Revelation 3:7–13 (NKJV)
After giving a scathing rebuke to the church at Sardis for the dead condition of their spiritual health and vitality, John moves on to the church at Philadelphia, the faithful church. Jesus took stock of each of these seven churches, addressing them as representatives of the church in general and all the possible scenarios in which the churches could find themselves. He spoke to loveless people, persecuted people, compromising people, corrupt people, and dead people. Three of the five churches have real problems with the way they live for God and with their relationship with God. Now, the attention turns to the faithful church, Philadelphia.
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,Revelation 3:7-13
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: 8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. 9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. 11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.
13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
As John begins this letter, he identifies Jesus as the One “who is holy, He who is true.” He continues by describing His ownership of the keys of David, and His ability to open doors no one can shut, and shutting doors no one can open. This characterization describes Christ with ultimate authority and control. He is holy and true, thus deserving the authority afforded to Him. He also has the keys designed for the Son of David, the king of the Jews with an eternal promise of kingship. His authority supersedes that of any other ruler, and Jesus is Lord.
Jesus the begins His assessment of the church at Philadelphia. He knows their works, which is typical of each of the letters. In describing their works, however, Jesus commends their works and offered them an open door that no one can shut (another reference to His authority). He offers this door because Philadelphia still has some strength, they have kept the word of God, and they have not denied the name of Christ. He knows that they have been attacked by the synagogue of Satan, false Jews who do not truly worship Yahweh, but lie and twist truth. He announces that He will make those false witnesses come and worship at the feet of the believers in Philadelphia, and show proof of His love for them. An added benefit of remaining true to Christ, persevering in the face of opposition, Jesus promised that they would not suffer the hour of trial which will come upon the earth. This could be a reference to the tribulation period right after the rapture of the church. This hour will come upon the whole world to test those who inhabit the earth, but not upon those who are faithful and true to God.
Jesus then reminds the church that He is coming quickly. While some may have thought this meant shortly, instead it seems to point to the unannounced, sudden nature of Jesus’ return to rapture the church. This appearance will be without warning, and will happen in just an instant. Only those looking for Him will see Him. Jesus warns the readers to hold fast to what they have, and not allow anyone to steal their crown. As another reward for their faithfulness, He will make those who overcome pillars in the temple of God, never to leave His presence again. Jesus promised to write the name of God on them, and the name of the city of God, the New Jerusalem, on them. Jesus promises here to identify them as wholly His, and certifies their citizenship in heaven. He then further says that He will write on him His new name. All will be new. Fresh start, holy atmosphere, absence of sin, presence of God…sounds like heaven to me. Jesus then says again that he who has an ear should hear what the Spirit says to the churches. What a magnificent image. Faithfulness brings protection, reward, and identification with God. Be faithful, and hold fast what you have!
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