Seven Churches - Philadelphia
The sixth study about the seven churches of Revelation is concerning the letter to the church at Philadelphia.
To the Church in Philadelphia - Revelation 3:7-13 .....'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. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.'
The Philadelphia period of the church matches that of the great awakening and "Advent" movement in the 18th century and the revelation of Judgment beginning in the 19th century, in 1844.
You will see that this church receives no rebuke, as it is a good church that seeks the truth and desires to follow the Lord Jesus wherever He goes. So we need to learn from the Philadelphia church period, as it is a good church to follow.
These words are from "He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David." This is none other than Christ Jesus. Now it says that Jesus has the "key of David". This is a symbol of Kingly power and having a throne and a kingdom. Jesus has the "key" to the throne in New Jerusalem, the capital of the kingdom of God. Just as King David sat on the throne in earthly Jerusalem, Jesus sits on the throne in the heavenly New Jerusalem. And He will claim this world and His church when He returns as His own. In Daniel 7 we can see that Jesus receives a kingdom:
Daniel 7:13-14 ...'I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.'
What does Jesus return as at the second coming? A KING! THE KING OF KINGS! (Rev 19:16).
Jesus knows the "works", ie, the good works of this church, their labour of love in serving the Lord and seeking His truth through diligent study and their obedience to His commands. This church was ready to receive new light on Bible prophecy and God was faithful and ready to give it, to restore the FULL gospel message and have a church that could take this complete gospel to the world before the second coming of Jesus.
To Philadelphia Jesus says, "I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it." This is fulfillment of the 2300 day prophecy from Daniel chapter 8, where Jesus moves from the holy place in the heavenly sanctuary and opens the door to the most holy place to begin judgment. And the reason He said that He has set before us an open door, is because we are to follow Him into the most holy place (spiritually), where dwells the throne of God and the great moral law of God, the ten commandments ... Revelation 11:19 ...'And the temple of God was OPENED in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.'
"We can apply texts of this class [Rev. 11:19] to no other events than Christ's entering the most Holy, in 1844, and opening his ministration there, where the ark of ten commandments is, hence, since that time the Sabbath, with the whole law of God, has been present truth in a special sense." (Review and Herald, vol 8, October 16, 1856, #24, p 189)
Please study the amazing 2300 day prophecy for more information.
From the 2300 day prophecy study, you will see that a group of Advent believers believed that Jesus was going to return in 1844, which marks the end of the 2300 day prophecy. They got the date right, but misunderstood the detail of what was going to happen, just like the Jews misunderstood the detail about what Jesus was going to do at His first coming. The Jews got the date right from Bible prophecy concerning Christ's first coming, but they expected Him to be this mighty warrior who would crush Rome and rule on earth, and they suffered a great dissapointment when He died on the cross, until Jesus, through the Apostles (who by the way got the details wrong also) revealed the truth to His followers. In the same way, the Advent believers in 1844 expecting Jesus to return suffered an incredible dissapointment, until Jesus revealed the truth to them that He wasn't going to actually return to earth in 1844 at the end of the 2300 day prophecy, but rather He was going to move into the most holy place in Heaven to begin judgment ("then the sanctuary shall be cleansed", Daniel 8). The Advent believers thought that the sanctuary in Daniel 8 was the earth and that Jesus was going to come and cleanse the earth (second coming). But the truth is, the sanctuary in Daniel 8 is the heavenly sanctuary that Jesus was going to cleanse, not earth.
What happened in 1844?
The year 1844 marks the beginning of the investigative judgment described in Daniel 7:10 and Revelation 14:6,7. Christ is our great high priest, as the book of Hebrews clearly describes, ministering in the heavenly sanctuary above, which is "the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man." (Hebrews 8:2,6). The ritual of the earthly sanctuary consisted essentially of two parts. The daily ministration for sin, in the holy place and the yearly service, on the Day of Atonement, which was considered a day of judgment, in the MOST holy place. Now the fact that the earthly sanctuary served as an "example and shadow of heavenly things" (Hebrews 8:5) we can safely conclude that the daily and yearly services of the earthly sanctuary have their counterpart in the ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary. On the antitypical day of atonement, beginning in 1844, our great High Priest left the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and entered the most holy place, just as the earthly high priest would do once a year. But Jesus only enters once to finish the work (Hebrews 9:12). So the "shut door" would be the door to the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and the "open door" would be that of the most holy place, where Christ has been engaged in the work of the great antitypical day of atonement since 1844, to begin judgment and "cleanse the sanctuary" of sin (blot out sin from the books).
"The opening and shutting can refer only to the change of ministration from the Holy to the most Holy of the heavenly Sanctuary, at the end of the 2300 days, in 1844." (Review and Herald, vol 8, October 16, 1856, #24, p 189)
What happened in 1844 is also prophesied in Revelation 10 where an angel has an open book in his hand and tells John to eat it. Now the fact that this little book is being shown as open, shows that at one stage it was closed. And the only book in the Bible that was sealed (closed), was the little book of Daniel ... Daniel 12:9 ...'And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.' ... So John eats the little book and it is sweet in his mouth but bitter in his belly. This is describing the experience of the Advent believers in 1844 when they had opened the prophecy of Daniel concerning the 2300 days and experienced great joy (sweet) at the thought of Jesus returning in 1844. Then suffered great dissapointment (bitter) when Jesus didn't return. But they came to the truth of this prophecy and the book of Daniel was now open to proclaim to the world.
It's interesting that Jesus says the door which He has opened into the most holy place, no man can shut it. This door leads us into the most holy place and reveals the law of God contained in the ark of His testimony. Many professing Christians have and still continue to try and "shut" the door to the law of God, saying that we no longer need to keep God's ten commandments. But Jesus confirms that no man can shut this door and the law of God still stands and is binding upon us all, for it is by this law that we are judged.
"thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name."
This group of Advent believers ended up as a little group compared to the number of professing Christians outside this movement who would not accept the new light of Bible prophecy concerning the 2300 days and the law of God. Could the little strength also be attributed to their condition after the great dissapointment? And yet, as Jesus confirmed, they still held onto the truth of God's Word and did not deny Jesus' name, like so many did who would not accept this new light given by God. The Philadelphia period of church history (Adventist Movement), gave greatly increased attention to God's Word, particularly the prophecies of Daniel and of the Revelation, and to personal godliness, which is God's will for us during these end times we live in.
"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."
Pretty strong words here from Jesus! The Jews here mentioned are not just literal Jews of the flesh. When Jews are mentioned in Revelation, it is basically talking about God's people, ie, everyone who claims to be followers of Jesus. The reason this is not talking about just Jews of the flesh is because the Jews are no longer God's special chosen people. See Israel in the end times for the truth about this. All who follow Christ Jesus, whether Jew or Gentile in the flesh are now Israel and a Jew in the eyes of God. So who are the one's of the "synagogue of Satan"? Those who profess to be Christians, but reject the truth of God's Word for a lie.
"Satan has a large confederacy, his church. Christ calls them the synagogue of Satan because the members are the children of sin. The members of Satan's church have been constantly working to cast off the divine law, and confuse the distinction between good and evil. Satan is working with great power in and through the children of disobedience, to exalt treason and apostasy as truth and loyalty. And at this time the power of his satanic inspiration is moving the living agencies to carry out the great rebellion against God that commenced in heaven." (E. White; Christian Experience and Teachings, p.207)
"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."
This church has the promise that they would be kept from the hour of temptation and trial that is to come upon the world. This "hour of temptation", which shall "try" the inhabitants of the world is reference to the decree made in Revelation 13 to kill those who do not take the mark of the beast. This is the final test for the people of the world. Worship God or worship the beast.
Jesus says that this church has "kept the word of My patience". The following verses describes this "patient" church:
Revelation 14:12 ...'Here is the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.'
Luke 12:35-37 ...'Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.'
This church is patiently serving God, keeping His commandments, waiting and watching with eager hearts for the second coming of their Lord and Saviour, Christ Jesus. Does this describe you?
"Behold, I come quickly."
Jesus says something in the four of the final seven churches which proves we are right in applying these prophetic church periods to each of the seven churches. To the first three churches, Jesus has no mention of the second coming, as these are the church periods way back in the first centuries after Christ. But to the final four He begins to bring into focus His second coming and the nearness and urgency increases with each church.
Thyatira - "Hold fast till I come."
Sardis - "If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief."
Philadelphia - "Behold, I come quickly."
Laodicea - "Behold, I stand at the door."
So Jesus begins to bring His second coming into focus with Thyatira, and then increases the nearness of His coming and by the time we get to the Laodicean church (THE CHURCH AGE WE ARE LIVING IN NOW), He says He is standing at the door! In other words, we are living in the very last days, just before the second coming.
So what can we learn from this church of Philadelphia? Well, those professing Christians who rejected the great truths that were brought to them during the 18th and 19th century, including the great truth about the 2300 day prophecy and the truth about the law of God and the sabbath day, they became the synagogue of Satan, as Jesus points out. So we must seek the truth and accept it no matter what traditions we currently hold onto. We must be patiently watching and waiting for our Lord Jesus to come. We should be focusing our minds upon our heavenly homes, not on this world. And we need to seek and do the will of God and keep His commandments, while trusting and relying upon the righteousness of Christ.
As you can see from Revelation 3:12, there is a great prize awaiting those who overcome and give their all for Christ Jesus. And notice from this verse that it is NEW Jerusalem where we are headed, not old Jerusalem in Israel, where so many are vainly looking!
Revelation 14:12 ...'Here is the patience of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.'
This concludes the Bible study on the sixth of the seven churches of Revelation - Philadelphia. For the Bible study on the next church, see Seven Churches of Revelation - Laodicea.