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Saturday, 06 August 2016 18:38

25. Church in Philadelphia and the unshakable truth * Revelation 3:7-13, Part 2 of 2

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7   And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things says he that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David, he that opens, and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens;

8   I know your works: behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it: for you have a little strength, and have kept my word, and have not denied my name.

9   Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.

10   Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you 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 you have, that no man take your crown.

12   He that overcomes 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 comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

13   He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. 



*** Recipient -> “To the Angel of the Church in Philadelphia” ***: Once again, the letter is addressed to the leader of the church, but applicable to all the members. Please see the comments in study #9#12, and #14.

*** Sender -> “He that is holy; true; holds the key of David; opens, and no man shuts; shuts, and no man opens”  ***: Jesus starts by asserting His divinity (Isaiah 6:3). We see a similar declaration in Isaiah 43:15: “I am the Lord, your Holy One, the creator of Israel, your King.” His name is Holy (Isaiah 57:15). His name is also Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11). In Revelation 1:18, Jesus has the keys to death and Hades. Here, He has the key of David. We saw in lesson #10 that Jesus has full authority over death and the grave, because He conquered them. That is why He has that set of keys. So, what did Jesus receive or do that gave Him the right to have the key of David? This key of David is actually a reference to a prophecy about Jerusalem. The section is in Isaiah 22:20-24. We read that God promised to give Eliakim “the key to the house of David”, and by doing so, whatever Eliakim “opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open”. God was giving Eliakim full authority over Jerusalem and Judah (Isaiah 22:21). By saying He has the key of David, Jesus is saying He has authority over His people. Jesus received all authority from the Father (Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 28:18), and has dominion over all the Earth. Jesus (and not a human being) is the “head over everything for the church” (Ephesians 1:22). He is the one who controls the door that no one else can shut or open. Please see the comments on Jesus’ control of the door in study #24.

*** Assessment -> “I know…” ***: Jesus knows better than anybody else all the things going on in this congregation. Nothing negative is mentioned about it. In fact, the church receives two promises right in this section of the letter.

Works: The works in Philadelphia were the result of the members’ faithfulness in using the open door that Jesus had placed before them. Even though they had little strength, they were firmly keeping His word and not denying His name. Having insufficient resources is not an excuse to not carry on the message. When people are willing, Christ will not only provide the door, but He will also provide the means to accomplish the task. Philadelphia was strategically located. It was already an established gateway for communication. All they had to do was to use the system that was already in place. And if they faced any road blocks, Jesus could easily open the path for them.

The synagogue of Satan will worship at the feet of the faithful ones in Philadelphia (promise): Just like Smyrna, Philadelphia is opposed by those who call themselves Jews, but are actually the synagogue of Satan. This is a very heavy statement. Once again, we see that there are only two groups. People can only choose between two sides: God, or Satan. If we are not following God, we are automatically following His enemy (Matthew 12:30). Those who oppose God can have many labels. Evil teachings can take many shapes and forms, and even seem to clash with each other. The true followers of Christ follow only one principle: God’s Word. Jesus promised the church that the enemies of God would one day humble themselves before God, in the presence of the church, and recognize that Jesus has always loved His bride. In Revelation 3:9, Christ says something very important about the people who say they are Jews, but are not. These people were lying about their identity. They were portraying themselves as the chosen nation of God (symbolically represented in the text as 'Jews'), when in reality, they were worshiping Satan. They were projecting one thing, when internally, they were actually something totally different. The point of the promise is that these people will one day recognize that: 1) Jesus has a church; 2) He loves that church; 3) He has always loved that church. This means that they will recognize that everything Jesus has done is because of His love for His people. This act of humility is their defeat.

Jesus will keep the church of Philadelphia from the hour of trial coming over the Earth-dwellers (promise): The Philadelphians had kept the word of Jesus' endurance. They had not moved away from Jesus’ teachings, despite their little strength. In turn, Jesus told them that He would keep them from the hour of trial, meaning His judgement. We can ask ourselves, why? Why was Jesus going to spare them from the hour of trial? Because His judgement will not fall on the just. Revelation 3:10 specifies that the judgement will fall over the ones who dwell on Earth. This expression is used throughout the book of Revelation, and it is a solid reference to the wicked (Revelation 6:10; Revelation 11:10; Revelation 13:8, 14; Revelation14:6; Revelation 17:8). The remnant can be assured that Jesus’ judgement will not fall on them, only on the ones who are not citizens of Heaven. The hour of trial is something the faithful people can look forward to as a moment of great celebration, and is not reason for fear. In this verse, Christ is offering His people protection during  that hour of trial. We see this hour of trial in Revelation 16, with the seven last plagues. These plagues are not intended for those with the seal of God. Those plagues are, as the verse says, directed to “those who dwell on the Earth”. Throughout the Bible, when the people of God were facing diffucult times, God always came to their help, and saved them through their tribulation. Just to mention a few: God saved Noah and his family through the flood; God saved Joseph through slavery, imprisonment, public office, and famine; God saved the Israelites through the 10 plagues, before He took them out of Egypt; God saved the Israelites through captivity in Babylon, before they were allowed to return home. Jesus once prayed: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.” (John 17:13-19).

*** Appeal -> “I’m coming soon; keep the truth and you’ll keep your crown” ***: Jesus starts His appeal with a promise: He is coming soon. The statement that His Second Coming is so close, makes knowing and keeping the truth even more important. If they didn’t keep the truth, or lived the truth, they could risk losing their victory crown (stephanos crown - please see study #15 and #16). This is how important following the truth is. Not holding on tight to the truth can make someone lose the spiritual battle being waged in this planet. There are several examples in the Bible about people who ended up losing their crown because they did not keep God’s word. But there is one person in particular that stands out: Saul, who not only lost his literal crown to David, but also lost his spiritual crown. This happened when Saul decided to follow himself, instead of what he knew to be God’s truth. So the idea that once you get your crown, you will always have it is not Biblical. Jesus clearly says that you can lose it if you are not careful to follow the truth.

*** Call to hear the Spirit -> The Spirit says to the churches ***: The message of “I’m coming soon; keep the truth and you’ll keep your crown” was to be heard by all churches. There are no excuses not to hear this call. Please see the notes on study #14. Jesus is calling the church to be prepared for His coming, by keeping His true message.

*** Promise -> To the one who overcomes ***: The one who overcomes received several promises:

Pilar in the temple of God: When Solomon built the temple, he had two very large pillars put in it. These pillars were so important that they had names (1 Kings 7:21). A pillar serves both a structural and a decorative purpose. It is a weight-bearing structure in a building, and at the same time, it can be visually appealing. Being that the Philadelphians lived on a region with frequent earthquakes, we can imagine that the concept of becoming a supporting structure in the temple of God was very comforting. A spiritual column with only visual appeal is really of no use. But a strong column in God’s temple is a reflection of God’s character.

Forever in the temple: Jesus promised the one who overcomes that this pillar will be forever in the temple. It is not going anywhere. It will never be destroyed. This statement solidifies even more the certainty of safety, and permanence;  and a lasting placement in the presence of God. Nothing can shake it down.

An inscription: Jesus promised to write on the one who overcomes, the name of God (the Father), of His city (New Jerusalem), and Jesus’ new name. Jesus told the overcomer that he will be taken care of. Jesus paid the price for all those people who overcame, and so He has the right to imprint on them the Heavenly address, where they will be going to. In a sense, God is the recipient, the Holy City is the destination, and Jesus is the sender. The fulfillment of this promise is shown in Revelation 14:1. Ezekiel 48:35 says that the name of the new city would be “The Lord is There”.

*** Church history view and prophetic application ***: The prophetic view of this church fits the period of the 18th and 19th centuries. During that time, Protestantism went through a great revival, and the true message of God began to be preached once again. This period is known as the Great Awakening. Missionaries went to India, Africa, and China. Several Bible societies were formed, making the Bible readily available to the people. Through this prophetic time period, God started to purify His church with His truth. God had opened the door not only for the spreading of the Gospel, but also for the truth to come back into His church.

*** Overview ***: In our studies of the previous churches, we can see the evil earthquakes that were trying to shake the truth out of God’s church. God had His remnant people throughout history, even if His church was reduced down to a group of very little strength. But size, in the way humans tend to consider it, is never a barrier in God's sight. He only needs a short and willing David to strike down a giant. The Living Rock of the truth is more than enough to strike the massive lies permeating the church. Just as David saw the Giant’s open helmet, Philadelphia was faced with an open door for the truth. That church grabbed the stone of truth, ran with it, and used it. And that was pleasing to God. Jesus’ promise once again reassures and comforts His people. They do not need to fear the trial that will one day come, because that hour is not reserved for them. The one who overcomes is destined to Heaven and eternal life.

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