Impact

Seven Church Conditions during the Church Age – the “Canceled” and Faithful Congregation

As we study the prophetic messages to the seven congregations in this series, we will quickly see that they follow the same well-defined structure. The Lord begins each message with a greeting that relates back to John’s vision of Jesus, the Son of Man, in the heavenly scene in the first chapter of the Revelation. In other words, Jesus greets each congregation with an aspect of His person or His title that relates who He is to their particular circumstance. Jesus then commends the congregation for the good things He can say to them. Jesus then exhorted the congregations to take the appropriate action with a promise of blessings for obedience. The believers were to overcome must be understood within the context of the struggles and temptations each congregation faced. Furthermore, the Lord connects the congregation’s spiritual condition with the city’s character and reputation in each letter. (4)

Because the believers were being persecuted, the Lord wanted to encourage them as well as challenge them in areas where they were failing to live up to their high calling. He introduced Himself as the exalted Son of Man in a way that related to their individual situations, both physically and spiritually. He gave each congregation a word of promise to the overcomers and a warning of consequences if they did not obey His instructions. It is most important that we realize His words of promise were not to those who failed to repent. The Lord only had harsh words to those who were carnal and lukewarm in their commitment. The Lord did not give any of these congregations a watered-down, seeker-friendly, entertaining message. The very survival of the Lord’s work in the city depended on the believers responding positively to what the Lord told them. He promised blessings to the overcomers but chastening to those who did not heed His message. (4)

This broken archway, now with a mosque in the background, is believed to have supported a church dome in ancient Philadelphia

The Congregation at Philadelphia

With this introduction, let’s get some background information about Philadelphia that will help us understand why the Lord said what He did to the believers in this strategic city. Then we will study this prophetic message with a view of its practical application to our world and lives today. (4)

Background

On his next-to-last stop, the courier with the prophetic messages from God traveled about 28 miles southeast of Sardis to Philadelphia. Philadelphia was located on the main Roman postal road at an important east-west and north-south junction. Situated on a high plateau, the city was about 100 miles inland from Smyrna, making it a gateway city to the east. Other than its important location at the junction, Philadelphia was not a large, influential town like the others where the Lord sent His letters. (4)

The people of Philadelphia believed because of where they were located, and because they had an open door to the East, it was their responsibility to almost behave like missionaries, and take their culture and civilization beyond their borders through the open door into the East. In essence, they were a missionary city that took culture and language into new regions. (7)

It is interesting how Philadelphia got its name. Historians believe this came about at the time the city was founded. Eumenes was the king of Pergamos from 197-159 B.C. His brother who succeeded him was Attalus (1) (159-138 B.C.). The Romans tried to cause a rivalry between the two brothers, but Attalus remained loyal to Eumenes. As a result, Eumenes started referring to his brother by the name Philadelphus, which in Greek means “brotherly love.” When Eumenes and Attalus built the city, they named it as a witness to their relationship. When Attalus died he did not have a successor, so he bequeathed his territory to the Romans (1) in 133 B.C.

Philadelphia changed names several times. When Tiberius helped the city recover from an earthquake, the city elders renamed the town in honor of the emperor and called it Neocaesarea. Later, when Emperor Vespasian aided the city, they renamed it after him and called it Flavia. (4)

Over the next centuries, Philadelphia embraced so many Greek gods and goddesses it was known as “Little Athens.” This is clear evidence that Byzantine Christianity was not able to convert the city from its paganisms. This must have been a real heartache for the believers. In view of these frequent changes, names were important to the small struggling community of believers at Philadelphia. The ancient city is now called Alasehir, and has a population of about 40,000. About the only archaeological remains are those of a Byzantine Basilica. (4)

The most important fact we need to know about the history of Philadelphia is that it was situated in an area where there were frequent and violent earthquakes. Philadelphia was destroyed in the A.D. 17 earthquake that destroyed Sardis, Laodicea, and other cities in the area. These and other cities in the area were destroyed by another earthquake in A.D. 60. Since the pagan temples were the only structures built to withstand earthquakes, the temples would be the most secure structure in the city. In a really severe earthquake, the pillars of the temples would be about the only thing left standing. (4)

People who have lived through an earthquake tell us that the fear of anticipation of aftershocks is as unsettling to their souls as the after-shocks are to the land. The people in Philadelphia lived constantly with this fear. After the earthquakes, the citizens of Philadelphia would leave the rubble of the city and go out into the nearby fields and live in tents. Then, when the tremors stopped and they rebuilt their homes, they would return to the city. So the people were always going in and coming out. We have witnessed this in our own times in places where there have been earthquakes and other natural disasters. (4)

Volcanic soil is great for growing grapes. As a result, vineyards and winemaking was the main source of income for the city. In the chapter about Pergamos, I mentioned that Dionysus was considered the god of wine. He would have been the principal “god” at Philadelphia. Festivals and drunken revelry would have been held in his honor. (4)

Sarcophagi and other antiquities reside in a small city block in Alasehir, Turkey, the ancient city of Philadelphia
Alasehir, Turkey, the ancient city of Philadelphia

Select one of the Seven Cities in the Google Map (below), then select “View in Google Maps” on the left to explore each of the Seven Congregations of The Revelation.

Seven Churches of Revelation

The Greeting

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write the following: “This is the solemn pronouncement of the Holy One, the True One, who holds the key of David, who opens doors no one can shut, and shuts doors no one can open: (Revelation 3:7 NET)

As just mentioned, Philadelphia in Greek means “brotherly love.” The word is found six additional times in the New Testament. (Romans 12:10; First Thessalonians 4:9; Hebrews 13:1; First Peter 1:22; Second Peter 1:7.) How did the Lord greet His people who were living in the city of “brotherly love”? He makes two statements about Himself. First, He encourages them by reminding them that He is the One who is holy and true. (4)

Unlike the many Greek gods and goddesses and Roman emperors, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is holy and true. This means that He is altogether different from His creation and is the ultimate reality. And He is the only one who is perfect in these attributes. The Greek gods and goddesses all had human traits. (4)

Later in the Book of Revelation, the overcomers in Heaven sang:

They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful! Just and true are your ways, King over the nations! Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name, because you alone are holy? All nations will come and worship before you for your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:3–4 NET)

As the divine Son of God, Jesus has the same attributes as His Father in Heaven. At His first coming, the angel Gabriel said to Mary: (4)

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35 NET)

Then, at His second coming, John had a spiritual vision of the Lord and wrote: (4)

Then I saw heaven opened and here came a white horse! The one riding it was called “Faithful” and “True,” and with justice he judges and goes to war. (Revelation 19:11 NET)

Yes, Jesus is the perfect, holy, faithful, and true One. He has put His Spirit in His followers to empower us so that we too can live a holy life that is faithful and true to Him. (4)

but, like the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in all of your conduct, for it is written, “You shall be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15–16 NET)

In his second letter, Peter reminds us that the world as we know it is going to be purged with fire. Therefore, we should live holy and blameless lives as we draw near to His appearance. (4)

Peter writes:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief; when it comes, the heavens will disappear with a horrific noise, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze, and the earth and every deed done on it will be laid bare.Since all these things are to melt away in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness,while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Because of this day, the heavens will be burned up and dissolve, and the celestial bodies will melt away in a blaze!But, according to his promise, we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness truly resides. Therefore, dear friends, since you are waiting for these things, strive to be found at peace, without spot or blemish, when you come into his presence. (2 Peter 3:10–14 NET)

Jesus also identifies Himself as the One who has the key of David, with which He can open and no person can shut, and He can shut and no person can open. (4)

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write the following: “This is the solemn pronouncement of the Holy One, the True One, who holds the key of David, who opens doors no one can shut, and shuts doors no one can open: (Revelation 3:7 NET)

So, what did Jesus mean by this statement? He was referencing an incident recorded by Isaiah in regard to the most trusted official to King Hezekiah. Shebna was the chief of staff for King Hezekiah. In this responsibility, he had the keys to the king’s palace. No one could see the king without Shebna’s approval. He was the one who opened and closed the doors to the king. Shebna had great authority, but it was a delegated authority and not his own. Yet he was filled with pride and made a burial vault for himself in the fashion that was reserved for kings. The Lord was not pleased and judged Shebna because of his pride. (4)

Isaiah explains:

This is what the sovereign master, the LORD who commands armies, says: “Go visit this administrator, Shebna, who supervises the palace, and tell him: ‘What right do you have to be here? What relatives do you have buried here? Why do you chisel out a tomb for yourself here? He chisels out his burial site in an elevated place, he carves out his tomb on a cliff. Look, the LORD will throw you far away, you mere man! He will wrap you up tightly. He will wind you up tightly into a ball and throw you into a wide, open land. There you will die, and there with you will be your impressive chariots, which bring disgrace to the house of your master. I will remove you from your office; you will be thrown down from your position. (Isaiah 22:15–19 NET)

The Lord then replaced Shebna with one more worthy. Eliakim took Shebna’s place as Hezekiah’s chief of staff. He was given much glory and honor throughout the kingdom. Eliakim now had the keys to the kingdom of the House of David. He could open any door he wanted and lock any door he chose. He was the chief executive and administrator of the king’s affairs. (4)

As Isaiah explains:

“At that time I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah. I will put your robe on him, tie your belt around him, and transfer your authority to him. He will become a protector of the residents of Jerusalem and of the people of Judah. I will place the key to the house of David on his shoulder. When he opens the door, no one can close it; when he closes the door, no one can open it. I will fasten him like a peg into a solid place; he will bring honor and respect to his father’s family. (Isaiah 22:20–23 NET)

The Lord says that the key to the house or kingdom of David will lay on his shoulders. This is an interesting statement. To take in the full meaning of the phrase, we must understand the word picture and symbolism of keys. In Bible times, keys were not small like they are in western culture. They were very large, made of wood, and worked with wooden pegs to fit corresponding holes in the lock which kept the door fastened. Because a key was large, it was difficult to carry in one’s hand. Instead, it was carried on the shoulder and was the sign of official authority. Using Bible language, the person who had the keys of the kingdom on his shoulder was said to have the government upon his shoulder. (4)

Jesus uses this imagery to say that He is the One Isaiah spoke about in another passage: (4)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. (Isaiah 9:6–7 NET)

The Commendation

‘I know your deeds. (Look! I have put in front of you an open door that no one can shut.) I know that you have little strength, but you have obeyed my word and have not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8 NET)

Like the persecuted believers at Smyrna, the Lord only has good things to say to the congregation at Philadelphia. While the doors of professional advancement and social acceptance may have been closed to them, the Lord promises to open the door of His Kingdom to them. And no local authority can close it. The clear implication is that entrance into the Kingdom of God is much more to be desired than entrance or acceptance into the pagan community at Philadelphia. (4)

This Word is certainly relevant for us today. The time is coming and is even now when godly Bible believers will find the doors of professional advancement and social acceptance closed. We will be shut out by those in power who hate our holy lives, our faithfulness to God’s Word, and our need to speak the truth in love. That is, we will be “canceled” (1) by the “cancel culture.”

Cancel:  to withdraw one’s support for (someone, such as a celebrity, or something, such as a company) publicly and especially on social media (5)

Cancel Culture: the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure (6)

Yet, the Lord promises that if we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, He will open His Kingdom doors to us and give us all that we need to fulfill our destiny. (4)

So then, don’t worry saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the unconverted pursue these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So then, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:31–34 NET)

The words of the psalmist are so appropriate to our times.

Certainly spending just one day in your temple courts is better than spending a thousand elsewhere. I would rather stand at the entrance to the temple of my God than live in the tents of the wicked. For the LORD God is our sovereign protector. The LORD bestows favor and honor; he withholds no good thing from those who have integrity. (Psalm 84:10–11 NET)

Because they have not had much influence on the community, the congregation at Philadelphia apparently felt like a failure. But the Son of Man tells them that He knows their works and He commends them for three things. (4)

Eventually, the church in Philadelphia also assumed a missionary role. Because of where they were located, they had opportunities that other churches in Asia did not have. They could take the Gospel into the lands to the East. Philadelphia had a mission—to take the Gospel of Jesus to neighboring Lydia, Phrygia, and Mysia. That is, the church had an open door because they were nestled in the border city of Philadelphia. (7)

I. He encourages them by recognizing that they have a little strength. While this may not sound like a “glowing report,” the Lord is acknowledging that they do have a measure of spiritual anointing, authority, and power. That is a good thing. Like the believers at Philadelphia, we may sometimes feel as if we do not have much left in our spiritual gas tank. But the Lord is gracious and is always looking for something good in us that He can praise. (4)

Paul said it this way to the believers at Philippi:

For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus [Yeshua the Messiah]. (Philippians 1:6 NET)

If you are feeling like you only have a little spiritual strength, do not be discouraged. We do not live by our feelings but by faith in God’s faithfulness to finish the work He has started in us. If you are facing difficult challenges in your life and feel like you are not very spiritual, God will help you and give you the strength you need. (4)

As Paul said to the same believers at Philippi:

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence,for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God. (Philippians 2:12–13 NET)

II. The Lord commends them because they have kept or obeyed His Word. God’s Word is not just to be learned for the sake of getting information; it is to be obeyed. Many say that they love the Lord, but they don’t do what He says. They are deceived and blind to their true spiritual condition. (4)

Jesus coupled loving Him with obeying Him. He told His disciples:

“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. (John 14:15 NET)
The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.” “Lord,” Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “what has happened that you are going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him.The person who does not love me does not obey my words. And the word you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:21–24 NET)

The believers at Philadelphia were not only learning God’s Word, they were keeping God’s Word. Sometimes believers today confuse knowing God’s Word with keeping or obeying God’s Word. Just because we know something does not mean we are doing it. We must get past the Western idea of learning for the sake of knowledge and learn for the sake of reverencing God and doing His Word. (4)

In times when we may be persecuted for confessing our faith, knowledge without obedience may cause us more harm than good. In hard times we will be challenged to “practice what we preach.” Christianity is much more than a doctrine. It is a way of life. We must have the spiritual resolve to “live the Word” and not just confess the Word. (4)

As James said,

But be sure you live out the message and do not merely listen to it and so deceive yourselves. (James 1:22 NET)

As John said,

Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments. The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person. But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has been perfected. By this we know that we are in him. The one who says he resides in God ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked. Dear friends, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have already heard. On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.The one who says he is in the light but still hates his fellow Christian is still in the darkness. The one who loves his fellow Christian resides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.But the one who hates his fellow Christian is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:3–11 NET)

III. The Lord commends the believers at Philadelphia because they have not denied His name. After Jesus was resurrected and sent the Holy Spirit, His disciples did many miracles in and around Jerusalem. Because of this, thousands who witnessed the miracles and heard the name of Jesus proclaimed became His followers. This included a lame man Peter healed at the gate of the Temple. The high priest was infuriated. He had Peter and John brought before him so he could interrogate and intimidate them. He ordered them not to preach, teach, or heal in the name of Jesus. (4)

Acts reads:

And they called them in and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:18 NET)

Peter and John responded,

But Peter and John replied, “Whether it is right before God to obey you rather than God, you decide, for it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19–20 NET)

When the high priest let Peter and John go, they continued their ministry in the name of Jesus. The Lord honored the preaching of His name and His Word and healed many people. Once again, the high priest arrested the disciples and interrogated them. (4)

Acts explains:

When they had brought them, they stood them before the council, and the high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people. (Acts 5:27–29 NET)

Before letting them go, the high priest beat the disciples and again commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus. This did not deter the disciples, but made them even more determined, as we read: (4)

So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.And every day both in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 5:41–42 NET)

As the governments of the world, including America, become more godless, the clash between light and darkness, good and evil, Judeo-Christianity, and the New World Order will become more evident. There will be a repeat of the conflict we read about in the Book of Acts between the establishment and the people of God. We modern believers must be like the early disciples, the believers at Philadelphia, and God’s holy remnant who have been persecuted throughout the ages. In the face of interrogation and intimidation, we must not deny our Lord. We must resolve now that we will obey God rather than man when faced with the choice. (4)

Jesus said:

But when they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you should make your defense or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you must say.” (Luke 12:11–12 NET)
“Whoever, then, acknowledges me before people, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before people, I will deny him also before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32–33 NET)

We are blessed if the Lord counts us worthy to suffer for His name. God will give us the conviction, courage, and strength to speak boldly of His name. (2)

As Peter wrote:

But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken.But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess.Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:14–17 NET)

Exhortation Sans Rebuke

Like the persecuted believers at Smyrna, the Lord only has good things to say to the congregation at Philadelphia. He gives them no rebuke. (4)

The Promise

Listen! I am going to make those people from the synagogue of Satan—who say they are Jews yet are not, but are lying—Look, I will make them come and bow down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away your crown. The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God (the new Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from my God), and my new name as well. The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:9–13 NET)

The Lord gives these faithful, struggling believers four incredible promises.

I. Jesus says that those who have opposed them will ultimately acknowledge that they are the true children of God. The Lord will vindicate them by confessing them before His Father in Heaven. Their tormentors will also make this confession. If people have spoken evil of you because of your life as a believer, the Lord will “get even for you.” It will certainly be a sweet time of acknowledgment, recognition, and vindication for your faithfulness. (4)

Jesus identifies the group persecuting the believers as belonging to the same group in Smyrna (1). They were both called the “synagogue of Satan” and they both claimed to be Jews but were not. As previously pointed out (1), there were then, as there are now, groups who claim to be Jews but are not Jews. (4)

‘I know the distress you are suffering and your poverty (but you are rich). I also know the slander against you by those who call themselves Jews and really are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9 NET)
Listen! I am going to make those people from the synagogue of Satan—who say they are Jews yet are not, but are lying—Look, I will make them come and bow down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. (Revelation 3:9 NET)

While it may be true that these are Jews, we really do not know who Jesus is talking about and cannot assume they are Jews. Whoever they were, they were claiming to be God’s chosen ones and were persecuting the followers of Jesus. Interestingly, archaeologists have never found any evidence of a synagogue in Philadelphia. However, an inscription from the third century was found 10 miles east of the city referencing a “synagogue of the Hebrews.”

II. The Lord promises to keep them from the hour of trial, which will come upon the whole earth to test those who dwell on the earth. This statement refers to the return of Jesus (1) at the end of the age of which there has been much confusion.

Many in their congregations have been taught that they will not see the Antichrist or his great tribulation but rather be taken (Raptured) off the earth preceding this time (Pre-Tribulationism). What will occur when these believers suddenly realize that the church is in the midst of the Seventieth Week? Some will refuse to believe it, like the dead church of Sardis (1). Others will scramble to find church leaders who know why the rapture did not occur. (26)

At this moment, when the church is in a horrific panic, these incredible false prophets will arise. They will perform amazing miracles and lead thousands astray into the very clutches of the Antichrist. From the Lord’s letters to the seven churches, we must remember that the body of Christ entering the Seventieth Week will be full of bad teaching, false doctrine, and false prophets. Christ, in the seven letters, commanded these believers to overcome and persevere through this period. According to Jesus, His disciples will soon face a choice that will reveal how genuine their faith in Christ is. (26)

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write the following: “This is the solemn pronouncement of the Holy One, the True One, who holds the key of David, who opens doors no one can shut, and shuts doors no one can open: ‘I know your deeds. (Look! I have put in front of you an open door that no one can shut.) I know that you have little strength, but you have obeyed my word and have not denied my name. Listen! I am going to make those people from the synagogue of Satan—who say they are Jews yet are not, but are lying—Look, I will make them come and bow down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have so that no one can take away your crown. The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God (the new Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from my God), and my new name as well. The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:7–13 NET)

John wrote:

“Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” (18)

There is a clearly delineated cause-and-effect relationship. Because faithful believers, for their part, will have kept the word of God’s patience, He, for His part, will keep them from the hour of testing. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the meaning of “Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly.” (18)

The Koine Greek word translated as “endure steadfastly” in Revelation 3:10 occurs thirty-two times in the New Testament. It consistently conveys the idea of endurance amid adversity. (18)

The words “endure steadfastly” are described as an endurance that is grounded in waiting, a waiting that expresses itself in endurance. (30) It is the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances. (29)

Jesus taught,

But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will be a time for you to serve as witnesses.Therefore be resolved not to rehearse ahead of time how to make your defense. For I will give you the words along with the wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will have some of you put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name. Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. (Luke 21:12–19 NET)

Believers are admonished to remain faithful amid adversity. The worst men can do is harm the physical and temporal body; they cannot touch the spiritual and eternal soul. (18)

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 NET)

Paul used the word endurance in the same way in writing to the Thessalonians: (18)

We thank God always for all of you as we mention you constantly in our prayers, because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,in that our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (surely you recall the character we displayed when we came among you to help you). And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite great affliction. (1 Thessalonians 1:2–6 NET)

A second time, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians using the identical Greek word, (18)

As a result we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you are enduring. (2 Thessalonians 1:4 NET)

The apostle John, writing in the context of the abomination of desolation which will occur in the middle of the seventieth week, taught: (18)

If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints. (Revelation 13:10 NET)

Believers will be severely persecuted in that time. Some will be sent into captivity, with others slain. But those who perpetrate those deeds will be appropriately punished by God. Those who send others into captivity will themselves be sent into captivity. Those who kill with the sword will themselves be killed by the sword. (18)

God is just, and living faith will always exhibit patience. (18)

But we passionately want each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of your hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and perseverance inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11 NET)
These all died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13 NET)

Faith and patience complement one another like a hand and glove. The believer who has faith will always exhibit patience. He is to endure and abide faithfully amid adversity. And the ultimate, humanly instigated adversity will be the Great Tribulation. (18)

John wrote again in the context of the middle of the seventieth week: (18)

A third angel followed the first two, declaring in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and takes the mark on his forehead or his hand, that person will also drink of the wine of God’s anger that has been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tortured with fire and sulfur in front of the holy angels and in front of the Lamb. And the smoke from their torture will go up forever and ever, and those who worship the beast and his image will have no rest day or night, along with anyone who receives the mark of his name.” This requires the steadfast endurance of the saints—those who obey God’s commandments and hold to their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:9–12 NET)

In this text, John is contrasting two groups of men:

The first group is those who submit to the Antichrist, give him their allegiance, and receive his mark. Their just reward will be to experience the undiluted wrath of God.

The second group is those who exhibit patience (endurance amid adversity), some of whom will suffer martyrdom. But of them, it is written:

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: ‘Blessed are the dead, those who die in the Lord from this moment on!’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so they can rest from their hard work, because their deeds will follow them.” (Revelation 14:13 NET)
Then I saw another great and astounding sign in heaven: seven angels who have seven final plagues (they are final because in them God’s anger is completed). Then I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and his image and the number of his name. They were standing by the sea of glass, holding harps given to them by God. (Revelation 15:1–2 NET)

In its biblical usage, endurance conveys the idea of enduring amid affliction. It is frequently used in the context of the seventieth week of Daniel (Luke 21:19; Revelation 13:10; 14:12). There is a reason for an appeal to patience for believers living during that seventieth week: (18)

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, the elect. Be careful! I have told you everything ahead of time. (Mark 13:22–23 NET)
Jesus answered them, “Watch out that no one misleads you. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many. (Matthew 24:4–5 NET)
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Remember, I have told you ahead of time. So then, if someone says to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe him. For just like the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. (Matthew 24:24–27 NET)

Several salient points must be made. First, God has promised the church of Philadelphia that those who keep the word of His patience, He will keep from the hour of temptation. (To apply the promise given to the church of Philadelphia, and the type of Christians it represents, to all of Christendom is to interpret the Scriptures nonliterally. It is only the church of Philadelphia, and it’s steadfastly enduring Christians, that are promised exemption from “the hour of temptation.”) Patience is enduring or remaining steadfast amid adversity. It is to overcome difficulties, persevere, stand firm, and stand one’s ground. (18)

But there is no known or prophesied adversity for the days immediately before the seventieth week of Daniel, and if there is, the Rapture cannot be imminent. If the Rapture occurs pretribulationally, there is no sense in which believers can be said to be keeping the word of His patience and enduring adversity. There is no reason or logic for that concept. (18)

If, on the other hand, Revelation 3:10 describes an event in the middle of the seventieth week, it makes perfect sense. During the first three and one-half years, false Christs and prophets will emerge; they will do false signs and wonders to seemingly authenticate their false message. Believers will be seduced, hated, and betrayed: (18)

“Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of my name. Then many will be led into sin, and they will betray one another and hate one another. (Matthew 24:9–10 NET)
When they arrest you and hand you over for trial, do not worry about what to speak. But say whatever is given you at that time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rise against parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (Mark 13:11–13 NET)
But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you, handing you over to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will be a time for you to serve as witnesses. Therefore be resolved not to rehearse ahead of time how to make your defense. For I will give you the words along with the wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will have some of you put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of my name.Yet not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives. (Luke 21:12–19 NET)

The love of many for God will grow cold:

And many false prophets will appear and deceive many, and because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:11–12 NET)

In that environment, the faith that exhibits patience – that endures amid adversity, that does not reject the true Christ for a false Christ-will be rewarded: “Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” (18)

A second important term is also encountered. It is the word temptation.

Realize two different Koine Greek words in the New Testament have both been translated “to test”:

  • Peirazo
  • Dokimazo.

Peirazo (pi-rad’-zō) – to try or test intentionally to discover what good or evil, power or weakness, was in a person or thing.  However, since men fail so often, this word has a predominant meaning of putting to the test with the intention and the hope that the one put to the test may break down under it.  This word is used with this meaning of the solicitations and suggestions of Satan to get us to act on the sin in our hearts.  It is infrequently used for testing by God, where He allows us to see the hidden (from us) sin in our own hearts before acting on it. 

Scriptural examples of peirazo:

Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. (Revelation 3:10 NET)
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. (James 1:13 NET)
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matthew 4:1 NET)
Jesus said to him, “Once again it is written: ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7 NET)
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13 NET)  
No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NET)
But Jesus realized their evil intentions and said, “Hypocrites! Why are you testing me? (Matthew 22:18 NET)
Then Jesus, when he looked up and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, said to Philip, “Where can we buy bread so that these people may eat?” (Now Jesus said this to test him, for he knew what he was going to do.) Philip replied, “Two hundred silver coins worth of bread would not be enough for them, for each one to get a little.” (John 6:5–7 NET)

Dokimazo (dŏk-im-ad’-zō) – testing someone or something to approve it.  The word further implies that the trial was made in the expectation and hope of victory!  This word is used for testing by God, but never of Satan.

Scriptural examples of dokimazo:

Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going out to examine them. Please excuse me.’ (Luke 14:19 NET)
but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NET) 
each builder’s  work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. (1 Corinthians 3:13 NET)
A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. (1 Corinthians 11:28 NET)
Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold – gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away – and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:7 NET)

A scriptural example of peirazo and dokimazo in the same verse:  

Put yourselves to the test (peirazo) to see if you are in the faith; examine (dokimazo) yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you – unless, indeed, you fail the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5 NET)

The Koine Greek word for testing, found in Revelation 3:10, is peirazo, which occurs twenty-one times in the New Testament. (18)

It is impossible to rightly conclude that to be kept from the hour of temptation is to be raptured before the Day of the Lord commences. The Day of the Lord has no temptation or test associated with it. When all of the Day of the Lord texts are scrutinized, they indicate nothing of testing. The Day of the Lord is a time of divine judgment, of absolute, awesome wrath on a godless and unrepentant world, not testing. (18)

The Day of the Lord will vindicate God’s holiness and righteousness through judgment. It will be the natural outcome of God’s final testing of man during the Great Tribulation, but not the testing itself. The prophet Isaiah wrote of the Day of the Lord that it would be a time of destruction by the Almighty, a time of wrath and fierce anger, a time when God would punish the world for its evil, a time when He will shake the heavens and the earth but not a time of testing. (18)

Wail, for the Lord’s day of judgment is near; it comes with all the destructive power of the sovereign judge. For this reason all hands hang limp, every human heart loses its courage. They panic— cramps and pain seize hold of them like those of a woman who is straining to give birth. They look at one another in astonishment; their faces are flushed red. Look, the Lord’s day of judgment is coming; it is a day of cruelty and savage, raging anger, destroying the earth and annihilating its sinners. Indeed the stars in the sky and their constellations no longer give out their light; the sun is darkened as soon as it rises, and the moon does not shine. I will punish the world for its evil, and wicked people for their sin. I will put an end to the pride of the insolent, I will bring down the arrogance of tyrants. I will make human beings more scarce than pure gold, and people more scarce than gold from Ophir. So I will shake the heavens, and the earth will shake loose from its foundation, because of the fury of the Lord who commands armies, in the day he vents his raging anger. (Isaiah 13:6–13 NET)

The Great Tribulation, by contrast, is a time of testing. Professing believers will have an unprecedented opportunity to prove themselves and demonstrate the genuineness of their faith by steadfastness amid adversity. (18)

The image of the Antichrist will be erected in the temple. False prophets will abound. Men will be commanded to bow down and worship the Antichrist. Death will be the punishment for those who do not comply. Here is a test with enormous and eternal consequences.

During that time, humanity will either bow to the Antichrist and receive his mark;

The second beast was empowered to give life to the image of the first beast so that it could speak, and could cause all those who did not worship the image of the beast to be killed. He also caused everyone (small and great, rich and poor, free and slave) to obtain a mark on their right hand or on their forehead. Thus no one was allowed to buy or sell things unless he bore the mark of the beast—that is, his name or his number. (Revelation 13:15–17 NET)

OR

Give their allegiance solely to the true Christ and receive His mark. (18)

The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never depart from it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God (the new Jerusalem that comes down out of heaven from my God), and my new name as well. (Revelation 3:12 NET)
Then I looked, and here was the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were one hundred and forty-four thousand, who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1 NET)
And there will no longer be any curse, and the throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city. His servants will worship him, and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:3–4 NET)

Back to Revelation 3:10.

The Lord taught:

Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. (Revelation 3:10 NET)

The Koine Greek word translated as “keep” in Revelation 3:10 occurs seventy-one times in the New Testament. It consistently conveys the idea: “to preserve,” “to protect,” or “to guard.” Jesus promises to preserve, protect, and guard these overcomers within the Great Tribulation.

Those who keep the word of His patience are those who, under the stress and pressure of the first three and one-half years of the seventieth week (i.e., the Beginning of Birth Pains), stay steadfast and true in the face of adversity. They will be the overcomers. As a result, “Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” The “hour of testing” (a specifically appointed time) is the Great Tribulation. It begins in the middle of the seventieth week; however, it will be “cut short” before the end of the seventieth week. (18)

Daniel’s 70th Week

Some men will be kept from that hour in two ways. They will be kept “from the hour” by physical relocation from the area of persecution (perhaps men of faith and patience who are watchful will flee Jerusalem, as history records a believing remnant did before the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70). Others will be kept “through the hour of temptation” by direct, divine protection. Both concepts, removal from the area of persecution and protection from the hour of testing, are correct. (18)

An analogy of this promise of exemption from the coming temptation can be illustrated this way: A professor challenges his class with the remark: (18)

“If when we come to the final exam, you have an A average, you will not have to take the test” (that is, if you got an A in all the quizzes, tests, and assignments, you are exempted from the final exam). Only some students will not have to take the final test – those who have already proven themselves. The Lord promises exemption from the hour of testing only to those who, in His words, have “kept the word of my patience” (that is, who have faithfully endured during the adversity of the first three and one-half years). They are exemplified by the church of Philidelphia (1). (18)

Of that church and its overcoming Christians, the Lord said,

‘I know your deeds. (Look! I have put in front of you an open door that no one can shut.) I know that you have little strength, but you have obeyed my word and have not denied my name. Listen! I am going to make those people from the synagogue of Satan—who say they are Jews yet are not, but are lying—Look, I will make them come and bow down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. (Revelation 3:8–10 NET)

No such exemption is promised to the other six churches. For instance, to the church of Thyatira (1), the Lord said,

But I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and by her teaching deceives my servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.I have given her time to repent, but she is not willing to repent of her sexual immorality. Look! I am throwing her onto a bed of violent illness, and those who commit adultery with her into terrible suffering, unless they repent of her deeds. Furthermore, I will strike her followers with a deadly disease, and then all the churches will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts. I will repay each one of you what your deeds deserve. (Revelation 2:20–23 NET)

Jesus also said,

“Whoever, then, acknowledges me before people, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever denies me before people, I will deny him also before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32–33 NET)
For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:26 NET)

The phrase “I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation” in Revelation 3:10 is not a watershed verse to determine the timing of the Rapture. It has nothing to do with the timing of the Rapture. It deals with the Great Tribulation and holds out the promise – the glorious promise – that a remnant who have stayed true to the Lord during the first three and one-half years of the “Beginning of Birth Pains” will be kept from the temptation of the “Great Tribulation,” which will try the souls of men under the barbaric reign of the Antichrist. The Rapture and the “Day of the Lord” will follow the Great Tribulation. (10)

Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. Revelation 3:10

Jesus Himself used the same terminology and prayed to the Father,

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but that you keep them safe from the evil one. (John 17:15). 

The Lord’s words should be very clear to any of us who want to know the truth rather than the religious teachings of men. He does not pray that believers be removed from the earth but that we can overcome the evil one. (10)

Jesus repeated a similar phrase when He taught His disciples how to pray. He said we should pray,

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. (Matthew 6:13 NET)

Is there any believer who has not been tempted by the evil one? Of course not; we all have. Clearly, Jesus is not saying that we will not be tempted but that we should pray for God to help us overcome [be delivered from] the evil one. The second part of His statement clarifies the first part. To be delivered from the evil one means to overcome the evil one. (10)

No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NET)

The Lord’s promise is not that believers will be removed from the earth but that He will protect us from the Great Tribulation and help us overcome the evil one by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. (10)

But they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die. (Revelation 12:11 NET)

The Lord tells them it will be quick or sudden when He comes. Therefore, they should hold fast to their little strength so no one will take their crown. (10)

Malachi prophesied the following about the time before the Day of the Lord (i.e., the Great Tribulation Period):

Then those who respected the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord took notice. A scroll was prepared before him in which were recorded the names of those who respected the Lord and honored his name. “They will belong to me,” says the Lord who rules over all, “in the day when I prepare my own special property. I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you will see that I make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between the one who serves God and the one who does not. (Malachi 3:16–18 NET)

Let’s not be naïve. We live in a post-Judeo-Christian world.

Jesus said,

I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage—I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33).

III. Jesus will make them a pillar in the temple of God, and they shall go out no more. The Lord refers to the situation in Philadelphia when the earthquakes destroyed the city, and the people had to go out to the fields and live in tents. As I explained earlier, the only structures built to withstand earthquakes were the pagan temples. And sometimes, the pillars of the temples were the only structures to survive. There are many pillars of ancient structures still standing today. Also, the tents were only temporary dwellings. (4)

What the Lord wants them to know is that, unlike the physical pillars in pagan temples, the people themselves will be the pillars in God’s temple in His New Jerusalem. Of course, the Lord is using a figure of speech to help them understand His point. The people will not be literal pillars. Since God Himself will be with them, there will be no need for a physical temple in the New Jerusalem. (4)

Now I saw no temple in the city, because the Lord God—the All-Powerful—and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God lights it up, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:22–23 NET)

By relating to the physical situation of the city, Jesus used terminology that spoke of a sure foundation of permanence. There will be no earthquakes in the city of God. The people won’t have to constantly come in and go out of God’s city and live in temporary shelters. They will be safe and secure forever in God’s presence in His eternal city. (4)

IV. A threefold assurance that the Lord will place God’s name on them, the name of His city on them, and His own new name on them. This is the Lord’s way of saying in terms they would understand that the One True God is their God and that they are His people forever. They belong to Him, are citizens of God’s eternal city, the New Jerusalem, and the Lord will give them a new name that reflects their relationship with Him. This is an ancient way of communicating going all the way back to the Book of Numbers when God said He would put His name on the children of Israel and bless them. (4)

The LORD spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is the way you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “The LORD bless you and protect you; The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you; The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” ’ So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.” (Numbers 6:22–27 NET)

It was the custom to write people’s names on the pillars of public buildings and temples. For example, when Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, he called two of the pillars after people’s names. (4)

He set up the pillars on the porch in front of the main hall. He erected one pillar on the right side and called it Jakin; he erected the other pillar on the left side and called it Boaz. (1 Kings 7:21 NET)

Archaeologists have discovered many pillars bearing people’s names, including pillars of temples. Jesus is encouraging the believers in Philadelphia. Because of their faithfulness, they will forever be God’s people, living in His presence in His city that will never change names or be destroyed, and they will bear the likeness of the glorified Son of Man forever. Hallelujah! (4)

Jesus said,

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, so that they can see my glory that you gave me because you loved me before the creation of the world. (John 17:24 NET)

Paul said,

Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8 NET)

John said,

Dear friends, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet been revealed. We know that whenever it is revealed we will be like him, because we will see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure). (1 John 3:2–3 NET)

If the Lord’s message to Philadelphia applies to your organization, your ministry, or your life, find comfort in these words from Peter:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3–5 NET)

The Invitation

Thank God for the believers at Philadelphia. They had some spiritual strength, they had kept God’s Word, and they had not denied His name. No wonder the Lord made such incredible promises to them. Oh, that He would say that about us today. (4)

The faithfulness of this little company of believers should be an example for us to imitate. Just think about their situation. They are living in a city that has so many Greek gods and goddesses it is called “Little Athens.” Dionysus, the god of wine, is the chief deity at Philadelphia. Festivals to Dionysus were drunken orgies filled with every kind of debauchery imaginable. If they wanted, the city leaders could have Mardi Gras every day. (4) They were “canceled” with the doors to professional advancement and social acceptance closed.

Furthermore, the citizens of Philadelphia lived in constant fear of an earthquake. They never knew when the next “big one” would hit. They had to have their camping gear handy just in case. They were always going in and out. Nothing was permanent. The believers at Philadelphia were truly living on shaky ground. (4)

In spite of their many obstacles and challenges, the believers were faithful. This is the message for us today—faithfulness. Western Christians think of salvation by grace through faith. To our modern minds, faith is a noun, that is, it is a state of believing. It is passive, based on a mental agreement with certain religious teachings. In fact, the dictionary defines faith as “belief in God” or “a system of religious beliefs.” (4)

While this is how we normally think about the word faith, the Bible has a fuller meaning of the word. In the Bible, faith is not just a mental agreement or acceptance of certain religious teaching. It is not a passive word; it is an active word. It carries the meaning of steadfastness. The dictionary does include this larger understanding of the word faith, but it is not how we use the word in our everyday thinking and conversation. (4)

In defining the meaning of faith, the dictionary also says that faith is fidelity to one’s promises. In other words, faith is an active word that is a way of life. Faith is not just a state of believing with our minds; it is the steadfast allegiance, loyalty, and unwavering commitment to living our lives in accordance with what we believe. A person who is faithful is a person who is full of faith. They are “faith-full.” (4)

We know this is how the Lord is using the word faith because He commends the congregation at Philadelphia for keeping His command to persevere (Revelations 3:10). Because the believers at Philadelphia were faithful, the Lord promised to open the doors of His Kingdom to them, to rescue them from the great time of testing and tribulation, to avenge them against their enemies, and to give them permanence in His presence and in His holy city forever. May we live our lives in such a way that the Lord could make this promise to us. Amen!

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star!” And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say: “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wants it take the water of life free of charge. (Revelation 22:16–17 NET)

Application

Perhaps you are being “canceled” in your present location of ministry. Nevertheless, consider where you are! If you look at where you are geographically, you will find you have the opportunity and an open door that people in other places do not have. Walkthrough the open door and seize the unique opportunities that are right before your eyes! An open door was set before the church in Philadelphia, and an open door of opportunity is set before you today! (7)

Therefore be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise, taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15–16 NET)

The scripture above admonishes us to make the most of every opportunity. Are you making the most of every door of opportunity to advance the Gospel? Each day, pray and ask God for open doors to lead others to Jesus. Read and act on Matthew 9:37-38, Luke 10:2, James 5:7, Mark 16:15-18, and Isaiah 6:8.

‘I know your deeds. (Look! I have put in front of you an open door that no one can shut.) I know that you have little strength, but you have obeyed my word and have not denied my name. (Revelation 3:8 NET)

In writing, define the open door God has set before you.

It is time to walk through the open door before you. Purpose in your heart to walk through it without distraction, detour, or delay. Write out practical steps you can take to go through your open door. (7)

Seven Church Conditions during the Church Age:

Please see the following links for more information from Revelation Chapters 1-3 concerning the condition of churches during the Church Age:



Shalom
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Peace

Then he said to them, “Therefore every expert in the law who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his treasure what is new and old.” (Matthew 13:52 NET)


(1) Select the link to open another article with additional information in a new tab.

(2) The catching away or rapture of the church will occur before the Day of the Lord. 

  • Traditionally we have called this event “The Rapture,” although this word does not appear in most Bible translations.  The word rapture comes from the Latin, Rapare, which means to “take away” or “snatch out.” The word with the meaning of rapture in the Bible is the Greek word harpozo.  This Greek word harpozo is literally translated as “caught up” and has the following meanings: to carry off by force or rescue from the danger of destruction.  Jesus will carry us off by force when He removes us through the territory of the Prince of the Power of the Air (lower denser atmosphere(3)) who will apparently attempt to interfere with our leaving Earth (Ephesians 2:2). Jesus will rescue us from the danger of destruction by taking us to Heaven before the Great Tribulation.
  • The last church age listed in Revelations 3 is the Laodicean age. The genuine Christians in this church will be kept from “the hour of testing that comes upon the whole world” (i.e., The Great Tribulation) (Revelation 3:10. 1 Thessalonians 1:10. 1 Thessalonians 5:9)
  • The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ is broken up into three parts (Revelation 1:19):
  1. The things that you have seen – the Patmos Vision of the Lord Jesus (Revelation 1).
  2. The things are – the end-time types of churches (Revelation 2 and Revelation 3).
  3. The things that will take place after this – events taking place in the future (Revelation 4-22).

(3) The Greek word used here for air is “aer,” which refers to the lower denser atmosphere. This is in contrast with the Greek work “aither,” speaking of the upper thinner atmosphere. For example, a Greek would stand on Mount Olympus (6,403 feet high) and point up to “aither” and down to “are.”

(4) Booker, R. (2011). The overcomers: series- understanding the book of Revelation. Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image.

(5) Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Cancel. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved March 26, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cancel

(6) Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Cancel culture. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved March 26, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cancel%20culture

(7) Renner, R. (2019). Companion study guide: Christ’s message to Philidelphia Rick Renner Ministries. www.renner.org

(26) Salerno, Jr., Donald A., (2010). Revelation Unsealed. Virtualbookworm.com Publish-ing, Inc.

Hal has taught the Bible for over three decades. Through an interdenominational ministry dedicated to helping the local church build men for Jesus, Hal trained men, the leaders of men’s ministries, and provided pulpit supply. Before that, he was a Men’s Ministry Leader and an Adult Bible Fellowship teacher of a seventy-five-member class at a denominational megachurch. Presently, Hal desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home.  DOULOS HAL'S TOPICAL INDEX

Leave a Reply