Feb 242018

Revelation 3:7-13

To the Church in Philadelphia

  • Philadelphia was thirty miles east of Sardis and located on a major trade route to the rest of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). Of the seven cities addressed in Revelation, Philadelphia was the youngest.
  • The city was founded in 189 B.C. and received its name from an early ruler’s loyalty and devotion to his deceased brother, earning him the name Philadelphus (“lover of his brother”)
  • Just as in the earlier letter to Smyrna, the Christians in Philadelphia receive no words of rebuke from Jesus. It is interesting that the two churches that escaped Christ’s condemnation were both under a severe threat from Jewish persecution. Both churches also lacked important resources yet each held firm to its confession.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.

  • The Holy One = Only God is Holy in the proper sense – who shares his holiness with the angel of the church / the pastor — even us.
  • Isaiah likes referring to God as the Holy One – Isa 1:4; Isa 40:25; Isa 43:15
  • How do we get holy? God holies us by being baptized into Jesus, being one with Jesus – by being flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone with Jesus through the Holy Supper.
  • ‘And the true one’ – I am the way, the truth…” — Pilate asking ‘What is truth?’ and Jesus standing there looking at him “Hello?”
  • Key of David – Isa 22:22 = see Rev 1:18 at the commissioning of John. The keys of death and hades = victory.
  • Jesus identifies himself as the one who now holds the “key of David” with absolute authority. The point of this identification is that Jesus holds the power over salvation and judgment and holds all authority to determine who enters the kingdom of God. In David’s time, the holder of the key had authority to grant or deny access to the royal palace.
  • Jesus claims to have absolute authority to grant or deny admittance into the New Jerusalem. 

“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

  • Again, Jesus knows the works of the individual local congregations.
  • The concept of the Open Door – Jesus opens heaven to these people.
  • ‘Little power’ – is probably a numerically small but faithful minority – but with that little power, they remained faithful and did not deny Jesus.

Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.

  • Here Jesus makes the same division that Paul makes in Galatians and Romans. Not all Israel is Israel.
  • What defines Israel is faith – what defines a son is faith. But the Jews here are liars. If the Jews were to tell the truth, they would confess Jesus, who is truth.
  • ‘and they will learn that I have loved you’ – This is the scandal of particularity. This is not a literal rounding up of the Jews, to bow before the Christians, but it is a “don’t worry” moment.
  • They have you outnumbered, they are persecuting you, they claim to be Jews and they claim that you, the church, are apostate heretics – but you are not.
  • I love you and not them. You will win and they will lose.

10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.

  • ‘Patient endurance’ = Faith under pressure / trial. The trials will intensify
  • This is the great anti rapture verse. This verse is not about exemption from trials but protection from within the trial. In fact, the notion that Christians should be removed from trials, tribulations, and persecution would be completely foreign to the authors of Scripture.
  • The Bible is clear that the saints will go through the great tribulation as seen in Rev 7 – “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
  • The primary issue at stake is not physical harm but spiritual harm, which has always been and always will be the greatest threat to the people of God.

11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.

  • The Lord’s continual promise to come soon. However this time it is not in a threatening way – but a positive encouragement.
  • Hold fast – perseverance – do not give up.
  • What you have – we saw this earlier – they have his word and his name.
  • Who can seize my crown? What is Jesus warning of? If it is impossible, why is Jesus wasting his breath?

12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and 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 from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

  • The one who conquers – now we see a promise. To be made a pillar, the promise is that they not only are allowed into God’s house, but metaphorically become a part of God’s house – which is a position of permanence. You are in forever – you are finally home for the first time.
  • This is what happens in baptism as God places his name on us.
  • Pay attention to the remainder of this description. The names.
  • Jesus promises those who overcome that they will receive three names: the name of God, the name of the City of God, and Jesus’ new name.
  • The city of my God – the New Jerusalem. Where does the city come from? Sent down by God from Heaven.
  • Who has the new name? Jesus has a new name.

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

  • The standard closing.
  • But realize this – Jesus will preserve his church and will present his bride to his Father at the end of the age.

  16 Responses to “The Weekend Word”

  1. Thank you, MLD.

  2. “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”

    Those who believe in a “pretrib” rapture use this as a proof text…I agree with MLD that it is actually teaching the exact opposite truth in context with these letters and the whole counsel of Scripture.

  3. If one is serious about understanding the trials of the final chapter before Christ returns, the pre- tribulation teaching seems a little skewed, but then so does this teaching IMV… A pre-wrath removal of the Church, however, leaves me with no unused puzzle pieces… Study all three and take your choice, i guess…
    I’m working on understanding bit coins this weekend – they make no sense to me, but would serve well to fulfill some prophesy…. You can’t hide them under the mattress
    God keep

  4. We will see much the same I think it is ch 9 – I am in Walmat so I can’t check – where God is pouring out his wrath (trumpets) and he stops so that he can seal his church as protection during wrath. So this also negates all raptured, pre wrath or otherwise.
    Buckle your seatbelts. 🙂

  5. #4- Or…
    As some teach, the ones who are “sealed” are those that we are taught become Believers after the Church has been removed… the description of this point in time is very intriguing indeed…
    Rev 15 mentions the closing of the temple in heaven before the wrath of God is poured out on the earth…. and then there are the three angels in Rev 14… Which do not sound at all like.church workers… unless they are Christian pilots up there sky writing or sonething..
    all this to say that the flow of the book of Revelation is logical without the necessity of allegorizing …
    just sayin, that it is worth knowing that there are good interpretations in addition to the long accepted one that MLD is teaching…
    But there are wacky off the rails teachings also, so stay safe here in the Lutheran fold if unsure of how much discernment you can count on God to provide… We will only fully grasp what is unfolding if we arent removed, eh? 😇

    Doing what i promised not to do, i know… Sorry, ill go back to crypto currency study which makes no sense at all – to me…

  6. em, it is funny that you say that the book of revelation flows logically and that there is no need for allegory. Hmmm, you should have some fun comments when we come to the locust, the riders of the 4 horses, the 2 beasts and the dragon. I think the pregnant lady being chased across the heavens should be an interesting one also – but we will wait until we arrive at those locations.

    I know what some teach, but I have difficulty with their sources. Where in this book do we see the church being removed or at least where do we see the discussion? The same with who gets sealed – where does that come from? Where do we see a shift from pre wrath salvation and post wrath salvation?
    What we do see is God’s protection of the church through the seal on their forehead.

  7. Random thoughts…
    MLD, of course there is symbolism, but most is obvious IMV… are the 7 trumpets real trumpets blown by real angels or just symbols of unfolding events? Probably real…
    Have they sounded already? I suspect the first 4 have, but i didnt hear them… I believe i have seen you teach that the descriptions that follow the opening of each of the seals describe an overview of what would unfold from the beginning of the Church and that makes sense to me… but the rest of Revelation from chapter 6 on… the interpretations wont mesh and there is no need to muddy your stream of thought…. and believe me, such a “conversation” with me, a pew sitter, would muddy things here

    The interpretation(s) that i trust are laid out wiith great clarity by those qualified to do so… they are there for anyone not willing to give you the final word on this subject., But we are told not to ignore the book, so your teaching of the traditional and early view is a good thing…. IMHO

    If you’d like to jump on the above as ,easy fodder for derisive comebacks again, be my guest LOL…. but… Our Father is watching you. 😇 God keep

  8. Post script… “em, it is funny……” No, i think you mean that in your view, it is peculiar. … 😉

  9. I dont think i was very clear that, 1- the progression and flow of this book is consistent, in some chapters there is a sort of rredundancy, but never is any of it cobbled randomly and 2- where there are symbols that arent clear (those strange locusts), they will be perfectly clear when their time comes…. We can *speculate, but, as my late husband observed, prophesies will be clear when they happen

    *is the woman O T. faithful Israel? Probably… Is the child, Christ or the Church or both? Or do the two represent O.T. and N.T? Law and Gospel or are all of these packaged into the two, the woman and the child? Hmmm perhaps sometimes the principle is not an object? Pray for wisdom… and enjoy this victorious letter, there’ be no heresies in what MLD teaches…. at least i dont think there will be 😯

  10. “*is the woman O T. faithful Israel? Probably…”

    I find this interpretation woefully wrong and actually depressing. However, since MLD has not responded, it must fall within the bounds of orthodox theology, so I will play nice and leave it at that.

  11. Jean, you could have just posted a comment that you found the observation incorrect and outside the bounds of Lutheranism’s interpretation. LOL.
    My comment wasnt meant to teach anything as gospel, but rather to observe that there ARE other valid interpreters out there that are worth one’s consideration…

    So sorry you are depressed, but that makes the case for my shunning this thread as The Lutheran Show 😇
    God keep

  12. I say we wait until we get to chapter 12, which at this rate should be by labor day. 🙂

  13. em – you may find Lutherans distasteful, but an Amil understanding in these areas is not a Lutheran “thing” at all – so the articles themselves are not a Lutheran thing.

    Shunning? Isn’t that a synonym for closed minded?

  14. MLD, i don’t find Lutherans (people) distasteful… i have to be careful tho, because they do take swipes and those of us who are the unwashed and unfed 🙂

    And this series is a Lutheran teaching from what the Lutheran view of the book is…
    Wondering this a.m. why Jean is depressed (i think he is thinking of another woman mentioned in Revelation… there’s more than one IMCMV )

    2Ti 2:16 “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.”
    I’m just following Paul’s advice to Timothy as my comments on this thread have proved to result in … babbling – even one case of depression… LOL

    there is value for those who’ve not delved into the book to study along with what you are teaching here… not meant to sound patronizing

    truth be told, i don’t have many points of interpretation that i’d want to fight over anyway… my study was an independent search to see if the book’s content is logical and flows from chapter one thru thru twenty-two… not once as i charted did i come across a passage that didn’t do so… interpretations? i saw what i saw and the questionable were not relevant to my project… there weren’t many that were puzzling, but i can see where they would have been even a century ago

    and there is this, our God is the master of logic and consistency – the whole of the Bible is just that – logical and consistent – there are patterns that almost overlay throughout, so what is hidden from us in prophesy, is intentionally hidden – kept for the day of fulfillment… IMHO

  15. “And this series is a Lutheran teaching from what the Lutheran view of the book is…”

    I would think that the RCC & EO would teach the same (and I do use some RCC source materials) – the Presbyterian type side of the Reformed movement would all teach the same.
    It’s a very ecumenical group that hasn’t yet bought into that new wave eschatology 🙂

  16. Good clarification, MLD…. I didnt mean to imply excusivity… I always thought that my then fellow Presbyterians were afraid of the book – one major pastor, whose name ive forgotten, told me, when i was young, that the book wasnt relevant to the times in which we were living…

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