VOLUME 6. DOMINANT CHURCH: PHILADEPHIA – MISSIONARY CHURCH 1750-1910 AD PHILADELPHIA REVELATION 3:7-13 3:7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. INTRODUCTION
Philadelphia means "brotherly love." This church reflected the Biblical teaching of John. 13:34-35. The Lord Jesus Christ who holds the keys of history sets before this Church an open door of service (cf. 1 Corinthians. 16:9; Colossians 4:3). This missionary minded church would have victory over the Synagogue of Satan, and because of faithful perseverance, would be kept from the "hour (time) of tribulation." The overcomer is promised a permanent place of service in God's eternal temple bearing the name of God.
Historically Philadelphia represents church history of 1700 to 1900 AD During this time we have the great mission outreach of the Wesleys, Taylors, and Careys, among others. China, India, and Africa became centres of great evangelistic work. This missionary zeal will continue until the Rapture removes the true church from Tribulation.
This removal is verified in such passages as 1 Thessalonians. 1:910, 4:13-18, 5:9 as well as Revelation 1:19 and 4:1. In addition, the word "church" is mentioned all the way up to Revelation 4:1 (a picture of the Rapture) and from here "Israel" becomes the focus. The reason for this is that the Tribulation is the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah. 30:7) to refine and regenerate the nation of Israel. God never deals with Israel and the Church at the same time until the Millennium.
The description of Christ in verse 7 comes from Revelation 1:18 picturing Christ as the one with the authority to open and close doors. This is the only church other than that of Smyrna which has no condemnation set against it. Christ finds nothing against this church and is satisfied with it. Christ opens up again the door of service. We need to be walking with the Lord to have the privilege to serve him. We as Christians can get windows of opportunity and it is up to us to be sensitive to them and work for the Lord in His strength.
In verse 8 the Lord Jesus Christ is seen as omniscient, He is all knowing. He had set some opportunities by opening a door and had kept it open. They had a little strength which indicates that they worked on the basis of grace. During the period of 1700-1900 there was virtually no place where a missionary could not go. Every place was open to them. Today more and more countries are closing their doors to missionaries. They had little power, it was a minority supporting these missionaries. Yet with a little power they were commended for it.
The Lord Jesus Christ knows our works and attitudes. It is only when they conform to His will that we are able to use the door He has opened. The little strength indicates that they are basing their works on His grace and not relying on their own strength. God is in control and no one can shut the door other than God. The church in general and we specifically should be faithful.
The church at Philadelphia was also promised in verse 9 submission and worship from those who claim to be Jews or the people of God and are not. - Hosea 1:8-9, 2:23 makes it clear that when Israel are on the sideline of God’s program and are considered “not my people”. In the future however they will, again become my people. There is an antagonism between the church and the Jews who as a nation have been set aside temporarily in God’s plan. In the Tribulation however the Jews will come into their own and will see a massive conversion.
It is of interest that it is during this time that Jewish missions came into its own and by 1900 some 250,000 came to Christ. Jewish missions first began in Germany, took root in England and finally came to fruition in the United States. It was a time when the natural branches were again regrafted in the olive tree.
In verse 10 "temptation" means trial or testing. The testing will be a universal time of hardship which will test the whole population of the world. God will protect those who are his and will not allow them to be tested above what they able to bear. This universal period of severe testing which comes immediately before the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ is called the Tribulation. The believing church will not go through this period as the Rapture of the Church occurs before this time.
"Hold that fast" indicates that there needs to be continued persistence The Lord tells them to keep on doing what they are doing until He comes. From the above it appears it is possible that people will be able to lose their crowns. The Lord is coming back swiftly when he comes and will catch people unawares who are not ready. We need to have stickability in the Christian life. We can lose rewards but we cannot lose our salvation.
To the believer in verse 12 the Lord promises to remember them. In the ancient world the deeds of the great people in a community were inscribed on the pillars of the most important buildings, usually a temple so that they would be recorded as long as the settlement lasted. The Lord will especially honour us if we are faithful to Him. The deeds that we do in the power of the Spirit will be recorded. He is going to write the name of God, the New Jerusalem and a new name. This talks of possession of the believer by God and His protection. We are in enemy territory but in fellowship with God we are invincible.