The Church in Philadelphia, this is by far, to me anyway, the most interesting of the Church letters found in Revelation. It begins like all the rest:
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.'” Revelation 3:7
The open door refers to the idea of opportunity to present the Gospel. Jesus here is saying He is the one who opens doors. He follows that up here in the next verse:
“I know you’re works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Revelation 3:8
This idea of an open door was based on their faithfulness in trying times. They remained faithful which means that those around who witnessed this church saw them faithful. When people see us, the church, faithful, it gives us an open door to present the gospel. We may feel small, poor, insignificant, or powerless, but we have the Spirit of God who “opens doors” and those doors can not be “shut” by man nor demonic presence. We need to rest in that and understand that our faithfulness can and will move mountains and the door for us to present the Gospel is opened!
“Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie–behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance…” Revelation 3:9-10a
This appears to imply that during the writing of this letter the church in Philadelphia was being persecuted more by these false Jews than of pagans. However, we do know that during this time Rome was harassing the church and therefore pagans were still a negative influence. But here we read that these like Paul in Acts will come to the truth and it will be because of the faithfulness of these in Philadelphia. He reminds them of their patient endurance before making a statement that absolutely intrigues me.
“Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar…”
This wording of being kept from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, has both a historic value and a prophetic one. The faithfulness of this church is the key to their patient endurance. Now the phase “keep you from” is very interesting. The debate has been either this is the raptured church or this is the church who successfully remains through the great tribulation. In order to render this passage correctly we need to look at the Greek. The work “from” in the Greek in this instance is not “apo” which means “away from” but rather “ek,” which means “out of” and described as “keeping one’s head above water.” Therefore, is the promise that they will be spared the burden of the great tribulation because of their location, their heads above water? Or as in English when we sometimes use words to make a point does this still mean that although many will suffer the tribulation, even remnants of the other churches in Revelation, this church in Philadelphia, will be taken out of harms way?
i don’t know, however, either way if their is a church that i want to be associated with it is this church in Philadelphia! i want to be faithful, even when i feel powerless, or small, or even insignificant. i want that assurance, the knowledge that the door is open before me and my presentation of the Gospel will be received because of my steadfastness in the truth has made my witness effectual. Now, hear this, the closing thought to the this letter to Philadelphia.
“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, 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 from my God out of heaven, and my own new name He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:12-13
“I will make him a pillar in the temple . . .” a permanent structure in the temple. No longer one who wanders in and out but rather an integral part of the temple. We will be marked with the name of God, we will be branded with the name of our hometown and we will know the True God in the most true way, knowing His most intimate name. How awesome does that sound! Let us strive to be the church of Philadelphia!
You are loved,