Revelation 3:7-13 The Church at Philadelphia
I have been in many denominational churches throughout my life as a Christian. I have heard a lot of different teachings about what Revelation 3:7-13 meant to them. They believe that they are the church of Philadelphia, the sixth church, while it was the other denominations that were the seventh church—Laodicea. Let’s examine closely what this passage actually has to say about the church of Philadelphia.
The name Philadelphia literally means city of brotherly love. The city was an actual city in ancient Rome which was about 30 miles southeast of Sardis in Asia Minor. The church of Philadelphia was not some fancy building with a spire on its room. The Church at Philadelphia was a group of believers that probably met in someone’s home.
Not only was the Church at Philadelphia an actual church group, but many scholars believed that Philadelphia represents a specific church age. I agree, but I also believe that this passage about Philadelphia can be applied to our everyday life as a Christian.
In this passage the Lord says that he knew Philadelphia’s works, that the fellowship had little strength, had not denied his name, and had kept his word. What is this word that he is talking about? Is it keeping the word or as we know the Bible? I don’t think so. Here’s what I think it is. Jesus when he was here on this earth was asked what was the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). Jesus told them that the first was to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. The second was to love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments hinge on those two commandments. In Romans 13:8 it says that we are to love one another because loving each other is the fulfillment of the law. If you were to look up and follow all of the verses about love, you would be in the position to be more the way God is. In I John 4:16 it says that We have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love; and he that lives in love, lives in God, and God in him. I believe the word is LOVE. John 3:16 and 17 says: For God so loved the World that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him (the son) might be saved. It’s not about the gifts of the spirit. It’s not about baptism; it’s not about reciting specific words. It’s not even about living a spotlessly clean life. It’s about knowing that God loved you so much that even though your life reeks with sin, he paid the random to redeem us to himself.
He warned them that there were those of the assembly of Satan who said they were Jews, but were not and were lying to themselves and everyone else. He said that he would make those liars come and worship at the feet of those who were of the church of Philadelphia, because the Lord loved them. I have a few concerns about this passage.
There is what is called the Israel Identity movement. This group believes that Zionist Jews, who helped create the state of Israel with names such as Epstein and Cohen, are not real Jews the Israel Identity people believe that the Bible is talking about the Zionist Jews when they use this passage. I wholeheartedly disagree. These Jewish families can trace their ancestry back, and they know who they are. They have suffered under the hands of so called Christians for centuries. In the 1930’s, because of these exact ideologies, Hitler turned Germany against the Jews and drove them into concentration camps where they were annihilated by the millions. Where is God’s love in that?
There is another group of Christians who believe that they must follow the Torah in order to be right with God. They believe that they will become a member of a Jewish lineage during the Millennium (or some variation of that ideology). They worship on Saturday, follow the Jewish feasts, eat only kosher foods, and become so caught up with the Jewish traditions that they lose sight of the fact that it’s not our works that save us from sin. It was accepting the propitiation that God provided to us through his son.
Based on Revelation 3:9, (same words are found in Revelation 2:9), I am very cautious about calling myself a Jew when I know that I am not a Jew. My parents were Gentiles and as far back as I can look back into my genealogy, I am not a Jew. But does that mean that I don't have a place in God's kingdom? No. I am a Gentile humbly saved by grace. My sins are covered by the blood of Jesus, and I am grateful for his love for me.
As we continue further into this passage in Revelation, we hear the Lord saying that because Philadelphia has kept his word of patience, he would “deliver them from the hour of temptation which would try them that dwelled upon the earth.” This phrase I believe refers to the rapture of the church. Does this mean all of the members of every church body? No, I don’t believe so. There is evidence in these first three chapters of Revelation referring to the church that other groups have to go through the tribulation.
He told them to hold fast so that no one would take their crown. Does this mean they can lose their salvation, or does it refer to something else? I think refers to something else. In the next passage he said that anyone who overcame the world would be made a pillar of the temple of God and that he would no more go out, and that he would write on him the name of God and the name of the city of God which is new Jerusalem, which would come down from heaven from God. The overcomer would also receive the Lord’s new name. I believe what he is talking about here is about becoming part of his leadership in Christ’s (Messiah’s) millennial reign. To do that, we must first become like Christ and like the church of brotherly love. We must share his love with this hurting, dying world. Anyone with an ear to hear, listen to what the Spirit has to say to the church.