REV. 3 : 7‑13
“I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”
PHILADELPHIA [fill ah DELL fih uh] (brotherly love)‑‑ a city of the province of Lydia in western Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and the site of one of the seven churches of Asia to which John wrote in the Book of Revelation . Philadelphia was situated on the Cogamus River, a tributary of the Hermus (modern Gediz) and was about 45 kilometers (28 miles) southeast of Sardis. It was founded by Attalus II (Philadelphus), who reigned as king of Pergamos from 159 B. C. until 138 B. C. Philadelphia was a centre of the wine industry. Its chief deity was Dionysus, in Greek mythology the god of wine (the Roman Bacchus). In the Book of Revelation, John describes the church in Philadelphia as the faithful church and the church that stood at the gateway of a great opportunity . Christ said to this church, “See, I have set before you an open door and no one can shut it” . The “open door” means primarily access to God, but it also refers to opportunity for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. Still a city of considerable size, Philadelphia is known today as Alasehir, or Allah‑shehr (“the city of God”). (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary) (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)
“….I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut…..” . One meaning of “an open door” is access to God. The privilege of being introduced to God. Access to God is that positive, friendly relationship with the Father in which we have confidence that we are pleasing and acceptable to Him. Jesus is the “new and living way” who gives us access to God. (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary) (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers) “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body..” Any church that is faithful to God becomes aware of opportunity for service and when occupied in such service will experience opposition from internal and external sources. Internal sources would be those who are false teachers and followers of such teachers, and they are identified in the Philadelphian church as “… those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars…” ; and unfortunately such are evident in the church today. They can also be identified as those who constantly find fault and oppose ideas/decisions that are made by the leaders. External sources will be non-members that deny God and His Son Jesus Christ.
OPPORTUNITY: Opportunity for service is always provided by our Lord, and it is the church’s responsibility to grasp these opportunities. “What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut…….” . SEIZE THE MOMENT – Paul urged Timothy to be ready to preach the gospel “in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2). Being ready “out of season” means when it’s not convenient. As contemporary Christians, we need to adopt an “opportunity mentality” about witnessing for the Lord. Bringing people into the Kingdom is ultimately God’s work. Even though we can’t always be the final link that leads a person to Christ, we can all be part of the chain by looking for chances to share the gospel. (“Seize the moment” by Mark Littleton. Decision, Jul/Aug 1991. Pages 16‑17)
OPPOSITION: There will always be opposition for the work of the church, especially when that work is being done in the light of the scriptures. It is the church’s responsibility to see that the principles of scripture are always applied and strictly adhered to. This is the only way God’s intervention will be experienced in the face of opposition. Such opposition will come and we should be reminded that we “wrestle against spiritual darkness” and therefore need the full “armour of God”. <Eph.6:10‑18; 1 Cor. 16:9; see Ezra 4:4-5>.
REWARD: God will always reward those who are Faithful to Him, and so the church at Philadelphia is rewarded; “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.” . The reward is also extended to those who overcome the evil of this world through the help of The Holy Spirit, and God uses such today as a support and encouragement to the church; “Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.” [Pillar ‑ a post; support].
Let us therefore remember that when God gives us opportunity for service He provides the means, but there will be opposition. Let us look forward to the reward and faithfully serve Him.