And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ”These things says He who is holy, He who is true, ‘He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens:’ I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie–indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 3:7-13)
The Church In Philadelphia
John saw some amazing things in the revelation given to him by God. Writing of things he saw and heard the apostle paints a glorious picture of the victory of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords over all that oppose the righteousness of the Holy God. In the end Satan will be cast into the lake of fire; along with everything connected with death and unrighteousness. The address of the revelation opens with declarations to seven churches of Christ in the Asian realm. Each church has a specific message of either commendation or condemnation with Philadelphia receiving no specific censure. It was in this city so many temples were built that it was sometimes referred to as the “Little Athens.” Jews would been a cause of persecution against the Christians also. The church in Philadelphia had many challenges against it.
Jesus knows their works commending them for their impoverished spirit in the face of difficult times. The Lord will bless the church with many opportunities as an open door because of their faith. In the face of all that came against them, they stood firm. They kept the word as truth and refused to deny the name of Jesus. Their endurance in hard times will be a blessing as others fail. The Lord warns of a great trial coming upon the whole world but the saints in Philadelphia will be protected from these trials. Exhorting them to hold fast to the word He reminds them He will return soon and their reward in heaven will be great. There is a possible allusion of the many pagan temples in Philadelphia used in a paradoxical proverb to show how the saints in the church at Philadelphia will be a pillar in the temple of the one true God bearing the name of God. There will be a glorious reward for the faithful saints in Philadelphia because of the work the local church is doing for the glory of God.
The candlestick of the church at Philadelphia was established in the love of Jesus Christ. They were a group of Christians in a pagan city serving the one true God with all their fervor and vitality. It was a church of little strength but what great things they were doing. Lessons from the seven churches show the character of what each local congregation of God’s people can do – or not do. Some of the churches were challenged because of their lack of love, apathy and immorality that was allowed to continue. Philadelphia was not a church of great strength yet they were able to do so much for the Lord. Each congregation of God’s people will have their strength and weakness but all should be like the church in Philadelphia. Facing opposition the church held to the pattern of truth and became an example to all of Asia.
We should have the same spirit as the brethren in Philadelphia. Following the pattern of New Testament authority, we must engage ourselves in the work of teaching the gospel to a world filled with the pagan temples of man’s wisdom and pleasure. Little strength or great strength – we must stand firm in the love of God and affirm the teachings of Jesus Christ to a world dying in the deceitfulness of sin. Let us be a pillar in the temple of God.
The church can stand anything else better than prosperity and popularity. She is poor when she is rich, secure in danger but endangered by security. She usually has most treasure in heaven when she has least on earth. (Vance Havner; 1901-1986)