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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE CHURCH IN PHILADELPHIA

Rev 3:7-10 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Also See Rev. 3:11-13)

Located in an area similar to that of Sardis, and approximately 25 miles southeast of that city, we find the city of Philadelphia. It was built by King Attalus Philadelphus, from whom it received its name. The city is still in existence, contains many ruins of once magnificent Greek structures, retains many of its historically narrow streets, and in recent years is said to have a fairly large Christian population. As He addressed the church of Christ in this city, Jesus identified Himself as He that is holy, He that is true. One cannot describe the character of Jesus without stating that He is holy and true. Such names and titles were often used by other New Testament writers to disclose the spiritual nature of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (See Luke 1:35; Acts 2:27; 3:14; John 1:9; 14:16).

Jesus is further identified as fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah (Isa. 22:22): He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth. This demonstrates the royal authority Jesus now possesses as King, ruling over His kingdom in heaven, as well as His earthly kingdom, which is His body, the church of Christ. Luke affirmed this truth when he wrote this of Christ Jesus: He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:32-33).

John recorded this message of Jesus, which was to be sent to the church in Philadelphia. As He did to the other churches of Asia, and through His omniscient, all-knowing power, Jesus said to them, I know thy works. Holding the key of David, Jesus assures the angel of this congregation that He has opened the door of spiritual opportunities to them, opportunities that, not only give them the hope of eternal salvation, but also will grant them the knowledge to proclaim His gospel of salvation to both Jew and Gentile alike. The key Jesus holds, which opened this door, cannot be duplicated by Satan or any of his followers. No one can ever have the ability shut the door leading to salvation except unfaithful members of the church of Christ. Jesus recognized that the spiritual strength of this congregation of God's children was not as strong as it should be, but yet they had remained faithful in the face of much opposition and had not denied My name.

Relating to the persecuting Jewish opposition, Jesus calls them the synagogue of Satan. They say they are Jews, but are not, but do lie. Had they been devoted Jews that rightly interpreted the Old Testament prophets, they would have recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and would have willingly become His disciples. And on the Day of Pentecost, when His gospel of salvation was first preached, they would have repented, been baptized for the remission of their sins, and been added by God to His church. By refusing to do so, they became followers of Satan. Their "reward" can be found in these words of Jesus: I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. This means that they will, sooner or later, recognize the love Jesus had for all faithful members of His church. They will either be converted by the teaching of His gospel message, join in the mutual worship of God as Christians, and enjoy the hope of eternal salvation, or they will remain unconverted and, much to late, recognize Him as the promised Messiah on the Day of Judgment, and, with extreme sorrow, be eternally lost.

Because this congregation of His followers had faithfully, and obediently, kept His New Testament gospel message, Jesus promised them the strength to overcome all temptations, which shall try them during their sojourn here upon the earth. This is not to say that trials, tribulations and calamities would not come upon them, but with His constant presence, they could withstand, and overcome, them. This thought cannot be expressed any greater than the inspired message of the apostle Paul in his letter to the church at Corinth: There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it (1 Cor. 10:13). The way of escape is only found in Christ Jesus.

Although Jesus' promise to come quickly,is thought by many bible scholars, to apply to His second coming as a thief in the night. However, it seems to be more applicable to the immediate relief from the temptations of life, that He promised in context withthepreceding verse. Comfort and consolation, as well as direction along the pathway of life, are only an earnest, believing prayer away from a righteous Christian at any time. By holding fast to that promise of our Savior we are assured that no man will be able to take thy crown of life, which is promised to all children of God, who endure the temptations of life, and remain faithful to God through, His Son, Christ Jesus (See James 1:12; Rev. 2:10).

The strength gained from sincere prayers to God through His Son is, in verse 12, compared to a pillar in the temple of My God, that is, to a strong, unmovable member of the church, who will become permanently bound to remain within the body of Christ. When one enters this church through obedience to the will of God, culminating in baptism for the remission of past sins, this scripture tells us that they are given three names. They will be known as children of God, members of the church of Christ (the New Jerusalem), and Christians, the name given to all followers of Jesus Christ. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.