Here we are at Philadelphia, ready to listen to our Lord’s words to this church. But before we push the doors open and go inside, I want to take a moment to remind you of something about which I feel so strongly.
These words of Christ’s to the seven churches are meant to teach us, to strengthen us, and to encourage us in our faith journey. I hope you are seeing that fruit in your life as we study. Y’all, the times in which we live necessitate a strong and vibrant faith. These are times that can discourage us and tempt us to fall away from the faith. DON’T DO IT~~Stand firm. Overcome. Be faithful.
It will not be long before we move into a different part of our study; the part that many consider confusing and frightening. I believe that if we have taken seriously our study of Revelation 2 and 3, we will be able to view chapters 4 through 22 through the eyes of Jesus and find encouragement for the days ahead.
Philadelphia, known today as Alasehir and established sometimes after 189 BC, is the youngest of seven cities. It was supposed to be named for two brothers, Eumenes and Attalus, who loved each other deeply. Attalus, often called Philadephus was loyal to his brother, King Eumenes. Philadephus means brother lover. Today in America we can visit a city by the same name, Philadelphia; also known as the city of brotherly love.
The area in which Philadelphia was located was prone to earthquakes. The city sat on a fault line and was destroyed in 17 AD by an earthquake that also destroyed Sardis and 10 other cities. Because of the frequent aftershocks, the majority of the citizens lived outside the city. (Remember this! We will need this information next week.)
The church at Philadelphia was probably established out of Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. It is the youngest of the seven churches and was small in size and/or strength. According to historical records this church was present for centuries, but finally was no more in the mid-fourteenth century.
Okay, let’s step inside the church at Philadelphia and listen to Jesus speak.
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
8 “‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie–behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you.
10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.
11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and 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 from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Before we close today, let us think about Jesus’ greeting to the church at Philadelphia in verse 7. This greeting is unique, in that it is not taken from the Revelation 1 description of Jesus. In His greeting, Jesus declares that He is God….holy, true, has the key of David, and all powerful. There were many temples in Philadelphia in that day, and many gods and goddesses, so Jesus is establishing that He, alone, is God.
Jesus was also telling this church that He opens and closes doors of opportunity for ministry expansion. The phrase ‘the key of David’ would have set off bells in the minds of the Jewish Christians because it is blatantly Messianic. The Messiah was promised to come through the house of David, and that He did. A key in Scripture represents authority and control. In Revelation 1:18, Jesus is said to have the keys to death and hell, while here He says He has the key to salvation and blessing.
Finally, it is important to note that Jesus had NO REBUKES for the church at Philadelphia, which had to be a source of great joy and encouragement to the believers there.
Next week we will visit again with this body of believers and hear Jesus give them commendations and promises. Now, let’s engage.
- Did anything from today’s lesson encourage your faith?
- What does it mean to you to know that Jesus opens doors that He wants opened and closes doors that He wants closed?