Revelation 3:7-13 – 2024 Mar 28 – Philadelphia

This time, we all can take a deep breath of clean and fresh air.  This is the church that everyone wants to and says they belong to.  Whether they do or not is not a matter any of us can dictate, but here they are held up for us as a shining beacon on a hill to look to and imitate as they imitate Christ.  Last time, we talked briefly about the pattern of development we saw in churches that were not following closely after the Lord.

First, we saw Ephesus, which the Lord said had left (not lost, left) their first love.  It’s understandable because it is difficult being right all the time. [Yes, that is a joke.]  People wear out!  After a while, you simply start going through the motions.  Then in Pergamum, compromise crept in because it was easier than keeping on the straight and narrow path.  After that came Thyatira, where they began to tolerate open sin in their midst.  Dr. John MacArthur said it kind of like this:  If Pergamum is where the church married the world, they had already celebrated several anniversaries in Thyatira.  Open sin being tolerated in a church always leads to an exodus of real believers, and so you have a church full of pagans and false converts like Sardis, though there were always a few real followers of Christ who were saved and worthy because of Christ’s work to walk with Him in white. 

Smyrna was facing intense persecution, requiring the lives of many to be laid down in martyrdom for Christ as His witnesses.  The Lord placed no other burden on them, recognizing that you don’t nitpick those who are faithful witnesses as they are laying down their lives for you. 

Philadelphia is the other church that has nothing bad said about it or to it by our Lord.  Again, with people who are really trying to follow Christ, there is no need, they are already following Christ the best way they know how, and the Lord is leading them in that pursuit.  These were witnesses in the way the Lord intended us to be witnesses to Him in the world.  They were demonstrating the love of God toward each other in forgiveness and generosity.  The lexicons all say that Philadelphia may be translated in Greek as “The city of brotherly love,” but it can be and perhaps should be more generally be translated as “friendly city.”  The Greek phila means among other things a friendly disposition, and delphos means “city.”  The linguistic math is pretty easy.  “Brotherly love” is certainly an expression of that, and historically bears some of that meaning.  Let’s look at the history of the city in brief, because it will become relevant to our study.

Philadelphia is located upstream (I think) from the Hermus River Valley where Smyrna and Sardis were, in a smaller river valley (the Cogamus River) that branches off to the south and east.  There was a road that went through the valley and about 30 miles in that direction from Sardis was Philadelphia.  It had a defensible position but was not considered militarily important by any of the kingdoms of which it was a part, like for example, Thyatira.  Instead, it was an important cultural center for language and commerce to spread the Greek culture to the world into what was then known as Lydia and Phrygia.  It was used as a missionary outpost for that and was so successful, that by AD 19, the Lydian language had been entirely replaced with Greek. 

It was an ideal place for commerce and missionary-like endeavours because it sat at the point of convergence for several major trade routes through the area.  It was also a stop on the Roman Post Road.  It became known as “the gateway to the East” because of that.  (You can find that in Mounce’s New International Commentary on the Book of Revelation.)  The city itself was at the edge of a large area of volcanic activity known in Greek as Katakekaumene (The burned land).  It led to incredibly fertile soil, and the crops grown included grapes for wine.  You will recall that we have already talked about the massive earthquake in the region in AD 17, during the reign of Tiberius Caesar.  Philadelphia was one of twelve cities (including Sardis) that were affected by that quake.  Because it was near the epicentre of the quake, it experienced aftershocks for years after the initial quake.  The region was hit with another major quake in AD 60.

As he did in Sardis and the other affected cities, Emperor Tiberius flooded the area with financial aid, and Philadelphia joined in building a monument to him in conjunction with other cities thankful for his aid.  The city renamed itself for a time to Neocaesarea.  Several decades later, it changed its name again to Flavia, the family name of the Emperor of Rome.  I don’t remember if it was Vespasian or his son Titus when the city was renamed.  I don’t think it was Domitian yet, but it’s all muddled for me.  I watched and read a lot of stuff for me.  At any rate, Philadelphia was officially and legally renamed, but because the Flavian dynasty in general was so despised in the area, the citizens of the city simply went back to the name of Philadelphia.

Several things became evident out of the shaking of the city.  Extra-strong pillars in extra numbers were required in buildings to keep the roof from falling in.  We will speak of pillars later, and this is what it refers to.  Second, the renaming of things should be beloved by all.  I could speak at length about the tearing down of statues and hiding of history from the world for nefarious purposes like we see in the southern US these days, but I won’t.  This becomes relevant in a particular way.

With that history in mind, let’s look at the text and see what it says.  I broke the text into thought units as follows.

KV8:  For all the ones that truly love Christ

8:  I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

7:  The Holy One with ALL Access Speaks

8:  The Holy One Opens Doors to Enter in Power

9-11:  The Holy One’s Precious and Magnificent Promises

12-13:  The Promise to the Overcomer

I used to be disturbed by passages that talked about the beheading of saints and martyrdom and like that.  Part of that is where I came from and how I grew up, but I eventually realized that not all believers were called on to give their lives as witnesses for Christ.  Many lived to old age.  As I age, I am developing aches and pains in places I either forgot about or didn’t know I had.  Some have told me I have snow on my roof, referring to the grey-to-white hair I seem to be developing.  That also used to bother me, because as I was getting older, I was (and still am) getting closer to my last day on earth.  I don’t know what is going to happen, and it doesn’t matter.  It is in God’s hands as I follow Him, and whatever happens, it will bring glory to His name.  That’s what the believers in Philadelphia were all about.  Walking with Christ in whatever circumstances the Lord brought to them, praising His name as they went until He finally came for them.

KV8:  For the ones that truly love Christ

8:  I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

Imagine you are the pastor of a faithful church where they aren’t perfect (there is nowhere where people are) but everyone is pulling together to walk with Christ, and to reach out to the lost world in His name to reach those that Christ has commanded to repent (that’s everyone in case there was a question there).  The last thing you need to hear from the Lord is that this one has this problem or that one isn’t walking perfectly with Christ.  We KNOW ALREADY!  The Lord seems to have gifted those He qualifies to be in this position with insight for lack of a better word.  Have you ever wondered why we always seem to have just the right thing to say to you?  You can believe me, it has nothing to do with me.  We call this a part of pastoral care.  Most of the time it is an encouraging word to you to keep you walking with joy.  Sometimes, it is a reproof for a thing you are not doing well.  Once in a while, it can be a rebuke over some kind of observed sin in your life and a strong encouragement to repent.  We don’t do it for our own health, we do it out of love and care for you.  It is what God has called us to do.  Sometimes we are angrily challenged or encounter defensiveness.  We understand, we are like that too.  God still has us addressing it in you.  The ones that love Christ and want to follow Him will understand that we are not intentionally hurting you, though debriding dead flesh sometimes hurts.  That pastor, and believers that understand that process and concept do not need the fleshly response we get or discouragement from doing what God has called us to do.

Such pastors and believers require exactly what the Lord Jesus Christ delivers to Philadelphia.  He delivers divine encouragement, and not only tells them that they need to continue in doing this, but also, beyond all belief,  explains that He will HELP!!!  For that, we can be truly thankful.  Let’s dig in.

7:  The Holy One with ALL Access Speaks

Here is where the true Saviour of the World shows up.  He is the one who has all access to all resources and all access to all power.  He is the one who speaks to the church here, and we need to see what He says.

7:  And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:  He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:

  • The address, as always is to the “angel” of the church, and from our previous research, we know here this is addressing the human representative messenger of the church.  I personally view this as one of the elders of the church, perhaps the pastor.  In either case, it is the one who is to read the letter from Christ through the scribe here, the Apostle John, to the believers in that place.
  • Christ identifies Himself to this church in the most encouraging manner—he who is holy.  Holiness is not possible apart from God.  He who is holy is our Lord Jesus showing Himself to be God Himself.  Holiness is the quality of being apart from sin in this case.  God is apart from sin and we are not.  Isaiah knew that in Isa. 6.  We won’t turn there for the sake of time, but this is where Isaiah saw God with His own eyes and lived because God had mercy and purified him from his sins. 
  • He who is true.  He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one, repeat NO ONE, will come to God the Father except through Him.  He speaks of Himself in this way in John 8:32 when He says, “You will know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free.”  Truth is more than fact, it is in Christ the personification of what is right and correct…what is holy and His.
  • Who has the Key of David.  This is an interesting reference.  It speaks of the one that controls access to the King, in this case, God.  Isaiah speaks of Eliakim, son of Hilkiah, in this office in Isa. 22:20-23, which reads, “Then it will come about in that day, That I will summon My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, And I will clothe him with your tunic And tie your sash securely about him.  I will entrust him with your authority, And he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.  Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, When he opens no one will shut, When he shuts no one will open.  I will drive him like a peg in a firm place, And he will become a throne of glory to his father’s house.”  Eliakim here is a type of Christ, in case you didn’t see that.  He has the Key of David set on his shoulder.  It isn’t that the key was big, but the chain it was on was.  If you’ve ever seen or carried a security guard’s patrol check key, you have an idea.  It’s a key on a chain, connected to a big, heavy case, and ONLY the main guard who is on that patrol can carry it.  This was the key to the treasury.  Only the treasurer could have it.  And when he opened the door, no one could shut it and secure it.  When he shut it, no one could open it without his say-so.  Christ carries the “key” to access all of heaven’s resources and power.  If He opens the door, then no one can shut it on you.  If He closes the door, no one can open it (so don’t try) is the implication.  In fact, there is further typology here.  He is like a peg in an unmovable place.  What hangs on that peg?  All of the glory of the Father.  Now Who is that a type of?  I wonder.  Not.

When this One with the key of David speaks, how is it that we do not or will not listen?  Well, if you really are in the church of Philadelphia as everyone likes to think of themselves, then you will, and because you really love and follow Christ, then you will do so without defensiveness or anger, or in repentance of those things.  If you are not, you will not.

8:  The Holy One Opens Doors to Enter in Power

This is what that Holy and Truthful One who has the key of David says.  Using the authority and power of His own position and identity, He has given you an immense opportunity and the power to engage it.  What does that mean?  Let’s read.

8:  I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

  • I know your deeds.  Again, that word “know.”  Remember, that is the Greek word oida, and it is the New Testament equivalent of the Hebrew verb ‘yada.  This is the word used when it tells us that Adam “knew” his wife Eve.  There is a totality and intimacy in this knowledge.  Christ KNOWS us, Beloved, and that should give us great joy and comfort.  The word “deeds” in Greek is erga, the plural of the noun ergon, which means the works, tasks, or employments of the believers in Philadelphia.  Judging from His next statement, the Lord Jesus is pleased with them.  Contrast this with Sardis for a moment.  Jesus also knew intimately and completely of their deeds.  He thought of them as DEAD and their deeds as worthless.  They may have been doing the same things, Beloved!  It was their motives that made the difference, and only Christ knows those.
  • How do we know the Lord Jesus was pleased?  Look what He said to them!  “Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power…”  I personally see this as a metaphorical statement, but one based in reality.  What is the opportunity?  To live faithfully for Christ as His disciples, engaged in the great commission of making disciples of all the nations.  That door is open if they will faithfully step through the door.  They will step through the door because He opened it, and He supplied them with the power to do so. 
  • I can hear the whiny questions here.  “How does Jesus know they will do this?”  First, He is God, and He knows EVERYTHING.  There has never been a time in the universe where He had to learn anything.  Second, because they had already been faithful with what He had given them.  He says as much here.  “[You] have kept my word, and have not denied My name.”  As we are faithful with things, God seems to expand our areas of responsibility.  I have encountered that personally.  I can tell you that this can take a seemingly unbearably long time.  This Bible Study is an example of it.  In the beginning, it was a study in Galatians at the request of a friend who was searching.  His name is Mike, by the way.  I picked Galatians because it has such a strong Gospel in it, and it’s in reality a short version of Romans, and I didn’t know how much time I was going to have.  He stuck around through that study, and by the end, he had made a profession of faith, as had another Phillipino lady.  Somewhere about chapter 4, I was studying the text when a thought occurred to me.  It was a POWERFUL thought.  “What comes next?”  The answer was instant.  The rest of the letters of Paul.  We went on, and we included Hebrews in that, because I think someone wrote down a sermon they heard Paul preach. Attendance went down when we got into Philippians, but that was because of a work schedule change.  We put it online, and some folks we know that attend here watched and liked it.  There were times we had a turnout, but the hardest times for me were the times when I was alone.  I livestreamed anyway.  At a certain point, MY work schedule changed, and I had to change the day and time.  We moved to Thursday night, and a few people came out.  For a long time, it was just Alex, Dan, and myself.  Then COVID-19 and all the online studies.  When we were allowed back into the building, we came back to Thursdays.  People started showing up.  As my own capacity increased for the word, more came.  Now look at us.  This is the official Bethany Baptist Church Bible Study.  And we have an average of 25-55 viewers on the livestream on Rumble.  Why?  Because I stepped through a door of opportunity, and in the power my King gave me, I was faithful.  And that wasn’t me either, that was Him, too.  Where we go from here, only He knows, but we will remain faithful, whatever it may take.  We grew in capacity and attendance just like they did.  They were faithful.

I hope you don’t mind the personal stories I sometimes tell.  They are one of the ways that God makes the point for me.  Personal illustrations in my thinking are always preferable to things gained from a book.  And I have more than I like to talk about.  My point here is that our Lord Jesus Christ has called us as His followers to serve Him!  If we are not doing that, then something is wrong with US.  If we will serve Him faithfully, we will find His provision and power for us in the impossible tasks He sets for us and we will do them in His name and by His Spirit and power–and ONLY by His Spirit and power.  But it will still be us doing them.  Amazing love!  Hallelujah, what a Saviour.  And it gets better for us as we remain faithful regardless of the cost.

9-11:  The Holy One’s Precious and Magnificent Promises

As I was reading through verses 9 through 11, it occurred to me that these were what Peter was talking about in 2 Peter 1:2-4, which reads, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”  That passage also connects the power of our Lord Jesus to holiness, truth, and open possibilities if we will pursue them.  Our Lord here is making a wonderful set of promises on top of everything else He says here.

9:  Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.

  • In my experience, there has always been some discussion between believers as to what the “synagogue of Satan” was here, with some saying this was the Jews, and others arguing somewhat persuasively these were pagans, but whatever the case, these were practitioners of false religion.  I do think that this was originally the Jews but later grew to include all other reprobate degenerate religions and even the near-Christian cults who somehow all seem to deny the nature and divinity of Christ or that He came in person.  In Philadelphia, as in Smyrna who were also confronted with the “synagogue of Satan” and Pergamum “where Satan dwells,” there was a strong contingent of Pharisaical Judaism, and they were very against followers of Jesus.  According to Dr. MacArthur, Ignatius had open debate with some of these hostile Jews in Philadelphia on a visit there. 
  • What must be understood here is that although Jews are the Old Testament chosen people of God, they are temporarily blinded to the truth.  God is not finished with them (see Romans 9 through 11), and He will deal with them when it is time on His schedule, not on the schedule of anyone else.  These say they are Jews but are not the present chosen people of God unless they repent and believe the gospel. 
  • Such Judaizers still exist, and they sometimes worm their way into Christian gatherings to work their destruction by introducing things in addition to Jesus.  Paul wrote Galatians for this very reason.  Their main argument goes that in the Old Testament, people were saved by following the Law of Moses.  I hate to say it, but not even Moses believed that.  The way a person is saved from sin and death has never changed.  It has always been by grace through faith in the Messiah, even in the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, that Messiah is revealed to be Jesus, the Christos (or Christ), and in English we say “Anointed One of God.”  Those are three words or phrases that mean the same thing in three languages.  Old Testament classical Judaism ends in Christianity.  The Jews of today do not in reality adhere to the law of Moses, but instead the traditions of the elders, the Talmud, or the oral version, the Mishna.  They are literal Pharisees in today’s world.  They need the gospel.  Read Isaiah 53 for yourself without the rabbinic commentaries and you tell me to whom it refers.  It isn’t the nation of Israel.  It is Yeshuah ha’Mashiach.  Jesus Christ in English.
  • Jesus is saying that someday, those people, as hostile and harsh as they can be will someday come and humbly admit to us that they were wrong about Jesus.  I’m not looking for that anytime soon, but it will happen.  That’s quite a promise.  I look forward to humbly greeting these brothers in return and serving the Lord with them.

10:  Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

  • Okay, this verse is BIG!!!  I’m not sure how an Amillennialist can analogize this away, but they manage.  I think Postmillennialists just must ignore it.  Classic Premillennialists look at it and wonder, and Dispensationalists go out in the backyard and jump in the air a foot or so and call it “rapture practice.”  But it is a direct promise from the person of the Lord Jesus Christ that He will deliver His people from something.  We are about to learn what it is simply by understanding what it says in the original Koine Greek.  We will start slow and be as brief as we can be.
  • Because you have kept the word of My perseverance.  This is a box that these believers have checked off on the checklist, Beloved!  I’m not in favour of treating salvation like a checklist, but this is saying that there is a prerequisite of sorts.  That prerequisite requirement is salvation!  You must have become a Christian in obedience to the command of God to repent, that is change your mind about your sin and admit it is sin, and believe that Christ rose from the dead as the proof that He did in fact pay for your sins personally, justifying you before God the Father and expunging your sinful criminal record from the court of heaven!  If you have done that, you need to have continued in obedience to Him regardless of the cost to you, though it might take time for you.  It is the effort that matters here more than the result because we are all fools.  Greek moros.  Morons all.  That is, we must persevere!  This is the Lord Jesus quoting the final doctrine of His grace!  If we have the will to persevere in His word, He will preserve us until He comes for us.  Oh, and Beloved, He is saying right here that He IS coming for us!
  • I will keep you from the hour of testing.  The Greek text inserts definite articles associated with both “hour” and “testing.”  The Greek would translate to “I will keep you from THE hour of THE testing.”  This is something very specific, Beloved!  While I was thinking about this, I wondered about Dr. Kenneth Wuest, who when he was alive was the Professor Emeritus of Greek Studies at the Moody Bible Institute, a part of the University of Chicago, or at least was when I learned about him.  To refresh your memories about WHY this is important, Dr. Wuest gained some notoriety for translating the Greek apostasia to mean a “calling away” instead of the more classical “falling away” of people from the faith.  Not one other scholar of Greek agreed with him to my knowledge, and I personally think it was a shame for the simple reason to attempt to insert real textual evidence of a pretribulation rapture into scripture.  In this, he failed, and shamefully so.  But if he had simply read this verse of text for what it was, he could have saved his otherwise fantastic reputation. 
  • I hear many voices from my own past telling me that the word “rapture” never occurs in the New Testament. I disagree, and I will explain.  The English word rapture comes from the Latin rapturo.  The Greek word for this is harpazo.  That Greek word occurs 14 times in the Greek New Testament.  Not all of them have that usage.  An example of that non-escape usage would be in Jude 23, where it says, “save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.”  That word “snatching” here is the Greek word harpazo.  What this is talking about may be found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where it says, “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”  Paul explains in that text how the Lord will come on the day of the resurrection of how the dead in Christ will be raised and then we who are alive will join them.  Acts 8:39 tells us a bit about HOW it will happen.  “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.”  Whenever it happens, it will happen VERY quickly.  Philip brought the Ethiopian up out of the waters of baptism and was “snatched” away.  Instantly, Philip found himself at Azotus, approximately 50 miles away as the crow flies, I am told.  Beloved, that is what this is talking about.  And before you tell me I’m a fool, I’ve never denied that.  But I’m a fool for Christ.  Who’s fool are you? 
  • Whenever this occurs, Christ is coming for His people.  All of them.  In this verse, He is promising to keep us from THE hour of THE testing.  Some of you are old enough to remember high school exam exemptions.  If you had over a certain average, you could choose to skip the final exam.  I rarely if ever wrote an exam other than math.  Yes, I struggled with math in high school.  Not my subject.  We who have been saved and are walking in the Spirit the best way we know how will be exempted from this particular exam.
  • However, Christ is more specific than that.  He says immediately after that, “…that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”  With this phrase, He connects this to the 70th week of Daniel, something he called “the Great Tribulation” while He was here on earth, and something that is also referred to as “the time of Jacob’s trouble.”  That is significant, because as I said earlier, God is not finished with His Old Testament chosen people, and He has made promises to them that He WILL fulfil. 
  • I do not talk about this a great deal because it isn’t just controversial in theological circles, it can be explosive.  But that is what the Greek text says, and I will not shy away from it, because it is the truth, and more than that, the truth as it is in Jesus.  And our Lord does not stop there.

11:  I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

  • The Lord has said that when He does come, he is coming with speed.  The Greek word here is tachus (a form of it) and can mean either soon or swiftly.  I think it is safest to say that our Lord is coming with rapidity of motion because it’s been just over 1900 years since He said this to John.  Then again, time is not counted by God.  To Him, 1000 years have no difference from a single day.  However you want to look at this, it is encouragement to do what He says next.
  • Hold fast what you have.  The Greek word here is a form of krateō.  To use strength to retain.  If God shows you something, walk in its light.  If you read something in His Word, DO it.  Remember it.  Remember Him!  Remember to celebrate His actions on our behalf!  Remember who He is!  Hold onto it!  Why?
  • Because there is a possibility you can lose your reward.  You CANNOT lose your salvation.  That flies in the face of everything that the Word says about the eternal security of the believer.  But you can lose your crown.  That’s the stuff you receive for walking with Him and doing a good job!  If you’ve ever come in second, you know what that can be like.  It’s worse than coming in last because you were almost there!  Don’t be like that.  Hold onto what you have, and the Lord willing, get more of the same!  I’m not sure where I heard this, but in terms of your rewards, get all you can, and can all you get!  Maybe it was on the farm.  We did some canning when I was a kid.  It’s a way of preserving things that go bad without refrigeration, and it works long-term.

Beloved, are these not, as Peter says “exceeding great and precious promises?” (KJV)  These are things that our Lord Himself WANTS to give us in a way that we keep them all!  Yes, I know that some are more capable than others, but that isn’t even part of this discussion.  Do the best you can to get the most reward you can.  That way you will have no shortage of things to throw back at His feet in worship.  If you remember how we started all of this, it isn’t by your power or faithfulness that you do these things.  All you did was step through the door He opened for you and walk in obedience to Him in the power and grace that He supplied.  He earned it, not just you.  The earlier you see that the easier time you will have when problems and trials come.  After all, we have to have something to overcome!  And that’s our last paragraph for the evening.

12-13:  The Promise to the Overcomer

With these letters, not an evening has passed where I have not had ample opportunity to talk about unbelievers and how the promise to the overcomer is in reality the promise to those that God foreknew from before the world was and gave to His Son as a gift, who loved us with the Father so much that He entered history at the right time to redeem us to Himself so we could be with Him for eternity.  This text has fewer of those opportunities, and that is the way it seems it should be with a group of believers who are a local representation of the body of Christ.  Some call this Unconditional Election, but I prefer Sovereign Election because it tells us who is really behind the choice.  All that being said, people still have a responsibility to repent of their sins and believe that Jesus Himself paid the price of their redemption.  For those who will repent and believe, these are the ones who are overcomers here.  Before you ask about the backslider, I will answer.  If they will not “keep the word of My perseverance,” as our King said earlier, they do not have His faith in them.  For those that will, they do.  I don’t mean this to sound short, but if you know, you know.  If not, we can talk later, because it’s a bigger discussion.  We would like to have it with you, though.  What are the promises here?  And it is promises, plural.

12:  He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.

  • There are three promises.  Pillars, Name of God and His City, and Christ’s New Name.  All three of those have some bearing on the historical background we covered at the beginning.  We will start with the first one, “I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God.”  Remember how Philadelphia was built on the edge of a huge area prone to earthquakes?  Pillars were the ancient method they had for earthquake defence.  Big, broad pillars would ensure the building would survive any shaking that could happen.  Yes, I know that some pillars still failed, but this is an analogy, remember.  For those that survive the shaking in this analogy, these are the overcomers.  Those pillars that do not survive will remain destroyed, representative of the unsaved.  Beloved, we can be pillars in His temple!  Better, “…and he will not go out from it anymore…”. These are the ones who did the work of standing firm and doing the work of God while everything around them was coming down around their ears.  For those that will stand, they will be rewarded by being placed in that stand in the place of highest honour, the place we worship God the Father.  This metaphorically speaks of the stability we bring to the church, but more, I think of it as a kind of personal stability, a rest from shaking eternally, as we will stand firm in His house.  Our present gatherings are to be a place of practice for that at least in some measure.  Why is there always trouble?  Why are there always “those” people?  To test our ability to stand in His house.  You cannot tell me otherwise.
  • Second, “…and I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God…”  Think of this like when you were little and you were first going to school.  I had a yellow raincoat and rubber boots, not that either kept us dry with our penchant for playing in deep puddles, my buddies and me.  So we would not mix up whose coat and boots were whose, my mom took a big smelly black permanent marker and wrote my family name on it as a way to identify all the stuff that belonged to our family.  She also wrote our phone number on it in case I lost it (something else I did occasionally).  It was a means of identifying who the coat and boots belonged to and where they could be returned in case they went missing.  Beloved, think about this.  God is writing this information on us to identify that we are finally His and where we belong (I doubt we will ever be lost from Him again).  That’s a huge encouragement.  Will He tattoo us?  I don’t know, but I am willing for whatever HE does to me.
  • Finally, Christ will also write HIS new name on us.  You know, I think C. S. Lewis has a nod at this in the Narnia Chronicles at the end of Prince Caspian.  When the High King Peter was being told He would no longer be returning to Narnia, Peter was told that He would learn to know Aslan by another name.  Clearly from the context the author gave his analogy, that name was Jesus Christ.  We are not only God the Father’s, who loves us Himself, we also belong to Christ Jesus, because He bought us out of slavery with His own precious blood.  He gave us a new nature, His nature, so we could be sanctified and learn to walk in His Spirit (the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead), all so that come the day that is described in v.10, we may all be glorified with and by Him and be with Him forever.  We literally belong to Him.  We are His.  Oh happy day, when Jesus took my sins away.  Oh, happy day!  Hallelujah!  What a Saviour!

13:  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

  • That is the best ending to this I can possibly have!  It explains exactly who the promise is for and who makes the promise!  Who is it for?  Beloved, it is for you, and all who will read or hear it!  You all have ears, do you not?  Looking around the room, I noticed that you ALL have ears!  Beloved, because that is true, I URGE you, hear what the Spirit of God, also God Himself, is saying to those who are truly His, the true church, His holy bride!

Hear the call!  Do not turn away in unbelief.  Join those of us who would make this journey of faith and trust in Christ.  In the words of the songwriter,

To Heaven’s shore, I journey onward
Across the rolling river
To Heaven’s shore, I journey onward
Away – I’m bound away – across the Jordan River.

For Heaven’s shore, I fix my compass
Through the torrent that is raging
For Heaven’s shore, I fix my compass
Away – I’m bound away – across the Jordan River.

On Heaven’s shore, I’ll see my Saviour
Falling on my knees before Him
On Heaven’s shore, I’ll see my saviour
And I’ll raise my hands and sing
Glory, Hallelujah
Glory, Hallelujah
There on Heaven’s shore.

On Heaven’s Shore by Southern Raised

Don’t miss out, saints!  The promise is for all of us who will believe.

That’s what I saw in the text.   

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