Summary: Message 11 from Revelation exploring Jesus' letter to the church at Philadelphia.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
“The Church of the Open Door”
Today we look at the last letter to the seven churches of Asia who represent church congregations throughout church history. The people are the same – problems are the same.
In these seven letters we find an extensive description of Jesus’ role as head of the church.
We also get an accurate view of what Jesus evaluates in a local church. What pleases Him?
What displeases Him? He clearly presents a solution; action necessary to get back on track or continue. He encourages these churches with a view to eternity and what every believer has to look for to as those who have overcome by their faith in Jesus Christ.
I. Prologue 1:1-20
The Prologue in chapter one recorded what John the aging Apostle saw (and heard) including a manifestation of Jesus far different from what John had known previously.
II. Jesus’ Messages to the Seven churches 2-3 (Things with are)
A. To the church in Ephesus – the passionless church 2:1-7
Repent – do the first-love kind of things.
B. To the church in Smyrna – the suffering church 2:8-11
Hold on to the end
C. To the church in Pergamum & Thyatira – the compromising church 2:12-17
Repent – Hold fast till I come
D. To the church in Sardis - the dying church 3:1-6
Strengthen what is and about to die.
E. To the church in Laodicea -- the lukewarm church 3:14-22
F. To the church in Philadelphia – the little church that could 3:7-13
History of the city
Philadelphia was the youngest of the seven cities cited in Revelation.
It is the city of brotherly love as a tribute to the love of Attalus II for his brother.
It was founded in 159-138 BC as a mission center for Greek culture to the surrounding area.
“the centre for the diffusion of Greek language and Greek letters in a peaceful land and by peaceful means." Ramsay aptly summarizes the characteristics of Philadelphia: “First, it was the missionary city; secondly, its people lived always in dread of disaster, ‘the day of trial’; thirdly, many of its people went out of the city to dwell; fourthly, it took a new name from the Imperial god.” Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT).
The church at Philadelphia stood strong longer than any of the others. We don’t know who founded it. It was the last Christian church standing when the when the Islamic Turks flooded across Asia Minor. Even today, there is a church bishop and nearly 1,000 Christians in it and five flourishing congregations. Their Faithfulness in the midst of difficulty stood at the core of Jesus’ commendation.
1. Characteristic of Jesus 3:7
7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: Revelation 3:7
Jesus cites three characterizations of Himself to this church.
“He who is Holy”
This is a title attributed to God all through the Old Testament. Here, it is an attribute attached to Jesus. Holiness refers to the quality of being infinitely separated from all that is contrary to God’s moral standard. It means to be set apart for special use, pure, holy. The disciples recognized Jesus as the “Holy One of God” John 6:69
67 So Jesus said to the twelve, "You do not want to go away also, do you?" 68 Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 "We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God." John 6:67-69
Jesus is holy and worthy of faithful service.
He who is true
There are two Greek words for true. One refers to a true statement as opposed to a false statement. The other refers to that which is real as opposed to that which is unreal or fake or counterfeit. Jesus is the ultimate measure of reality.
3 in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3
Everything should be measured by what Jesus said and did. Unlike most of the other churches, this congregation had remained true to Christ both in conduct (holiness) and truth.
Jesus is the truth and the source of what we believe.
He who has “the Key of David”
The “key of David” seems to refer to Isaiah 22:20–23 where Hezekiah’s servant, Eliakim, received authority over David’s house including access to all the king’s treasures. Jesus claimed to have God’s full administrative authority to distribute or not distribute all God’s resources according to His will. (Tom Contsable)
Jesus emphasized His unquestionable authority, ownership, power, sovereignty. In fulfillment of prophecy, Jesus also reminds them that it is the promised Messiah who now addresses them.