Summary: There are specific reasons Christ opened the door of opportunity for the church at Philadelphia. Christ also gives promises to churches, though they be of a little strength, who respond in faith by going through the door of opportunity.
THE FAITHFUL CHURCH
The church at Philadelphia was a church that was worthy of praise. Christ hands out their praise liberally. Jesus did not wait for their work to be perfect or for their character to be sinless before He commends them. For this faithful church with a little strength there is no criticism (as there wasn’t with Smyrna).
The church at Philadelphia was faithful to Christ and to the Word of God. Jesus therefore opens up for them a door of opportunity that they might reach a lost world. Christ’s delights in giving those churches He approves of an open door of opportunity to minister. May He also find us faithful to Him and His Word and open a door for us, and may we walk through it.
I. CHARACTERISTICS, 7.
A. Greeting, 7a.
B. Christ’s Title, 7b.
II. COMMENDATION, 8.
III. COVENANT, 9-11.
IV. CALL TO COMMITMENT, 12-13.
Verse 7 begins the address to yet another church. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
The town of Philadelphia was situated about 28 miles south-east of Sardis. It was the sixth town the postman would have reached on his circular route to the seven churches of the Apocalypse, or the book of unveiling. Like Sardis, it was in the region of Lydia in a dangerous volcanic area that suffered severe earthquakes. It was situated beside a river in a fertile agricultural area.
Philadelphia, whose name in Greek is brotherly love, was the newest city of the seven. It had been planted at a strategic location on the main route of the Imperial Post from Rome to the east. Located at the door of three major eastern regions, it was known as "The gateway to the East." The church was located in a place of tremendous missionary opportunity.
b. Christ’s Title, 7b.
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:
The church is greeted by the One who is Holy and True. Christ first reminds us that He is holy, or in other words, "set apart" from all that is evil. For the child of God, that’s good news. It means that His love for us will never be corrupted by a lack of integrity or goodness on His part. His care will never be canceled out by selfishness or laziness. Because our Heavenly Father is holy and completely separate from all moral imperfections and the binding limitations they bring, He is able to love us with a full and perfect love. Second, He wants us to see that He is true. He is absolutely genuine. He’s not like the gods of the world, who are only gods in the minds of their worshipers. Because He is true, there is never any discrepancy between what He says about Himself and what He actually is. He is the perfection of righteousness and the fulfillment of all prophecy. Christ is the author of truth in contrast to all that is error, false, or perverted. Jesus Christ stands alone as the One who is completely true and must be completely truthful.
The Messiah is the One who has the key of David. Jesus has the key to the kingdom from where all blessings flow. He has the key to grace. All who would find salvation must find it in Him. He has the key that will unlock all the bars and barriers to man’s heart. He has the key to health and healing. He has the key to providence and provision. All that happens is under His domanian. He, not Peter, has the key to heaven. Jesus has all authority on earth and in Heaven. What He opens, no one can shut and what He shuts, no one can open (Isa. 22:22).
II. The COMMENDATION, 8.
I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
As with all the other churches, Christ told them He knew their deeds. The entire panorama of the church’s witness was before Him and Jesus gives them words of commendation for their faithfulness. Though the good works are not further described, the church in Philadelphia abounded in authentic good works in the power of the Holy Spirit motivated by their love for Jesus.
Because of their faithful testimony and witness, Jesus places before them an open door. Most likely the door Christ opened for them was the same one He had earlier opened for Paul at Ephesus, a door of effective service (1 Cor. 16:9). The Lord of the Harvest was saying that if they would walk through the door of opportunity He was opening they would find the fields white unto harvest.