We now come to the letter dictated by Jesus to John for the pastor and congregation at Philadelphia. This city was smaller and newer than the other six cities in Revelation 2-3. She was situated in a valley on an important road about 45 kilometers from Sardis. She was founded in the 2nd Century BC by Attalus II. One of his names was Philadelphos. The city was named Philadelphia in his honor with the purpose of this city being the center for the spread of the Greek Language and Customs. She was accustom to earthquakes with a destructive one hitting the city in AD 17 destroying her. The emperor helped with the finances to rebuild the city but many citizens refused to return and rather settled in the surrounding countryside. It seems as though the omniscient God, who knew all about Philadelphia’s history indicates permanence in place of impermanence in
Rev 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God.
The horrific earthquakes that chased people away would never happen in eternity where all believers will have absolute security! Let’s read the text
Rev 3:7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
The theme of these verses is found in:
Rev 3:8 I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. Where pagan cults flourished in this city, the Church’s, main hostility came from the Jews! 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars.
1) We have seen that in every letter, the Lord Jesus announces Himself with certain attributes of the Almighty as seen in chapter 1 … but then, He is the Almighty!
Rev 3:7 These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David.
What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
(1) Jesus is holy. One of God’s titles in the Old Testament is “the Holy One”.
Isa 40:25 “To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Perhaps the most important character of God is holiness. He is separated from all sin, wickedness and evil. His holiness is the atmosphere that radiates throughout His Heavenly Abode. It is therefore not surprising that one of His titles encapsulates what He is … holy. We must never underestimate this quality of God. He wants us His people to be holy. Yes we are in our position in Jesus … but we need to be so in practice. We are chosen to be holy
Eph 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight
and that is what we will be
Rom 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.
This calls for us His people to practice holiness … dress ourselves in His holiness … and the way we do it is by putting off the old man of sin and putting on the new man in Jesus through dressing ourselves with the Word of God.
(2) Jesus is true. It is natural that Jesus as “true” flows out of His “holiness”. In John 1 we find God incarnate living amongst humans
Jn 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Truth is related to Glory as it is to Holiness. The Glorious, Holy One cannot lie or allow His promises to fail because He is true. Not only is truth part of His attributes, He is the true Savior and through Him alone is union with the Father possible. There is no other way.
Jn 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
This is encouraging for us who are saved … but it also teaches us that we have the true way of salvation. Then at the same time it is our motivation to reach lost family, friends, neighbors and colleagues with the Gospel because it is the only truth … and without responding to it, man is doomed.
(3) Jesus is the gatekeeper.
Rev 3:7 who holds the key of David.
This phrase might seems strange but when you consider how David fought the enemy bringing peace as well as consolidating the tribes into a United Israel … plus he is seen as a “savior”, pointing towards the coming Messiah. David gathered God’s people keeping them safe in a geographical earthly kingdom. At the same time he kept the enemy out of the kingdom …. That is what the key of David means. Applied to Jesus we need to include
Rev 1:18 And I hold the keys of death and Hades.
The Lord Jesus (the one David pointed towards])does in the eternal spirit world what David did in the earthly physical world. Jesus holds the key of David to either lock up the wicked in eternal hell or give life in eternal glory. If anyone would ask what Jesus’ business is, it would be one word … “gospel”. That one word encapsulates freedom and life in heaven or captivity and death in hell. His business must be ours.
Lord, thank You for revealing Your character to us. May we copy You. Amen.