7 “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.
8 “‘I know your 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.
9 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.
10 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. 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 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.
13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Philadelphia was the youngest city of the seven written to here in the early chapters of Revelation, and was originally founded as a missionary city to spread Greek language and culture. It was a prosperous city, by all accounts occupying a lucrative spot on a highway that connected east and west; the east with the west. Similar to Corinth, then, in the fact that it occupied a prime spot for trading of goods, ideas, cultures, and all else that is traded when people mix.
Jesus is described here as holy and true, and as having the key of David (Isaiah 22.20-23). Simply, then, Jesus controls our access to the Kingdom. As David did for Israel when ruling, so Jesus does for the Kingdom of God, there is no other way to get to God the Father, in the right way, than through His chosen Emissary, His Son, His likeness in a human body, Jesus Christ (John 14.6).
The church in Philadelphia were presented with a golden opportunity to evangelise (Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.). They were given the opportunity to spread the good news of Jesus to those around them who may not have heard it before, to reach those who are wandering, to influence the melting-pot culture they lived in.
Wow, what an opportunity! If only we could live somewhere so diverse and culturally rich and varied…(most people do now, don’t they…)
They receive a commendation and are not reprimanded for any actions, the only church written to in this way. As simply as possible, they were fully reliant on Him, faithful to Him, and drew on Jesus’ strength not their own.
The major blessing we see in this chapter is their removal from the coming tribulation, the hour of trial, also known as the Great Tribulation. Written in the past tense, they kept the Word of God, persevered, and as such are kept from the coming trial, which will try those who dwell on the earth. We know this is talking about those who are not believers, not saved, not following Jesus (Revelation 17.8 makes this clear). This is a particularly key verse in the pretribulational view of the rapture, basically that Jesus will come and retrieve the church from the earth before things really heat up, so to speak.
The church in Philadelphia received a promise from Him who is true and holy that they would not be subject to the coming tribulation. We then, by extension, (He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.), have the opportunity to be saved from the coming trials detailed in this book if we will do what the church in Philadelphia did;
- Hold fast to the teachings of Jesus set forth in His Word to us – found in the Bible.
- Stay on His works, Word, name, will, and way.
- Above all else, be faithful to Him, keep our hearts focused on Him
- (Proverbs 4.23 says ‘Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life’).