Revelation 3:7-13

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 4, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Upcoming BaptismSept. 11 – Next week. Have you been baptized? Celebration of changed lives. We will have the Spanish Fellowship with us.  Bounce house & water slide for the kids.

John the apostle has been exiled to the island of Patmos where he is given a “Revelation” by Jesus Christ Himself.

John sees a vision of Jesus walking among lampstands. We’ve seen this as a picture of Jesus acting as a priest, and every day the priests would go into the Holy Place to clean, refill, and relight the lamps in the Temple.  We are seeing Him do this in our church this week.

The churches are the lamps. The cleaning and refilling of the lamps are what is taking place as Jesus writes seven letters to seven churches.

3:7-13  Philadelphia

:7 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says 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”:

:7 PhiladelphiaPhiladelpheia – “brotherly love”

When we think of “Philadelphia”, we might think of things like the Liberty Bell, Benjamin Franklin, or even Rocky.  But THAT Philadelphia was named after this city in ancient Asia Minor (or, Turkey).

Play “Philadelphia Map” video

The city was established in 189 BC by King Eumenes II of Pergamos. Because he loved his brother, he gave the city this name “Brotherly Love”
We’ve followed the letters that John wrote to the seven churches from the island of Patmos.  Philadelphia is the sixth city.
Eumenes II named the city for the love of his brother Attalus II whose loyalty had earned him the nickname “Philadelphos” (he loved his brother).
Today, the ruins of a small theater located at the northern edge of Toptepe Hill is all that remains of Philadelphia from John’s day.
The area is known for its earthquakes.  Several times the city has been destroyed by earthquakes.
In AD 17, much of the city was destroyed by an earthquake.
This was an earthquake that also greatly damaged Sardis. 
This might play into the aspect of the letter that seems to speak of stability (being a pillar in God’s temple).
Today, the Turkish city of Alasehir, population 39,000 (in 1990) sits on top of what was ancient Philadelphia.

Wikipedia:  Philadelphia was in the administrative district of Sardis (Pliny NH 5.111). In AD 17, the city suffered badly in an earthquake, and the emperor Tiberius relieved it of having to pay taxes (Tacitus Annales 2.47, cf. Strabo 12.8.18, 13.4.10, John Lydus de mensibus 4.115). in response, the city granted honors to Tiberius. Evidence from coinage reveals that Caligula helped the city; under Vespasian, Philadelphia received his cognomen, Flavia. Under Caracalla, Philadelphia housed an imperial cult; its coins bore the word Neokoron (literally, "temple-sweeper"--caretaker of the temple).

During the Byzantine times, there was a large church there, the ruins are still visible today.  The church was the “Church of St. John”.

:7 He who is holy, He who is true

From time to time you and I will be disappointed in leaders who we have found out are not as pure as we thought they were.

We are disappointed when people have been less than honest with us.

But make no mistake, this is not who Jesus is.

Jesus is holy, pure, and innocent.

(1 Jn 1:5 NKJV) …God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.

Jesus is true.
The word for “true” (alethinos) means literally “not hidden”.
Jesus has no hidden agenda.  He has no facts that He’s lied about.  He is not withholding information you need to know.  He is true.

Jesus doesn’t describe Himself like this because the church in Philadelphia is not holy or not true.

This is just who He is.
The Philadelphia church is one of two churches with which Jesus finds no fault (the other is Smyrna).

:7 … “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:

:7 He who has the key of David

This seems to be a reference to a prophecy given by Isaiah regarding the leaders in the government of King Hezekiah. One of Hezekiah’s leaders, Shebna, would be disgraced and brought down because of his pride.  The other, Eliakim, would take Shebna’s place and be given great authority.

Both Shebna and Eliakim were involved in the negotiations between Hezekiah and the Assyrian king Sennacherib when Sennacherib came to destroy Jerusalem (Is. 36-37).

God’s word to Eliakim was:

(Is 22:22 NKJV) The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; So he shall open, and no one shall shut; And he shall shut, and no one shall open.
The “house of David” refers to the king of Judah (descended from King David).
Eliakim would have all the authority of the king.  He would have the ability to make things happen – to open and shut whatever he wanted.

In Revelation, Jesus is the one with this “key”.

Jesus Himself is a descendant of David and is reminding the church that He has the authority of the king of Israel.  He is the king of Israel.  He is the king of the universe.
He is the one who has the keys to open and shut, to make things happen.

:7 opens … shuts

keykleis – a key; the word comes from shutskleio – to shut, shut up

Jesus is the one with the “keys”, the authority to open and shut things.

Jesus is the one who has the ability to make things happen.

:8 “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.

:8 I know your works

Have you noticed that Jesus repeats this phrase with each church?

I think this is the basis of what He has to say to each church.
This is how Jesus evaluates us.
We don’t “earn” our salvation by our good works.
But if we are saved, then our lives will produce good works, and those works are part of how Jesus evaluates our lives.
Jesus said,
(Mt 7:17–20 NKJV) —17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

:8 an open door

Jesus is the one who has opened a door for the church.  He has the key.

What is an “open door”

An open door speaks of an “opportunity”.
This church has taken advantage of the opportunity before them.
Sometimes as we are trying to figure out the Lord’s will for our lives, we look for “open doors”
Paul was in Ephesus writing to the Corinthians and telling them about his upcoming travel plans through Macedonia.

(1 Co 16:5–9 NKJV) —5 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). 6 And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay a while with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

Why was Paul staying in Ephesus until Pentecost?  Because a door was “open” for him.

But “open” didn’t mean “easy”.  There was opportunity in Ephesus, but there was also “adversaries

Paul had already told the Corinthians that staying in Ephesus involved fighting with “wild beasts” (whatever that meant).

(1 Co 15:32 NKJV) —32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”

When we are trying to discern God’s will for our lives, one of the ways God leads us is with “open doors”, but an open door is simply an opportunity itself.  It may be easy.  It may be difficult.  But it is open.


Work the Door

I think it’s important that as a church we keep learning how to “work the open door”.  Kind of like a Wal-Mart greeter …
Harry, a new retiree greeter at Wal-Mart, just couldn’t seem to get to work on time. Every day he was 5, 10, 15 minutes late. But he was a good worker, really tidy, clean shaven, sharp minded and a real credit to the company and obviously demonstrating their ‘Older Person Friendly’ policies. One day the boss called him into the office for a talk. ‘Harry, I have to tell you, I like your work ethic, you do a bang up job, but your being late so often is quite bothersome.’
‘Yes, I know, boss, and I am working on it.’ ‘Well good, you are a team player. That’s what I like to hear. It’s odd though, your coming in late.  I know you’re retired from the Armed Forces. What did they say if you came in late there?’
They said; ‘Good morning, General, coffee this morning, sir?”
Our friends at Harvest Crusade have taught us a little about open doors.  Do you remember these suggestions from last month’s Anaheim Crusade?
I remember years ago during the Jesus Movement hearing stories of some of the hippies that got saved, and finding out that it wasn’t unusual for them to have a godly grandmother who faithfully prayed for them every day to come to know Jesus.
George Mueller lived in the 19th century.  He is known for the orphanages he built, caring for more than 10,000 orphans in his lifetime.  He didn’t take advantage of the orphans like some did, but instead he was actually accused of raising the poor above their natural station in life.

Above all, George Mueller was known as a man of prayer.  He prayed about all kinds of things and God would respond to George’s prayers.

George had a couple of friends that he prayed would one day receive Christ.  He prayed for these two friends regularly for over fifty years.  Just before George Mueller died, one of the friends finally became a Christian.  The other one became a Christian shortly after Mueller died. 

Jesus is the one with the keys to the doors.

When we pray, He responds.  Doors are unlocked.

Open doors are opportunities to take advantage of.
Sometimes all we need to do is to issue an invitation.

Sometimes when we are talking about our faith with other people, we need to learn to speak up and invite, “Would you like to invite Christ into your life?”

How many of you have access to the internet?  How about Facebook?

I have to admit I’m probably not the biggest fan of Facebook.  I’m not really interested in knowing how many pancakes you had for breakfast.

But I’m beginning to realize as my “friends” list is growing, that there is an opportunity here.  An open door.

I was surprised to realize that my “friends” list is 3x the size of the church.  I have opportunities to influence others.

Did you know that if you “like” something, that your friends will see it on their “walls”?

There are some ministries like Harvest Crusade that have Facebook links on their webpages, emails, and webcasts.  If you “like” them, then your friends might be curious enough to check it out.

The church has a separate Facebook page that you can “like”

I’m putting my pastor to person articles directly on Facebook – the same idea – if you “like” the article, your friends might be curious enough to read it.

We are starting to webcast our services on Ustream.  We’ve had our problems getting it up, but I think we’re 90% there.  If you are encouraged by a message, you can hunt it down the archive on Ustream and “like” it, and your friends will be able to find it.

I think God has opened a huge door on Facebook.

Your “friends” are most likely people you have some influence over.  It’s not too hard to click “like” and influence others.

NOTE1:  Don’t just be religious.  It’s okay for your friends to know that you like Del Taco or go to Angels’ games.  Let them know you’re real too.

NOTE2:  Be careful about over doing it.  I’ve had “friends” who put up a new Bible verse every two minutes.  If you do too much, people stop paying attention (I’ve even “unfriended” a few myself).

When Matthew (also known as Levi) first met Jesus, he was so impressed that he threw a party for Jesus and invited all his friends.

(Lk 5:27–32 NKJV) —27 After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” 28 So he left all, rose up, and followed Him. 29 Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. 30 And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, she was so impressed with Jesus that she went into the city and told the people she had influence with – the men – and invited them to come and see Jesus.

(Jn 4:28–30 NKJV) —28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.

Bring your friends to church.  Bring them Saturday to the Harvest Crusade at Dodger Stadium.  Bring them to the baptism.

:8 for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

:8 a little strength

Here is one of the marvelous secrets about this faithful church.

littlemikros (“micron”) – small, little

We can fool ourselves into thinking that God only uses BIG churches or FAMOUS pastors.  We are wrong if we think that.


Weak but faithful

The secret about Philadelphia was not their strength, but their faithfulness.
When Jesus decided to feed lunch to the thousands that had been listening to Him all day, He asked the disciples to take care of it.
Philip got out his calculator and figured out how much the meal would cost and declared that it was impossible.
Andrew was the one who found an answer, though he wasn’t too sure:

(Jn 6:9 NKJV) “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?”

We know what Jesus did.  Jesus took the little boy’s small lunch and ended up doing an incredible thing – feeding the five thousand with just a couple of fish and loaves of bread.

The apostle Paul had some sort of affliction, a “thorn in the flesh”.  He didn’t like it and he prayed that God would take it away. He writes,
(2 Co 12:8–9 NKJV) —8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

We make a mistake when we think that God can’t use us because we are “small”, “weak”, or “uneducated”.

God’s desire is only that we be faithful.  It only takes a “little” strength.

:9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.

:9 worshipproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence; in the NT by kneeling or prostration to do homage (to one) or make obeisance, whether in order to express respect or to make supplication

:9 the synagogue of Satan

There was a synagogue of Jews in Philadelphia just like there were in many cities.

When the gospel first went out to the world, the apostles always preached first in the synagogues, trying to reach the Jews first with the message that the Messiah had come.

Sometimes these Jews welcomed the gospel (like in Berea), sometimes they became trouble to the early church (like here in Philadelphia).

Jesus promises that at the end of time, these people will realize that Jesus was indeed the true Messiah.  Paul writes,

(Php 2:10–11 NKJV) —10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There are people who give you a hard time for being a Christian.

One day they will realize that it was all true.  That doesn’t mean that they will be saved.  All will one day bow, either willingly or forcedly.  We pray that they will bow to Jesus now willingly.

:10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

:19 commandlogos – word

:19 perseverehupomone – steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

:10 keeptereo – to attend to carefully, take care of

:10 fromek – out of, from, by, away from

:10 trialpeirasmos – an experiment, attempt, trial, proving

:10 to testpeirazo – to try whether a thing can be done; to try, make trial of, test: for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, or what he thinks, or how he will behave himself

:10 keep you from the hour of trial

The hour of “trial that is coming” might be a little unclear if it weren’t for the fact that we are reading this in the book of Revelation.

This “hour” is a reference to the time we call “The Tribulation”, which is detailed out starting in Revelation 6.

Some have suggested that this is a promise for God to protect the faithful church “through” the Tribulation, as if the church will go through the Tribulation.

The problem is that the language does not bear it out.
Jesus promises to keep us “from”, or “out of”, or “away from” the Tribulation.
I believe this is a clear promise that the faithful church will be snatched away in the Rapture, and it will take place before the Tribulation starts.
(1 Th 4:16–17 NKJV) —16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

:11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.

:11 hold fastkrateo – to have power; to get possession of; to hold

:11 takelambano – to take; to take by craft (used of hunters, fisherman)

:11 crownstephanos – the wreath which was given as a prize to victors in public games

The New Testament uses this word in several different ways.

There is a crown of righteousness (2Ti. 4:8), a “crown of life” (Jam. 1:12), and a “crown of glory” (1Pet. 5:4)
(2 Ti 4:8 NKJV) —8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
(Jas 1:12 NKJV) —12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
(1 Pe 5:4 NKJV) —4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
These might refer to the same thing, like our eternal life.  They may refer to different kinds of rewards we receive in heaven for our faithfulness.

:11 take your crown


Theft warning

We have an enemy that wants to rip us off.  Jesus said,
(Jn 10:10 NKJV) The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
Play Cat Burglar video
Our enemy is more than a tame little kitty cat.
(1 Pe 5:8 NKJV) Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Paul wrote,
(1 Co 9:24–27 NKJV) —24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Don’t allow anyone to take your crown from you.  Don’t disqualify yourself.

:12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

:12 pillarstulos – a pillar; a column

It’s kind of odd, but when you see ancient ruins, often cities destroyed by earthquakes, it’s not uncommon for a pillar to be standing there all by itself.

Philadelphia was a city that knew about earthquakes.

The reward for overcomers is this:  as a “pillar” in God’s temple, our faithfulness allows us to withstand the earthquakes, the things that shake and ruin other people.

:12 I will write on him the name

I often think about how we write our kids’ names on the inside of their jackets so they wouldn’t lose the jackets at school.

Jesus will write God’s name on us.  Maybe we don’t have to worry about being “lost”?

They also wrote names on pillars as well.

At Euromos (in Asia Minor), there is an ancient temple to Zeus.  All that’s standing are the pillars … on the columns there are names inscribed.
In the synagogue at Capernaum, you will find inscriptions on some of the pillars, usually a list of who donated to build the synagogue.
In Solomon’s temple the pillars had names.

:12 the New Jerusalem

We will see the New Jerusalem at the end of the book.

Keep in mind that here in AD 95, the Old Jerusalem is no longer standing.

:13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’

The message to Philadelphia:  Stay faithful


Play Go Light Your World