Letter to Philadelphia
Continuing from Sardis southeast about 30 miles you will arrive in Philadelphia ( Map A )*. Philadelphia “is today a rather prosperous little Turkish town, known today as Alasehir. “It is located in a very beautiful valley that is inland a great distance, about 125-150 miles from the coast.”
*Map used by permission from Free Bible Images.
The area has many earthquakes. “The city got its name because of the love that Attalus II had for his brother Eumenes who was king of Pergamum. Attalus had a great love and loyalty for this brother, and because of that it is called ‘the city of brotherly love.”’ “This the one church besides Smyrna for which our Lord had no word of condemnation. Why? Because it had turned to the Word of God.” (McGee, Thru the Bible: Volume V. [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983], 916)
This is a Bible Study. Have your own Bible handy to look up the references mentioned.
If you do not have a Bible, I invite you to go to BibleGateway.com or another online Bible.
7. Angel of the church in Philadelphia
Characteristic (Easley, Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. [Nashville: B&H, 1998], 56)
Each church as an angel – the pastor or other spiritual leader. (Easley, 54)
He that is holy,
God is Holy.
There are several verses in the Old Testament describing God as the Holy One.
Job 6:10 Psalm 71:22 Isaiah 43:15
“The title ‘Holy One’ is used in the New Testament as a messianic title for the Lord Jesus Christ.” (MacArthur, New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. [Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999], 118)
Who is true
The Greek word used here means genuine, authentic, and real.
Jesus is all of these. Revelation 6:10
He that hath the key of David
He that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; Isaiah 22:22
David is in the lineage of the Messiah.
Having a key means control. It constitutes authority.
“As the holder of the key of David, Jesus alone has the sovereign authority to determine who enters His messianic kingdom.” (MacArthur, 19) John 10:9 John 14:6 Acts 4:12 Revelation 1:18
Who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens
I act and who can reverse it? Isaiah 43:13 (NASB1995)
Jesus has the key and what He says and does cannot be repealed.
He found nothing to condemn the church in Philadelphia.
What about your church.
Deeds of the Church at Philadelphia
Compliment (Easley, 56)
8. (verses 8-11a are included below)
Jesus knew their deeds and had no criticism of the church.
Jesus commended “the Christians at Philadelphia for four realities that characterized the congregation.” (MacArthur, 121)
- They had a little power. (NASB1995)
- “Little strength” (NIV)
- “Little flock” (NIV)
- 2 Corinthians 12:10
- “The gospel of Jesus Christ was being proclaimed.” (MacArthur, 122)
- “Kept Christ’s word” (MacArthur, 122)
- Job 23:12
- They did not deny His name (MacArthur, 122)
- Because its members had kept the word of His perseverance.
- “You have kept my command to endure patiently.” (NIV)
- “They persevered faithfully through all of their trials and difficulties.” (MacArthur, 122)
Hebrews 12:2-4 2 Thessalonians 3:5 Matthew 10:22
Promises of Jesus to Philadelphia
- He put before them an open door which no one can shut.
- Salvation secure
- Entrance into the blessing of salvation by grace
- Into Christ’s future messianic kingdom was guaranteed. (MacArthur, 122)
- Jesus gave them opportunities for service.
- We have the freedom to proclaim the gospel
- 1 Corinthians 16:8-9 2 Corinthians 2:12 Colossians 4:2-3
- Do you ask Jesus for opportunities to serve, to tell others about Him?
- Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan.
- Christians faced hostility from unbelievers (sound familiar?)
- Unbelieving Jews had become a synagogue of Satan.
- Romans 2:28-29 Romans 9:6-9
- Those persecuting Christians
- Would come and bow down at their feet, and know that God had loved them.
- Bowing at someone’s feet depicts abject, total defeat and submission. (MacArthur, 123)
- Isaiah 45:14 49:23 60:14
- Some of the Jews who were persecuting them would accept the salvation Jesus offers.
- Zechariah 12:10
10. 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.
Because the believers in Philadelphia had successfully passed so many tests, Jesus promised to spare them from the ultimate test. The sweeping nature of that promise extends far beyond the Philadelphia congregation to encompass all faithful churches throughout history. This verse promises that the church will be delivered from the Tribulation, thus supporting a pretribulation Rapture. The Rapture is the subject of three passages in the New Testament (John 14:1-4; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17), none of which speak of judgement, but rather of the church being taken up to heaven. (MacArthur, 124)
Three views of the Rapture in relation to the Tribulation coming:
- End of the Tribulation (posttribulationism)
- Middle of the Tribulation (midtribulationism)
- Rapture takes place before the Tribulation (pretribulationism)
- This one seems to be supported by this text. (MacArthur,124)
Several aspects to consider: The Test is:
- In the future.
- A definite limited time: Jesus described it as the hour of testing.
- A test or trial that will expose people for what they really are.
- It is worldwide: come upon the whole world.
- The purpose is to test those who dwell on the earth.
- Unbelievers (MacArthur, 124)
Hour of Testing
The hour of testing is Daniel’s Seventieth Week (MacArthur, 124) Daniel 9:25-27
Time of Jacob’s trouble Jeremiah 30:7
The seven-year tribulation period
Jesus promises to keep His church out of this time of testing that will come for unbelievers. (MacArthur, 124)
Unbelievers can pass this trial by repenting or fail the trial by refusing to repent!
11a. I come quickly;
Jesus second coming will come quickly!
John wrote Revelation near the end of the first Century. It has been nearly two thousand years since this was written.
Jesus is coming. And when He comes, He will suddenly appear.
Only the Father knows when that will be.
Are you prepared? Have you asked Jesus into your heart? (Romans 10:8-10)
Command (Easley, 58)
11b. hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
With the soon return of Christ believers must hold fast to what they have.
A true believer will be loyal and faithful to Jesus.
See 1 John 2:19 about those who abandon their faith.
If you are loyal and faithful and hold fast, that no man take thy crown.
Doing this will mean you will have eternal life with Jesus.
Commitment (Easley, 58)
12. Ending the letter to the church at Philadelphia, “Christ promises four eternal blessings to the one who overcomes.” (MacArthur, 126)
- “Christ will make him a pillar in the temple of [His] God, and he will not go out from it anymore.” (MacArthur, 126)
- “He will write on him the name of His God.” (MacArthur, 127)
- “All true Christians belong to God.” (MacArthur, 127)
- 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. Believers will have the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God.
- Eternally with Jesus
- We will learn the new name of Jesus.
- “This new name is a personal relationship we will have with Him.” (McGee, 920)
13. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
John closed all the letters to the seven churches with this.
We must hear what is being said to us.
We must remain faithful and loyal to Jesus.
( Chart A ) is a Summary of the Churches in Revelation 2
( Chart B ) is a Summary of the Churches in Revelation 3
( Chart C ) Messages to the Seven Churches Revelation 2 and 3
In this article Scripture quotations taken from KJV.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB1995. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.
NIV Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® All rights reserved worldwide.
Easley, Kendell H., Holman New Testament Commentary: Revelation. Nashville: B&H, 1998
MacArthur, John. New Testament Commentary: Revelation 1-11. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999
McGee, J. Vernon, Thru the Bible: Volume V. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983