Chapter 3 – Letter to Philadelphia

Jesus Addresses Philadelphia

john writes the future
This message to the “faithful” church at Philadelphia contains no rebuke or suggestion of judgment. For they had not turned their back to the Word of God, nor denied the Deity of Jesus Christ. It’s to this persevering church Jesus alludes to the Rapture.

v.7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens:”

In stark contrast to those in Sardis, whom Jesus had nothing good to say, to these in Philadelphia there are no suggestions of judgment; no stern reminders of His authority to regulate the church; no laments; and no hint that His examination of the congregation had found them wanting. On the contrary, Jesus has only praise, and thus presents Himself more personally with name-titles that reveal the sacred truth of Him.

“These things says He who is holy, He who is true…” Here, Jesus shows the Oneness He has with Jehovah God as the One God of the Old and New Testaments (see—Lev.11:44; John 17:3). He is “holy”, separate from evil, perfectly hating it. And He is “true”, as distinguished from false gods, the perfect realization of all that is true.

“…He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.” (See Isa.22:22; 9:6,7). Here, Jesus shows Himself as God the Son, upon whom God the Father has placed supreme power and authority over all things, for it rests with Christ to open and shut heaven and hell; determining who is, and who is not to be admitted. He alone shuts what no man can open, and opens what no man can shut. His determinations stand fast, and none can reverse them. He is the King of Kings, the Mighty God, and the Everlasting Father, upon whose shoulder the government shall rest without end.

v.8-9 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie– indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.”

Philadelphia had “a little strength”, which probably means that they were a small congregation. Perhaps they were comprised of low-income families, with little political authority or influence, thus requiring them to muster all the spiritual stamina they could to survive. There were no powerful evangelistic outreaches adding numbers to their church; no mighty prayer groups toppling evil governments or satanic strongholds; and no loud voices influencing the community around them with the gospel.

Seemingly, they were just enduring.