The Church at Philadelphia, the Faithful Church
Rev 3:7-13 (KJV) 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 word Philadelphia means "brotherly love" and characterizes the Church Age that began with the Great Awakenings under George Whitefield, and was followed by John Wesley, Charles G. Finney and D.L. Moody. This was a time when the evangelistic and missionary labors were carried out in the power of the spirit. It was during this time that the doctrine of the Second Coming was revived. It was during this time that the Midnight Cry was fulfilled figuratively when the entire Church woke up to the truths of the return of the Bridegroom. It is the Philadelphia church that is faithful to the Lord, and because of her patient endurance, she will be removed through the "Open Door" before the tribulation period sets in to try the Church.
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;
The address and sublime characteristics of Jesus Christ are in this verse. A sublime characteristic is one of high spiritual, moral or intellectual worth that is not to be excelled. It is of supreme value and inspires awe in the observer. Jesus is holy, and this means He is pure and morally blameless. He is the embodiment of holiness.
He is true, and this is relative to his deity. He is real, unfeigned, not fictitious, and this means He is the one true God, and not pretended like idols are only a pretense to being God. Jesus Christ is God incarnate.
He has the key of David, and this implies administrative or governmental authority. The Old Testament reference is Isaiah 22:22. The key is a symbol for the undisputed authority to enter and exercise all needful authority. The Isaiah reference pertains to Judah, but this pertains to the Church.
He that "openeth" and "shutteth" has reference to entrance into heaven and the kingdom of the heavens. Having the key of David, Jesus Christ has complete sovereignty over who enters both. Since Jesus is addressing the Church, this entrance pertains to the Church. Israel as a nation has already forfeited their entrance into the heavenly aspect of the kingdom. The Church is God's heavenly people, and Israel is God's earthly people.
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.
Jesus reveals his complete knowledge of their works, and He provides an Open Door for them because they have kept his word and not denied his name, even though they only have a little strength (i.e., power). This "little power" was actively employed in faithfulness to the Word of God. The “Open Door” is a metaphor meaning an opportunity for Missionary work. This was true for the literal church at Philadelphia, since it was on the main trade route between East and West, and it had an opportunity for spreading the gospel of grace to the region beyond. Also, the Philadelphia church age was one of great opportunities for missionary work. Prophetically, the “Open Door” is the open door into heaven provided for faithfulness to Christ.
The Philadelphia church is not popular, powerful or influential in the worldly affairs of the Church on earth, but she is faithful in studying and keeping the faith as taught in the Bible.
Philadelphia has not denied the name of Jesus. This means that their lives have reflected the character of Jesus Christ. This only happens when Christians crucify the old nature and allow the life of Jesus to live in them via the filling of the Holy Spirit.
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.
Literally, there were Jews in the early Church that were particularly troubling to the Christians. Prophetically, there is a group of Christians that came out of the Reformation that believe that God is through with Israel, and that they are spiritual Israel or Jews. This group is very powerful in the Church today, and they look down on the Philadelphia Christians because they are so few and feeble in the Church body.
The synagogue of Satan means a group that performs the will of Satan. The Jews that persecuted the early Church were performing the will of Satan in persecuting the Church. Also, the groups of Christians who think that the Church has replaced Israel will not be among the Philadelphia Christians, so they will literally be worshipping at the feet of Philadelphia Christians. These groups are still in the mainline Protestant Churches. Their false theology is called Replacement Theology.
Philadelphia Christians will be among the four living creatures or the 24 elders, so they will be either in the throne with Jesus or the first row around the throne. This means those among the synagogue of Satan will literally be worshipping Jesus, but they will be at the feet of those who are closer to the throne. These are the Philadelphia Christians.
The Philadelphia Christians are not popular among the larger body of the Church, but it will be clear that Jesus loves them with a special love.
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.
Those in the Philadelphia church have patiently endured the trials and tribulations of their Christian walk. They have established themselves as overcomers, and they will be kept from the "hour of trial" that is coming on all Christians who "dwell upon the earth."
Those who "dwell upon the earth" are those who have settled down and gotten comfortable in the world. They are no longer pilgrims just passing through this life, and they have taken up residency and citizenship on the earth. They are not looking for the Lord to return, and they even disdain the idea that Jesus would come and interrupt their life of pleasure. They have become rich and their roots have been sunk deeply into the earth.
The "hour of temptation" (i.e., trial) is the first half of the tribulation period. It will extend from the Firstfruits Rapture up until the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church.
11. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Jesus states that his coming will be suddenly when it happens, and Philadelphia Christians need to guard against losing what they have attained in works. Even Philadelphia Christians could fall away and lose their crown.
It is possible for one individual to cause another to stumble and fall and lose his crown. Christians should not allow anyone to cause them to stumble. The temptation to fall away will get much greater as we approach the Firstfruits Rapture.
The Philadelphia Christian holds fast with a tight and tightening grip Christ's Word, Name, Patience and Coming. He may surrender life itself, but not the things that make up the crown of his testimony.
The achievements of the Philadelphia Christian are not distinguished in the eyes of the Church, but he lives his life with increasing faithfulness. The crown that is to be guarded is the crown of life, and it refers to the salvation of the soul.
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.
Overcomers will have prominent positions in the temple of God the Father, and they will never lose these positions. The name of God the Father on them signifies ownership. They will also dwell in and be co-owners of the New Jerusalem as their inheritance. Being linked with the New Jerusalem is analogous to being the Bride of Christ.
The new name of Christ signifies that they will be his Bride.
13. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
This epistle ends as all do with an admonition to the Church to listen and heed the warnings of these letters to the Church.