Summary: As a helpful model of Godly faithfulness we can learn from this congregation in considering 1) The Church, City, and Correspondent (Revelation 3:7), 2) The Commendation (Revelation 3:8-9), and finally 3) The Command & Counsel (Revelation 3:10-13)
This weekend, people are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. As a 16-year-old Romanized Briton in 406/7AD, Patrick was sold to a cruel warrior chief whose opponents' heads sat atop sharp poles around his palisade in Northern Ireland. While Patrick minded his master's pigs in the nearby hills, he lived like an animal himself, enduring long bouts of hunger, thirst, and isolation. Patrick fled and ran 200 miles to a southeastern harbor. There he boarded a ship of traders bound for Europe. After a few years on the continent, Patrick returned to his family in England—only to be called back to Ireland as an evangelist in 430 AD. Despite his success as a missionary, Patrick was self-conscious, especially about his educational background. "I still blush and fear more than anything to have my lack of learning brought out into the open," he wrote in his Confession. "For I am unable to explain my mind to learned people." Nevertheless, he gave thanks to God, "who stirred up me, a fool, from the midst of those who are considered wise and learned in the practice of the law as well as persuasive in their speech and in every other way and ahead of these others, inspired me who is so despised by the world.". Throughout his life, Patrick struggled with his calling and his perceived shortcomings. (www.christianitytoday.com\St. Patrick\Christian History - Patrick - 131 Christians Everyone Should Know)
Churches struggle because all are made up of imperfect, sinning people. The church is not a place for people with no weaknesses; it is a fellowship of those who are aware of their weaknesses and long for the strength and grace of God to fill their lives. It is a kind of hospital for those who know they are sick and needy.
Like all churches, the one in Philadelphia had its imperfections. Yet the Lord commended its members for their faithfulness and loyalty. They and the congregation at Smyrna were the only two of the seven that received no rebuke from the Lord of the church. In spite of their fleshly struggles, the Christians at Philadelphia were faithful and obedient, serving and worshiping the Lord. They provide a good model of a loyal church.
The Church in Philadelphia from Revelation 3:7-13, can be described as the Assembly of the Faithful. As a helpful model of Godly faithfulness we can learn from this congregation in considering 1) The Church, City, and Correspondent (Revelation 3:7), 2) The Commendation (Revelation 3:8-9), and finally 3) The Command & Counsel (Revelation 3:10-13)
1) The Church, City, and Correspondent (Revelation 3:7)
Revelation 3:7 7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. (ESV)
In verse 7, Little is known about the Philadelphia church apart from this passage. Like most of the other seven churches, it was probably founded during Paul’s ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19:10). A few years after John wrote Revelation, the early church father Ignatius passed through Philadelphia on his way to martyrdom at Rome. He later wrote the church a letter of encouragement and instruction. Some Christians from Philadelphia were martyred with Polycarp at Smyrna. The church lasted for centuries. The Christians in Philadelphia stood firm even after the region was overrun by the Muslims, finally succumbing in the mid-fourteenth century.
From the Hermus River valley, where Sardis and Smyrna were located, a smaller valley (that of the Cogamis River) branches off to the southeast. A road through this valley provided the best means of ascending the 2,500 feet from the Hermus valley to the vast central plateau. In this valley, about thirty miles from Sardis, was the city of Philadelphia. Philadelphia was the youngest of the seven cities, founded sometime after 189 B.C. either by King Eumenes of Pergamum or his brother, Attalus II, who succeeded him as king. In either case, the city derived its name from Attalus II’s nickname Philadelphus (“brother lover”), which his loyalty to his brother Eumenes had earned him. Though situated on an easily defensible site on an 800-foot-high hill overlooking an important road, Philadelphia was not founded primarily as a military outpost (as Thyatira had been). Its founders intended it to be a center of Greek culture and language, a missionary outpost for spreading Hellenism to the regions of Lydia and Phrygia. Philadelphia succeeded in its mission so well that by A.D. 19 the Lydian language had been completely replaced by Greek. City Slide: The ancient city of Philadelphia was surrounded by fertile fields, shown here, that were good for growing grapes. Dionysus, the god of wine, was the focus of worship. (Duvall, J. S. (2014). Revelation. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 70). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.) The earthquake of A.D.17 that had destroyed Sardis had also been particularly devastating to Philadelphia because the city was near a fault line, and it had suffered many aftershocks. This kept the people worried, causing most of them to live outside the city limits (Barton, B. B. (2000). Revelation. (G. R. Osborne, Ed.) (p. 42). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.).