Summary: Philadelphia: The Church of the Faithful

Philadelphia: The Church of the Faithful

3:7"Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true. He is the one who has the key of David. He opens doors, and no one can shut them; he shuts doors, and no one can open them. 8"I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can shut. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. 9Look! I will force those who belong to Satan--those liars who say they are Jews but are not--to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love. 10"Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. 11Look, I am coming quickly. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. 12All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write my God’s name on them, and they will be citizens in the city of my God--the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And they will have my new name inscribed upon them. 13Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”

Philadelphia lay twenty-eight miles south east of Sardis. Philadelphia was founded 140 BC by Attalus the Second. Attalus was called Philadelphia. It stood on the borders of three countries-Mysia, Lydia, and Phrygia met. This location gave them one of the most strategic sites in the world. It also commanded one of the great highways in the world, the highway which led from Europe to the East. Philadelphia was literally the gateway from one content to another. It was for this reason why this city was build; that it might influence the people around it with the Roman Culture, which is also called Hellenism. In Philadelphia when a priest, or public servant was faithful in there service to the city; a pillar was erected in one of the many temples in the city. Philadelphia was also known as the “Little Athens”. The city was very rich due to living on the edge of a great volcanic area. On one hand this brought the city great prosperity, but on the other it brought tragedy such as what happened in 17 AD when an earthquake struck the city resulting in the city being utterly devastated, and laid to waste. The Roman Emperor Tiberius extending to the city great generosity in remitting its taxes and giving it a very large contribution towards the task of rebuilding the shattered city. Philadelphia as a result of this changed its name to Neocaesarea, meaning the new town of Caesar. This is why Christ said, “And I will write my God’s name on them.”

Vs.7, “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true. He is the one who has the key of David. He opens doors, and no one can shut them; he shuts doors, and no one can open them.”

“Holy” is a direct reference to God, who alone possesses absolute holiness. The Old Testament repeatedly describes God as the Holy One (2nd Kings 19:22; Job 6:10; Psalm 71:22; 78:41; Isaiah 43:15; 54:5; Hab 3:3) Isaiah 6:3 declares, “Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His Glory.” To say that God is holy is literally to say that His character is separate from sin; therefore His Character is unblemished and flawless. This is a direct claim by the Lord Himself to deity. The Lord Jesus Christ possesses in undiminished unaltered essence the holy and sinless nature of God. This is why Peter wrote in 1st Peter 1:15, “Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior.”

“Truth” The greek word here for truth is alethinos (true) meaning something that is authentic, genuine or real. In our fallen world the Lord promised that we would suffer while we are in it, so that our temporary suffering might lead to eternal bliss. Suffering is the pathway to truth. Our Lord Jesus went to the Cross and suffered on the Cross for us, living a life of holiness and honor, so that we might be the heirs of His Life with the goal in mind of us bearing with Him even in our suffering, so that He might conform us into His image. The school of suffering is the one by, which the Lord is shown to be real in us, and through us. We should not despise the chastening of our God, but embrace it fully knowing fully well that it is this chastening that is going to lead to our faith being made pure as gold. “He is the one who has the key of David.”

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