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 (Revelation 3:1-13).
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.
Jesus is uniquely set apart from this world; He is completely genuine and sincere. Jesus is the Everlasting King on the Throne of David, and He decides who gets into His kingdom and who does not. The above statement is important because it reminds us that Jesus is perfectly worthy to rule, He will establish His kingdom, and He is true to what He said about everything His kingdom and His kingship entails.
Jesus is Holy.
“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” [i]
What does it mean to be holy? Holy means sacred or set apart from this world for God’s purposes. Jesus is sacred and set apart in a manner that is unique to Himself because He is the first begotten Son of God and Savior of mankind. Jesus is also the only person to walk in the flesh without sin because He is God incarnate, conceived by the Holy Spirit of God.
There is no other like Him, and there is no other method of salvation for mankind. None of us have lived a truly holy life because none have lived a life separate from sin, and as such, none of us are naturally suitable for everlasting life because we are creatures of this world and not of the Kingdom of God.
However, through faith and the grace of God, we are made holy by Jesus, and He instructs us to be holy because He is holy. We will not be holy as He is holy—not in the unique sense that only He can possess by shear means of who He is—but by the perfect sacrifice that He made and sincere dedication to living a life that is set apart, or holy, for His purposes.
Here are some scriptures about the holiness of Jesus and how we as believers should strive in holiness also:
- There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God (1 Samuel 2).
- For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones (Isaiah 57:15).
- Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright (Hebrews 12:11-16).
- And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 4:8)
- Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:13-16).
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:3-6).
- And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest (Revelation 15:3-4).
Jesus is True.
“To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” [ii]
There are many kinds of truth, but there is only one truth that saves mankind, and this is He who is Truth: Jesus our Lord and Savior. Jesus speaks factual truths and moral truths that guide man in the right way, but more than that, He is true in every meaning of the word. Not only is Jesus the perfect embodiment of what it means to understand and speak truth; He demonstrates what it means to be true.
Jesus is completely true in His character. Meaning, Jesus is completely genuine and sincere. He Is Who He Is, through and through—without hypocrisy, fakery, flattery, or deception of any kind. He does not change His aim or His character, because all that He does is right. Jesus is always true in His doings. Meaning, He is completely righteous. He always hits the mark of perfection in all that He says and does, and there are no unrighteous motivations in Him. Jesus is also true in the sense of faithfulness. If He says that He will do something, then He will do it. If He says that something will be, then it will be.
Who is like Him? Who is true like He is true? If we were true like He is true, then we would not be sinners. Thanks be to God that Jesus provided a true and perfect sacrifice for those who would put their faith in Him. Through Him, we are forgiven and considered righteous in the eyes of God.
Through Him and the Spirit of Truth that He promised, we can experience a change of nature that changes us from creatures that are untrue in character to those who are more like He is. As Jesus said, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” [iii]
Below are some scriptures that pertain to Jesus as He Who Is True:
- God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19).
- And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3).
- God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged (Romans 3:4).
- That he who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth; because the former troubles are forgotten, and because they are hid from mine eyes (Isaiah 65:16).
- And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth (John 1:14).
- Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).
Jesus Has and Is the Key of David.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” [iv]
The Son of God was given to mankind to take away their sins and to establish the Kingdom of God. This is the Good News of the Kingdom of God. This is a manifold kingdom that comes first by the Spirit of God and again when Jesus returns bodily. Both are paid for by the blood of the Son of God, because without His sacrifice none could enter this kingdom because it is a kingdom of righteousness, and all have sinned. Jesus is the key. Without Jesus, there is only death and destruction.
He must come by His Spirit to free the hearts of man from their sinful nature, thereby bringing the kingdom that comes “not with observation” and is “within you.” [v] Just as Jesus was born in the flesh by the Holy Spirit to take away our sins, so is He born in His children. His Spirit grows in us, changing us overtime so that we grow in the ability to walk as He walked in this present world, pushing on until the day that we are raised from the dead and our birth fully accomplished. [vi] Although He reigns in us by the Spirit given to us, He also reigns in Heaven. All things are put under His feet, but we do not see that all things are under Him until He reigns in the earth. [vii]
Jesus must return. He will overthrow all the wicked rulers of this world—just as He overthrew the wicked rulers of our hearts—and those who He has reigned over in heart will rise from the dead or transfigure into renewed bodies and reign with Him in the earth. [viii]
Before that day, His church is strengthened as they renew their hearts through remembering, returning to, and thereby bringing forth He whose gospel was nearly forgotten by many—yet always alive in a few. [ix] Satan is cast out of heaven in spirit and manifested in this present world. Tribulation comes to the earth such as was never experienced. [x]
The Throne of David is usurped for a time, but the true King will come, and His key is always in His hand and His alone. We can trust in His return—a return that will establish a righteous kingdom as He destroys all wickedness including that Wicked One “with the brightness of His coming.” [xi] We can “look to the sky for your redemption draws nigh” [xii] in faith because the Good News of the Kingdom of God is sure and must be fulfilled:
- And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:31-33).
- And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open (Isaiah 22:20-22).
- Let mine outcasts dwell with thee, Moab; be thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler: for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. And in mercy shall the throne be established: and he shall sit upon it in truth in the tabernacle of David, judging, and seeking judgment, and hasting righteousness (Isaiah 16:4-5).
- In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this (Amos 9:11-12).
- Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
Jesus Opens and Shuts the Way.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” [xiii]
As Christians, our hope is in the grace of God. We understand grace to mean the undeserved favor of God. It is the favor of God that gives us faith so that we can approach Jesus for mercy and forgiveness. Through the gift of faith, we are also healed and transformed by His Spirit that lives within us. As this transformation occurs, we can live righteously as the Father would have His children to do. This is the work of Jesus in us.
All things that a Christian receives are hinged on the grace of God, and it is by grace alone that we stand. God does not choose us to salvation and entrance into His kingdom because we are good people. Rather, we are made good because we are saved. Our salvation brings glory to God in that He shows mercy to sinners, and by His patience and the work of His Spirit we can turn away from a life of sin and destruction.
It is also true that not all receive the same grace from God. For some, they receive the grace of living this life only. For those who are being raised as sons of God, life eternal. God can do whatever He wants with what belongs to Him—and everything belongs to Him. Not all have faith because not all were given faith, and not all have the same measure of faith. God opens and shuts. He gives mercy at His discretion, and He withholds mercy at His discretion so that His purposes are fulfilled. Below are some scriptures about the sovereign grace of God:
- For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy (Romans 9:15-16).
- Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? (Romans 9:18-21).
- But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-9).
- Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:
Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.
And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last (Luke 13:23-30).
As those who overcome as seen in Revelation 15 say of Jesus, “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” [xiv]Only Jesus is holy as He is holy. He is the truth, and all that He does is true. He gives mercy at His discretion, and His judgment is just—and He will return and reign, and all will worship Him. With these attributes of Christ in mind, let us do our best to consider what the Spirit is saying to the Church of 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.”
These words of comfort are glad to be received by such a one as Philadelphia. Being sometimes weak in the faith, keeping the words of Jesus and all that He stands for can seem like an impossible feat. The calling to a life of holiness seems attainable at times, and at other times seems to fall flat amid painful struggling against sin, only to find greater depths of wretchedness that needs to be dealt with.
The calling to truth can at times seem overshadowed by a world of lies and treachery, both within the faith and without. This is especially true when searching for He who Is True. Many claim to know Him, but He does not claim to know them. Where should the seeking Christian go for instruction, and how can one who is coming to know Jesus teach amid the treacherous territory of false doctrine and false teachers?
In all things, the grace of God is a welcome retreat from the failings of the flesh—a grace that Jesus gives at His discretion according to the sovereign will of the Father. God is in full control, and He has predestined some to serve Him faithfully and He has predestined those who would betray Christ and His followers.
He knows their works. Contrast this with “depart from me, you who work iniquity. I never knew you.” [xv] Philadelphia will not hear those words. Despite their weakness—and indeed because of it—they have learned by the grace of God to trust in Jesus Christ alone. They cannot trust in their own “holiness.” They embrace the wise proverb, “lean not on your own understanding” [xvi] as they realize that truth can be elusive, and the wisdom of fools is not far from their own heart at times. Who can know the mind of God? Who can know He who Is Truth? They cannot by any means be worthy enough for the Kingdom of God, yet they strive in faith, trusting in the work of the cross and the sanctification of the Spirit as promised.
They do not hide their little strength from Jesus, but rather, they run to Him because of it as they confess their sin openly as one who “walks in the light” [xvii] with sorrow of heart, and with faith—sometimes great faith and sometimes little faith—hoping for the redemption of their soul and evidence of their salvation through a life that more resembles their Lord, Jesus.
Jesus has set before them an open door. The grace of God through Jesus Christ that makes one welcome residents of the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them, even if they do not presently see this as they would like. Just as all wait to see Jesus reign in this present world, so do they wait in faith patiently trusting in this promise. The door is already open. It must yet be fulfilled that they should walk through it. As Paul the apostle wrote, “this mortal must put on immortality.” [xviii] That which is sown in corruption will be raised in newness of life, and this promise of God will one day be fulfilled—and their little strength will not prevent it because this is the work of Jesus in them.
Few pains are like that of a Christian who fears their weakness—who worries that they have disappointed Jesus and will fail to inherit the Kingdom of God. No. They have kept His words. They have remained faithful ministers of the truth they were given. They have not denied His name. By seeking Jesus earnestly as one who has a “poor and contrite spirit,” they have kept the faith. Their works are that of a broken heart, praise, thanksgiving, trust, and a desire to see the Kingdom of God furthered in this present world, and none of that as perfectly as they would have it. One day they will hear, “well done, thou good and faithful servant,” [xix] to which they respond, “I am an unprofitable servant. I did that which was my duty to do.” [xx]
“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.”
There are many who claim to be Jews; there are many who claim that God is their Father, but they are not truly redeemed from the snares of their real father, the devil and Satan. [xxi] Although we are all naturally the spiritual children of Satan, in that we have served sin, some continue in his works without real repentance and contrition of heart. What’s worse is when they discourage the true believer from pursuing a life of holiness and truth in Christ Jesus alone. Some are holier-than-thou, casting the “sinner” far away in a hypocritical and unjust manner. Some embrace a life of sin and discourage the faithful from furthering their walk in Christ. Some scoff at true Christian doctrine, esteeming the characteristics of God to be hateful, outdated, or unjust. Many use all the above to accuse and condemn the children of God as false followers, apostates, and so forth.
Such treatment can be enough to make little-strength Philadelphia’s heart faint and might even cause them to call their faith, Christian service, and even their sanity into question. Yet, there is reassurance from Jesus. He knows of the Synagogue of Satan, and He will cause them to know that Jesus has loved them.
As it is written near the close of Isaiah, “your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake said, ‘let the Lord be glorified!’ Yet He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” [xxii] Those who overcome will sit with Jesus in His throne, and as all confess that Jesus is Lord and bow before Him, so will they bow before those who are with Him as it is written in scripture: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” [xxiii]
“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. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
There are numerous scriptures detailing the awe-inspiring patience of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord. In keeping the ideas within these scriptures, the heart is kept from the hour of temptation—the hour in which man denies the patience of God and is fully given to the darkness of this world, even the Prince of Darkness himself.
Giving into this temptation can cause a person to be as one who says, “the Lord delays His coming” and is found “drunken and smiting their fellow servant.” [xxiv] It is said of the Great Whore in Revelation 17 that she is “drunken with the blood of saints of all that were slain upon the earth.” If we do not patiently wait on Jesus, but instead become full of vengeance, wrath, and self-righteous indignation, then we will invariably follow the false Christ and join in his persecutions.
Vengeance is God’s and He will have it. He will raise up servants with power to cast plagues and to slay man by the word of God that they speak. [xxv] However, this is done by the Spirit and the will of God—not by their own corruption of heart. They patiently wait for this calling also, as those who seek peace and pursue it, preach the gospel, and trust in the timing and provision of the Holy Spirit’s outpour into hearts of the remnant of God’s chosen people for the purpose of encouraging repentance and boldly standing against the Son of Destruction.
Scriptural ideas pertaining the patience of Jesus include the following (scripture is cited and a summary is provided. Reading the cited scripture is encouraged):
1 Peter 1-2: Our faith is tried as we endure many temptations, but if we patiently continue in well-doing, then we will receive the reward of our faith which is a crown of life. In our patience, we should remember the example of Jesus—He who patiently suffered the wrongs of evil men without being overcome by evil Himself but remained blameless in word and in deed.
2 Peter 3: We patiently wait on the Lord, even as others scoff at us and mock us stating that our Lord has delayed His coming. We know that the Lord will fulfill His promises, but He is patient as He gives time and space for all who belong to Him to repent. As we patiently endure ridicule, we can rejoice in knowing that the Lord is making time for our brethren to come to Him. We also know that Jesus will return and judge, and we want to be found faithful at His coming because the unrighteous cannot stand in His presence.
Romans 2: We should not despise the patience of God that leads many to repentance. We also remember that Jesus judges without respect of persons, meaning no one is too big and important get away with sin not repented of. We may need some time to repent ourselves, so we should not be so quick to see the judgment of God, nor should we be overly eager to judge one another.
Romans 5: Difficult times make us stronger and increases our patience, experience, and hope in the Lord. We remember that Jesus died for the ungodly, and we are justified by His sacrifice. We are not going to face His wrath, and as we grow in the faith, we have more confidence in our salvation as we experience the mercy and patience of the Lord first-hand.
Romans 9: Jesus endures the wicked patiently until His work is completed, and He is in control of all things. He will save all who He intends to save. Jesus is glorified in the wicked, so when we feel disheartened because of the wicked who seem to prevail, we can know that they will bring honor to God in the end and all things are coming together for our good.
James 5: Suffer affliction with patience just as the prophets suffered and as Jesus also suffered. Even now He endures much until the time of His coming is accomplished. Take comfort in His mercy and compassion for those who suffer for His sake.
Hebrews 6: Having received correct instruction in the faith, let us go on to perfection in faith, knowing that we have assured victory in Jesus Christ who came before us. Be followers of those who with faith received the promises of God, as Abraham. If we continue in this faith, we will see the work of the Lord, Jesus in us.
We might notice recurring ideas.
Jesus died for the ungodly, and this includes us. We can have faith in His sacrifice, even as our faith is tried by a life among those who would do us harm or do harm to the Christian faith.
We endure suffering with patience, not repaying evil for evil, because we know that this is the calling we have as Christians. Having received mercy, how can we do anything but give it?
We endure knowing that Jesus is no respecter of important persons, so we should not be so high and mighty in our judgements of others, but rather we should look to our own sin and be glad that Jesus gives many—including us—time to repent.
Just because we are covered by His blood does not mean we have no need to repent of the sins that we live out in this present world. However, we repent in good faith, knowing that He will save all who He intends to save—and this means allowing the wicked to continue until His time has come to return and judge the earth.
He will come and He will fulfill His promises—this is both a fearful and wonderful thing, so we should live out our days in this world in godly fear of the Lord and in faith, seeking the grace of God and placing our trust in the sufficient sacrifice of the Son as we grow in our knowledge of Him and our ability to live in a manner that is pleasing to Him—a manner that means enduring the wicked with righteousness and with patience.
His work will be done in us. It can be difficult to endure the trying of our faith, especially when sin clings to us. However, we have peace knowing that we are the work of Christ, and He will complete is work. We continue in patience, bearing the cross spiritually as we die to self and are made more like Him. This work will be done. We will go on to perfection, so let us never yield to sin.
As with all of Philadelphia’s imperfections, keeping the patience of the Lord imperfectly is a difficult cross to bear. However, as the scriptures promise, when we call out to Jesus, He will hear us and deliver us from all our troubles. Especially the troubles of sinful thoughts and actions, overwhelming emotions, and dreadful fears, even fears of denying the Lord Himself and of great failure in the faith. His grace is sufficient, even when the patience we have is weak. As the scriptures say, Christ is made strong in weakness, and as we continue, patience will have its perfect work one day. His Spirit will embolden, strengthen, and set an open door before His chosen so they can faithfully testify as witnesses of Jesus Christ.
“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.”
To be a firmly set fixture in the house of God is a glorious promise and comfort for one whose strength is little and one who seems to have no sound and sure place in this world. It is a comfort because of their own weakness—weakness that makes them feel as though they cannot help but come in and out of the presence of God time and time again, though if they could, they would never again leave or yield to sin. This is a comfort because they long for a place, and not just any place, but one that is with Jesus Himself and those who love Him in sincerity. Though they bear a name of shame in the earth, meaning they have no reputation to boast of among man, they receive a name of victory in Christ as He claims them as His own.
Concern for Present-Day Ministers of Jesus
It is important for minsters of Christ to set a good example of the patience of Jesus Christ. This seems to have a few applications.
One, this means turning away from a life of wonton sin and love of this world. Yet, it also means being an example of patiently enduring the fight against sin with honesty, humility, and the right attitude toward sin. Sin in not acceptable in any measure, and we will overcome. In-fact, we have overcome already because we serve a God that “calls things that are not as though they are.” [xxvi] Even so, as John stated, “be not deceived. He that does righteousness is righteous.” [xxvii] We are not to be cavalier over sin, treating it as some light thing that we all do every day. We want our sins to be fewer and fewer, and when found within ourselves, something that we fervently abhor.
Being open about failings and sinful struggles—with reverence for the blood of Jesus and with wise discretion so as not to cause brethren to stumble into sin—will benefit many but it will not appeal to everyone.
This will not appeal to those who want to claim holiness prematurely. This occurs on two spectrums. There are those who are of the traditional “holiness” mindset that claim premature perfection. They do not overtly corrupt the judgement of God or His standards, though they often fill their sins in with legalistic practices or other forms of justification that are not according to a Spiritual application of the scripture. On the other side, there are those who have so twisted holiness that good is made evil and evil is made good. For some, sin is holiness. Many deny honest striving against sin, because sin is not properly defined, but praised and something to be honored.
In both instances, the striving sinner is mocked by many. However, your honesty is comforting to those whose sin weakens their faith. Demonstrating the same, patient fight against sin can be a welcome rest from the hardness and holier-than-thou attitude exhibited by many on both extremes ranging from Sardis to Thyatira, respectively.
However, the longer the journey in the faith, the greater the progress. Expect progress, and be an example of this too in humility, not as an old wine skin, knowing that there is yet more to gain. Do not quench or grieve the Spirit of God. We are never so good, wise, or perfect as He who is from everlasting to everlasting. To claim perfection in this present life neglects the patience of a saint of God—the patience that we must wait for the redemption of our bodies to achieve the fullness of our birth in Christ. As we wait, we trust in the words of our Savior. He says that His work is done, and it is done and will be done. “He that began a good work in you is faithful to complete it.” [xxviii]
Secondly, this means enduring others with patience. Just as we want Jesus to continue dealing patiently with us, so do we strive to show patience with others. This means rebuking sin truthfully, but also with as much humility as possible so as not to encourage people to feel as if they are better than other people. It is by grace that we stand.
There is a time for all things, including a sharp rebuke—even one that removes unrepentant, harmful sinners and heresies from the church. However, we remember Jesus who said, “you know not what spirit you are of.” [xxix] If such a rebuke is not done exclusively by the Holy Spirit but is instead more like the spirits of devils and Satan as we falsely accuse, slander, and refuse patience where it is due, then we ourselves are in danger of judgment if we do not repent. Not all are given this authority; not all are apostles or prophets. If we “covet the greater gifts,” [xxx] as the apostle Paul encourages, then we should patiently wait for the Lord. We are His servants, and what matters most is that we are, by the grace of God, willing to do whatever He calls us to do to the glory of our Father.
Thirdly, we patiently wait on the coming of Jesus and encourage others to do the same. This means encouraging the faith of those who are shaken by His seemingly delayed coming. “One day with God is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” [xxxi] He will return and He will fulfill His promises. This also means encouraging others to wait on the judgment of God as given to the Son, Jesus. He will avenge. We wait on He who will come to avenge the blood of all who are slain for His sake. “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 the faith of the saints.” [xxxii]
This also means enduring suffering and persecution with patience, not repaying evil for evil, but striving to overcome evil with good. Consider the letter to the church of Smyrna for more on the suffering of the faithful Christian—a suffering that no false “rapture” notion will prevent. There is no rapture, but there is the resurrection, and we can be kept from temptation by calling out to Jesus with faith and patience, trusting Him to deliver our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies from the ultimate evil: Death.
All the above applies to patiently enduring the ridicule from those who claim to be of the faith but are not. All things are going according to the preordained will of God, and all things are working for His glory and for our benefit. Those who mock, slander, persecute, or murder the humble sinner who strives in the narrow way will be made to bow before Jesus and those who faithfully follow Him, and in the Kingdom to come, there is a great and everlasting reward.
Concern for Present-Day Christian Brethren Generally
Good instruction is very beneficial, but there is a lot of misguided and even dangerous instruction in the world. There are many who claim to be ministers of God, but they are either immature or they are imposters. The best way to find faithful ministers of the gospel is to seek Jesus. Ask Him to show you where to go or ask that He teach you Himself by the Holy Spirit. He can give a gift of understanding to anyone as He chooses. Search the scriptures as you are able, and above all, ask to receive the Holy Spirit that makes all things known to us according to God’s perfect timing and methods.
In all things, strive to keep the patience of Jesus Christ as described throughout this chapter. What applies to the ministers of God applies to all, because as we grow in the faith, each of us should reach a point in which we have some capacity to teach the things of God to others. Once we come to others in His name, we are ministering in some capacity. This is not exclusive to pastors, preachers, bible teachers, and the like.
We all should strive to become a minister of the things of Jesus Christ and to reach a point in our walk in which the Spirit guides us first. Then, we receive the teachings of others as a comfort and welcome fellowship, but not as one who is unable to stand on his or her own two feet by the grace of the Lord.
It is a great failing within the faith today to make people feel as if they must depend on leaders within “church.” We who are of the Spirit of God are the church, and we are being made into sons of God. Therefore, we need to mature. True leaders in the faith should encourage their fellow servants to become sufficient in the Lord by the Spirit within them. Not that fellowship becomes less needful. What becomes less needful is having a few exalted too highly while keeping their congregants in a perpetual state of infancy.
Yet, let us always consider our state as babes in Christ. We remain humble before Him, seek Him, trust in Him, and look to have more of the Christ-like nature manifest in the way that we live out our lives.
Never let anyone discourage you from seeking a life of holiness, and this includes remaining honest and sorry for sin as we patiently wait for Christ to be formed in us. Jesus is holy. Jesus is true. Jesus has the key of David. Turn to Him and place Him ahead of all else, and with patience attain all that He has in store for you.
On a final note, do not be discouraged when what Jesus has in store for you means suffering in this world. Jesus said that we should expect the world to hate us, and we should expect our enemy, Satan, to roam around and do whatever he can to devour the children of God. Resist him in faith and patiently continue despite your battle wounds, because you already have the victory in Christ. Do not let anyone accuse your faith because of your suffering or your troubles with sin for which you are sorrowful and honest before God. Many have suffered and died for the faith, and this was not a sign of God’s wrath or of failure on the part of the believer. Rather, suffering makes us more like Christ, and the more we patiently suffer for righteousness’ sake, the greater the reward in heaven.
Let’s begin our conclusion by returning our minds toward He who wrote this letter by His Spirit. Jesus, the Holy one of Israel who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, has overcome all things including death, so that we can overcome also. Our God is in full control of all things, and nothing can frustrate His plans. We can trust in all that He said He will do because His word is true. We can consider it done already even though we do not presently see all things fulfilled.
Though we are not perfectly holy, we take the calling of holiness seriously. Though we humbly know that we cannot know all truth, we strive to be faithful ministers of whatever measure of truth we are given as we first strive to know He who is the Truth, and most importantly, strive to be known by Him. We should live in the light as John states in 1 John 1. We do not try to hide our sin from God, pay lip service to Jesus, or take His sacrifice and promises for granted.
Jesus will perform His work in us, and His work is always perfect. We will be perfect because we must be made perfect. His kingdom is one of righteousness, and by His blood and the gift of grace through God-given faith, we attain. We have passed from judgment to life, and the Spirit equips us to serve our Lord, and by the Spirit, our mortal bodies are renewed now and in the resurrection to come.
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 at times wonder if this is true. 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. Because of their faithfulness despite weakness, through faith and the grace of God, He has set before them an open door. 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 through gifts of the Spirit to the glory of God. 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 Synagogue of Satan. Perhaps it is both.
Jesus acknowledges that He is aware of the Synagogue of Satan. He then declares that He will cause the Synagogue of Satan to worship before the feet of Philadelphia as they fulfill a scripture that states, “every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess the Lord, Jesus.”
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 or take vengeance into his own hands, even when given opportunity to do so.
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 further the Kingdom of Heaven.
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 one can reasonably assume 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.” [xxxiii]
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.
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 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 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 inherit with Jesus. They also receive 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, but in Christ they have honor in Him because they glorify Him and not this world.
Additional Scriptures when Considering the Letter to the Church of Philadelphia
- 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. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 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. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls (2 Peter 2:20-25).
- 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? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 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;Who will render to every man according to his deeds:To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:For there is no respect of persons with God (Romans 2:3-11).
- 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).
- Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?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: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 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).
- Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:14-21).
- Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy (James 5:7-11).
- And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise (Hebrews 6:11-15).
- And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled (Revelation 6:9-11).
- And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.If any man have an ear, let him hear. He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints (Revelation 13:7-10).
- And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them (Revelation 14:11-13).
[i] Luke 1:35
[ii] John 18:37
[iii] John 17:16-19
[iv] Isaiah 9:6-7
[v][v] Luke 17:20
[vi] Galatians 4:19
[vii] Hebrews 2:8
[viii] 1 Thessalonians 4
[ix] Malachi 3
[x] Revelation 12, Daniel 12, Mathew 24
[xi] 2 Thessalonians 2:8
[xii] Luke 21:28
[xiii] Ephesians 2:8-10
[xiv] Revelation 15:4
[xv][xv] Matthew 7:23
[xvi][xvi] Proverb 3
[xvii][xvii] 1 John 1:7, Ephesians 5
[xviii] 1 Corinthians 15:53-58
[xix] Matthew 25
[xx] Luke 17:10
[xxi] John 8
[xxii] Isaiah 66
[xxiii] Philippians 2:10-11
[xxiv] Matthew 24:48-50
[xxv] Revelation 11
[xxvi] Romans 4
[xxvii] 1 John 3
[xxviii] Philippians 1:6
[xxix] Luke 9
[xxx] 1 Corinthians 12:31
[xxxi] 2 Peter 3
[xxxii] Revelation 13
[xxxiii] Revelation 14
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