Author: Ron Graham
Message to Philadelphia
The Revelation of Christ (Revelation 1-5) >Seven Churches >Sixth Message, Philadelphia
We continue looking at the seven messages in Revelation 2-3. from Jesus to the churches of Asia. We now study the second last message addressed to Philadelphia, the faithful church (Revelation 3:7-13).
1 From Christ to the Philadelphians
Philadelphia A small farming town on the edge of a fertile valley. There is still a farming town there today. Although just a church in the country, and not a big city church with prestige, the church in Philadelphia was strong. It was one of two churches out of the seven that Jesus did not have something against (the other was Smyrna).
He who... has the key of David Jesus calls himself here "He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens..." (cf Isaiah 22:22).
In the vision of Christ which John saw, Christ said to John, "I have the keys of death and of Hades" (Revelation 1:18). This is the same as saying, "I have the key of eternal life".
Christ Holds the Key
The "key of David" represents the same thing as "the keys of death and of Hades" (Revelation 1:18).
Peter, on the day of Pentecost, explained that "David, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn with an oath to seat one of his descendants upon his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of Christ that his soul was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh suffer decay." (Acts 2:22-39).
Only Jesus the King of kings, who now and forevermore sits on David's throne, has the power to give or deny eternal life. When he opens heaven for you, nobody can shut you out. If he shuts you out, nobody can let you in.
2 The Exhortations
I know... The deeds of the church at Philadelphia, although "little" were able to be used by Christ. He opened a door for them to preach the message of eternal life which they themselves had been keeping.
Jews... Synagogue of Satan There was a dispersion of the Jews across the world. In many places, like Smyrna, they opposed and even persecuted Christians. They "say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan".
The gospel teaches that a Jew is not a Jew outwardly but inwardly (Romans 2:28-29, Romans 9:6-8). Jews who rejects Christ are not considered by God to be true Jews, but are considered to belong to Satan. Remember that Jesus is a Jew, which adds poignancy to his comment about the Jews in Smyrna.
Perseverance Jesus commends the Philadelphians for persevering, for keeping the word. He says that he will keep them from the hour of testing or temptation. He does not mean that they won't be tested. But he will keep them from being harmed by it, and help them to go on persevering and overcome. How Jesus keeps us from the hour of testing is explained in 1Corinthians 10:13.
Hold fast In the previous verse, Jesus called the gospel "My word of perseverance". The gospel is something to be kept and held fast in perseverance. In the parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15) describes many in whom the seed of God’s word grew for a short while, but did not last.
A Little Season
When Jesus says to the Philadelphians, "I am coming quickly" (Revelation 3:11), it is not so much a threat to them, as it is to some, but an encouragement. In this case the idea is to hang in there, because it won't be very long. In the previous verse he speaks of "the hour of testing".
Jesus is making the same point here as he did to the church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:10), when he said the tribulation would last only ten days. He mentioned the crown of life there too, as he does here, to motivate people to persevere.
A pillar in the temple We usually think of "pillars" of the church (Galatians 2:9) as those who are strong and help to hold up the church in difficult times. Whilst that is true, Jesus is taking the metaphor further in his promise to make the faithful person a pillar in the temple of God.
A pillar holds up the building, therefore it cannot be taken away. It is a permanent part of the building. Thus Jesus says, "I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will not go out from it any more" (Revelation 3:12). This is another picture of the gift of eternal life.
A pillar sometimes has an inscription or an identifying mark chiselled into it by the stonemason. Jesus promises to write upon the pillar (the faithful Christian) the name of God, the name of the new Jerusalem, and Christ’s new name.
New name This is the same new name that was written on the white stone (Revelation 2:17). In Isaiah it is called "an everlasting name which shall not be cut off". This is the name which Jesus has (Revelation 19:12 Philippians 2:9).
When you want to identify something as belonging to you, you may write your name on it. This is the sense in which Jesus will write the divine name on every faithful Christian. On Judgment Day, Jesus will recognise his own (John 10:14, 27-28).
Name Above All Names
This mention of the name also relates back to the statement in verse 9, "I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you" . Jesus has "the name which is above every name" and at that name "every knee shall bow" (Philippians 2:9-10).
When thinking of the "name" of Jesus in this manner, we have in mind much more than just the name "Jesus" itself. We have in mind his authority, glory, and majesty, and ourselves as his fortunate subjects.
3 The Promise
New Jerusalem The seventh of the seven final visions in Revelation is the vision of the heavenly city of God, the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1 to 22:6). You might like to read an article on "The New Jerusalem" in the Times of Israel lesson entitled The Eternal Kingdom