Philadelphia: The Church with an Open Door
Revelation 3: 7-13
Philadelphia dates back to about 159 B.C.
It derived its name from Attalus II, whose loyalty to his brother Eumenes won him
the epithet Philadelphus, "brother-lover."
It was founded as a center for the spreading of the Greek language, culture, and manner.
It was a missionary city for the promotion to Hellenism.
In this letter is a promise of opportunity for missionary enterprise of another nature.
Identification, 3: 7
The Lord identifies himself as being in character, "holy and true."
He identifies his official position, as the one who "hath the key of David";
and "that shutteth and none openeth."
The Lord's character of holiness and truth is His right to kingship.
Because He is king, He exercises His kingly office and administers the affairs of His kingdom.
Commendation, 3: 8
Only good is spoken about this church.
No condemnation is offered.
The Lord knows of the work of this church and has set before her an open door
which no one can shut.
This church is given the opportunity for full spiritual enjoyment and for service to the Lord.
No one can stop the work of this church if she will take advantage of this open door
to serve the Lord.
This is the meaning of the "open door" in New Testament usage.
(Compare these Scriptures: Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9.)
Christ knows that this church is weak.
He states: "thou hast little power."
Even though this church has very little power, she has been faithful.
She has kept the faith and has not denied the name of the Lord even though she was weak.
His name "Jesus" meant Saviour.
His name "Christ" meant God's anointed one.
To the implications of this name the church was faithful.
This was in contrast to some of the churches which were strong yet had not been faithful.
With an open door of service this church can move forward even though they are weak.
Promise, 3: 9-10, 12
Because of their loyalty under weakness and difficulty, the Lord promises complete vindication for them.
He will make the persecuting Jews who are doing Satan's work realize that these despised Christians
are the ones whom He really loves (verse nine).
Because they have been faithful, He promises His sustaining grace in the tribulation
that is about to engulf the world, but it will not overcome them (verse 10).
A warning (verse 11) is inserted here before the last part of the promise.
It is a warning to hold fast what they have.
What they have is His name, His word, His patience, His promise to return,
and His opportunity for service.
He is warning them in case someone would tempt them to give up these things
and rob them of their reward.
Sardis had been threatened by His coming.
Philadelphia had been faithful and had nothing to fear, and therefore,
was encouraged by His coming.
The last part of the promise is voiced in verse 12.
Several things are promise.
"I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God."
Because they have been faithful, Christ will make them an important part of the sanctuary,
which is symbolized as a pillar which keeps the temple from falling.
Philadelphia was true and experienced the fulfillment of this promise.
The historian Gibbon says that among the churches of Asia,
Philadelphia remained erect, a column in a scene of ruins.
This was a clear example that the paths of honor and safety may sometimes be the same.
Statement by Gibbon in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire should be qualified.
The paths of honor and safety are always the same ultimately.
"I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God,
... and mine own new name."
There is perfect security for the overcoming one.
The name of God is branded upon him.
The name of the city of God is there as a mark of His place of habitation.
The name of the triumphant Christ is upon him.
Many of the pagan religions used brands or marks to identify their adherents.
Later in the Book Of Revelation we find the State religion of Rome using this custom.
Here Jesus symbolizes the relation of His followers to Himself by speaking of His new name
branded upon them.
This glorious promise was not given to any of the seven churches,
but it is given to the church at Philadelphia.
Adapted from the book, Worthy is the Lamb, by Ray Summers