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The Church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13):

Jesus begins His message to the Church at Philadelp by saying three things about Himself: He is holy, He is true, and He has authority over the Churches. There is an abundance of Scriptural support of these statements, but the way Jesus describes His authority is interesting. He tells them He has the key of David. Keys are frequently a type for authority, because if you have the key to something, you have the authority over whatever that key opens. The remainder of the verse seems to confirm this interpretation. The authority of David goes back to the Old Testament and the Covenant God made with David. That covenant is found in 2 Samuel 7:11-17, but the condensed version says God promised to establish the throne of David forever. Jesus is saying the authority of that covenant is His, because He is “the son of David” and He traces His earthly genealogy back to David on both his mother’s and his (earthly) father’s lineage. We know Jesus was given all authority, so why did He specify the authority of David’s throne was His? As we examine His message to the Church at Philadelphia we get a better understanding of its meaning.

First, Jesus commends the Church at Philadelphia. He says, “ I know your works, and I know what you have accomplished and what you have tried to accomplish for My Kingdom. He then recognizes them for carrying on even though they have “little” strength. Some interpret to mean “you are small and few in number, but you have spiritual power. He goes on to say, “You have kept My Word.” They had been obedient to what God told them to do. In verse 10 He adds, you have kept My command to persevere. That indicates the church at Philadelphia had known persecution. But they kept on obeying God in spite of that persecution. In their perseverance, they had not denied the name of Jesus. This becomes more significant when we understand the Name of Jesus represents everything He is and all He has promised. When we deny any part of Christianity, we deny everything Jesus said or did.

Next, Jesus identifies their enemies and tells them what He is going to do to them. The enemies of the church are “those … who say they are Jews but are not “ Romans 2:28-29 tells us a Jew is someone with a circumcised heart. The enemies of the Church at Philadelphia were some of the same enemies the universal Church is fighting today. Today, however, we can substitute ‘Christians’ for the word ‘Jews.’ Those who proclaim to belong to Crist but live only for themselves belong to the church, or synagogue, of Satan. The punishment for their false religion will be seen when “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.” Those who deny the name of Jesus, whatever their reason for doing so, will be forced to come and worship before believers while Jesus shows His great love for us to them.

After saying what He will do to the unbelievers, Jesus talks about what He will do for the believers. In verse 10 He promises protection from the trials which shall come upon the whole earth. Since the believers have already passed that test, they won’t have to take it again. In vs 11-13 Jesus makes some precious promises to the believers. First, He assures them He is coming “quickly.” The Greek word used for quickly means ‘swiftly.” We tend to interpret it as “soon,” but it could be more like the warning He gave Sardis, He will appear ‘suddenly, like the thief in the night.’ For that reason, we have to hold fast to what we have and persevere in the truth in which we are walking- regardless of what happens around us. If we are faithful, no one will be able to take our authority, our crown. He promises to make the believers “pillars” in the temple of God. A pillar is strong and stable and holds up under the pressures that come against it. They who overcome will stand fast, and not be shaken by every “earthquake” that comes along. Jesus says “he shall go out no More.” I think Jesus means the believers will be so stable they will no longer succumb to any of the devices Satan uses to draw us away from the safety of God’s presence. He promises to write upon them the name of God and the name of the City of God. Like tags on luggage ensures the luggage gets to where it is supposed to go, those names written on us will gain us admission into the New Jerusalem and the presence of God. And then, another promise of intimacy with Him: He will write on us His new name; a name given only to us by the Lover of Our Soul, Philadelphia and Smyrna are the only two of the seven churches which escaped being rebuked by Jesus. The message to Smyrna was “You have been faithful. Endure whatever comes your way and remain faithful until the end and you will have everlasting life.” To Philadelphia He says, “Hold on to what you have and endure to the end, and you will have a deeper intimacy with Me than you have ever had before.” Those are promises to the true church, the Bride of Christ.


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