Jesus’ message to Philadelphia is different than most of the ones to the seven congregations in Asia. One of the first things you may notice is that there is no criticism of these Christians. They are faithful and they are continuing to serve Jesus.
“I know your works. I have put before you an open door which no one can close, because you have a little power. You have kept my message, and you did not deny my name.” (Revelation 3:8 McCord)
Jesus had given them an “open door”. Although there is no explanation as to what this open door was, many suggest that this is an open door of opportunity to teach the good news of Jesus. We find this phrase used in this context when Paul told those in Antioch about his success during his first teaching trip, that God “had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). In his letters to the Corinthians he wrote about “a wide door of opportunity” being open (1 Corinthians 16:9) and when he got to Troas he said “a door was opened to me” (2 Corinthians 2:12). He asked the Colossians to pray “that God may open to us a door for the message” (Colossians 4:3).
So perhaps they were being told that they would have success in continuing to proclaim Jesus. A door had been opened which no one could close. No opposition could stop their telling others the good news of Jesus.
And they were facing opposition. Because of their faithfulness, Jesus told them: “I will make those of Satan’s synagogue (who call themselves Jews, but are lying) to come and bow at your feet, that they may know that I love you” (Revelation 3:9). Although they were receiving opposition from the Jews, they would be successful in teaching them! Notice that although these people called themselves Jews, indicating that they were God’s children, in reality they were serving Satan. They would learn that it was those who followed Jesus that were God’s people and loved by him.
“Because you have kept my message of steadfastness, I will keep you from the hour of testing. It is coming on the whole world, to try those who live on the earth” (Revelation 3:10).
Their faithfulness would keep them strong through the testing and trials that were coming on Christians throughout the Roman world due to persecution. As long was they held on to what they had – their faith in Jesus – no one could take away their crown (Revelation 3:11). The crown mentioned here is the Greek word stephanos, which refer to the wreath the victor was given for winning an event. If the Christians held fast to Jesus, no one could take away their victory.
As we look at these Christians we see a group who didn’t have it easy as they served Jesus. But despite what they were going through they remained faithful. They were active and continuing to tell others about Jesus. The door Jesus had opened for them would remain open. They just needed to “hold on to what you have so that no one takes your crown” (Revelation 3:11 CEB).
Faithfulness is just as important for Christians today. Despite what obstacles we may encounter, whether it is our friends and family, those around us, or even pressure from our society, we must not be deterred from our adherence to God’s word and telling others about Jesus. Faithfulness is needed so that we will be victorious and receive our victor’s crown. We, too, need to “hold on to what we have”.
“Let him, who has an ear, hear what the Spirit says to the congregations.” (Revelation 3:13)
Readings for next week:
15 July – Revelation 17
16 July – Revelation 18
17 July – Revelation 19
18 July – Revelation 20
19 July – Revelation 21