The Seven Candlesticks-The Church at Philadelphia

The Church in Philadelphia

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Today’s message “The Church at Philadelphia” is the fifth in the series of messages, THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA. At first glance, we notice that this church, along with Thyatira, receives no rebuke, but commendation as a faithful church that patiently seeks the truth and earnestly follows the Lord Jesus wherever He goes. So in this message, we will learn from the Philadelphia church period, as it is a good church to follow.

The Seven Candlesticks: To the Church in Philadelphia

Revelation 3:7-13
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; 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. 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. 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. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 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. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Today’s message “The Church at Philadelphia” is the fifth in the series of messages, THE SEVEN CHURCHES OF ASIA. At first glance, we notice that this church, along with Thyatira, receives no rebuke, but commendation as a faithful church that patiently seeks the truth and earnestly follows the Lord Jesus wherever He goes. So in this message, we will learn from the Philadelphia church period, as it is a good church to follow.

IDENTITY OF THE AUTHOR

“He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David.”

The Author is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. A further description, Holy and True, describes “He Who walks in the midst of the Golden

Candlesticks, and holds the Seven Stars in His hand.” In addition, John is told that the Author, the Lord Jesus, “has the “key of David”.

Of course the Lord Jesus is holy (hosios). He is righteous (dikaios), the Spotless Lamb Who was made to be sin for us. He is the One to Whom the four beasts cry “Holy, Holy, Holy” He is glorious in holiness. He is the way of holiness, and the path of our peace, and the Rock of our Salvation.

2 Cor. 5:21
21 For he hath made him [to be] sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Of course the Lord Jesus is Truth personified. He is the epitome of authenticity. He is the Truth that brings liberty and freedom, the Light of truth that enlighteth every man that comes into the world.

John 14:6
6. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Of course the Lord Jesus has the “key of David.” and that what He opens “no one shuts” and what He shuts “no one opens” (Revelation 3:7).

A similar statement is found in Isaiah 22:20-25 where Eliakim is given the key of the house of David:

Is. 22:20-25
20 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah:
21 And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
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.
23 And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place; and he shall be for a glorious throne to his father’s house.
24 And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of
small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.
25 In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, shall the nail that is fastened in the sure place be removed, and be cut down, and fall; and the burden that was upon it shall be cut off: for the LORD hath spoken it.

Eliakim was compared to a nail in a sure place; all his family are said to depend upon him. In eastern houses, rows of large spikes were built up in the walls. Upon these the moveables and utensils were hung. Our Lord Jesus is as a nail in a sure place. That soul cannot perish, nor that concern fall to the ground, which is by faith hung upon Christ. He will set before the believer an open door, which no man can shut, and bring both body and soul to eternal glory. But those who neglect so great salvation will find, that when he shutteth none can open, whether it be shutting out from heaven, or shutting up in hell forever. Mathew Henry

Eliakim had the authority to control who had access to David’s house.

Christ’s statement that He had “the key of David” reveals two important points:

First, as prophesied, Christ had received “the throne of His father David” (Luke 1:32).

Second, Christ had the authority to open and close doors for the benefit of the congregation at Philadelphia. When Christ opened or closed these doors, no one could reverse these actions.

Using this symbol of Kingly power, and having a throne and a kingdom we see Jesus as the One Who has the key” to the throne in New Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of God. Just as King David sat on the throne in earthly Jerusalem, Jesus sits on the throne in the heavenly New Jerusalem.

And He will claim this world and His church when He returns as His own. In Daniel 7 we can see that Jesus receives a kingdom:

Daniel 7:13-14
13. I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
14. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed’

What does Jesus return as at the second coming? A KING! THE KING OF KINGS!

Rev. 19:11-16
11 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.
12 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.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword that with it he should smite the nations; and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDs.

THE MESSAGE

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.
“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. 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.
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 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. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

AN OPEN DOOR TO PREACH

Several New Testament passages show that “an open door” referred to the opportunity to preach the gospel of the Kingdom. One example of this is found in

Acts 14:26, 27
26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.
27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

I Cor. 16:8, 9
8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

2 Cor. 2:12
Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,

Col. 4:3
3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

In addition to telling the church at Philadelphia that He had opened the door for them to preach the gospel, Christ also commended the members for their spiritual strength (albeit “little”) in faithfully obeying His commands. They had not “denied” Christ’s name through disobedience. As Christians, they faithfully observed all of Christ’s instructions and followed His example of worship instead of accepting humanly devised changes claiming to be Christian (1 Peter 2:21; 1 John 2:6).

I John 2:6
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

THE SYNAGOGUE OF Satan

Next, Jesus says that He will make “those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are nof worship before the feet of the faithful members of the Church at Philadelphia. (Revelation 3:9). While it is clear that Jesus is making “those of the synagogue of Satan” understand that He loves and respects the members of the church of Philadelphia, it is not as clear who these people are who are part of the synagogue of Satan.

This reference to people falsely claiming to be Jews is similar to Christ’s words to Smyrna: ” know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9).

As with the Church in Smyrna, the reference could mean people falsely claiming to be Christians.

In Pauline theology, all Christians, are considered Jews, regardless of their ethnicity, or racial background. As a wild olive branch, we all have been grafted into the original vine. As Paul so succinctly writes, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).

The point behind Christ’s labeling as the “synagogue of Satan” is to inform them and openly display that integrity with God is paramount to righteousness. This church along with the others of the seven endured severe persecution and “hazarded their lives for the faith.” The thought

being that “all they that will live Godly shall suffer persecution, even in these contemporary times.

Great suffering and persecution came by the hands of the strong conquering Roman government, from Jews who practiced Judaism and from people who claimed to be Christian yet who did not diligently adhere to the teachings of Christ and the apostles.

THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION

Because the members of this great church at Philadelphia had kept the word of God’s patience, and had not sinned against His name, He promises that they will be kept from “the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10). Many have sought to identify this event as a historical fulfillment of this hour of temptation, most often as a particularly severe persecution by a particular Roman emperor, such as Nero. Sti, the primary meaning of this phrase is the tribulation period that will exist at the end of this age when Christ returns at the Parousia.

Explaining to His disciples what conditions would be like for His faithful people when He comes again, Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another” (Matthew 24:9-10).

Later in the same chapter He added: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (verses 21-22).

Through the lease of prophetic utterance, we can see that the echatalogical chronological development of the Church is one of the ways the messages to the seven churches can be understood, it becomes apparent that “the hour of trial” represents the Great Tribulation that will occur just before Christ’s Second Coming. Rev. 19:11 Right now, as our country and the world teeters on the edge of self destruction with nuclear weapons of mass destruction a constant threat, faithful Christians are hated and even martyred, in various parts of the world. Jesus Christ promises protection for those in Philadelphia, and us, during this precariously dark period of human history that will “test those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:10). As these awful events occur, Jesus admonishes the Philadelphians to hold fast to God’s way of life so no one will take their “crown (verse 11)-their opportunity to receive eternal life and reign with Christ over the nations (Revelation 1:6; 2:26, 5:10).

PROMISES

The message to this congregation concludes with important promises that Christ says He will give to those who overcome. These include the opportunity to be “a pillar in the temple of My God” and having God’s “new name” (Revelation 3:12).

The reference to being a pillar in God’s temple and the further explanation “he shall go out no more” (verse 12) was encouraging for Philadelphians who, due to earthquakes, may have seen the pillars of buildings in their city collapse and citizens having to go out of the buildings for safety. The new name that will identify Christians as belonging to God was surely more enticing than the various name changes the city of Philadelphia had experienced.