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.”
What are the defining characteristics of this church that we can learn from and how might we seek the Lord to have these traits built up in us more fully?
As with all things, the grace of God makes the difference. We need Jesus to set an open door before us that teaches us what it means to serve Him and His kingdom instead of serving ourselves and this world.
We also need His strength to help us overcome. Our own strength is “little.” We cannot muster up enough will to lay aside the comforts and pleasures of this world for His sake, but with the strength of the Holy Spirit within us, we can grow in this regard.
Knowing this, the most important thing that we can do is seek Jesus. “He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” We can pray daily, learn the word of God to the best of our ability, and seek to have the Lord conform us to His perfect and pleasing will so that we can be fruitful in the knowledge of Him and His Kingdom as sons of God and servants of our Lord in this present world.
As we grow in the things of God, keeping “the word of His patience” is an ability that will be formed in us as we die to self and learn to trust in Him. This seems to be a multi-faceted idea.
Enduring suffering with patience as Jesus also endured on our behalf seems to be part of this idea. See 1 Peter 2.
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls (2 Peter 2:20-25).
We might also consider “the longsuffering of God that leads us to repentance” and the understanding that God is “no respecter of persons” and He will reward everyone “according to their works.” See Romans 2.
And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:
11 For there is no respect of persons with God (Romans 2:3-11).
We can also consider that God’s timing is always right, and He endures the wicked with much patience until His will is accomplished.
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water (2 Peter 3:20).
21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
22 What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
24 Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25 As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved (Romans 9:21-25).
Enduring suffering with patience, as the righteous and not as evildoers, is one way to keep the Lord’s patience. As we strive to grow in this regard, we remember that it was the patience of Christ that led us to repentance.
We also remember that God is long patient with the wicked, and in His patience, He saves us just as He saved Noah. We also know that His patience ends with judgement, and He is not a judge that judges with partiality towards those of high status (respecter of persons). He judged everyone equally, and we are all judged according to our deeds in this earth.
Knowing all of this, we cannot allow ourselves to succumb to temptations that encourage us to forget the patience of God. If we are not mindful, we might find ourselves falling during the “hour or temptation” which God purposed to try the hearts of man.
We cannot give into vengeance and wrath, but instead we should seek Jesus to build us up as those who speak “no guile” and instead suffer wrongdoing with patience, knowing that God will reward us and He will also reward the wicked. The end of the righteous is everlasting life in His Kingdom and the reward of the wicked is everlasting condemnation and death.
In suffering things in this life, especially during the time of great trouble when the world worships a false savior, we will have to endure with patience.
Many will say that we are condemned, lost, and forsaken by God while they consider themselves to be the chosen of their false god. They will feel fully justified in killing many, even making war with the true saints of God who keep “the faith and patience of the saints” as those who understand that “he who leads into captivity shall go into captivity. He that kills with the sword must be killed with the sword.”
Jesus said that it would be so. He said that “they will deliver you up to counsels and in their synagogues, you will be beaten, and you will be brought before rulers and kings for my sake for a testimony against them.” He also said that “many will kill you, thinking that they do God’s service, and this they will do because they have not known the Father nor me.”
This is a high calling, and not one that we have the strength to endure. However, if we recognize that we have “little strength” and if we keep His words and do not deny His Name and all that Jesus stands for, then He will provide us with an open door. He will give us the understanding we need. The Holy Spirit will speak through us and we don’t even need to think about what we will say. “Whatever shall be given to you, in that hour that speak ye. For it is not you who speaks, but the Holy Spirit.” He will give us strength and “peace that surpasses understanding.”
Though we might suffer much, as we also considered when learning about the other well-regarded church, Smyrna, we also know that “tribulation works patience” and when we share in the sufferings of Christ, we are made into a son of God and the end is unspeakable joy and salvation that no man can steal.
“Hold thou fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
May the grace of God keep all who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.
NEXT: These Things Saith He — Scripture for 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.