Rev 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; 8 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. 9 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. 10 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. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 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. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."

The situation of the church in Philadelphia was, as the city's name suggest, a church of brotherly love.  Love was the theme of the church and its members.  There didn't appear to really be anything wrong with the church.  There were those outside the church in the synagogue of Satan who declared themselves to be Jews, but they were not being truthful.  The love of God never leads us into error or into sin.  Rather it leads us away from sinful practices and false doctrine.  Through the love of God we desire to keep proper church order and to treat our brothers and sisters with brotherly love and to live our lives out in the world to the praise, honor, and glory of God.           

"These things saith he that is holy."  The Lord addressed this church on the basis of his holiness.  The Lord teaches us, "be ye holy, for I am holy."  As God is holy, or separate from all evil and all false idols, we are to be holy in our walk and in our conduct in and out of the church.  God has made us holy or set apart through election, effectual calling, and justification by his blood.  On the basis that we are made holy and that the Lord is our example of a holy life, we are to be holy or set apart to the teaching of his words while we live. 

"He that is true."  God is true.  According to the scriptures, "thy word is truth."  So much about us today is a lie or based on lies, but God is true and his word is truth.  We have a solid foundation on which we can build our lives.  Jesus said, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock."  It appears that the church in Philadelphia had built their lives on this solid foundation. 

"He that hath the key of David."  A key is for unlocking and locking doors.  The reference to David is to the throne of David which means the kingdom of God.  The Lord locks and unlocks the kingdom to our understanding.  The Lord said, "Seek and ye shall find."  If a person is not seeking the kingdom, then the kingdom is locked to him.  If a person is seeking the kingdom, then the Lord has promised to unlock the kingdom to his understanding that he may find it. 

"He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth."  The Lord is the door opener and the Lord is the door closer.  Some have thought that knowledge of the kingdom of God is strictly by education and if someone will just study and learn, then he can unlock the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.  However, when the Lord shuts the door, no man can open the door.  Or when the Lord opens the door, then no man can open the door.  I used to think that I could convince people of the truth and get them to see the kingdom of God by my efforts.  My experience has shown me that God is sovereign.  There are many people that I chose to try to convince of the truth in the past and not one of them ever came to understand the truth.  In contrast I have had people who the Lord has directed come to me and to the church and have seen them receive the truth readily.  The difference was that the Lord in his sovereignty led some to seek the truth and they were prepared to receive it.  The others, I desired for them to know the truth, but the Lord had not prepared them to receive it.  Now I and the church I pastor pray that the Lord will open doors of utterance that the word of truth may go out to those that he has prepared to receive it.  There are several examples where the Lord opened doors for the preaching of the gospel to which it was readily received: 

          1.  Acts 14:27 "And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles."

          2.  1 Cor. 16:9 "For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries."

          3.  2 Cor. 2:12 "Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord."

          4.  Col. 4:3 "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:"

          5.  Acts 16:6 "Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7 After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8 And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them."

"I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it."  When the Lord sets before a church an open door, then that church will grow spiritually and in truth, and several will be added to the church.  As we have already noted that open door is the Lord's doing and not man's.  Man can neither open the door nor shut it.  The Lord was pleased with the church in Philadelphia and had set before them an open door.  No doubt this church prospered in their labors for the Lord caused her to prosper.  We are so dependent on the Lord and we must acknowledge that he is sovereign in his actions and works.  The Lord said, "Without me ye can do nothing."  He led Paul to write, "I can do all things thru Christ, which strengheneth me."  Paul was concerned with the gospel timely salvation of those elect Israelites, "Brethren, my hearts desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved."  Our duties towards them that are outside the church and going about to try to establish their own righteousness is to pray that God would open a door of utterance and lead whom he pleases unto the truth.

"For thou hast a little strength."  Paul said in 2 Cor. 12:10 "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."  Also we read in Eph. 6:10 "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."  We have no strength of our own, but our strength rests in the Lord and in the power of his might.  When we recognize and feel our weakness then we trust in the Lord for our deliverance.  Our little strength rests in our reliance upon and trust in the Lord.  Some have concerned themselves with the word, "little," in this verse, as though those that only have a little strength need to get stronger.  A little strength is all we need.  Just as a little faith is all we need, as the Lord said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."  Having a little keeps us trusting in the Lord.  He gives us just what we need when we need it.  If we were real strong, then we would start relying upon our strength and stop relying upon the Lord. 

"And hast kept my word."  Sampson was a Nazarite from birth.  The Lord gave Sampson great strength.  No razor was to come upon his head.  Some have said that Sampson lost his strength when his hair was cut.  They suppose that his strength resided in his hair.  The truth is that his strength relied in keeping the word of the Lord.  His failure to keep the word of the Lord led to his loss of strength.  When Israel kept the word of the Lord in the Old Testament, their enemies could not stand before them.  One would chase a thousand.  They defeated mighty armies who far outnumbered them and had greater natural armor.  There strength, however, resided in their keeping the word of the Lord and in their trust in him.  David slew Goliath because he kept the word of the Lord.  This was a great mismatch, though the world had it backwards.  The world thinks that Goliath was overwhelmingly a greater and stronger warrior than David.  The truth is that Goliath never had a chance, because the Lord was with David.  It is extremely important that we strive to keep the word of the Lord. 

"And hast not denied my name."  It is easy not to deny the name of the Lord when everything is going right for us in our lives.  However, when persecution, or distress, or outside influences, or earthly gain is threatened then it is much harder not to deny the name of the Lord.  We can openly deny the name of the Lord, or we can deny the name of the Lord by our actions or inactions.  The church in Philadelphia was commended of the Lord in that they had not denied the name of the Lord.  Thus we should strive in our lives to keep ourselves from denying the name of the Lord, whether things or going well or we are faced with persecutions, distresses, outside influences, or the temptations of earthly gain.   

"Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie."  The word, "synagogue," means an assemblage of persons.  The word, "church," means an assembly.  Thus the word, synagogue, and the word, church, mean nearly the same thing.  The word, synagogue, was associated with the assembly of Jews who worshipped or attempted to worship under the old law service.  The word, church, is associated with the assembly of God's people who worship in the new testament order of worship.  If those two words were applied today, then the word synagogue would apply to the assembly of those who attempt to worship under a works system of obtaining eternal salvation.  The word, church, would apply only to those who worship under the doctrine and gospel of salvation by grace.  There are literally two types of Jews taught in the scriptures.  There are the natural Jews who are the descendents of Judah, one of the twelve tribes of Israel.  Ultimately the name Jew became associated with the descendents of all twelve tribes of Israel.  The second type of Jew is described in Rom. Chapter 2 thusly: 28 "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."  This latter type of Jew is a spiritual Jew and embraces all that have been born of the Spirit of God and thus have had their heart circumcised by the Spirit in the circumcision made without hands.  There are multitudes today who claim to be spiritual Jews who attempt to worship in assemblies (synagogues; they call them churches) under a works system.  They make the claim that they do many wonderful works, that they cast out devils, and that they prophesy in Christ name.  The Lord said concerning them: Matt. 7:21 "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." 

These assemblies are called the synagogue of Satan because they teach the same doctrine that Satan taught in the garden of Eden.  That doctrine was that man through an act of the creature could attain to Godhood.  It is a works system of salvation.  This system was illustrated in the offering of Cain, who offered the fruit of that which God had cursed (the ground) as an offering unto God.  God rejected that offering then and He rejects it now.  All who attempt to offer the works of the flesh (which God has cursed) as an offering to be accepted by the Lord are offering in vain.  Their worship is vain. 

"Behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet."  The amazing thing about this is that almost all that worship God in Spirit and in truth in the Lord's church, started out in the synagogue of Satan believing that through their works or system of belief that they by an act of their own will could attain to eternal life.  Yet, it is the Lord who has made us to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin and the total depravity of our own flesh nature and to see that our salvation from sin was by grace through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross.  He also causes us to realize that the spiritual birth was of the Lord alone at his appointed time and not ours.  He brings us to humble ourselves before the church and to acknowledge that He is our all and all and that salvation is by grace. 

"And to know that I have loved thee."  We who once the synagogue of Satan, but now a part of the Lord's true church do come to know that God does love the church he set up and those who worship therein.  We know that he loved us even before we were lovable.  He loved us when we were dead in trespasses and sins, and he loved us when we were dwelling in ignorance, and he loved us when we humbled ourselves and repented and he loved us when we became his disciples, and he will continue to love us in eternity.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God. 

"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."  The church in Philadelphia had patiently endured the trials and persecutions and suffering of life and kept his word in the process.  They surely had many tests that they were brought thru.  The word, "temptation," means testing.  God's people undergo much testing in their lives.  Abraham was tested concerning his son Isaac when he was told to offer him as a sacrifice on the mount.  1 Pet. 1:6 "Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."  Thus many tests are good for us and it strengthens and purifies our faith.  However, the testing in our text is referring to something that many would be tested with but those in the church at Philadelphia would not be tested with.  There are some things that those who are outside the church are tested with that those within the church are not tested with.  For instance, when a loved one dies, those outside the church sorrow as those who have no hope, whereas those in the church sorrow, but as those whose hope is in the Lord and his finished work and his covenant promise.  Likewise, there are those today who are looking for and being tested with a false belief in a future thousand year reign of Christ on earth and whether or not they will be a part of that reign.  Those who know the truth know that Christ is reigning in his kingdom now.  Furthermore, there are those outside the church who are constantly worrying about whether they have done enough to get eternal life or if they will die in hell.  Those in the church know that their eternal life is secure in the Lord and his finished work. 

"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."  The Lord's coming quickly did not apply to the end of time, but rather the Lord coming to reward the faithful service of his faithful servants.  1 Cor. 15:58 "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."  Also, Heb. 6:10 "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."  To hold fast means to retain with strength.  

There were several things that the church in Philadelphia had and that they needed to hold fast.  They had the true worship and service of God. They had the truth of salvation by grace. They had the true order of worship and church government.  They had the spiritual gifts that God had given them.  They had the love of God being manifest in their midst.  They had the Lord's blessing of service.  They had the true gospel to feed and strengthen them.  They had an open door of utterance.  They had God's providential blessings.  Churches can have all these and many more blessings and still ultimately lose them.  It is necessary to hold fast the things that God has given to us and shown us.  

There are several crowns that are taught in the new testament.  Some of them we can lose here in time and some cannot be lost such as a crown of righteousness and a crown of glory.  However, the crown under consideration in the text and that could be lost is the crown of discipleship.  If we depart the faith that was once delivered to the saints and begin to live after the world, then we are going to lose that crown of discipleship.  Now this won't cause us to miss the glory world, but it will result in many timely blessings lost here in this time world. 

"Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out."  A pillar is designed to hold something up.  The church is said to be the pillar and ground of the truth.  While the truth is the support and ground for the church, the church is also upholds (pillar) and is the foundation (ground) of the truth.  Also we read in Gal. 2:9 "And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars."  The men mentioned above were all pillars in the temple of God (church).  Their works were among them that upheld the early church and which the church of today is founded upon.  Thus we can by our faithfulness and patient continuance in good works become a pillar or upholding stone in the church of our membership.  Furthermore, when we overcome we do not lose our crown of discipleship and we go no more out of the temple of our God (church).  That is we remain faithful members of the church until death. 

"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."  The Lord said of those who overcome that they would have three names written upon them:          

          1.  The name of my God.

          2.  The name of the city of my God.

          3.  My new name. 

Names are used for identification.  My last name identifies me as being a part of the family known as Johnson.  The name Lee identified me as being the son of my father Lee Johnson.  The name Vernon identifies me specifically as opposed to my brother having the name Cecil.  Having the name of God identifies a person as being one of God's children and belonging to his family.  Having the name of the city of my God identifies a person as belonging to the Lord's church and being a part of the body or bride of Christ.  Having the Lord's new name identifies us specifically as being a disciple of the Lord. 

We will write about the term, "New Jerusalem," when we get to Revelations Chapter 21.