The sixth letter is to the church at Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. It got its name as a tribute from King Eumenes II who named it for his brother, Attalus, his successor.
Revelation 3:7–13 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
The Lord addresses this church as the Holy Mighty One in complete control, an important truth for this church that is pictured as very weak and struggling just to maintain its existence. I think He is assuring this church that though weak in strength as to what they are able to do, their strong faith ensures that there is no power that can deprive them of His protection and provision.
There are many false teachers today who teach that God wants everyone to be wealthy, healthy and strong. Throughout scripture we learn that men and women of faith often face great trials and suffering. It is a very powerful witness to the lost world around us when our actions show tenacity of faith and exhibit peace of spirit due to the grace and faithfulness of Almighty God through the ministry of His Holy Spirit during the bad times.
It seems that these believers were suffering persecution from those pretending to be followers of God, but who were really followers of Satan. Jesus assures the believers in Philadelphia that they will eventually get to witness the humbling of those that have persecuted them when they are made to bow the knee before Jesus.
Revelation 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
Isaiah 45:23 “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.”
Romans 14:11 “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.”
Because the believers in Philadelphia have held fast to and guarded the truth of the words of Jesus with steadfastness and cheerful endurance, Jesus will keep them from (“ek”—out of) the hour of temptation (putting to proof) which shall (future tense from John’s perspective) come upon ALL the world, to try (put to the test) them that dwell on earth. Obviously, this time of testing will be appointed for a specific time, of specific duration, to a specific generation.
Many refuse to accept that this affirms the teaching of the rapture on the grounds that there is no reason this generation of believers should escape the coming hard times any more than any other generation. Henry Morris made a good point. “The fact is, however, that Christians in every other generation have escaped the great tribulation, so there is no reason why the last should be singled out for participation in it.”
When Jesus returns, it will be quickly (suddenly). He is encouraging the believers to hold on to their faith and not let any man deprive them of their crown. This is not a reference to losing your salvation—just your reward. Those who overcome will be “a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out.” I think this is indicative of the position of security the believer has for eternity in the presence of God.
The overcomer will also be publicly identified as belonging to God by being stamped/marked with “the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem.” He will also be proudly identified with a stamp of the new name of Jesus—probably a name that we will only be able to appreciate in our glorified state.
This church, along with Smyrna, was given no words of rebuke.
As with each one of the seven letters, the principles addressed are applicable to every body of believers.
(to be continued…)