As we enter the book of Revelation, starting in Chapter 2 and ending in Chapter 3, God had John write 7 letters – one to each of the churches in Asia. There was commendation for 6 of the 7 churches. Only 2 of the 7 did not have rebuke (Philadelphia and Smyrna). As we’ve been reading over the last few days – 5 of the churches had rebuke, but they could also take action to once again get in right-standing with God. Ephesus had hard work and endurance, but had lost their first love – they were called to remember that first love and repent. Pergamum had remained loyal, but tolerated compromise – they were called to repent. Thyatira had Love, faith, service and endurance, but they tolerated compromise – they were called to repent. Sardis was effective, but had became superficial – they were called to wake up and repent. Laodicea had become lukewarm – they were called to be diligent and repent. Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only churches who were not rebuked and they were told to NOT FEAR – BE FAITHFUL – HOLD ON!
In Revelation Chapter 3: 7-13 we read the letter to the church in Philadelphia…
“Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open. I know all things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue – those liars who say they are Jews but are not – to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love. Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God – the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”
**Philadelphia was founded by the citizens of Pergamum. The community was built in a frontier area as a gateway to the central plateau of Asia Minor. Philadelphia’s residents kept barbarians out of the region and brought in Greek culture and language. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 17, and aftershocks kept the people so worried that most of them lived outside city limits.
The “key of David” represents Christ’s authority to open the door into his future Kingdom. After the door is opened, no one can close it – salvation is assured. After it is closed, no one can open it – judgement is certain.
Some believe that “I will protect you from the great time of testing” means there will be a future time of great tribulation from which true believers will be spared. Others interpret this to mean that the church will go through the time of tribulation and that God will keep them strong in the midst of it. Still others believe this refers to times of great distress in general, the church’s suffering through the ages. We cannot interpret from this verse when or how long Christians will experience the “great time of testing.” Today millions of Christians are suffering and dying at the hands of godless tyrant throughout the world. To them the time of testing has already begun. Whenever Christians suffer, Christ promises protection of their eternal souls.
Christians have differing gifts, abilities, experience, and maturity. God doesn’t expect us all to be and act the same, but he does expect us to “hold on” to what we have, to persevere in using our resources for him. The Philadelphians are commended for their effort to obey, and encouraged to hold tightly to whatever strength they have. You may be a new believer and feel that your faith and spiritual strength are little. Use what you have to live for Christ, and God will commend you.
The new Jerusalem is the future dwelling of the people of God. We will have a new citizenship in God’s future Kingdom. Everything will be new, pure and secure. **
As we think of the “key of David” I want to share what David told his son Solomon in 1 Chronicles 28:9-10 as he prepared to make him King… Remove the name Solomon and insert your name and dwell on this as you read it. Are you seeking God intimately with your whole heart?
“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The Lord has chosen you to build a sanctuary. Be strong, and do the work.”
** commentary between the ** is from the Life Application Study bible.