To the Churches in Revelation, Part 6: Philadelphia (Rev. 3:7-13)
The letters to the churches in the Book of Revelation, chapters 2-3, are from Jesus to His people in the 1st century. However, they are more than applicable to us in the 21st century. Times may have changed, but hearts have not.
In 2022, this wisdom is fitting for times such as these. In part 6 of this series, we’ll look at the church in Philadelphia. We’ll see Christ’s diagnosis of them, along with the prescription.
Revelation 3: 7-13
7 “To the angel (or messenger or pastor) 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 on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. 11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious (overcomes) I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them 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 them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Background of the church at Philadelphia:
- It was built as a center of Greek culture around 200 B.C.
- Had a very heavy Jewish population.
- Destroyed by an earthquake in AD 17 but soon rebuilt by Tiberius Caesar.
- It was established in 189 BC by King Eumenes II of Pergamon. Eumenes II named the city for the love of his brother, (aka: “the city of brotherly love”) who would be his successor, Attalus II (159–138 BC), whose loyalty earned him the nickname, “Philadelphos,” literally meaning “one who loves his brother.”
- Modern day- Alaşehir, Turkey, located about 30 miles southeast of Sardis.
Jesus’ Diagnosis- The positive report:
The church at Philadelphia hears 2 of the most blessed and precious things that could ever be said about a local church:
- (1) They openly confessed the inspiration of the Word of God.
- (2) They openly confessed the incarnation of the Son of God.
The Lord encourages the church in Philadelphia not to be discouraged because “they have little strength” (perhaps a small church). God is not dependent on worldly prestige.
Jesus’ Diagnosis- The negative report:
Does this mean they were a perfect church? No! This is 1 of the 2 churches among the 7 in Revelation that no condemnation was given.
The challenge and reward for the faithful-
Unimaginable victory for all eternity.
Note in Verse 12 we see the statement “I will write on them my new name.” Here, they that overcome will receive God’s own name. It is a sign of ownership and a mark of citizenship. In the same way, followers of the beast receive the mark of their master the devil (see Rev. 13:16-17). Every human being either belongs to the Lord or to the beast. There is no in-between.
Keep Looking Up,
Rev. Jon Barrett | Director of CVCCS