Summary: Opportunities - and how we face them
Churches of Revelation#6 - Philadelphia
March 2006 • Chris Rowney
These messages are also available as audio podcasts at www.tcfnet.org.au/podcasts
Ephesus: Return to the first love
Smyrna: Endure through Suffering
Pergamum: Remain True to the name (character) of Christ.
Thyatira: Not tolerating things opposed to God’s Kingdom
Sardis: Reality not reputation – wake up!
And Now to Philadelphia…
Of all the churches, this ones name at least is probably familiar, from its name sake in the USA –
It means ‘city of brotherly love’ and is named for an earlier King and his brother, and the relationship they shared.
The story goes that when the King was away he was feared to have died, and the younger brother was crowned in his place, but he then willingly relinquished the crown when the older brother returned.
“7 “To the angel 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 upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no-one will take your crown.
12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him 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 him my new name.
13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Revelation 3:7-13, NIV.
Unlike Sardis last time I preached on this series, which had nothing good said about it, Philadelphia is the opposite, Jesus has only praise for this church.
I know your deeds, Jesus says, as he has 5 times before, and this time there is no BUT..
Though the church has only a ‘little strength’ (were they a small group?) they had remained faithful, and it would seem had not succumbed to some of the sins that had entered into some of the surrounding churches.
From what is written we can assume that the established Jewish community in the City had turned against these Christians, and in rejecting the claims that Jesus was the Messiah they awaited,… they also rejected the newly formed group of Christian believers, and probably made life a bit hard for them. So Jesus assures them that the truth they believe will be made known even to those who oppose them in the end…
Before moving to the main theme for today, the next couple of verses mention a time of trial, . Some people associate this with the ‘tribulations’ mentioned in some of the other letters to the churches, and elsewhere in the New Testament. So I want to spend a minute teaching a bit about how to interpret and understand the Bible…
Verse 10 promises to keep this group from the ;’hour of trial’ to come..
Revelation is most commonly read and taught by people wanting to explain and map out the end of the world – the second coming of Jesus to close out history and usher in eternity…
It is widely taught that before the end of History, there will be an intense period of evil and persecution, or trouble and suffering called the ‘great tribulation’..
Now, whether there is or is not such a time is not my concern this morning.. but it is also widely taught that before this terrible time happens, the believers will be supernaturally removed from the earth, and the rest will be ‘left behind.. (a series of Christian movies is based on that idea…)
This particular verse is often used to teach that in the end there will be a terrible time of trouble and persecution, but that the faithful Christians will be ‘raptured’ (a word from the LATIN (EARLY ROMAN) translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:16
“the Lord himself shall descend with a shout and the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are still alive will be ‘caught up’ (Latin translation is raptured) with him.”