Summary: So finally we come to a church with a positive record. This church shows what Christ wants a church to be.
Have you ever seen a church that is alive and faithful to Christ? A church that focuses upon Jesus Christ? A church that makes Jesus Christ the center of its ministries and activities? A church that focuses upon reaching and growing people for Christ? A church that focuses upon teaching people to love Christ and to love one another more and more?
This was the church at Philadelphia. The word Philadelphia means brotherly love or one who loves his brother.
So finally we come to a church with a positive record. This church shows what Christ wants a church to be. Note there are no complaints or warnings against this church. READ verse 7.
The minister of this church must have been doing well. Christ expects the minister to keep the people faithful and focused on His mission.
To help explain the phrases “who holds the keys of David” and “What he opens no one can shut and what he shuts no one can open” here is fact about Philadelphia.
Philadelphia had a Jewish synagogue within its city limits. The Jews claimed to be the only followers of the true God. We will see this in verse 9. They claimed the keys of David, which was the right to open and to shut the door to God and His kingdom. The church knew what it was to trust and know Him who alone “is true and who holds the keys of David and opens and shuts the doors.”
Christ reminds them that He is the One who is true. He alone is the key of David. There is an event in the Old Testament that explains where this term “Key of David” comes from. Isaiah 22.
King Hezekiah had a faithful servant who was named Eliakim. This servant was the personal secretary to King Hezekiah. He was put in complete charge of the king’s affairs. No one could gain entrance into the king’s presence without coming through Eliakim. This servant alone determined who entered the king’s court. God spoke to Isaiah the prophet one day and said the following words from Is. 22:22, “I will place on Eliakim’s shoulders the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”
So the key of David is a symbol of authority. Christ is saying that he alone opens and shuts the door into God’s court and presence. This also is a statement that Jesus Christ alone holds the key to eternal life. READ verse 8.
Christ commends them that they are what a church should be. We must note that Christ says the church had only a little strength. This probably means they were a small church. Like was said last week, the size of the church is not what matters. It is that church’s focus on Christ.
Philadelphia was strategically located. It was on the imperial road of Rome. Multitudes of people passed through. How many of our churches are strategically located. Many.
Then why are so many of our churches not reaching out and winning the lost the Christ? This is our instruction to go house to house, witness to our fellow workers, our friends, our family, our neighbors, always looking for the opportunity to share Christ. This is what Philadelphia did.
READ verse 9-10. Here is the hope that is given to the church. We have already made mention of the synagogue of Satan. These Jews were claiming to be Jews but they were not, Jesus said. Let me give you something to think about.
What is a true Jew in the eyes of God? A true Jew is any person:
• Who believes in Jesus Christ.
• In God’s eyes it has nothing to do with racial descent. A true Jew is a person who is a Jew inwardly, who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ.
• Who walks in the steps of the faith of Abraham, who walks in a faith that is place in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Philadelphia, there were Jews who were persecuting believers. Jesus said they were not true Jews. The true Jews were given a twofold hope in verse 9 & 10.
1. Believers will be vindicated before all their persecutors. The scene will be glorious. All will be worshipping the Messiah, the Jews right along with the Gentiles.
2. Believers will experience a great deliverance. They will be delivered from the hour of trial that is coming upon the earth. This is a reference to the great distress or the great tribulation that is coming upon the earth in the end time.
Note that no believer needs to fear the trial. Jesus says that He will deliver the believer from all trials. READ verse 11.
Here is our counsel. Hold on. Jesus says time and again that He is returning to the earth. Here He says it will be soon. So the church must hold on to zeal for missionary work, hold on to the Word of Christ, and hold on to living for Christ and never rejecting Him.