Part 010 – Philadelphia

The Book of REVELATION

A Study

Part 010

To the church in Philadelphia …I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God… I will write on him My new name (Rev.3:7-13)

This message to the Church in Philadelphia as well as the succeeding message to the Church in Laodicea form continuations of two segments of Christendom referred to in the message to the preceding Church, the Church in Sardis. We have seen in detail about these two segments in the previous part (Part 009) of this study

1) The majority of them in Sardis had a name that they lived (v.1), but they were really dead. They continued to dominate the whole of Christendom from the days, represented by the preceding message to the Church in Thyatira, from the days of Constantine, and will terminate as shown in the message to the Church in Laodicea.

2) There were a “few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments (v.4).” This was that which would ultimately result within a small segment of Christendom. This began during the days of the Reformation/the days of Martin Luther, and will terminate as shown in the message to the Church in Philadelphia.

But, as evident from Scriptures such as Matt. 13:33 and Luke 18:8, along with the arrangement of the seven Churches in Revelation chapters two and three, that segment of Christendom represented by the Church in Philadelphia could only continue in a diminishing manner. This segment of Christendom could only progressively be engulfed by that segment of Christendom represented by the Church in Laodicea.

Brotherly love

Brotherly love — The full fruition of the work of the reformers and those who followed in their steps appears to be in view in the message to the Church in Philadelphia. Philadelphia means brotherly love; and this refers to the condition in which the church found itself in the nineteenth century. The first century church depicted by the Church at Ephesus began the downfall by losing its first love (Rev.2:4); later when the church was joined to the world (Pergamos), the door was opened for the corrupting doctrines of the Nicolaitans and Balaam which took the church to the depths of Satan (Thyatira). But the recovery/reformation began with a few names even in Sardis and is brought to a fulfillment in Philadelphia, where the corrupting doctrines of the Nicolaitans and Balaam are replaced by true love.

An open door & patient endurance

An open door & patient endurance — And this message to the Church at Philadelphia calls our attention to an open door set before those who exercise patient endurance while passing through trials and testings of this life (Rev.3:7, 8). These two things marked the activities of Christians during those days:

1) An open door — Worldwide missionary activity, paralleled only by the missionary activity of Christians during the first century of the Church’s existence. Missionary endeavor became an increasingly major activity of the Church in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, and during the nineteenth century, God raised up great missionary minded individuals who entered into the labors of the reformers and those following in their steps, taking advantage of open doors in countries worldwide

2) Patient endurance — This was the result of the restoration of the great truths surrounding Christ’s return, which were prominently heard in the first-century Church. There was a beginning of the restoration of prophetic truth during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; and during the nineteenth century, God raised up great prophetic students who built upon the work of their seventeenth and eighteenth-century predecessors. The revelation of truths surrounding the Return of Christ, His Judgment Seat and the ensuing Millennial Kingdom resulted in patient endurance on the part of the children of God. They rejoiced in their sufferings, knowing very well that, “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” (2Tim.2:12)

Those who say they are Jews and are not, but lie

Those who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — Certain Jews, seen earlier in (Rev.2:9), are also mentioned in this Epistle to Philadelphia as “those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie” (Rev.3:9). The Jews are the chosen people of God; and God had been dealing with them for nearly 2000 years. So, when the Lord Jesus appeared in their midst, they could have very easily identified Him and accepted Him as their king. But, due to hardness of heart and the evil influence of their religious leaders, they rejected Him. Today, among the saved individuals in the churches, there are some who patiently endure all sufferings and steadily press toward the goal of their calling, which will be attained at the time of His return. But there are others as well, who deny the promise of His coming and walk according to their own lusts (2Pet.1:9; 3:3, 4; Jude 18), whose end is destruction (Millennial), whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame — who set their minds on earthly things (Phil.3:19).

The Hour of Temptation

The Hour of Temptation —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” (Rev. 3:10). Many Bible students see “the hour of temptation” as a reference to the coming tribulation period. That is, they see this verse as a promise to all believers that they will be removed from the earth before the Tribulation begins. In turn, this also has led many Bible students to follow a selective rapture ideology.

Then a major problem exists; for a teaching of this nature would be in direct conflict with that which Scripture reveals concerning the rapture. There is an abundance of Scripture — in both the Old Testament and the New Testament — to show that the complete Church will be removed prior to the Tribulation. Scripture is quite clear from both the Old Testament types and the New Testament antitype that the rapture will be all-inclusive. All Christians will be removed at this time, not just those who have kept the word of His patience. The division between overcomers and non-overcomers will be made only when we all stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2Cor.5:10; Rom.14:10; Matt.25:10; Luke 19:15).

Revelation 3:10 really has nothing to do with either the rapture or the Tribulation.

The rapture is dealt with in Rev. 1:10; 4:1, 2a, and the Tribulation is dealt with in Rev. 6-19a. But Rev. 3:10, understood within context, can clearly be seen to deal with something else entirely. Revelation 3:10, within context, has to do with works emanating out of faithfulness (James 2:14-26), with a view to overcoming (Rev.3:8, 10a, 12). And the Christians in Philadelphia were promised that, because of their faithfulness, they would be kept out of a particular time of testing/trials.

Testings or trials

Testings or trials are seen in Scripture within two spheres. They are seen as something which God uses in connection with the maturing process, with a view to the person ultimately being approved at the judgment seat (James 1:2-4, 12); and they are also seen as something which Satan uses in his efforts to bring about defeat in a Christian’s life (Mark 14:38; James 1:13-15). The promise concerning deliverance in Rev. 3:10 would have to be understood within this overall frame of reference, in keeping with Christ’s statement to His disciples in Matt. 6:13 (see also 1Cor.10:13; Luke 21:34-36; 2Pet.2:9). “The hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world,” should also be understood in a contextual sense, referring only to the believers scattered throughout the world as in Col.1:5, 6, 23.

Behold, I am coming quickly

“Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” (Rev.3:11) The word “quickly,” refers to the suddenness or swiftness of our Lord’s coming at a completely unexpected time for many; though there will be a few who will be watching and waiting, patiently enduring trials and testings. The warnings to all believers concerning the sudden/swift and unexpected nature of the Lord’s return have been given in unequivocal terms in a numerous places in Scripture (Matt.24:45-51; 25:10-13; 24-30; Luke 12:42-46; 13:24-30; 19:20-26). At that time all of us will be suddenly removed from the earth and will appear before the judgment seat of Christ in the heavens. And it is at this judgment that all decisions and determinations concerning the presently proffered crowns will be made. The main thrust of the matter has to do with our present manner of living (patient endurance) in view of the sudden, unexpected nature of the Lord’s return (Behold, I come quickly [suddenly, swiftly]) and that which will be brought to light following His return (that no man take thy crown).

Overcomers

Overcomers — Those who patiently endure during the present time will be shown (through the issues of the judgment seat) to have overcome, they will receive crowns, and they will occupy positions as co-heirs with Christ in His kingdom. There were two massive brass pillars in the temple built by Solomon. Solomon named one of these pillars “Jachin,” meaning establish; and he named the other pillar “Boaz,” meaning strength (I Kings 7:13-21). The promise to the overcomers that they would “go no more out” refers to their fixed position as pillars in the temple, saying that these overcomers will occupy sure, secure, firmly established positions of strength and power. And positions of this nature, in complete accordance with Rev. 3:12 & Rev.2:26, 27, will be realized when they rule and reign as co-heirs with Christ in the kingdom. At that time these overcomers will be intimately identified, after the fashion revealed in Rev. 3:12, with God the Father, God the Son, and the New Jerusalem.