Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Revelation 3:7-13 Philadelphia

The next church is the church of Philadelphia. The name is a familiar one that means “brotherly love”. The city was named by its founder (King Attalus of Peragmum) in honor of his brother. It was situated about 30 miles southeast of Sardis. Today it is known as the town of Alasehir. This church is like Smyrna in that there is no condemnation. This is a remnant church filled with believers who are walking as they should.

Verse 3:7 “And to the angel of the church I 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.”

For the first time, the description of Christ does not come from the first chapter of Revelation. It is a new (in the sense that it was not mentioned in the first chapter description) aspect of Christ - He that is holy and true. This church is a church that is walking in holiness. It is abiding with the Lord. It is living in and with truth. That is why Christ represents Himself this way. The reference to the key of David can be found in Is. 22:22. “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.” This was a promise given to Eliakim, who was a high official and faithful servant to King Hezekiah. His predecessor had been unfaithful, so God was giving his position to Eliakim. The key of the house of David literally referred to the keys of the treasuries of the kings of Judah. It also in another sense referred to the responsibilities of government which would be his when he came into the office. Eliakim would be the next one after the king in responsibility in the government. The government would be upon his shoulders. This is what was said of Christ in Is. 9:6-7. “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 for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Christ is of the house of David and the government will rest upon his shoulders. He already said he has the keys of death and Hades, and how he holds the keys to the kingdoms on earth. He opens and shuts doors as he desires.

Verse 3:8 “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.”

Christ knows their works. They are pleasing to him. Tied to that is an open door that he has set before them. Before, He said that He opens and shuts the doors. There are several kinds of doors that can be opened and shut. The door to evangelizing can be opened for them to present the gospel, and no man (the persecutors) will be able to shut it down. Also the door to persecuting them is shut, as Christ will not allow them to be persecuted. He shuts that door, because 1) they have little strength. This is an entire church that is being commended, so they are probably a very small remnant group, as that sort generally are. It is He alone that will be given the credit for any increase. 2) they have kept God’s word. Churches spiritualize God’s word, mythologize God’s word, ignore God’s word, twist and distort God’s word, water down God’s word, or deny God’s word. This church kept God’s word. They also have not denied Christ’s name. Today people talk of a “christ”, but they don’t mean the Lord Jesus Christ. They speak of Jesus, but they are talking of a man not a deity. This church knows exactly who the Lord Jesus Christ is in full name and being and do not deny any part of who He is.

Verse 3:9 “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.”

Both faithful churches had more than not being criticized in common. They were both being persecuted by the synagogue of Satan who said they were Jews. We have already discussed who these people were, so I won’t repeat that. Christ says that he will make them come and bow down and worship before the Philadelphians feet. When it says they will worship before their feet, it doesn’t mean that they will worship the Philadelphians. This means that they will bow down and worship Christ in front of the Philadelphians, who will be honored as saints that are truly people of God, which these Jews who so arrogantly thought they were, weren’t. Even unbelievers will one day be forced to kneel before the King of Kings. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Rom. 14:11 “That 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.” Phil. 2:10-11. It will be a humiliating experience to see the ones that they persecuted in a place of honor by the side of Christ and realize that the Philadelphians, not they, were and are the ones Christ loves. And it will give the Philadelphians a sense of vindication for what they suffered.

Verse 3:10 “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.”

There is a promise made to this church because they have kept the word of His patience. What is that patience? There are a number of scriptures that deal with patience. Starting with a verse that we have already seen in Luke 21:19 in the Olivet discourse, “In your patience possess ye your souls.” Rom. 8:25 “But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.“ Rom. 15:4 “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” 1 Thess. 1:3 “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” 2 Thess. 1:4 “So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure.” 2 Thess. 3:5 “And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” Heb. 6:12 “That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Heb. 10:36 “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” Heb. 12:1 “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” James 1:3-4 “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” Here especially are relevant verses to what Christ said to Philadelphia . James 5:7-8 “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waited 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.” Rev. 13:10 “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.” Rev. 14:11-12 “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.” The patience that they must have is to wait for the Lord. They have to keep the word of God’s patience. As shown at the beginning of Revelation, there is a blessing promised to those who read and heed the book. There are many faithful Christians who are exemplary in every aspect except one. They are not studying the end times. They do not know what is coming, and have accepted certain erroneous ideas. If they were to study, really study, they would see the error, listen to the words of the book and be prepared for what is coming. As things get much worse, it will become harder and harder to maintain faith, patiently wait, and especially not be deceived in the face of what will occur. It will probably seem like the Lord will never come, as things go from bad to worse. Those who do not know what to expect will either be deceived or give up hope entirely. This group has been patiently enduring, waiting on the promise of the Lord’s return. They are looking forward to it with eager anticipation. They have kept His word, which means that they understand that they will be going through great tribulation. They will patiently endure to the end.

Because of their patience, the promise is that they will be kept from the hour of temptation that will come on the whole world to try them. This is clearly a reference to the tribulation/Day of the Lord. Luke 21:35-36 “For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Here is a verse that directly relates to the promise to the Philadelphians. They will be accounted worthy to escape all those things. They will be kept from that time that will try the entire earth. This is a promise that everyone wishes they had, but few will probably earn.

The irony is that every pre-trib believer thinks that they are a Philadelphian. It does not matter that they might not meet the criteria, in fact they might fall into any one of the other church categories, but for some reason think that they qualify as Philadelphians. Does it really seem possible that so very many (entire church demonimations that believe this theory) all qualify as a faithful remnant? That they need no chastisement or refinement in this day of apostasy? Who then would the other six churches be that are thrown into the tribulation? There was no such promise to the faithful remnant in the other churches, not even to the church at Smyrna. It is only the Philadelphian church; not Ephesus, not Pergamos, not Thyatira, not Sardis, and not even Smyrna, (who has received no criticism and are walking with God) that receives this promise. So who does qualify? Only those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture? Every Christian even if they do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture? But then who would be martyred from the church at Smyrna? Everyone should be gone from that church, if that was the case. Does anyone see a problem here besides me?

Verse 3:11 “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

Even the Philadelphians are not beyond being warned to watch themselves and not let their guard down. They still could lose their crown of life.

Verse 3:12 “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.”

In ancient days when a city wanted to honor someone by giving him the keys of the city, so to speak, they would erect a pillar in the temple and carve the name of the person on it. In that way the person’s deed and they themselves lived on “forever”. But as we know, these temples were not forever. They became ruins. In fact Philadelphia was over an earthquake fault. It was very common for them to have earthquakes and tremors and have to go running out of buildings and out of town while the town fell down around them. Then they would have to come back and start rebuilding. This is a reference that these people would clearly understand, and to which they would relate. Here the overcomer is promised that they will be a pillar in the temple of God, which is eternal and will never fall down. Notice that it is not that a pillar is erected for the person, the person themselves is the pillar. God’s temple will be filled with living pillars that are a testimony of the deeds they have done for which they are being honored. They will not have to go out of the temple. They get to live in the presence of God forever.

Upon this person is written the name of God, the name of New Jerusalem, and the new name of Christ. Back in those days, slavery was common, and branding them was a way of proving ownership. God puts a seal on those of His for their protection. It is a sign to the enemy of God’s ownership so that they may not touch them without God’s approval. Ez. 9:1-7 “He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, Cause them that have charge over the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand. And, behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand; and one man among them was clothed with linen, with a writers inkhorn by his side: and they went in, and stood beside the brasen altar. And the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the cherub, whereupon he was, to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed with linen, which had the writer’s inkhorn by his side; and the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and site; let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house. And he said unto them, Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain: go ye forth, And they went forth, and slew in the city.” God marks His people for protection from the enemy. Christians are sealed with the sign of God. 1 Cor. 1:21-22 “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” He will also put a mark or seal in the forehead of 144,000 of the tribes of Israel for their protection from the enemy. Rev. 7:3-4 “Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.”

As for putting the name of New Jerusalem on the overcomerer, this is like a passport. It shows our citizenship and allows us entrance into the city. Rev. 21:27 “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” Only those whose name is written in the book of life, only those who have the seal of God, or God’s name, only those with their citizenship clearly written on them and can prove their worthiness will enter into the city of New Jerusalem.

Lastly the overcomer has written on him the new name of Christ. And what may that name be? Only Christ knows. Rev. 19:11-12 “And I saw heaven opened and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.” As a bride takes the name of her husband, so the church as the bride of Christ is identified with that name. So the new name of Christ, which only He knows, is written upon the one who endures to the end. Rev. 22:4 “And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.”

Verse 3:13 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Even though this church as a corporate entity are all able to hear what Christ says, he does not reverse the order of the promise with the ear to hear statement. He leaves it in the same order to which he has switched. Possibly because the statement is irrelevant in their case, as they as an entire church are faithful. In terms of today or the last days, I believe Philadelphia and Smryna are not necessarily corporate churches, but faithful Christians who have left the apostate organized churches (which explains why they do not have the problems) and simply meet together as possible for worship and fellowship. I believe the difference in the two, when it comes to why one is martyred and one is preserved, comes down to the statement that Philadelphia has kept the word of God’s patience. Smyrna is exemplary in their walk with the Lord, but if they have not studied the Word of God about the end times, there is a chance they could either be deceived, or could give up that Christ will return when He does not come when they expect Him to come. To preserve these faithful saints, it may be necessary for the Lord to remove them before either of those things can happen. They would be very confused to be “left behind” as it were, as they had been faithful. Under the circumstances, they would begin to doubt their own faith. God has said that he will not let us be taken out of His hand by circumstances beyond ourselves, and He will not let His faithful remnant be deceived. He would rather they were martyred than lose their faith. That is not the case with Philadelphia. They have kept the word of God’s patience. In other words, they know what is coming; that they will have to patiently endure to the end. They will not be deceived by antichrist, as they understand exactly what will be happening. They will not lose faith having been disappointed by a rapture that did not happen, as they know it will not happen until very near the end. They will be prepared to endure. Therefore, they do not have to be martyred in order to preserve their salvation.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your truly wonderful blog; I am enjoying it. I have found two articles on the net (on Google etc.) that have some informative quotes from well-known Christian leaders that I can heartily recommend. They are "Famous Rapture Watchers" & "Famous Rapture Watchers - Addendum." Vernon