Jun 22, 2021 • Written by Elizabeth Nejedlo
7: THE CHURCHES OF REVELATION- Philadelphia
This article was originally published by Elizabeth on her personal blog as one entry in a series about the 7 Churches in Revelation. Visit her personal blog to read about the other Churches and what we can learn from them today.
1. It was the "gateway" to the high central plateau in Asia.
2. As a city, it was of great importance commercially.
3. The name Philadelphia means, "Brotherly Love".
4. Named in memory of the love Emperor had for his brother.
5. The only other church (besides Smyrna) NOT to be given a criticism by Christ in the letter to them.
6. The city of Philadelphia was actually founded by citizens of Pergamum.
7. An earthquake that occurred in AD 17 destroyed the city of Philadelphia. The aftershocks that occurred scared the citizens so much that most of them moved outside the city limits to live.
The Passage: Revelation 3:7-13 NIV
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches."
The Key of David:
- a representation of Christ's authority - the king's representative was given full authority over the king's house and all it's affairs
- represents assured salvation - once the door is opened no one can close it. - represents judgement - once the door is closed no one can open it
The church of Philadelphia was a contrast to Sardis. While Sardis had "soiled" clothes, Philadelphia's clothes were much "cleaner". While I am quite sure the people of the Church of Philadelphia were not perfect, it is certainly worth noting that Christ had nothing to criticize them for (at least worth mentioning in the letter).
They were enduring.
Keeping the Word.
No denying His name.
With what little strength they had.
And Christ tells them to hold on to what they have.
I don't know what it was that they were enduring. Neither do I know what it is that you are enduring today. I don't know exactly what it was that the people of the Church of Philadelphia had to hold onto, but they had something. And so do we.
No matter our circumstances and problems, we all have similar things to hold on to. To persevere in. To patiently endure. We all have something to hold on to...
*We all have the Word.
*We all have gifts and talents. And while these may be widely varied, we each are called to use these gifts and talents for the kingdom of God, even during times of hardship.
*Even if we have little faith, that mustard seed of faith can be used to glorify Christ and move mountains.
*We can use our voices, our social media platforms, our snap chats, and zoom calls to encourage one another in this race. To encourage each other to persevere in faith. To endure patiently. To hold on so no one takes our crowns.
*And each of us, as a believer, has the power of the Holy Spirit in us. Dwelling there. Ready to rise up. The same power that had victory over death is in me. In you. In us.
So hold on to what you have. Hold tightly.
We have this day. We have our God. And that is enough.
1. What are your spiritual gifts? Your talents? Are you using them for the kingdom? Why or why not?
2. In what way can you use your "voice" to encourage others in their race to the finish line? Think of someone who has encouraged you. What specifically did they do? How did it make you feel? Did that encouragement plant a seed?
3. The Church of Philadelphia was commended for their obedience and keeping of the Word. Is there an area of your life that you struggle to obey in? Why do you think that is? What small steps toward growth and obedience in that area can you take?
4. What do you think enduring patiently looks like?
5. Are you trying to get through struggles and trials in your own strength? With what little strength you have? How would this compare with getting through these same struggles with HIS strength?
Adjust Your Crown
"Hold on to what you have so that no one takes your crown." Rev 3:11
The Greek word translated “crown” is stephanos. It means “a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally.” A crown was used during the ancient Greek games. It referred to a type of wreath or garland made of leaves. These were then placed on a victor’s head as a reward for winning the game.
We, spiritually speaking, may not be in an athletic event, but we are in a race.
1 Cor 9:24-25
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable."
Jesus promised us rewards, and some of these were crowns.
So what imperishable wreaths can we be given?
The imperishable crown
-Given to believers who faithfully run the race-
The crown of rejoicing
-Given to those who have witnessed to others-
The crown of righteousness
-Given to those who anxiously wait and look forward to the day when Christ will return-
The crown of glory
-Given to the ministers who feed the flock of God. Probably includes anyone who teaches the Word of God in their ministry-
The crown of life
-to those who undergo severe hardship, testing, suffering and/or physical death on His behalf-
And how can someone else take them away?
Things of the world, Satan, and even our own flesh will cause rocky roads, potholes, and pitfalls along life's journey. They hold you back from witnessing, teaching, from rejoicing, persevering patiently. And in this way they take your crown from you.
If you stumble, hold on tightly to your crown and stand back up.
If that crown slides off to the side a bit, stand tall and adjust your crown.
Wear it like a child of the One True King. Because that my friend...that is who you are. And NO ONE can take that away.
But greater than any crown or reward we could be given is to behold and live for eternity with the glory, honor, and power that is our Lord Jesus Christ.
"the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
'You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.'" Revelation 4:10-11
1 Corinthians 3:14
1 Peter 5:4
1 Peter 1:4
1 Thessalonians 2:19
2 Timothy 4:8