Revelation 3:7-13

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

Text: Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:7-13

THE CHURCH AT PHILADELPHIA

INTRODUCTION:

In chapters 2-3 we see letters to the seven churches.

Why were these seven churches chosen when there were other churches in the area that could have been chosen? Of course, this is God's business; and only He knows this for certain. We are only guessing.

Each church needed a particular message.

Each church illustrated conditions common in local churches at that time and in all ages of church history.

Each church was composed of individuals who needed the instruction and warning personally.

Each church may represent a period of church history.

I. THE COMMISSION FROM CHRIST - 3:7a

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:7 a - And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write. . . .

The land around Philadelphia was rich in agricultural value. Grapes was one of the principal crops. Therefore, Dionysus, the Greek mythological god of vegetation and wine, was one of the chief objects of pagan worship.

Philadelphia pictures a church that is faithful to Christ. It shows a revival and a state of spiritual advance characteristic of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The angel or messenger is best understood as God's representative leader of the congregation, i.e. as the pastor of this church.

This was a particular message needed by, and intended for, a particular congregation, the church in Philadelphia. Other churches or individuals might need a similar message.

The tense of write suggests write at once and without delay.

II. THE CHARACTER OF CHRIST - 3:7b

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:7 b - . . . 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 speaker is the Lord Jesus Christ as is clear from a comparison of this verse with chapter one.

By these things Christ is understood to mean the specific things John is to write unto the angel of the church in Philadelphia.

Saith means tells and can also mean orders, commands, or directs.

Christ describes Himself as he that is holy.

It means that He is set apart for God and separate from all that is sinful, wicked, or contrary to God's nature.

This is reminiscent of the first half of Leviticus 11:44 ,

Leviticus 11:44 - For I am the Lord your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy. . . .

It is unclear whether this reference in Leviticus is specifically to God the Father or to God the Son. However, they both have the same attributes; so, it doesn't really make any difference. Both are holy. Inasmuch as God alone is holy, Christ in Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:7 is indirectly claiming that He is God. There is absolutely nothing sinful or impure in Him.

Not only does Christ describe Himself as he that is holy, but -

Christ also describes Himself as he that is true.

It means that He is real or genuine. Also, whatever He says is absolutely true and can be trusted. There is nothing put on or phony about Him. This is reminiscent of I John 5:20 ,

I John 5:20 - And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true [i.e. God the Father], and we are in him that is true [i.e. we are in God the Father], even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God [i.e. This One, i.e. Jesus Christ is the true God], and eternal life.

Inasmuch as God alone is true, Christ is again indirectly claiming that He is God. He is to be trusted implicitly.

Not only does Christ describe Himself as he that is holy and he that is true, but -

Christ also describes Himself as he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.

By key Christ means that He possesses sovereign authority.

Here it is the key of David by which He means that He has authority which belongs to the Messiah as the rightful heir to the throne of David. Coupled with the fact that the church at Philadelphia was being persecuted by Jews from the local synagogue, it clearly indicates that this assembly of Jews would in no way be able to thwart Christ's work in and through the church at Philadelphia regardless of their efforts.

It suggests that Christ has power to open and close according to His sovereign will. What will He open and close?

Anything He desires to open or close, such as opportunities for service, witness, etc. In verse 8 the church at Philadelphia, although persecuted, was thus assured by Christ that He would set before it an open door and that no one, whether a human being or a spirit being, would be able to shut it. No created being would in any way be able to thwart anything the Lord wanted this church to do because He is omnipotent. The same thing is true for our church.

To the church at Philadelphia surrounded by wickedness, this description of Christ shows that He is the holy and sovereign God.

III. THE COMMENDATION FROM CHRIST - 3:8-10

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:8-10 - (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.

I know thy works - 3:8

Works is the same word used a number of times in chapters 2 and 3 meaning deeds, actions, or accomplishments. Christ knew all about this church and was acquainted with every act of Christian service by every individual associated with it. It is also true of our church.

Behold (or lo) is used to gain the reader's attention prior to introducing an important concept.

I have set before thee an open door - 3:8

I have set before thee is literally I have given you. It is used here as an equivalent of a verb meaning I have put or I have placed. Its time of action indicates an activity whose action was completed in past time with its result continuing. This means that this door of opportunity had already been set before the church in Philadelphia; and at the time Christ is speaking, this door was just sitting there, waiting for them to pass through it. The people of the church need to take advantage of the opportunity available to them.

Before thee is in your sight or in your presence and refers to the church in Philadelphia as represented by its pastor.

What Christ has set before this church is an open door or an opened door.

The tense of open indicates that its action was completed in the past but that its result has continued. Thus, it indicates a state of being. The door has already been opened and remains open for this church.

And no man is no one and includes males as well as females. Certainly it would include demons or even Satan himself.

Is able to shut it (i.e. can shut it) refers to the open door which Christ has set before this church.

The tense of is able indicates an ongoing activity. The negative with no man indicates that this is a continuous or ongoing inability. It is always true. This inability is to shut it [i.e. to shut the door Christ has opened], and the tense of to shut indicates that this ongoing inability means that no one will ever be able to shut this door even so much as one time. Thus, this door can never be shut by anyone other than by Christ Himself.

It is reminiscent of what Christ stated regarding Himself in verse 7, He that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth. It is Christ Himself Who has opened this door, and it will remain open until such time as Christ closes it. No matter how strong or fierce the opposition, this door is not able to be shut by anyone other than by Christ Himself.

Although it is not specified exactly what this open door is, it would seem to be a door of opportunity for this church in Philadelphia to carry out its God-given ministry, that of proclaiming the gospel, seeing people saved, and seeing these saved people baptized and taught the whole counsel of God, thus, fulfilling the great commission.

Matthew 28:18-20 - 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Thus, the testimony of the church at Philadelphia was assured by Christ's power and sovereignty.

Thou hast a little strength - 3:8

Though it is described as a little, the church at Philadelphia, as represented by its pastor, had some strength.

Thou hast is you have, and its tense indicates an ongoing situation.

Thou hast a little strength is you have insignificant strength or you have few resources.

Thou hast kept my word - 3:8

And thou hast kept my word is best understood in the sense of but you have kept my word.

Hast kept is have kept, have observed, have fulfilled, or have paid attention to. Its tense emphasizes the result of its action. As a result of keeping Christ's word, they are obedient to Him.

What the church at Philadelphia has kept is my word, which refers to something Christ has told them, whether in the Scriptures available to them or through special revelation through its pastor or through some New Testament prophet.

Thou hast not denied my name - 3:8

It means you have not repudiated My name [i.e. Christ's name] or you have not disowned My name and; since the name refers to the person, it is understood in the sense of you have not denied Me, you have not repudiated Me, or you have not disowned Me. This church had not denied, repudiated, or disowned Christ Himself.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:9 - 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.

According to verse 9, Christ will make some who are Jews physically, but not spiritually, come and worship at the feet of the church in Philadelphia.

Behold is used to call the reader's attention to what is about to be said.

I will make them of the synagogue of Satan to come and worship before thy feet - 3:9

This means that the believers in the church in Philadelphia will be acknowledged as the true servants of God by their enemies - 3:9.

Them who are of the synagogue of Satan are those who are Jews who worship at the local Jewish synagogue in Philadelphia. However, inasmuch as they are not really worshiping God, even though they think they are, Christ refers to them as the synagogue (i.e. the gathering, the assembly, or the congregation) of Satan, the archenemy of God. Of Satan is rather strong language for those who thought they were serving God. They were deluded and in their persecution of believers were actually serving Satan rather than God. This verse is reminiscent of what Christ said to the church in Smyrna in Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:9 .

Revelation of Jesus Christ 2:9 - I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

The persons who are of the synagogue of Satan are further described by which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie. Undoubtedly they are physically descended from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, but they are certainly not spiritually descended from him because they are not saved.

Say suggests that they are saying, are asserting, or are claiming.

What they are asserting or claiming is that they are Jews, i.e. that they themselves are Jews.

The omniscient Christ, however, contradicts their claim. They are not Jews. It is reminiscent of what Paul wrote in Romans 2:28-29 ,

Romans 2:28-29 - (28) For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: (29) But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

But do lie indicates what these people who claim they are Jews are really doing.

But is emphatic and introduces a statement in strong contrast, contradicting their claim.

Do lie is they are lying.

In order to call attention to what He is saying, Christ begins over and introduces His statement again with behold or see.

I will make is predictive of a future event which is definitely going to happen. It is used in the sense of I will cause or I will bring it about. These people will have no choice in the matter.

What Christ will make happen is them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Them is those who are claiming that they are Jews but are not and are lying, the ones who comprise the synagogue of Satan in Philadelphia.

To come is to be present.

Something else Christ will cause these people to do is (to) worship before thy feet.

To worship means to fall down and worship, to do obeisance to, to prostrate themselves before, to do reverence to, or to welcome respectfully.

Before thy feet pictures those comprising the synagogue of Satan in Philadelphia falling down and worshiping (or prostrating themselves before) some who are standing, in this case the congregation or assembly of believers as represented by its pastor, the church at Philadelphia.

Another thing that Christ will cause these persons who are of the synagogue of Satan to do is to know [i.e. to understand] that I have loved thee.

I refers to Christ, and the tense of have loved emphasizes the result of its action.

Thee is you and refers to the church at Philadelphia as represented by its pastor.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:10 - 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.

According to verse 10, Christ will keep the church in Philadelphia out of this future period known as the tribulation. He will also do this for all other churches. This means that believers in the church age will not go through the tribulation because Christ will return for them at the rapture which occurs before the tribulation begins.

Thou hast kept the word of my patience (or the word of my endurance). I also will keep thee from (i.e. out of) the hour of tribulation (i.e. the time of tribulation).

Thou hast kept emphasizes the result of its action and means you have observed, you have fulfilled, or you have paid attention to.

What this church has kept is the word of my patience, i.e. Christ's word or message regarding His patient endurance or steadfastness; or perhaps, it could be the word which is Christ's patience.

In the clause I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, I refers to Christ and is emphatic.

Also implies that this will be done in addition to what the people of the church at Philadelphia have done in keeping the word of Christ's patience.

Will keep thee, where thee is you and refers to the church at Philadelphia as represented by its pastor, is predictive of a future event which will definitely happen. There is no doubt about it.

From the hour of temptation is literally out of the hour of the temptation and implies that the believers from this church will not participate in this hour of temptation, i.e. in the tribulation. They will not even be there because they will have been taken to heaven at the rapture.

The hour is the time when something will take place.

Of temptation is literally of the temptation or of the trial, which indicates that it is a particular temptation, testing, or trial. It is best understood as referring to the period of time in the future known as the tribulation. The church in Philadelphia is representative of all faithful churches throughout the world. The phrase which follows indicates that this trial is going to be experienced by the whole world; and only the worldwide tribulation adequately fulfills Christ's prediction.

Which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth describes the temptation from which the Lord will keep the church in Philadelphia.

Which refers to the temptation, i.e. the tribulation.

Shall come is is about to come.

Upon all the world is upon the whole inhabited earth.

To try is in order to try, in order to make trial of, or in order to put to the test.

Those who are to be tried are them that dwell upon the earth (i.e. the ones who are living upon the earth).

IV. THE CONDEMNATION BY CHRIST - NONE

V. THE CORRECTION PRESCRIBED BY CHRIST - NONE

VI. THE CONSEQUENCE PROMISED BY CHRIST - NONE

VII. THE CHALLENGE TO THE OVERCOMER - 3:11-12

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:11-12 - (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.

Behold is the term used twice in verse 9. It is used to gain the reader's attention before making a statement.

I come quickly is I am coming quickly (i.e. I am coming in a short time or I am coming soon). It refers to the rapture and speaks of its imminency. It could happen at any moment.

Hold . . . fast suggests be holding fast something (or keep holding something) in order that no one take it away.

What they are to keep holding fast is that which thou hast, where thou refers to the church at Philadelphia as represented by its pastor, is what you have.

That no man take thy crown is understood in the sense of in order that no one take your crown, for the purpose that no one take your crown, or lest someone take your crown. The idea is that someone could influence a believer adversely which would result in the loss of a potential reward which the believer might otherwise have had and for which he might have received a wreath or a crown.

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:12 - 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.

Him that overcometh is the one who overcomes, the one who is victor, the one who prevails, or the one who conquers.

Who is this overcomer? He is a saved person.

I John 5:4-5 - 4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I will make him that overcometh a pillar in the temple of my God - 3:12.

The entire heavenly city is considered a temple.

A pillar is a column which would be used to support a building.

In the temple of my God refers to God the Father's temple, i.e. to God's dwelling place. Making the overcomer a pillar in the temple of my God means that the overcomer will have a permanent place in heaven, like a pillar in a temple. The pillar will stand when all else has fallen. By this promise the Philadelphian Christians are assured of continuance in heaven in the presence of God throughout eternity because of their faith in Christ as the One Who enables them to overcome the world.

He shall go no more out - 3:12 - it is an emphatic negative construction. He will absolutely never, under any circumstances, go out.

I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, and my new name - 3:12.

What Christ will write is, first of all, the name of my God, which would be the name of God the Father. This implies that the reason God the Father's name will be written on this overcomer is because he belongs to God and is God's possession.

Something else Christ will write upon the overcomer is the name of the city of my God. This suggests that the overcomer is a citizen of God's city. It implies that he will be a permanent resident of heaven.

Lest someone who reads this be uncertain what the name of the city of God is, John specifies it as new Jerusalem.

New Jerusalem is described by which cometh down out of heaven from my God.

Which cometh down is which is coming down or which is descending.

Out of heaven indicates the source of new Jerusalem, and from my God indicates that it is from God the Father Who is in heaven. This is reminiscent of Revelation of Jesus Christ 21:2-4 ,

Revelation of Jesus Christ 21:2-4 - (2) And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

And I will write upon him my new name. Christ does not specify what this new name is; but it implies that the overcomer belongs to Christ. Inasmuch as a name in the Bible often implies the character of the person so named, having Christ's name written upon him implies that the overcomer will be completely like Christ as indicated by I John 3:2 .

I John 3:2 - Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

VIII. THE CALL TO HEAR - 3:13

Revelation of Jesus Christ 3:13 - (13) He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The use of he indicates that the messages to the churches are to be applied to individuals.

He that hath an ear functions as the subject of let him hear in the phrase which follows it. It is literally let the one who has (an) ear hear or the one having (an) ear must hear. Inasmuch as, under normal circumstances, every human being has two ears, this statement is addressed to all human beings.

Let him hear is a third person imperative in Greek for which English has no equivalent. It means that all those who have an ear must hear, must listen to, must follow, or must obey.

What he must hear, listen to, follow, or obey is what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The Spirit is the Holy Spirit.

Saith means is saying, is ordering, is commanding, or is directing.

Unto the churches indicates the ones to whom the Holy Spirit is saying these things. The fact that churches is plural suggests that the Holy Spirit is asserting these things to other churches and individuals in addition to the church in Philadelphia. The same problems true of all seven of these churches may likewise be true of other churches or of many individual believers.

What the Spirit saith unto the churches refers to the content of these seven letters to these seven churches in Revelation, i.e. the churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.