Revelation 3:7-8 The Church of Philadelphia – This church was commended for their faithfulness and loyalty. This and the Church at Smyrna were the only two of the seven that received no rebuke from the Lord. This church helps us to know what our church should look like so that we too might experience the blessings of commendation.
The Lord introduces Himself with a description mentioned in the Older Testament. God is many times described as the Holy One (2 Kings 19:22; Job 6:10;Psalm 71:22; 78:41; Isaiah 43:15; 54:5; Habakkuk 3:3). In the New Testament it is used as a messianic title for Yeshua and was understood to be a direct claim to His equality with the Father.
He also describes Himself here as the One who is true. This refers to Yeshua as being that which is genuine, authentic, and real. He further identifies Himself having the key of David. This speaks of His authority over entrance into the Kingdom of the Son of David. Jesus has the authority to determine who enters His messianic kingdom (John 10:7,9;14:6;Acts 4:12).
Yeshua also identifies Himself as the gate keeper. No one can shut the doors to the kingdom or to blessing if He holds them open, and no one can force them open if He holds them shut.
The church of Philadelphia was probably also founded during Paul’s ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19:10). Philadelphia was founded to spread Greek culture to surrounding areas. It’s location made it strategic since it was situated right on the borders of Lydia, Mysia, and Phrygia. The town was built with a mission and so the church knew what it meant to be missionary minded.
The name Philadelphia means brotherly love. This gave the believers a constant reminder to love one another if they were going to fulfill their calling. They lived in the midst of insecure surroundings because the city sat over a large earthquake fault. In A.D. 17, an earthquake hit a huge area which completely destroyed Sardis and ten other cities yet Philadelphia was spared total destruction.
But for years afterwards the city was hit by aftershocks causing continual fears from the crumbling walls and potential collapse of buildings. So the church knew what it was to be given the hope of becoming a “pillar in the temple of God” and the promise to the overcomer that “he will not go out” (Revelation 3:12).
Philadelphia was located at the junction of several important trade routes and as such was a commercial center. The Church was commended for the power that it had even though it was by human perspective little. While it was small in numbers it had a great impact on the City (2 Corinthians 12:10).
They were also commended for their obedience. They were commended for their evangelistic and missionary work. They were reaching out and the Lord knew their works. He had set an open door before them and they had stepped in and taken advantage of the opportunity. Because they had faithfully reached out to the lost, Jesus says that He is not going to let anyone close the door. He is personally going to see that the door to evangelism and missions stays open. They also persevered through all their trials and temptations.
Revelation 3:9-10 – The synagogue of Satan refers to those Jews who say that they follow the true God, and do not. These are the religious who reject Yeshua as the Messiah and since He is the Son of God, who came into the world to reveal God. To reject Jesus as Messiah is to reject the revelation of God, to reject God Himself.
A true Jew in the eyes of God is any person who believes in Yeshua as their Messiah. A true Jew is not a person who claims outward descent. A true Jew is one who is a Jew inwardly, who believes in the Lord and the Messiah He sent (Romans 2:28-29) a true Jew is a person who walks in the steps of the faith of Abraham. There were Jewish people in Philadelphia who were persecuting the believers. They were claiming to be God’s chosen people, but they were not.
Now in a sense this applies to those who name the Name of Yeshua as their Messiah but do not do the deeds of Believers. The Lord tells the saints in Philadelphia and all true Believers that they shall be vindicated before all their persecutors who will either be saved or judged (Isaiah 60:14).
Believers will also be vindicated before all the persecutors who reject Jesus. Scripture clearly states that every knee shall bow before the feet of the Lord and confess Him to be Lord. (Isaiah 45:22-23; Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:9-11).
A further promise given to the Church of Philadelphia is that they need not fear the Great Tribulation. They will not suffer the judgments that God casts upon the earth. They will be protected somewhat like Israel was during the plagues that fell upon Egypt. The judgments of God will fall only upon the unbelievers, this is clearly stated in Revelation 9:4.
These verses support a pre-tribulation Rapture which is the subject of three passages in the New Testament (John 14:1-4;1 Corinthians 15:51-54;1 Thessalonians 4:13-17), none of which speak of judgment, but rather of the church being taken up to heaven.
There are three views of the timing of the Rapture in relation to the Tribulation: that it comes at the end of the Tribulation (post-tribulationism), in the middle of the Tribulation (mid-tribulationism), and the view that seems to be supported by this text, that the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation (pre-tribulationism).
The testing spoken of here in chapter 3 speaks of a time yet future and is for a definite, limited time; Jesus described it as the hour of testing. It is a test or trial that will expose people for what they really are. It is worldwide in scope, since it will come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth which is a term used in the book of Revelation for unbelievers (Revelation 6:10; 8:13;11:10;13:8,12,14;14:6;17:2,8). This hour of testing is Daniel’s Seventieth Week (Daniel 9:25-27), the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7), the seven-year tribulation period. The Lord promises to keep His church out of the future time of testing that will come on unbelievers.
Unbelievers will either pass the test by repenting, or fail it by refusing to repent. Revelation 6:9-11;7:9-10,14;14:4;17:14 describe those who repent during the Tribulation and are saved, thus passing the test. Revelation 6:15-17;9:20;16:11; 19:17-18 describe those who refuse to repent, thus failing the test, and are damned.
There has been much debate over the meaning of the phrase “keep from”. Those who argue that the church will go through the Tribulation hold that this phrase means preservation in the midst of and emergence from the Great Tribulation. John MacArthur writes in his commentary on Revelation:
“That view is unlikely, both on linguistic and biblical grounds. The basic meaning of the preposition ek is “from,” “out from,”or” away from.” Had the Lord intended to convey that the church would be preserved in the midst of the Tribulation, the prepositions en (“in”) or dia (“through”) would have been more appropriate. En is used three times with the verb tereo in the New Testament (Acts 12:5; 1 Peter 1:4; Jude 21) and eis once (Acts 25:4), always implying previous existence within with a view to continuing in.
Tereo with ek implies just the opposite: continuous existence outside. The only other time the phrase tereo ek appears in Scripture is in John 17:15. In His High-Priestly prayer, Jesus prayed, “I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. “He certainly did not pray that believers be preserved within Satan’s power, for believers have been ” rescued … from the domain of darkness ” and ” transferred … to the kingdom of His beloved Son ” (Colossians 1:13). Christians are those who have turned ” from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God ” (Acts 26:18). First John 5:19 says that it is the unregenerate world that lies in Satan’s power, not believers.”
Revelation 3:12-13 – concludes with five wonderful promises to those who overcome.
1) They will be made a pillar in the temple of God. This means that they will become a permanent part of God’s house. The pillar is a symbol of strength, support, and permanence (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:20-22).
2) They will receive a security that they could relate to; they will never again have to go in or out of the city in order to be safe. They will be free from this sinful and corruptible world, free to live in heaven with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. And they shall be perfected forever and ever.
5) They will receive the Lord’s new name. What will this new name be? No one knows but God Himself, and He has not yet revealed.