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Part 9 - PHILADELPHIA


 

Rev 3:7 "To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.
Rev 3:8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Rev 3:9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Rev 3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
Rev 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
Rev 3:12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
Rev 3:13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Philadelphia means "Brotherly Love". This city was built by Attillus who built it in memory of his brother. It was the gateway to the Exotic East as far as the West was concerned. Attilus built it to spread his religion to all the world. Thus Philadelphia was built as a missionary city for the Pagan religion. Its major exports were Wine and the religion of the wine god Dionysius. We could write under major exports column: Spirit and spirit. Down the main streets of the city were a series of pillars with the names of eminent citizens along with the name of Emperor who honored them. It was common practice for the city as a form of citation for the citizens who contributed to the society. It is this practice that is referred to in verse 11. The city itself was in the volcanic zone and always under constant threat of destruction. Its soil was black soil, which was ideal for growing grapes - a contribution of the volcanic mountains. Incessantly the walls of the houses are cracked, different parts of the city being thus affected at different times. For this reason few people live in the city, and most of them spend their lives as farmers in the country. The city was very wealthy and excavations indicates that the houses in the city had running hot and cold water. The hot water was piped from hot water springs which abounded in the volcanic mountain area. It is believed that Christians came in this area in a humanitarian mission to help the victims of volcanic destruction and won the city. Recent excavations have uncovered a small Byzantine church, an acropolis, a synagogue and long stetches of Royal Road with large columns on either side. Famous residents of the area include King Midas and Aesop.

who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

The Key of David mentioned hear is a direct reference to Isaiah’s prophecy:

Isa 22:20 "In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah.
Isa 22:21 I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.

Isa 22:22 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.

That is a reference to an incident recorded in the 22nd chapter of the prophecy of Isaiah. In the days of Hezekiah the king there was a courtier whose name was Shebna. He had been caught in a personal scam and as a result God says "I will take him and whirl him around and around , and hurl him into a far country." It was a prediction that he would be sent into Babylon. He would be replaced by a man named Eliakim, of whom God said, "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." Eliakim was one of Jesus’ ancestors. Eliakim is otherwise not referred to in any other historical context. Evidently this refers to Jesus’ role in the salvation. Jesus is the door. As the Son of David he holds the keys for mankind.

This key is Philadelphia - Brotherly love. It led Jesus to the Cross. "There is no greater love than this - that a man lays down his life for his brethren." What then is this Key. It can be none other than the blood of Calvary. There is no other way. There is no other door.

Acts 4:12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

John 10:7 Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.

John 10:9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.

In contrast to this we have the statement in revelation:

Never again will he leave it.

This has been interpreted by reincarnationalists as a proof of reincarnation. In a sense all Christians believe in reincarnation. At the second coming of Jesus all men will be "reincarnated" or resurrected to enter into fellowship with God or to be away from God. It is this privilege of being with Jesus eternally is referred to here by never leaving it. Those who lived unrighteously, and those who willfully rejected the offer of salvation through Jesus, who refused to walk through the door into the new life, will they ever have another opportunity to salvation? Bible never deals with that problem and we will never be able to answer that problem. The reason is simply that the Bible is written for mankind in history. It does not even describe heaven. It only indicates in terms of impossible human terms. It does not describe hell. It only indicates in terms of impossible human terms. Bible consistently refused to describe anything beyond human history. It is simply beyond the scope of revelation and beyond the scope of human understanding. And I believe that was intentional.

It refers back into the condition of Philadelphia city where people lived mostly outside the city for fear of earthquakes. Now Jesus says they will never leave the city for fear. This city is founded on solid ground and cannot be shaken. This is the ultimate refuge.

Jesus says that he ‘shuts and no one opens". The door to salvation is now open. This is the Key of David that has opened this doorway. But it will be soon shut. Dispensationally at the close of this Church age, the door will be shut and no one will be able to enter in through the door of grace. Period of Grace is going to be shut.

Mat 25:10 "But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
Mat 25:11 "Later the others also came. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'
Mat 25:12 "But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'

Mat 25:13 "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Jesus will come for his bride - the waiting church and then the door will be shut.

This reference to the closing of the door is one strong argument for the pretribulation rapture of the church which will take place at the close of the Philapdephian Church Age. This is supported strongly by the verses that follows it.

Rev 3:9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.

The excavations I have mentioned earlier indicates a synagogue and a church in close proximity. Christians were considered as a cult and heresy within the Jewish religion. Jews had a special status within the Roman Empire where they were exempt from worshipping the Idol of Caesar. Now they had a rival in Christian faith. Christians consistently refused to pay homage to the idols. This has led to a lot a betrayal and rivalry between the two faiths. It was not uncommon for Jews to betray their fellow Jews in Christ as a heretic who were then led to the lions and coliseums as sport objects. It is this Jesus referring to in this passage. Jesus gives the Church the authority and status to sit with him on the throne at the White Throne where Jewish will acknowledge that the Church is the bride of the Christ.

Rev 3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

This is a clear reference to fact that those who are victorious in the Philadelphia Church Era will be kept from the trial - the great tribulation- that is going to come upon the whole world. This verse then indicates that the rapture of the church is place between the Philadelphian and Laodecian Church Era. The sequence of the thought patter is evidently of Jesus’ second coming and of the rapture which is preceded by the great tribulation. Soon after that comes the Great White Throne where the Church Raptured and made perfect shares in the glory of Jesus.

Rev 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

Notice the reference to the crown which necessarily refers to the position of Church raptured.

Rev 3:8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.

The open door

Matthew 7:7-8, Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks will receive, and anyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to one who knocks.

Luke 11: 5-10, And Jesus said to his disciples, "Suppose one of you should go to a friend's house at midnight and say, 'Friend, let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine who is on a trip has just come to my house, and I don't have food to share!' And suppose your friend should answer from inside, 'Don't bother me! The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up and give you anything.' Well, what then? I tell you that even if your friend will not get up and give you bread because you are a friend, yet your friend will get up and give you everything you need because you are not ashamed to keep on asking. And so I say to you: Ask, and you will receive; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who seeks will find, and the door will be opened to anyone who knocks."

Revelation 4:1 At this point I had another vision and saw an open door in heaven. [proceeds to tell vision of heavenly thrones and creatures worshipping God.]

John 10:7-8, "So Jesus said again, "I am telling you the truth; I am the gate for the sheep. All others who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever comes in by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture."

Luke 13:22-30 Jesus went through towns and villages, teaching the people and making his way toward Jerusalem. Someone asked him. "Sir, will just a few people be saved?" Jesus answered them, "Do your best to go in through the narrow door; because many people will surely try to in but will not be able. The owner of the house will get up and close the door; then when you stand outside and begin to knock on the door and say, 'Open the door for us!' you will be answered, 'I don't know where you come from!' Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you; you taught in our town!' But the owner will say again, 'I don't know where you come from. Get away from me, all you wicked people!' How you will cry and gnash your teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the Reign of God, while you are thrown out! People will come from the east and the west, from the north and the south and sit down at the feast in the Reign of God. Then those who are now last will be first, and those who are now first will be last."

Matthew 23:13-14 "How terrible for you, teachers of the Law and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You lock the door to the Realm of heaven in people's faces, but you yourselves don't go in, nor do you allow in those who are trying to enter!"

Acts 12:12-16 Aware of his situation [Peter has been rescued from prison by an angel of God], he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outside door, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer it. She recognized Peter's voice and was so happy that she ran back in without opening the door, and announced that Peter was standing outside. "You are crazy!" they told her. But she insisted that it was true. So they answered, "It is his angel." Meanwhile Peter kept on knocking. At last they opened the door, and when they saw him, they were amazed.

John 20:19-26 It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. "Peace be with you," he said. After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord... [Jesus breathes the Holy Spirit on them. Thomas is not there and doubts.] A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you."

Philadelphia being at the cross roads of east and west was an opportunity of witnessing through their contacts and hospitality to many who passed that way. An open house of love for those who pass by is a sure way of expressing your love and hence convincing way of Christian expression and evangelization. Jesus within their hearts, each believer becomes a door - a means of salvation for others. These doors will be taken away once the rapture has taken place.

Dispensationally this modern era has found tremendous missionary movements which is the necessary condition for the end of the ages. All men may have a fair opportunity to hear the word so that when judging he may be fair. Mission fields are getting opened in unreachable areas. But time is close when it will be shut and a new period of dispensation will usher in.

From phileo, to love and adelphos, brother.

1 Peter 1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, (philadelphia) fervently love one another from the heart,

2 Peter 1:5-7 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge; and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness; and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, (philadelphia) and in your brotherly kindness, love.

Romans 12:10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; (philadelphia) give preference to one another in honor;

1 Thessalonians 4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, (philadelphia) you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;

Hebrews 13:1 Let the love of the brethren (philadelphia) continue.

John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

Contrast this with another love Philarguria - the love of silver . ( phileo= to love ; arguros= silver)  While Philadelphia brings heaven down to earth Philarguria brings hell.

1 Timothy 6:5-10 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. And if we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

1 Tim 6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Now he tells the church, beginning in verse 8, how he will use this power to open and shut. All missionary activities are directed by Jesus himself through the Holy Spirit. We have several examples of these in the Acts of Apostles.

On his second missionary journey he tried to go into the province of Asia to preach the gospel but was forbidden by the Holy Spirit; it was a shut door. Then he tried to go into Bithynia, on the southern shore of the Black Sea, but was not allowed to go in - another shut door. But when he came to Troas he had a vision of a man from Macedonia, and he learned that the Lord had opened a door for him into Europe. .

Three Names

I will write on him the name of my God

and

the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God;

and

I will also write on him my new name.

This again refers to the Pillars that are found in the Philadelphian High ways where the emperor honored the citizens for their great services. On it were written the Emperors name in large letters, then the name of the city and then the name of the citizen who is honored. Often he is given a new title. Christians of course where a group with very little power. But comforts them by saying that his honoring will be far more greater than those writings on the pillars. You will become a pillar which will eternally standing. When a person is born again he becomes a new creation and Jesus gives him a new name.