V77“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:. The message for Philadelphia is like Smyrna without a blame. The Lord mentions only honorable things and encourages them to continue on the same track. The name Philadelphia means ‘brotherly love’. Philadelphia is a church where there is love for one another. That love comes out of love for the Lord and His Word. At the same time the love for one another forms the right atmosphere where the love for the Lord and for His Word can be expressed.
Philadelphia has come forth from Sardis. Those who had a living faith in Christ in Sardis have moved away from the deadness. A new movement arose as a work of God’s Spirit that totally devoted itself to the Lord and His Word. In the lives of the believers there was a personal, vivid relation with Christ. He meant everything to them. We see this happening in the church history in the nineteenth century.
The Lord Jesus presents Himself to this church with features which you have not seen in chapter 1. Here He speaks as “He who is holy”, because they have sanctified themselves from evil. This evil is the appearance of life in Sardis. He also speaks as “who is true”, because this is also fitting to them. They want to walk in sincerity and faithfulness, according to the truth that is in their inner man, that He is searching for and which He sees there (Psa 51:66Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being,
And in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.
He also has “the key of David”. He is the true David (Isa 22:2222“Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder,
When he opens no one will shut,
When he shuts no one will open.
) and the only One Who has access to and the right to all promises that were made to David. He who has the key, has the power to open and to close (Job 12:14b14“Behold, He tears down, and it cannot be rebuilt;
He imprisons a man, and there can be no release.
V88‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.. The Lord knows their deeds. It is not said which deeds it is about. To the world and to Christianity they will not be impressive deeds, but the Lord knows them and appreciates them. He tells them that He has given them “an open door”. The weak remnant receives from the Lord an open door, a passable way, which no one can block (Col 4:33praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned;; 1Cor 16:99for a wide door for effective [service] has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.). It is a door to the treasury, to the knowledge of God’s Word and its secrets and to the city of God.
Maybe you are in a situation which is comparable to Sardis. There are people around you who call themselves a Christian but they are that only by name. There is a confession, but there is no life. If you desire life, He will surely open a door for you to a situation in which He and His Word are everything. He will bring you into contact with others who also have that desire. Just ask Him for it and He will show you the way. You can find that way in His Word which He will open with His key, so that you see His beauty in it and enjoy it.
He knows that you, just like it is said of the church in Philadelphia, have “little power”. That means that He knows that you are dependent on Him. Philadelphia – and each believer and each church that wants to be like that – is not noticed in the world. Their and also your strength is in the Lord and in ‘keeping His Word’. With His Word the Bible is meant, but then as the Word that He has spoken. It gives an enormous spiritual power when you read the Bible as the words of the Savior Who loves you and Whom you love. You cherish that Word because it is about Him and He has spoken it. To you it is about Him, you have Him and that is sufficient to you.
Another appreciation that the Lord speaks about is that they have “not denied” His Name. His Name means everything to them. That’s what they hold on to. That’s what you also do, isn’t it? You owe your salvation to His Name (Acts 4:1212And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”); in His Name you may gather with fellow believers as a church (Mt 18:2020For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”). You do not want another name, you reject that, for that would be a denial of His Name.
V99Behold, I will cause [those] of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and [make them] know that I have loved you.. The remnant was under heavy pressure of the mass of the confessing Christianity. He who did not join the established churches, was presented as a member of a dangerous sect. They claim “that they are Jews”, which means that they present themselves as the true people of God. You may apply this to people who claim with their mouth to be true Christians and that they are entitled to everything that God has promised to the true Christians. Christianity is full of such people. But the Lord calls the nominal confessors “the synagogue of Satan”. Wherever He is not the center and His Word is not being considered, people become a prey of satan.
As an encouragement the Lord promised them that He will make sure that the false confessors will acknowledge that He has loved this weak remnant. He will once and for all justify the faithful believers toward the false Christians, the nominal confessors. He will unmask all who have unjustly adorned themselves with His Name. The false confessors will be forced to acknowledge that the believers despised by them were loved by the Lord Jesus.
V1010Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that [hour] which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.. The Lord has more to encourage them. He honors them ‘for keeping His command to persevere’. By this the Lord means that He had said to be coming soon. He perseveringly looks forward to the rapture of His bride. This word has found resonance in their hearts: they also look forward to Him. That implies that He still does not reign. He is still patiently waiting for His kingdom and we ought to do that too (2Thes 3:55May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.).
Because they are looking forward to His coming with such a perseverance, the Lord makes the promise to them that He will make sure that they will not be harmed by the judgments that soon will strike the earth. Before this “hour of testing” comes, He will take up the church into heaven. The second part of ‘the hour of testing’ is the period of the great tribulation (Mt 24:2121For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.; Jer 30:7,117‘Alas! for that day is great,
There is none like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s distress,
But he will be saved from it.
11‘For I am with you,’ declares the LORD, ‘to save you;
For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you,
Only I will not destroy you completely.
But I will chasten you justly
And will by no means leave you unpunished.’
; 2Thes 2:9-109[that is], the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders,10and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.). The area upon which this trial will come is “the whole world”. The people who will be struck by it, are called, “those who dwell on the earth”. Those are the earth’s inhabitants, the people who consider the earth to be their home and who have permanently settled themselves there as their definite residence. God and His rights and eternity lie totally outside their field of vision (Psa 17:1414From men with Your hand, O LORD,
From men of the world, whose portion is in [this] life,
And whose belly You fill with Your treasure;
They are satisfied with children,
And leave their abundance to their babes.
V1111I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.. As an extra encouragement the Lord promises to come quickly. He also exhorts them to hold fast what they have. What they have is not much. Still this call is necessary for them not to lose what they have: a warm love for the Lord and for one another. If they let go of that they will become lukewarm like Laodicea. We shall see that in the next and final message. For you it is also important to take this call to heart. Make sure that you will not lose your warm love for the Lord! For there is a “crown” attached to your attachment to the Lord and your affection for Him. The crown is the publicly visible appreciation of the Lord for your love for Him. He will adorn and honor you with that.
V1212He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and 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 My new name.. Although the church in Philadelphia is not to be blamed for anything and there is also no call for repentance to be heard, there is still mention of an overcomer. Overcomers are they who not only have left Sardis and have become Philadelphia, but who also hold on to that with their whole heart. The next message shows that it is possible that the warm love for the Lord Jesus may cool off.
He who overcomes will be made by the Lord “a pillar in the temple of My God”. This is in great contrast to the place that they had on earth. There they were of no account and they were even portrayed to be annoying because they seemed to be blocking the growth of the church. However, in the resurrection they will appear to be pillars on which God’s house is resting (cf. Gal 2:99and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we [might go] to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.). A pillar is a symbol of strength. Those who have shown much spiritual power precisely in their weakness will be pillars to eternity. There will absolutely be no mention of a collapse or failure.
It is the overcomers in Philadelphia who make God’s house a spiritual house. In that house spiritual sacrifices are brought and the Father is being worshipped by His sons. That is the place where priests draw near to God and know what He is worthy of. Those who do that today will be allowed to do a special service there in the resurrection.
But the promise for the overcomer goes still further. The Lord Jesus will write on him “the name of the city of My God”. On earth the believer in Philadelphia had no continuing city, but he was seeking the city to come (Heb 13:1414For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking [the city] which is to come.). To that he will eternally be related and that will also be visible. That city is “the new Jerusalem”, which is the church. At the end of this book you see that this new Jerusalem “which comes down out of heaven from My God” (Rev 21:22And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.), but here this scene is already presented in prospect to the overcomer.
Finally the Lord says that He also will write “My new name” on the overcomer. That is the Name which He has now in glory (Rev 19:1212His eyes [are] a flame of fire, and on His head [are] many diadems; and He has a name written [on Him] which no one knows except Himself.; Phil 2:99For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,; Heb 1:44having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.).
Are these things not an exhortation for you too not to focus on the earthly things, but to look forward to the heavenly things? Will you not relate yourself with any religious system on earth, out of love for the Lord Jesus, but with the city which is in heaven, the church in her heavenly character? Then you will soon be rewarded by the Lord in a very personal way. You can derive that from the five times that He repeats the word ‘My’. Four times he emphasizes His very own personal relationship with God and one time His very personal relationship with each believer who is an overcomer in Philadelphia (cf. Jn 20:1717Jesus *said to her, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”; Heb 2:11-1311For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one [Father]; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,12saying, “I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, In the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise.”13And again, “I will put My trust in Him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me.”).
V1313He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’. It may be the case that in the ‘Philadelphia’ where you perhaps are, it is to fear that the fervent love is gradually disappearing. Then for you it is important to having an ear to hear. Therefore at the end of this message the question is very personally addressed to you: ‘Do you have an ear to hear what the Spirit says to the churches?’
Now read Revelation 3:7-13 again.
Reflection: What effort do you have to make to hold fast what you have?