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Revelation 3:7-13 “Christ’s Letter To The Church At Philadelphia”

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SIH STSTA ICONTHE TEXT:

The Letter To Philadelphia…

Rev 3:7-13 KJV

(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.

 

 

THE INTRODUCTION:

From our previous lesson, we saw a very basic summary of the contents of these letters include:

 

Church Location Name Meaning Areas of Faithfulness Areas of Unfaithfulness Possible Punishment Reward To Overcomers (proof of genuine salvation)
Ephesus Desired or Allowed Many areas of faithful outward service.  Hate doctrine of Nicolaitanes. Left first love (Christ)Service not motivated by love for Christ. Removal of candlestick (church no longer enjoying fellowship w God) Eat of Tree of Life in Paradise
Smyrna Myrrh Spiritually rich N/A N/A Not hurt by second death
Pergamos Fortified Tower Faithfulness in face of persecution Allowing doctrine of Balaam and Nicolaitans(physical and spiritual fornication) Will war against those who hold false teaching Be given hidden manna and white stone with new name
Thyatira Sacrifice, Offering, Corpse Works of love, service, faith, patience False Prophetess in midst. (sexual immorality and idol worship) Sickness, tribulation and death upon her and her followers. Be given power over the nations
Sardis Depart, Escape, Exit A few faithful areas of service remain. A few faithful members remain. Testimony that they are spiritually alive but really dead.  Their works not “perfect” before God. Will come upon them as a thief (implied removing anything of value leaving spiritually destitute) White garments.  Name not blotted out of book, confess his name before the Father
Philadelphia Love Of The Brethren Kept Word not denied name of Christ. Persevered in trials N/A N/A Permanent pillar in temple of God.  Name of God and New Jerusalem upon them. New name given to them
Laodicea Judgment Of The People N/A Lukewarm service.  Blinded to their spiritual destitution. Spew out of Lord’s mouth. Rebuking and chastening from Lord. Sit with Christ in throne.

 

 

 

Beginning in chapter 2 through chapter 3, John writes personalized messages to the 7 churches.  Each message contains four basic parts:

  1. Description of Christ
  2. Commendation for faithfulness and consequences
  3. Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences
  4. Promise to Overcomers

 

The first of these personalized messages is written to the church at Philadelphia.

  1. Description of Christ (v 7)
  2. Commendation for faithfulness and consequences (v 8-11)
  3. Exposing unfaithfulness and consequences (N/A)
  4. Promise to Overcomers (v 12-13)

 

 

 

THE EXPOSITORY STUDY:

 

Revelation 3: –

 (7)  And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; 

The Lord addresses this letter to the local church located in Philadelphia.  The main north-south and east-west trade routes intersected at Philadelphia.  This caused the city to be greatly influenced by the Greek traveler/merchants/traders that passed through the city.  Their influence included introducing the worship of Greek Gods into the city.  Those who began this idolatrous worship turned against the local church there and persecuted its members.

Besides these idolaters, the city also contained many radical Jewish citizens that actively persecuted the members of this church.

The city had undergone a very severe earthquake about 80 years earlier which had resulted in a majority of the city being destroyed.  Following this massive quake the city suffered from aftershocks for many years afterward resulting in great destruction and the need to be constantly rebuilding the city.

 

 

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;

The Lord now, using symbolism from the vision of Himself seen by John in chapter 1, describes Himself using symbolism that points to Him as the promised OT Messiah:

  1. He that is holy – He that is sinless and separated for God’s use (Isaiah 47:4)
  2. He that is true – He is the One that is genuine, sincere, and only speaks with veracity (Psalm 31:5)
  3. He that hath the key of David – He possesses ultimate authority over the physical and spiritual nations of Israel (Isaiah 22:22)
  4. He that openeth and no man shutteth and shutteth and no man openeth – He is the Sovereign Lord who controls all things, His will cannot be stopped by anyone. (Isaiah 22:22)

 

Every one of these titles for Christ are used in the OT in reference to the promised Messiah.  When Christ refers to them in this letter, He is giving the local church at Philadelphia a very strong reminder that He is the promised Messiah who will gain the ultimate victory over His enemies…

Psa 21:7-10 KJV – For the king trusteth in the LORD, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.    Thine hand shall find out all thine enemies: thy right hand shall find out those that hate thee.   Thou shalt make them as a fiery oven in the time of thine anger: the LORD shall swallow them up in his wrath, and the fire shall devour them.  Their fruit shalt thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from among the children of men.

During this time of great persecution at the hands of both Jews and Gentiles, the church could know with certainty that the Lord they serve is the True Messiah who will have the ultimate victory over those that oppose His people.

 

(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.

The Lord now commends them for their faithfulness in these areas:

  1. I know thy works – the great effort they expended as they served their Lord
  2. thou hast little strength – although they had much spiritual strength, they had very little respect (“clout”) in the eyes of the world. They lacked great authority, social status, education and wealth. (Many times the Lord uses the weak of the world to bring Him the most glory and honor.  The weak cannot claim their strength won the victory, they must acknowledge that any victory they are given is through the power of God and not their own.)
  3. thou hast kept my word – they possessed, guarded and maintained the truths of God.
  4. thou hast not denied my name – they neither disowned nor blasphemed His name.

I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it – Because they were faithful in these areas, the Lord blessed them with additional opportunities to serve Him.

The Lord blesses faithfulness by giving greater responsibilities and opportunities of service.  Likewise, when we are unfaithful in the responsibilities we have been given, many times He will decrease the opportunities of service. (Matt 25:26-28)

 

(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.

Just as in the city of Smyrna (Rev 2:9), the local church at Philadelphia faced persecution at the hands of physical Jews who mistakenly believed their lineage made them a part of spiritual Israel (God’s spiritually chosen people.)  Note that these physical Jews were called “the synagogue of Satan” because they were, in actuality, worshipping and serving Satan by denying that Jesus was the promised Messiah.

The Lord gave them the promise that someday these lost Jews would be defeated and the saved members of the church would be given positions of rulership over them.  This will take place during the Battle of Armageddon and final judgment of lost mankind (Rev 19:11-16, 1 Cor 6:2)

 

(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.

Another blessing they would receive of the Lord, based upon their faithfulness, was that the Lord would “keep thee from the hour of temptation…”

In other words, the Lord would keep them separated from the great Roman persecutions under Trajan that would touch the lives of all men on earth.  These same persecutions would fall specifically on churches and individual Christians in various nations as a time of trial or “temptation” upon Christians (to forsake Christ and turn from His teachings).  The Lord protected the church at Philadelphia from these Trajan persecutions.

Remember, the Lord had told the church at Smyrna that they would face tribulation (Rev 2:10).  This helps us to understand that the Lord deals differently in the lives of those who are faithful to Him.  We need to always be sure and not try to guess why the Lord deals with His people as He does.  His mind is greater then ours, His ways are higher than ours.  We can never begin to really understand all His workings among men.

This great promise of escape from temptation was given to them because they had kept God’s Word patiently, while under great persecution and stress.  They were willing to wait on the Lord to remove the persecution from them, instead of taking matters in their own hands, forsaking the truth, so that their persecution might end prematurely.

 

 

(11)  Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

The Lord promises the church that He will come suddenly and unexpectedly. This is speaking of the Lord’s intervening protection keeping the church safe from the Roman persecutions.   They were to hold onto the areas of faithfulness that existed so that they might receive eternal rewards at His second coming.

In other words, “Church at Philadelphia, don’t give up.  I am coming quickly to protect you in the midst of the persecutions that will take place around you.  By remaining faithful NOW it will secure many eternal rewards for you when I come back at the second coming.”

 

 (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.

To those who were true believers in Christ (overcomers) he promised:

  1. will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: – the overcomer will become a “permanent fixture” in the temple of God. In other words, he will forever be in the presence of the Lord, honoring, praising and serving Him.  This is emphasized by the phrase “he shall go no more out”.
  2. and I will write upon him the name of my God, – showing ownership, much like a servant who wore the mark of his master upon him.
  3. I will write upon him… the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: – showing the overcomer’s citizenship in the New Jerusalem (heaven on the new earth – Rev 21:1-2)
  4. and I will write upon him my new name. – showing the new relationship that will be enjoyed by the overcomer and His Lord Jesus. He will see Christ in a new way and experience a new level of intimacy with Him.

 

 

(13)  He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Those who are genuinely saved, able to understand the Word through the ministry of the indwelling Spirit, are invited to read this letter, understand it and put it into action in their own personal lives and the life of the corporate assembly.

 

CHRIST REVEALED:

In this letter to the Philadelphians, we can see Jesus as the Promised Messiah of the Old Testament.  It is this same Jesus that holds the ultimate authority over Israel, the physical nation separated for His use in the times of the Old Testament; and the spiritual nation of Israel (found in both Old Testament and New Testament times) made up of all the elect to salvation, sanctification, and eternal glory.

Jesus, the Messiah and King of Israel, is shown as the Loving Lord who rewards the faithfulness of His followers with increased opportunities of service and temporal blessings of protection and strength and eternal blessings of security, fellowship and revelation of Himself.

 

 

THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION (SUMMARY)

Folks, we can see in this short letter the need for faithfulness in times of trials.  May we be motivated to this faithfulness by remembering our Lord is in control.  He is in control of the opportunities of service placed before us, our temporal physical and spiritual needs being met, and our security and eternal glory.

May we honor and serve Him knowing He is truly the Sovereign King that constantly is at work on behalf of His chosen people.

 

May the Lord bless us as we seek to see Jesus in the pages of the book of Revelation.

 

 

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