In approximately AD 96, during his exile to the island of Patmos John the Apostle received instructions to record what Jesus revealed to him in a book (Revelation) including this message to the church in Philadelphia below.
7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “HE WHO HAS THE KEY OF DAVID, HE WHO OPENS AND NO ONE SHUTS, AND SHUTS AND NO ONE OPENS”: 8 “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. 9 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. 10 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.
11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. 12 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. 13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ‘
Notes: The town of Philadelphia (translated “brotherly love”, today Alasehir in Trukey) was a small town in the hills 30 miles southeast of Sardis. Although the town was prosperous due to its trade (being the gateway to central Asia) and wine production, trade route and had healthy trade the town remained small due to frequent earthquakes, prompting citizens to live outside its walls. Jesus revelation as One having “the Key of David” phrase is a quotation from Isaiah 22:20-23, where the key of the house of David was given to Eliakim, indicating entrustment of authority.
- Complete the Revelation seriestable below by answering these questions (2:18-29):
- How does Christ reveal himself to this congregation?
- What does Christ commend in this congregation?
- What does Christ condemn in this congregation?
- What does Christ exhort in this congregation?
- What does Christ warn this congregation of?
- What does Christ promiseto this congregation?
- Consider how Jesus reveals Himself to this church. Why would he introduce himself as “Holy / True / the One holding the Key of David”?
- What does it mean that Jesus “place(s) before them an open door…”?
- Look at verse 8. Why does Jesus place before them an “open door…”? What do you learn about patience and faithful endurance?
- Consider how this church suffered (including earthquakes, persecution alluded to in verse 8). How does God comfort this church? What does that mean?
- What is Jesus calling this church to “overcome”?
- Considering the context of this town, why would it be comforting that Jesus promises to make the overcomer to be placed as a “pillar in the temple of God” forever?
- The church in Philadelphia was suffering from the frequent earthquakes along with the people in the city. In addition, they suffered harsh, constant persecution from the people they were ministering to. Yet they did not leave the town, but rather remained as a faithful witnesses to Christ’s loving grace in a town which did not receive them.
- In which way can you identify with the temptation to pack up your things and run away, yet you patiently endured hardship and remained faithful to where God called you? What was the outcome?
- As reward to faithful endurance Jesus promised unprecedented grace and opportunities to witness. Could you relate to this during times of hardship? Share!?
- Note that Jesus rewards this congregation’s faithful endurance in this life (v8, 10), and the life to come (v12). In which way does the latter reward inspire you to remain faithful amidst hardship?
- Considering your current challenges, what does Jesus call you to “hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown” (v11)?
Thank God for His grace with is sufficient for you, and make this declaration with Paul from your heart:
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose…. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? …38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 8:28-39]