Philadelphia – Revelation 3:7-13

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These things says the Holy One, the true One having the key of David, opening and no one will shut, and shutting and no one opens, “I know your deeds. Behold I have set before you a door having been opened, which no one is able to shut it. Because you have little power, and you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold I give those of the synagogue of Satan, those declaring themselves to be Jews but lie. Behold I will cause them that they will come and will worship before your feet, and they shall know that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I also will keep you out of the hour of the trial being about to come upon the whole inhabited world, to try those dwelling upon the earth. I am coming quickly. Hold fast what you have, so that no one might take your crown. The one overcoming, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and no he shall not go out anymore, and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of my God’s city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from my God, and my new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

For the title “the Holy One”, see Habakkuk 3:3, Isaiah 40:25, Proverbs 9:10, and Acts 3:14. As for “the True One”, this word is never used in relation to God in the Old Testament. However, His faithfulness is. Truth in John’s gospel means ‘genuine’ as opposed to a lie. In this sense, ‘Holy and True’ seem to suggest beyond categories and without deception, as contrasted with Satan, “the father of lies”. Compare Revelation 12:9-10, 13:6, 11, 14.

The ‘key of David’ is found in only one other place in Scripture: Isaiah 22:22. We find in verse 8 that Christ as placed a door open before Philadelphia. This is Christ’s authority as the “Root of Jesse”. In Isaiah 22, Shebna has taken to himself authority that it appears God did not grant. Likewise, the ‘synagogue of Satan’ sits and persecutes the believers of Philadelphia. But, God raises Eliakim and places the key of David upon his shoulder. Here in Revelation, Christ being defined as the offspring of David, and the one who holds the “key of David”, goes back to the promise given in Isaiah 9:6. Note that the key is placed “upon the shoulder”. In Isaiah 9:6 we read of the government being placed upon his shoulder. The key is the Kingdom. Matthew 16:19 would also seem to speak to this key being “the keys to the Kingdom”, which therefore makes the “door” symbolic of the entrance to the Kingdom. Looking ahead to Revelation 4:1, we see an open door in heaven that leads directly into the throne room of God. This may explain why the ‘Jews’ will fall at the Church’s feet (verse 9). These are a people ushered into the throne to rule with Christ. This open heaven will protect them from any kind of attack during the Tribulaiton (verse 10). To overcome is simply to endure (verses 11-12), which establishes this Church as a pillar in the Temple – possibly another symbol for the throne room.

In relation to this “open door”, see 1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12, Colossians 4:3, and Acts 14:27. Interestingly, we see the door being a means of witnessing: an open door to the Kingdom for all who may come. Also see John 10:7, 9. I would interject that these three things (throne room, missions, and Jesus) are all explaining the same symbol in various manner. To be beckoned into the throne room is to be given an open door to witnessing, which is to have an open door for any and all who would come into the Kingdom. We see the three interconnected here, that Jesus is the door (the way the truth and the life?), the door is open unto all who shall come, and in coming, we are beckoned directly into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:19-22).

In verse 9, where the ‘Jews’ will worship at Philadelphia’s feet (for explanation of the synagogue of Satan, see this blog where I explain it), the language is almost exclusively from Isaiah 60:14 where the Gentiles are described as submitting to Israel. Also see Isaiah 45:14.

Εγω ηγαπησα σε (I have loved you) comes from Isaiah 43:4.

The promise of being kept from the hour of trial seems to be more in line with what the sealing of the 144,000 represents than a rapture. One thing I would point out is that according to the pre-trib rapture theory, it is Laodicea that gets raptured, and not Philadelphia. This promise simply can’t refer to that in any means, especially when we continue reading and Jesus tells them to continue in endurance and that they are to overcome. What is there to endure or overcome if they are taken out? Rather, this is a promise to those who will be in the midst of the Tribulation, and yet will not face the persecution from Satan and his Antichrist (see Revelation 13:7 for example). Also compare John 17:6, 11-12.

The time of testing is coming upon those who live upon the earth. Compare this with Revelation 12:12, 13:6, and Ephesians 2:6. They who are in heaven are not spiritual beings alone, but anyone and everyone who is in Christ. The polarization of these two terms refer to those who are in Christ (therefore seated with Him in heaven) and those who are not regenerate (and therefore living upon the earth, and by all of the worldly principles).

‘The word of the patient endurance’ – see 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

Ερχομαι ταχυ (I am coming quickly) presupposes the Second Advent, and thus the Church will remain until that time.

‘Take you crown’ seems to parallel Smyrna (2:10), the only other church that wasn’t rebuked. Compare James 1:12 and 1 Peter 5:4.

The pillar is used as symbolic expression elsewhere: 1 Timothy 3:15, Jeremiah 1:18, and Galatians 2:9. Also see 1 Kings 7:21 (are Jakim and Boaz people?). In Revelation 21:22, there is no temple in the New Earth. Two thoughts: this could be metaphoric (1 Peter 2:5), or this refers to the Millennium and not the New Earth. Εξω ου μη εξελθη ετι (out no not shall he go anymore) may be reflecting back to Isaiah 22:25 to assure the reader they will not be taken way as a pillar.

For the new names, see Isaiah 62:2 and Hebrews 1:4 as examples. Also see Revelation 19:12. There is also a hint of this promise in Isaiah 56:4-5.

To back up and examine the passage as a whole, we see that Jesus begins by calling Himself Holy and True, who holds the key of David. Then, we see by the character of Philadelphia, that the people who are being addressed are also “holy and true (faithful)”. The key of David is directly linked to the open door, and the open door is directly linked to the keeping from the hour of trial. The open door is the entrance into the eternal presence of God, entering behind the veil and into the Holy of Holies. Once through that veil, these blessed saints – only one Church out of seven – will be guaranteed preservation unto the end. It is whilst in the presence of the throne room that they will be given the name of the Father, and be given the name of the New Jerusalem, and be given the new name of Christ Jesus. This is the making of pillars – the foundation of truth to then pour out to the rest of the world while ruling and reigning with Him.

Again, realize that this is only one Church in seven. This isn’t the promise to every believer. Why is it that Smyrna was also found blameless, and yet would be locked up and persecuted for ten days? Only God knows. What is to be taken from Philadelphia is the awe of being brought into God’s eternal presence. Everything is based and surrounded in God’s glory. The whole of the message to them from beginning to end is about the communion of the saints with Him eternally. This is a costly thing to aquire, and it isn’t for everyone. But for they who have the open door, who are being called up the mountain with Him, do not ever neglect so great a call. They whose branches go up must have roots that go down. To go up the mountain is to dig deeply into the ground, for it is in the deepest depths of the earth that we find the gold, silver, diamonds, and other precious stones. It takes much endurance, and indeed this spiritual endurance is much more difficult than the endurance to not deny Christ’s name, but it is worth it every time.

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