June 13, 2006
A Message to Philadelphia, Revelation 3:7-13
3:7 Kai. tw/| avgge,lw| th/j evn Filadelfei,a| evkklhsi,aj gra,yon\ Ta,de le,gei o` a[gioj( o` avlhqino,j( o` e;cwn th.n klei/n Daui,d( o` avnoi,gwn kai. ouvdei.j klei,sei kai. klei,wn kai. ouvdei.j avnoi,gei\ 3:8 oi=da, sou ta. e;rga( ivdou. de,dwka evnw,pio,n sou qu,ran hvnew|gme,nhn( h]n ouvdei.j du,natai klei/sai auvth,n( o[ti mikra.n e;ceij du,namin kai. evth,rhsa,j mou to.n lo,gon kai. ouvk hvrnh,sw to. o;noma, mouÅ 3:9 ivdou. didw/ evk th/j sunagwgh/j tou/ satana/ tw/n lego,ntwn e`autou.j VIoudai,ouj ei=nai( kai. ouvk eivsi.n avlla. yeu,dontaiÅ ivdou. poih,sw auvtou.j i[na h[xousin kai. proskunh,sousin evnw,pion tw/n podw/n sou kai. gnw/sin o[ti evgw. hvga,phsa, seÅ 3:10 o[ti evth,rhsaj to.n lo,gon th/j u`pomonh/j mou( kavgw, se thrh,sw evk th/j w[raj tou/ peirasmou/ th/j mellou,shj e;rcesqai evpi. th/j oivkoume,nhj o[lhj peira,sai tou.j katoikou/ntaj evpi. th/j gh/jÅ 3:11 e;rcomai tacu,\ kra,tei o] e;ceij( i[na mhdei.j la,bh| to.n ste,fano,n souÅ 3:12 ~O nikw/n poih,sw auvto.n stu/lon evn tw/| naw/| tou/ qeou/ mou kai. e;xw ouv mh. evxe,lqh| e;ti kai. gra,yw evpV auvto.n to. o;noma tou/ qeou/ mou kai. to. o;noma th/j po,lewj tou/ qeou/ mou( th/j kainh/j VIerousalh.m h` katabai,nousa evk tou/ ouvranou/ avpo. tou/ qeou/ mou( kai. to. o;noma, mou to. kaino,nÅ 3:13 ~O e;cwn ou=j avkousa,tw ti, to. pneu/ma le,gei tai/j evkklhsi,aijÅ
Kai. tw/| avgge,lw| th/j evn Filadelfei,a| evkklhsi,aj gra,yon\ Ta,de le,gei o` a[gioj( o` avlhqino,j( o` e;cwn th.n klei/n Daui,d( o` avnoi,gwn kai. ouvdei.j klei,sei kai. klei,wn kai. ouvdei.j avnoi,gei\
And to the messenger of the church of Philadelphia write: These things says the holy, the true, the one holding the key of David, the one opening and no one will shut, and shutting, no one opens!
Sometimes it is necessary to be reminded of the nature and the faithfulness of God. For the promise of salvation was to be provided through the line of David. And surely Christ was the fulfillment of that promise and more. Who is the Lord? He is the one who, according to Romans, is capable of opening our hearts and minds to his truths and leading us unto repentance. And when he opens our minds, no one is capable of closing them to such gloriousness. Likewise, if a man thinks he can overcome his own nature and turn to God despite his declarations, he will only find himself frustrated and mistaken. For no man can open up the door to truth by his own sheer will power. Christ will keep such doors shut completely. And he re-affirms this to the churches in this opening address to the church at Philadelphia.
oi=da, sou ta. e;rga( ivdou. de,dwka evnw,pio,n sou qu,ran hvnew|gme,nhn( h]n ouvdei.j du,natai klei/sai auvth,n( o[ti mikra.n e;ceij du,namin kai. evth,rhsa,j mou to.n lo,gon kai. ouvk hvrnh,sw to. o;noma, mouÅ
I have known your works; behold, I have set before you a door having been open, which no one is able to shut it, because you have a little power and you kept my word and denied not my name.
What a testimony to this church. With the piercing eye of the Lord, he is able to discern our motives and intents. Here he applies his powerful attribute and concludes this church’s elders have been faithful to his word. Not only did they not deny his name during persecution, they also kept true to the scriptures and to doctrine. Contrast this with the previous church, at Sardis, who pretty much sacrificed doctrine to serve their own purposes.
ivdou. didw/ evk th/j sunagwgh/j tou/ satana/ tw/n lego,ntwn e`autou.j VIoudai,ouj ei=nai( kai. ouvk eivsi.n avlla. yeu,dontaiÅ ivdou. poih,sw auvtou.j i[na h[xousin kai. proskunh,sousin evnw,pion tw/n podw/n sou kai. gnw/sin o[ti evgw. hvga,phsa, seÅ
Behold, I will give up from the synagogue of Satan the ones saying themselves to be Jews and are not but lie. Behold I will make them in order that they will come and bow down before your feet and that they might know I, I loved you.
If ever there was a passage of scripture to speak out against today’s dispensational teachings, it is this one. Here, Christ informs these dutiful Christians that he will draw out certain Jews for conversion. These Jews were Jews outwardly and not of the heart, for relied on their heritage and not upon their faith. As such, Christ calls them participants of the synagogue of Satan. He doesn’t call them his chosen people. Likewise, their conversion isn’t by works as some would suggest. It’s by faith. Their conversion is the work of God as he re-makes them in order to believe.
Contrast this with the account of Ephesis. They were busy uncovering all those around them who were not spiritual Jews or who were false teachers. Here, Christ does the revealing. Much better, Christ also brings the remedy and makes certain of these outward Jews true Jews and partakers of the eternal promises. Why the contrast? Well, I don’t believe any of this suggests that Christ didn’t also convert some of the Jews amongst those in Ephesis. The issue with Ephesis is that they weren’t concerned about conversion. They were more concerned about exposing non-believers. And Christ dealt harshly with them.
o[ti evth,rhsaj to.n lo,gon th/j u`pomonh/j mou( kavgw, se thrh,sw evk th/j w[raj tou/ peirasmou/ th/j mellou,shj e;rcesqai evpi. th/j oivkoume,nhj o[lhj peira,sai tou.j katoikou/ntaj evpi. th/j gh/jÅ
Because you kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation about to come upon the whole world to try those living upon the earth.
These children of God were found faithful in keeping God’s word during a time of patience. As such, God saw fit to convert even some of the enemies amongst them to become Jews inwardly. However, God always brings trials upon the earth to demonstrate his power, his might and his glory. Unlike those in some of the other churches mentioned, these have nothing to fear from the trials about to come. For God will keep them through it.
It should be noted that despite the fact the preposition evpi. is used, God does not keep his children from trials. His practice is to deliver his true children through them as a demonstration of their faith, not as a means of testing the breaking point of their faith. This is a common misconception amongst many Christians in our day, and is largely propagated by the teaching of pre-tribulation rapture eschatology. Under such teaching, it is held that a great period of testing will come upon the earth, but God will translate his people out in order that they may be spared the horrible nature of it. But this contradicts the Father’s nature in other times with his children and even contradicts the scriptures dealing with the proposed time of tribulation. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened [Matt 24:21-22].”
Now, if God were to rapture his people out to spare them, why would he have to keep the duration short for their sake? The duration wouldn’t matter because they would not suffer any of the effects. And even if this particular passage in Matthew does not apply to our eschatology as many preterists may suggest, why would we have to be raptured out during our imminent tribulation? After all, this particular trial was described as being greater than any previous tribulation and greater than any other that would ever come. Is our faith so weak that we cannot even withstand what other Christians have gone through? I could almost believe that from the conduct of many who profess Christ in our day. However, since the faith we’re speaking of is imparted by the Holy Spirit of God and is an instrument of the same grace that has visited God’s chosen people since creation, I am inclined to dismiss such a possibility. For while our character may indeed be weaker, those instruments of God, which saved us, and keep us to the end, are still perfect. And they will work themselves to completion in us, which is the promise of God.
e;rcomai tacu,\ kra,tei o] e;ceij( i[na mhdei.j la,bh| to.n ste,fano,n souÅ
I come quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one may take your crown.
While Christians hold to the belief that Christ will return to usher in his kingdom, this particular verse is not an empty promise to these brothers in Philadelphia. The promise is that Christ is already there to strenghen them for the trials. The verb e;rcomai is in the present tense. It is not used in the future tense to indicate something down the road. Likewise, the mood is the indicative and not the subjunctive, which might provide a lingering hope of deliverence. Instead, it is sure and definite, with no wavering in mind. Because of this, Christ can issue the present imperative kra,tei. They are to steadfastly continue in keeping his word. This is the purpose of the present imperative. If they had been slack or derelict in their responsibilities, Christ would probably have used the aorist imperative to indicate the urgency as he has for some of the other churches. But this is not the case here. They are already doing what’s right and need to merely continue in it.
~O nikw/n poih,sw auvto.n stu/lon evn tw/| naw/| tou/ qeou/ mou kai. e;xw ouv mh. evxe,lqh| e;ti kai. gra,yw evpV auvto.n to. o;noma tou/ qeou/ mou kai. to. o;noma th/j po,lewj tou/ qeou/ mou( th/j kainh/j VIerousalh.m h` katabai,nousa evk tou/ ouvranou/ avpo. tou/ qeou/ mou( kai. to. o;noma, mou to. kaino,nÅ
The persevering one I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God an he will not, ever, go out outside; and further I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, the one coming down from Heaven from my God, also my new name.
For those true Christians who continue in the faith until the end, and I am not proposing there is any other type of Christian, Christ promises them such assurance of their heavenly estate that no one may doubt. They will permanently be a fixture in the temple of God that no one will ever be able to depart. This is reinforced through the use of repetition within the original language. First we have the double negative ouv mh.. This is to establish the possibility will never, under any circumstances, happen. Then we have a contraction used, evxe,lqh|. This verb is a contraction of the verb e,rcomai “to come or to go” and the preposition evx meaning “out”. If this weren’t clear enough, we also have the word e;xw, which means outside and which is placed before the verb. Together, it can be translated as “outside, never, under any circumstances, you will go out”.
In addition to being made a permanent fixture in the kingdom of God, the believer will have God’s name written upon him to note we belong to the one true God. And not just God’s name, but also the name of our Lord and Savior will be written upon us.
~O e;cwn ou=j avkousa,tw ti, to. pneu/ma le,gei tai/j evkklhsi,aijÅ
The one having an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches
As is typical of the closings to the churches, Christ issues the imperative to his believers to urgently hear what the Spirit is saying.