“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.” (Revelation 3:7-13).
Philadelphia means “brotherly love” and was a city of Lydia in Asia Minor, about 25 miles southeast of Sardis. It was the seat of one of the “seven churches” (See Revelation 3:7-12). It came into the Turks possession in A.D. 1392. It has, several times, been nearly destroyed by earthquakes. It is still a town of considerable size, called Allahshehr, “the city of God” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
Jesus presents Himself as the One who is “holy” and “true” and has “the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth…” (v.7). We have already witnessed the immorality and false doctrine that will plague the faithful remnant in the Day of the Lord. Jesus is the Holy One and the only true One. He is also the offspring of King David. The “key” is a symbol of regal power. This verse speaks of His absolute right to the throne of David.
The messages to the churches must not be isolated or interpreted independently of each other. Each one must be understood in the context of all the others. All of them were experiencing, to some degree, the same persecution, the same immorality, and the same false doctrines.
At the zenith of King David’s reign, he conquered and ruled wherever he desired. “And David reigned over all Israel; and David executed judgment and justice unto all his people” (2 Samuel 8:15). The nation was not divided or scattered under David’s rule. When Jesus returns, He will rule all Israel with a rod of iron (see Psalm 2). Before the thousand years is over, He will rule the whole earth. Those who are worthy, by availing themselves of God’s grace and Christ’s example, will rule and reign with Him for a thousand years.
This, no doubt, is what Jesus had in mind in His parable of the good shepherd when he said, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).Jesus is the “door” or entrance into the kingdom. When Israel repents, at the Second Advent, Satan will be bound a thousand years. Jesus Christ and His remnant will rule with a rod of iron. War will cease and the false prophets and teachers will be exposed and removed from the land. That “open door” was a door of hope. Like King David’s subjects, they will participate in the expansion of Christ’s Kingdom and sit at His table.
All the churches were facing the same opposition and the same Devil (v.9). The reader should compare chapter 2:9 with this verse. Those false Jews, who were following Satan and doing his bidding will be exposed and be forced to come and bow before those who are worthy and made kings and priests. The false leaders will see that they have been the persecutors and murderers of Christ’s true followers.
Stephen said it best of the Jewish leaders, “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:” (Acts 7:52). Their response to him was to bash out his brains. In the Day of the Lord, they will not have that opportunity at Christ’s return. Rather, they will be forced to acknowledge they were fighting against their own Messiah!
In verse 10 the Lord is not promising the remnant they will not go through the Day of the Lord. He is assuring them of His presence and protecting power in the midst of that hour. We have alluded to the parable of the vine. The churches are also assured that they are in His hand, and if they will abide in Him, they will be secure and will overcome.
There would be no need to admonish them to “hold fast” and “overcome” if they could not fall and be removed. They, like the rest, must “hold that fast” and watch that “no man take thy crown” (v.11).
The crown speaks of a dominion that will be granted to the overcomers; they will be a pillar in God’s temple (v. 12). A “pillar” was a word used of Jews who were teachers of the law and persons of great importance and achievement. “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel” (Exodus 24:4). “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision”(Galatians 2:9).
The seven churches are located in Asia because the believing Jews were driven from Jerusalem, from their synagogues, and from their temple. Even in the Day of the Lord, Jerusalem and the temple will be given to the Gentiles. “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Revelation 11:2). This does not mean that there will be no Jews in Israel or Jerusalem. However, many who confess Jesus as Messiah will be persecuted and forced to flee the country.
The writer of Hebrews said, “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come” (Hebrews 13:13-14). The reader should note that Revelation is written to the Hebrews. When the kingdom is established, Christ will build a new temple. These faithful priests will have full access to it and will never be driven from it again.
Those who overcome and remain faithful during the Day of the Lord will not only have access to the Millennial temple, but will also have access to the New Jerusalem which comes down from heaven. This is the city looked for by the Old Testament faithful. “For he (Abraham) looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). “And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14).
We are not told what the new name will be. Although the name and mark of the beast seems to be literal, God’s new name need not be literally written on their bodies. This statement may be simply a statement of God’s approval on them.
The Lord’s new name may be similar to that which was written on the miter, which the priest wore. “And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD” (Exodus 28:36). The full meaning will be evident to those to whom it was written.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.