Summary: Philadelphia was established by the Pergamenian king Attalus II who had the nickname, philadelphus, because of his love for his brother Eumenes II, the former king of Pergamum. Philadelphia = brotherly love. The city was thus named to commemorate this a
THE REVELATION OF JESUS
PHILADELPHIA - THE FAITHFUL
Revelation 3: 7-13
Philadelphia was established by the Pergamenian king Attalus II who had the nickname, philadelphus, because of his love for his brother Eumenes II, the former king of Pergamum. Philadelphia = brotherly love. The city was thus named to commemorate this affection.
Philadelphia is located about thirty miles inland from Sardis, at the head of the fertile plateau. It was the center of the highway from Rome to the rest of Asia. It was commercially quite important.
Philadelphia was founded with a special purpose and intention. It was located where the borders of Mysia, Lydia and Phrygia met. It was a border town.
The purpose of the founding of Philadelphia was that it would be a missionary of Greek culture and the Greek language to Lydia and Phrygia. It did its job so well that by AD 19 the Lydians had forgotten their own language and were totally Greek.
In AD 17 a severe earthquake devastated the city, causing most to move else where. The city was rebuilt, but slowly. Many were still afraid of the shakes. There has been no detailed archaeological work on the site, so little is known of the ancient city. The Turkish town of Alashehir now occupies the site.
Although nothing is known about the origin of the Philadelphian church, the church prospered under the ministry of a woman named Ammia. She was known for her gift of prophesy.
Long after all the surrounding country had succumbed to Muslim control, Philadelphia held out as a Christian city until 1398. To this day there is a remnant of the church in this city.
Characteristic vs 7
Jesus begins each letter with reference to his authority. To Philadelphia he describes himself as the one who is holy and true.
Only God is holy. Only through holiness can we approach God. It is through the redemptive work of Christ that you and I have access to the holy of holies, the presence of God.
In Greek there are two words for true. The first one means true in the sense that a true statement is different from a false statement. The second Greek word means real or genuine.
Not only is Jesus the truth, as opposed to false, but He is the real thing, the genuine article. He is the only reality. Since He is the truth we can count on Him to be true to His Word.
Then, something that hasn’t happened before in these letters. Jesus identifies himself with a symbol not found in the opening vision of chapter one. He who holds the key of David.
This is similar to Isaiah’s prophesy concerning Eliakim, king Hezekiah’s servant, who became the royal guardian of ancient Jerusalem. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. Isaiah 22: 22.
Eliakim had the key which gave him the authority as to who could see the king. i.e. president’s chief of staff.
Jesus has absolute power and authority over who enters his kingdom (1:18). No one can oppose the will of Jesus, he has authority over the church, and no one can go against his will.
Because Jesus is holy and true no one can ever argue that his admission of some and refusal of others is unrighteous.
Compliment vs 8-10
The congregation of Philadelphia was not large. It’s members had little strength to oppose the force of evil. Yet they had kept my word... not denied my name (vs 8). They are also described as having kept my command to endure patiently (vs 10). What great words from the Lord!
In Philadelphia, members of the Jewish synagogue had played havoc with the Christians. Such Jews refused to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah. They had become a synagogue of Satan (just like in Smyrna), they had become liars.
Jesus’ compliment to the church continues. It includes three specific pledges: first, he had placed before them an open door that no one can shut. Second, he promised that hostile Jews would one day fall down at your feet.
And third, he promised to keep these believers from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world. Each of these promises can be understood in a variety of ways.
What is the open door? Some scholars believe the door to be the same as what John sees next in 4:1 After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. This refers to the entrance to heaven. While the Jews had closed their synagogue doors on earth, Jesus was opening the door to heaven for them, for Jesus their Lord holds the true key of David.