“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” (Revelation 3:8 NKJV).
One of the most visited sites in Kathmandu, Nepal is the Hindu temple called “Pashupati Nath.” This is actually a large complex of temples and related structures including schools, housing for priests and other religious officials, and administrative buildings. One notable feature is the limitation on entry. The main temple door has a sign posted denying access to anyone except Hindus.
Doors can be many things. They are normally entries (and exits) which provide access. This may be literal or metaphorical (for example, “doors of opportunity”). At the same time, a door may be a barrier. A closed, locked, door prevents entry and/or exit, either barring one from the privileges of an insider or keeping one as a prisoner. In other usages, a door may be a passageway or transition from one place or situation to another, a frame (at least the door-way) through which other views are possible, or a prized artifact, valued for itself.
Of all of these possibilities, the normal meaning of access or denial is most prevalent. An open door is an invitation to enter; one that is closed at least raises the question as to whether access is possible. A door which does not yield to knocking is a rejection – it denies us of any privilege or advantage which access might promise.
In the Letters to the Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation, there are many promises made to faithful disciples. None hold more promise or encouragement than that offered to the Church in Philadelphia in which Jesus describes an open door which no one can close. Where that door leads, and what advantages it provides is subject to interpretation and analysis. Perhaps he is describing a door of opportunity for service in his kingdom. Perhaps he is promising eternal rewards to those who overcome. It is, of course, possible that both these and other meanings may be included.
Whatever the specific nature of the promise, Jesus is emphatic in making it an unlimited guarantee. He presents this certainty: “And no one can shut it!” What God gives his followers cannot be taken from them by any enemy, whether the opportunity to serve or eternal bliss.
Men make many promises, some honestly and others hypocritically. Those made sincerely are subject to human frailty. We often intend to do a thing but are simply unable to complete it. Jesus does not suffer from those weaknesses. He is all powerful and all knowing. As he identified himself in the previous verse, he is “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.” What the Lord promises he will provide.
The door which Christ opens to us offers incredible blessings. Only one thing can prevent our receiving those blessings. That is our own choice. Whether we enter through the door is up to us. If we believe him and choose to enter, we cannot be prevented. If we deny him, we cannot be forced to enter. But until and unless we enter through the door, the blessings are unattainable. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:13).