Any congregations of the Lord's church today could fit these letters to the seven churches of Asia. Every congregation has it's strong points and it's weaknesses.
Most of these letters follow a similar pattern.
- An address to the particular congregation
- Jesus describing himself in different ways
- A commendations of their good points
- A rebuke of their weaknesses,errors
- A call to repentance
- A promise
The letter to the congregation at Philadelphia differs a bit. This letter, like the letter to Smyrna doesn't have any rebuke.
I'd like to look at the members of this congregation as well as the message.
He writes this letter to the angel at the church in Philadelphia, but we'll see that it is to the congregation.
- Revelation 1:12-17
Chapter 1:20 Makes it clear who he is writing to, that the seven stars are the angels of the churches, and the golden candlesticks are the seven churches. The angel mentioned in chapter one indicate that the stars, being in his right hand, having authority in the congregation. Thus, I think he is speaking to the elders of the congregation, who having authority over the congregation, and the term angel, refers to a messenger. The elders were to carry this message to the church.
He that hath an ear to hear what the spirit says to the churches.
The Recipient and Author of the Letter to the Church at Philadelphia
The recipient of the letter, therefore, is the churches. Revelation 1:19 - John is writing what he has seen, but he is not the author. Jesus, of course, is the author of this message.
We live in a world that is sinful, the brethren at that time did as well.
Jesus is the king over His kingdom, the head of the church. And he says that he is holy, and every word that he speaks is truth. He has the key of David.
Isaiah 22:20-22 A man by the name of Eliakim. Eliakim replaced a man named Shebna who was a self-serving politician. Eliakim was to replace Shebna and this quote was that he, Eliakim would be given the key to the kingdom of David. He was given authority.
Jesus has been given the key of David. He has been given all authority. He is able to open and no man can shut, and shut and no man can open. He has been given authority. Those who submit to his authority will be rewarded and those who do not will be punished.
The Commendation to the Church at Philadelphia
He knew the works of the congregation. He says they had little strength. Some have suggested that it was a small congregation and others that it was a poor congregation. God is able to use that which is small to do great things.
Gideon - with only 300 men were able to defeat the Midianites.
Even if they were a small congregation, Jesus had set before them an open door that no one could shut.
They had kept his word, and did not denied his name. When we look at small congregations we know they can do great works in the name of God.
When we do not do the things he commands us to do, we are denying his word. There have been those in a desire for numerical growth have not kept his word, and have denied his name.
People still need to hear the word of God. It is only his word that lead us to eternal life. There are many congregations who have not continued to preach the word of God because they are afraid that people don't want to hear it. They've stopped preaching against those things that have the appearance of evil.
We must keep his word and not deny his name.
He has set before them an open door.
It was a door of opportunity, Perhaps, it was a door of evangelism, like Paul asked for in [Ephesians 6:19] pray that a door of utterance would be opened for him.
Historically, Philadelphia was build in a way that the Greek way of thinking could spread out. It was still the same city, and rather than Greek thinking, the Gospel could spread out from that location with a door of evangelism.
It isn't up to us to say whether or not evangelism is going to work. He said, "go ye therefore." Our job is to go forth, spread the gospel. It's not to judge whether or not people want to hear it.
Our country needs to hear the word of God. We need to spread forth the gospel of Christ.
We need to keep our eye open to any opportunity that may be opened unto us. We cannot grow weary of doing good.
His Promises to the Church at Philadelphia
They have kept the word of his patience.
He knows that there are those who oppose them. He is going to hold their enemies accountable. He refers to those who claim to be Jews and are not as the Synagogue of Satan. They must have been saying that they were God's people, but they were liars. He would show them whom he loved, which was the church of Philadelphia.
There are those who oppose the word of God. There are proofs that prove what God says in the Bible is true.
- Archaeologist have proven that the land of Ur existed.
- Archaeology has proven that the land of the Hittites existed.
- Scientists have attempted to recreate a man from a jaw-bone or a tooth, but only to discover that the bone wasn't man, but an ape or a pig.
They desperately want to believe that there is no God. They are opposed to Christianity. But they will face the truth one day. Just as those who opposed the church at Philadelphia
He would keep them from a temptation that will come upon the whole world, Revelation 3:10.
If we will use his word to strengthen, comfort, us, in the day of temptation, he will strengthen us.
- Matthew 10:34
- Philippians 4:6
- 1 Peter 4:3,4
There will be those who oppose us, but if we hold fast to the word of God he will strengthen us in the day of temptation.
An Exhortation to the Church of Philadelphia
Hold fast. While there was no rebuke of this congregation their is an exhortation.
Our adversary, the devil, is seeking whom he may devour.
If the Lord was to write to this congregation, would there be nothing he would find to rebuke this congregation? Even if that were the case, we can't let our guard down.
He exhorts the church in Philadelphia to hold fast to what they have.
Him that overcometh he would write upon them
He told them he would write upon those who overcomes a new name.