The 7 Churches of Revelation: Philadelphia

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; 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;

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.

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.

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.

13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Every description of Jesus given to the churches points to His authority and control over all things. It is He who is holy. He who is true. It is He who has the Key of David—the key to the city of God—and it is He who grants access to this city and it is He who keeps people out of this city.

I believe these statements are meant to reassure and comfort this church. This world can be full of deception, and few deceptions can be more difficult to bear than those among the household of the faith. Yet, there is Jesus. He who is true. He who is holy. He who grants access to the Kingdom of God.  

Jesus has set an open door before the church of Philadelphia, and no one can shut it. He provides access to the riches of His Kingdom.

Why does He do so?

Because they have little strength, yet they have kept His word and have not denied His name.

This is a church that takes the word of God seriously. This includes both the written word given in the scriptures and also a continued reverence for what the Lord is speaking to His people presently. This is a church that seeks Jesus earnestly and desires to be faithful to Him. They do not want to bring shame to His name, but instead honor as they get to know Him, live for Him, and testify to what He and His Kingdom is about.

Jesus says that those who keep His commandments will be given the Holy Spirit, and it is by the Holy Spirit that we enter the Kingdom of God. Perhaps the Lord provides this church with the Holy Spirit in gracious measure, granting access to the treasures that were neglected by the unfaithful churches.

Jesus says that He will make the synagogue of Satan worship before the feet of Philadelphia and know that Jesus has loved this church.

This reminds me of the story of Joseph. Joseph dreamed that his brothers would bow before him, and eventually they did. His envious brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt, and it was through Joseph that his family lived through a seven-year famine. They were sorry for what they had done to him, but he was patient and forgiving because he know that it was the hand of the Lord and a preservation of His people.

The idea of anyone being worshipped seems strange because only God is to be worshipped. However, if this church is truly standing with the Lord, He will cause the others to know it because when they bow to Him, they will vicariously bow to those faithful to Him.  

Isn’t it interesting that the “synagogue of Satan” is made to do so? Does this mean there is redemption for them? It does not say that they are slain before the feet of Philadelphia, but that they would submit themselves to this church. That is a comforting idea that paints an incredible picture of the grace, mercy, and the wonderful working of our Lord.

Jesus is also known for laying low the proud and raising up the humble. Pride is a common theme among the rebuked churches. Keeping the Lord’s patience is a fundamental attribute of this faithful church.

What does it mean to keep the word of the Lord’s patience? What does this have to do with being kept from the hour of temptation?

When I think of keeping the word of His patience, I think of Romans 2. This also gives insight into what makes a “synagogue of Satan.”

To keep the Lord’s patience is to appreciate—not abhor—the longsuffering of Jesus. Instead of being quick to see the destruction of the wicked, it is better to desire their repentance, knowing that if it were not for the Lord’s patience with us, we would also be condemned.

To keep the Lord’s patience is to continue pursing a life that is pleasing to Him as we grow in righteousness, knowing that He who began a good work in us is faithful to complete it.

To keep the Lord’s patience is to seek to be a Jew inwardly according to the working of the Spirit so that we can worship God “in spirit and in truth” rather than trusting in works of the flesh to make us righteous before God or in the sight of man.

The reverse of these, which is a Jew outwardly, characterizes the Synagogue of Satan: lovers of contention, despisers of the longsuffering of God, quick to execute judgement on others, outwardly righteous and legalistic but inwardly corrupt, and obeyers of unrighteousness.

The hour of temptation will cater to the fleshly nature of the unfaithful churches.

I believe that there will be great temptation to forget the patience of the Lord that leads to repentance as people tear each other apart and become full of self-righteous indignation and zeal, “killing many and thinking they do God’s service.”

I believe there will be great temptation to call evil good and good evil. Those who are deemed good are “marked” so that they can proudly put their so-called righteousness on display and those who are not “marked” are shamed, cast out, and persecuted.  

I believe that the scriptures will play a role in this deception, just as Satan used them when he tempted Jesus and just as many false teachers, pastors, and prophets use them.

I believe there will be false promises of power and glory that cater to the vanity of man, as demonstrated by false prophets.

I believe that the desire for self-preservation, wealth, and love of this world will cause many to join in also.

These are the same troubles we see in the 5 rebuked churches, in basic terms.

The church of Philadelphia is kept from this because they are sealed with the seal of God as Jesus sets before them an open door to His Kingdom that comes to heart first and will later come to overthrow the falsehoods of this world including the false prophet, beast, and Great Whore.

“He that leads into captivity must go into captivity. He that kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and faith of the saints.” Vengeance is God’s. However, His faithful are not without defense, as we see in Revelation 11, as is needed to complete their testimony. After, many are overtaken and killed. Jesus returns, the dead in Christ rise, and they user in His new Kingdom with Him as He brings vengeance and justice to those who killed His people.

That is the promise.

Jesus will come suddenly and swiftly to avenge us of our adversaries. Although the wicked are exalted for a time, with patience this church will endure knowing that they are going to rule in the end with the true God.

They are made a pillar in the temple of God, a temple not built with hands and the vanity of man, but by the Holy Spirit. They are made a member of the Holy City, New Jerusalem, and they will receive the new name of Jesus. This is a picture of the wedding supper of the Lamb.

These are those who are faithful to Jesus all the way to the end—these and Smyrna—which are given as two but are one in Spirit. These attributes go together to give us some understanding of what a faithful Christian looks like and what they can expect in this world and in the age to come.

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