What on Earth have we Done with the Teachings of Jesus?
Continuing on with our studies into the letters to the Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation. Yesterday we covered the letter to the dead church. Today we commence with the sixth letter to the faithful church in Philadelphia. This church is represented by brotherly love that endures patiently (Revelation 3:7-13). It is located on the Cogamis River about 80 miles east of Smyrna. Philadelphia was known for its variety of temples and worship centers.
These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.
I will keep you from the hour of trial
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. 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 I will write on him My new name. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’
Henry says – Philadelphia was a city in Asia Minor, seated upon the borders of Mysia and Lydia, and had its name from that brotherly love for which it was known. It was its ancient name, on account of the love and kindness which the citizens showed to each other. This was an excellent spirit, and, when sanctified by the grace of the gospel rendered them an excellent church. It was here that no fault was found, yet doubtless, there were faults; but love covered such faults.
He opens the doors
This letter was signed by the same Jesus who is alone the universal head of all the churches. In this He chose to represent Himself as: He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, etc. This is His personal character; Holy in His nature, and therefore He cannot but be true to His Word.
Here also is described His political character: He hath the key of David, He openeth, and no man shutteth. The key of government and authority in and over the church. In His acts of government He opens a door of opportunity to His churches. He opens the door of admission into the church triumphant, according to the terms of salvation fixed by him.
He also shuts the doors
Yet He also also shuts the door when He pleases. He shuts the door of opportunity and the door of utterance and leaves obstinate sinners shut up in the hardness of their hearts. Thus shutting the door of church-fellowship against unbelievers and profane persons. He shuts the door of heaven against the foolish virgins who have slept away their day of grace, and against the workers of iniquity, how vain and confident soever they may be.
The performs these acts in His absolute sovereignty, independent of the will of men, and irresistible by the power of men. He openeth, and no man shutteth and he shutteth, and no man openeth. He works to will and to do, and, when He works, none can hinder. This was a church that had endeavoured to be conformed to Christ in holiness and truth. They had enjoyed a wide door of liberty and opportunity under his care and government.
Christ is the author of all liberty
In this letter Christ reminds them of what He had done for them: I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it, Rev. 3:8. I have set it open, and kept it open, though there be many adversaries. Christ is to be acknowledged as the author of all the liberty and opportunity His churches enjoy. Wicked men envy the people of God and would be glad to shut the door of liberty against them. If we do not provoke Christ to shut this door against us, men cannot do it.
This church is commended: Thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My name, Rev. 3:8. In this there seems to be a gentle reproof: “Thou hast a little strength. A little grace, which has kept thee faithful.” True grace, though weak, beckons divine praise. Though Christ accepts a little strength, yet believers should not rest satisfied with a little, but should strive to grow in grace, to be strong in faith, giving glory to God. True grace, though weak, will do more than the greatest gifts or highest degrees of common grace. It will enable the Christian to keep the Word of Christ, and not to deny His name. Obedience, fidelity, and a free confession of the name of Christ, are the fruits of true grace, and are pleasing to Christ.
They shall worship at your feet
Here is a promise of the great favour God would bestow on this church, Rev. 3:9, 10. Christ would subject this church’s enemies to her. Those enemies are described as saying they were Jews, but lied in saying so—pretending to be the only and peculiar people of God. But were really the synagogue of Satan. Assemblies that worship God in spirit and in truth are the Israel of God. Assemblies that either worship false gods, or the true God in a false manner, are the synagogues of Satan. Their subjection to the church is described: They shall worship at thy feet. How shall this great change be wrought? By the power of God upon the hearts of His enemies: They shall know that I have loved thee.
The greatest honour and happiness any church can enjoy consist in the peculiar love and favour of Christ. Their very enemies shall see it, and be forced to acknowledge it. As a result, this will soften their hearts and make them want to be admitted into communion with them. Another instance of favour that Christ promises to this church is persevering grace in the most trying times (Rev. 3:10). This as the reward of their past fidelity. To him that hath shall be given. The gospel of Christ is the word of His patience. It sets before men the exemplary patience of Christ in all His sufferings for men. This gospel should be carefully kept by all that enjoy it. They must keep up the faith, and worship as prescribed in the gospel.
Expect the hour of temptation
After a day of patience we must expect an hour of temptation. By keeping the gospel they are prepared for the trial. The same divine grace that has made them fruitful in times of peace will make them faithful in times of persecution.
Christ calls the church to that duty which He has promised He would enable her to do. Namely, to persevere, to hold fast that which she has. That faith, that truth, that strength of grace, that zeal, that love for the brethren. If thou hast been possessed of this excellent treasure, hold it fast.”
“Behold, I come quickly. See, I am coming to relieve them under the trial, to reward their fidelity, and to punish those who fall away. They shall lose that crown which they once hoped for, and pleased themselves with the thoughts of. The persevering Christian shall win the prize from backsliding professors.”
Let him who has an ear
To finalise our Saviour promises a glorious reward to the victorious believer. He shall be a monumental pillar in the temple of God. Not a pillar to support the temple (heaven needs no such props), but a monument of the free and powerful grace of God. A monument that shall never be defaced nor removed, as many stately pillars have been. On this monumental pillar there shall be an honourable inscription The name of God, in whose cause he engaged, whom he served, and for whom he suffered in this warfare. Also the name of the city of God, the church of God, the new Jerusalem, which came down from heaven.
On this pillar shall be recorded all the services the believer did to the church of God. How he asserted her rights, enlarged her borders and maintained her purity and honour. Then another part of the inscription will be the new name of Christ, the Mediator, the Redeemer, the Captain of our salvation.
The letter is closed up with the demand of attention: He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches, how Christ loves and values His faithful people, how He commends, and how He will crown their fidelity.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
- Know that Christ opens doors that no one can shuts, and shuts that which no one can open
- If we are faithful, know that Christ will make our enemies come and worship before our feet
- We must endeavor to keep His command to persevere and He will also keep us from the hour of trial
- Know that He is coming quickly! we must hold fast that which we have
- If we overcome He will make us a pillar in the temple of God
- He will write on us the name of God
- Remember that love covers all faults of others
- Know that it is Christ who opens a door of opportunity to His churches
- He also also shuts the door when He pleases
- He works to will and to do, and, when He works, none can hinder
- Christ is to be acknowledged as the author of all the liberty and opportunity His churches enjoy
- True grace, though weak, beckons divine praise
- We must strive to grow in grace, to be strong in faith, giving glory to God
- Obedience, fidelity, and a free confession of the name of Christ, are the fruits of true grace, and are pleasing to Christ
- The greatest honour and happiness any church can enjoy consist in the peculiar love and favour of Christ
- Favour that Christ promises to this church is persevering grace in the most trying of times
- We must keep up the faith, and worship as prescribed in the gospel
- After a day of patience we must expect an hour of temptation
- The same divine grace that has made them fruitful in times of peace will make them faithful in times of persecution
- Christ calls the church to that duty which He has promised He would enable her to do
- Christ is coming to relieve us of the trial and to reward our fidelity
- Our Saviour promises a glorious reward to the victorious believer
- Christ loves and values His faithful people, He commends them and will crown their fidelity
Hold on, I am coming soon Hold fast, hold fast; With Me keep in tune. Prepare your hearts I am coming soon. Keep safe what you have. Live in My glad surprise Then no one will rob you Of your victory prize. He who is victorious I will never forsake. A pillar in the Temple of God he, will I make. He will be secure; He will go out no more. All the richness of My Kingdom On Him I will pour. On him the name of My God I will write. And the name of the City of My God For he will dwell in the New Light. Yes he will be a citizen of the New Jerusalem Which out of heaven from My God will come down. I will also write on him My new Name As he wears the glorious crown. By the late Andrew Feakin [passed away 16th March 2019]
Prayer – Father, I come to You. I trust that Christ opens doors that no one can shut, and He shuts those that no one can open. Help me to keep Your command to persevere and keep me from the hour of trial. Help me to always keep in mind that You are coming soon! and help me hold fast that which I have. May I be found with true brotherly love in my heart for I know that love covers all faults.
May I strive to grow in grace and be strong in faith that my life gives glory to You. Let me be found walking in obedience, fidelity, and with a free confession of the name of Christ upon my lips. We ask for Your favour that we may have persevering grace in the most trying times. Thank You for Your assurance of love toward us and may we be found to be Your faithful people. In Jesus name I ask. Amen.
To the faithful church
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