7 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;
8 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.
9 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.
The Church of Philadelphia is one of the two who received no rebuke from the Spirit of the Lord. The other is the Church of Smyrna.
Despite having little strength, Philadelphia has not denied Jesus and all that His name represents. Perhaps they need this acknowledgement.
When we are surrounded by enemies of the faith, especially those who claim to be of the faith but are not fully committed or not committed at all, we might begin to question ourselves. When many claim that it is we who have denied the faith, we might wonder if this is true at times. Especially if we have little strength. Perhaps they are also hard on themselves, always feeling as if they are falling short and have become a disappointment to God.
Jesus provides affirmation, letting this church know that they are more faithful to Him than they might feel at times, and because of their faithfulness despite weakness, He has set before them an open door.
What is this open door?
Jesus identifies Himself as He who has the Key of David. He opens and no man shuts and shuts and no man opens. What door does He open using the Key of David?
It was foretold that David would have an heir who would reign forever. This heir is Jesus, and His Kingdom is His to give as He wills.
Perhaps Jesus is blessing this church in the things of the Kingdom in gracious measure. Perhaps He is reminding them that He is the One who gets to decide who will reside with Him in His kingdom to come, not those who oppose this church or ostracize this church for not following suit with the ways of the unfaithful. Perhaps it is both.
Jesus acknowledges that He is aware of the unfaithful churches, which He refers to as the “Synagogue of Satan.” He then declares that He will cause the Synagogue of Satan to worship before the feet of Philadelphia. They will be made to know that Jesus loves this church. There are a few things to consider here.
For one, there is a kind of vindication promised. It’s likely that the Synagogue of Satan—which likely includes the other 5 churches who did not repent—are not going to be welcoming of Philadelphia. They might directly oppose them. Despite this opposition, Philadelphia has “kept the word of His patience,” which we will consider in a moment.
Next, we might notice that Jesus does not seem to destroy the Synagogue of Satan. Does He allow them to inherit eternal life? Or is their submission more like what the scriptures say, “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess the Lord, Jesus?”
Lastly, we might wonder why Jesus would have any worshipped besides Himself. If We continue reading the letters to the churches, we will learn that Jesus promises that those who overcome will sit with Him in His throne. This church is not being worshipped in a manner that exalts them above measure. Instead, it might be that as all are made to bow and confess Jesus, they vicariously bow to those who are with Jesus. This could also paint a picture of authority that is given to this church in the Kingdom to come when Jesus reigns on the earth.
Next, Jesus states, “because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation that will come upon all the world to try them that dwell on the earth.”
What is the word of His patience?
Despite being an outsider among many, and despite being aware of the Synagogue of Satan, Philadelphia does not condemn their fellow servants. Instead, this church holds to the teachings of Jesus, such as the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. They understand that many might seem to be false Christians but they are merely immature Christians. They understand that judgment will come at a time when the Lord deems, so they refrain from judging others before their time.
They might also recall what Jesus said about those who are found “drunken and smiting their fellow servants” at His return. He stated that these are counted among the unbelievers.
They might also consider the story of David and Saul. David remained faithful to Saul, even when Saul despised him and wanted him killed. David did not retaliate. In-fact, he even tried to make peace with Saul because David knew that Saul was God’s servant, and David loved Saul.
Perhaps Philadelphia is the same. They love their brethren, even if they are not as faithful as they should be. They also know that the blood of Jesus covers the sins of those who are called by His name, so to condemn any who claim to be Christian would not be wise or righteous. Instead, they try to make peace with all brethren, even those who hate them for their faithfulness to Jesus in sincerity.
Another scripture they might hold close is, “he that leads into captivity will go into captivity. He that kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and faith of the saints.”
In addition to remaining patient with their fellow servants among Christianity, Philadelphia shows patience with the world at large. They do not fight as man fights or for the same goals. Man fights with weapons of this world to gain the kingdoms of this world. Philadelphia fights with the weapons of the Spirit to gain the Kingdom of Heaven.
How does keeping the patience of the Lord keep Philadelphia from the “hour of temptation?” What is the hour of temptation?
Jesus states that the hour of temptation will try all who dwell on the earth. It seems likely that this hour of temptation coincides with the coming of the false prophet and false god. When he comes, we will also see the Great Whore of Mystery Babylon at her full—who includes all the false churches. These churches will actively persecute the true saints of God and all who fail to “worship the beast and his image or receive the mark of his name.”
There are a few ways this church might be kept, and both are probably true. The first way that they are kept is in spirit. They are kept from the deception of a false, blood-thirsty god and his drunken whore-bride.
The second way that they are kept is in death with the promise of resurrection. The ultimate hour of temptation comes when those who are faithful to Jesus are overcome and killed by the beast and his armies. The world will think that they have won and that their god has overcome all descent, leading to great celebration and whole-hearted allegiance to the false god.
Another thing we might consider is a promise that Jesus made elsewhere in the scripture. Concerning the last days, Jesus said, “except the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would be saved, but for the sake of the ones He has chosen, He has shortened the days.”
“Behold, I come quickly: hold thou fast what thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
Philadelphia is encouraged to “let no man take thy crown.” In other scripture, Jesus says that those who overcome will be given a “crown of life.” Philadelphia has gained the crown of life, and they are encouraged to let no one take it from them. They should not let the Synagogue of Satan discourage them or falsely accuse their faith. They also should not let the warring of man cause them to deny the teachings of Jesus.
Jesus will come speedily and He will avenge.
“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.”
Living as a faithful Christian in a time of faithlessness and hedonism is sure to be a lonesome and difficult time in which to live. All who are faithful to Jesus experience times of feeling cast out, and Jesus said it would be so. We are not of the world, so the world does not love us. We might not ever find a real home or place in this earth, but we do have a place. We will be part of the Kingdom of Heaven forever.
New Jerusalem is described in Revelation 19 and 22. All who are faithful to Jesus are part of this Holy City, and they will inherit with Jesus. They are also given the new name of Jesus, signifying that they are one with Him and claimed by Him. Philadelphia might have had a name of shame before, meaning they were of no reputation and honor among man or among their brethren, but in Christ they have honor in Him because they glorify Him and not this world.
Note: I did not mean to forget Scriptures for Sardis. I will draft that chapter next.
NEXT: These Things Saith He — Becoming Philadelphia
The above is the draft version of a chapter to a book I plan to write and publish in a manner that is free of charge to the public.
I wrote in These Things Saith He: Contents that I will publish the drafts here first and offer opportunity for others to share their thoughts before the final work is completed.
I’m open to and greatly value the insight, experiences, and thoughts of my Christian brethren because we are a body knit together in Christ that is meant to work together without over reliance on our leaders. I am not your leader, but I do try to be faithful to what I have received to the best of my ability, and I look to Jesus for gracious judgment of my service and the service of all who truly love Him.