the Roman province of Asia.
The name Philadelphia means “brotherly love.” Where have we heard that before?
As we have done with the other churches in Revelation, we will look for a similar pattern found in the other letters.
Do we see the character of Christ? Yes.
Christ is holy and true, and He holds the key of David. What he opens, no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
What about commendation? Does Jesus say anything specific about this church? What are they doing?
Jesus knows their deeds. He placed an open door before them and he knows they have little strength. Though not very powerful, that has not kept them from keeping his word. They have not denied his name either. They kept his command to endure patiently.
Does Jesus have any complaints?
I do not see any complaints against the church of Philadelphia, but I see that he knows there are people who claim to be Jews but they are not. Those people are of the synagogue of Satan. They are liars.
What are they supposed to do?
They are to hold on to what they have as they wait patiently for Jesus.
What does Jesus offer as a conclusion to the church at Philadelphia?
Jesus promises several things to the church in Philadelphia. First, he will keep them from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
Next to the one who is victorious, he will make a pillar in the temple of God. He will write on them the name of his God, and the name of the city of his God, Jerusalem.
What am I to learn from the letter to Philadelphia?
The Lord sees me and knows what I can and cannot handle. Even in my weakness, I shall not deny the Lord or His Word. He is my rock and my firm foundation. The Lord still loves me even in my weakness.
I am to hold onto what I have as I too wait patiently for Jesus’ return.
The Lord has made promises he will keep. I am not to doubt him or his word as I wait patiently.
It’s so easy for us to get caught up in all the bad news of the day. We are living in unprecedented times like never before, and many have shut off the news, scrolled by the horrors of the day. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are still happening – lawlessness and evil are increasing every day – good is called evil and evil is called good.
Finally, I have ears, and I can hear, so I need to be listening and paying attention. The Lord has given us a warning and we need to heed his warning and follow his directions.
Stay alert my friend. Keep oil in your lamp. Be watchful and be ready.
The church in Philadelphia thought they were weak, yet they were strong.