Philadelphia: Church of the Open Door – Revelation 3:7-13

By John Bellingham on October 4, 2020
Download MP3
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Philadelphia: Church of the Open Door

Revelation 3:7-13

I. An Open Door – vv. 7-8

  1. The Steward of God’s House
    1. ‘The Holy One’ – a title for Yahweh in the Old Testament which is ascribed to Jesus Christ in the New Testament
    2. ‘The True One’ – in the context of this letter, the word ‘true’ should be understood as ‘genuine’: Jesus is the true/genuine Messiah, even though this truth was being vehemently denied in the Jewish synagogue
    3. ‘The Key of David’
      • The image of Jesus holding the ‘keys’ of death and hell appears in the opening vision – 1:18
      • The ‘key of David’ is rooted in Isaiah 22:22
        1. In the Old Testament a corrupt steward named Shebna was replaced by another man named Eliakim. He was the chief steward of King Hezekiah and was entrusted with the ‘keys to the palace’
        2. In his role as the chief steward in ancient Israel, Eliakim serves as a foreshadowing of Christ, who is the Chief Steward in God’s Eternal Kingdom
        3. Jesus claimed to have the power of the keys – Matt 16:18-19; He’s the King who determines who enters into the Kingdom!
  2. ‘I have set before you an open door’
    1. A word of reassurance
      • Some of the Jewish Christians in Philadelphia had been excommunicated from the local synagogue
      • Christ assures them that while the synagogue door may be closed on account of their faith, the door of the Kingdom is open!
    2. An encouragement for evangelism
      • The city of Philadelphia was strategically founded in the 2 nd century BC to be a ‘missionary’ city for Hellenistic culture and language
      • Paul occasionally used the metaphor of an ‘open door’ as a way of indicating evangelistic opportunity (ie. 1 Corinthians 16:9; Acts 14:27)
      • Christ has given this Church an opportunity to preach the gospel/ bear
        witness to the non-believers in their city

        1. The Church in Philadelphia was small (‘little power’), but influential (contrast to the Church in Sardis which had a reputation it didn’t deserve)
        2. The Church in Philadelphia is commended for two things:
          • ‘you have kept my word’ – they were obedient to Scripture
          • ‘you have not denied my name’ – they were resistant to heresy and compromise


  • It matters little whether or not we are accepted or rejected by the world. What ultimately matters is whether we have been accepted by Christ, for He alone holds the ‘keys’ to the Kingdom!
  • When God provides an ‘open door’ for evangelism (ie. religious liberty, opportunities to witness, receptive hearts and minds), we should always be ready and willing to share the gospel of God’s saving grace. Although evangelism is not the sum total of the Church’s mission, it is an essential part of the Great Commission (cf. Matthew 28:18-20)
  • Small Churches can be greatly blessed and used by the Lord! We cannot gauge a Church’s health and influence by the Church’s size.

II. A Closed Door – v. 9

  1. The ‘Synagogue of Satan’
    1. Although the Church faces different challenges today, back in the first century
      context one of the primary sources of persecution against Christians came from
      the Jewish synagogue
    2. This phrase should not be misconstrued as an anti-Semitic slur, but rather as a
      recognition that all forms of opposition against Christ’s Church are Satanic
  2. Who is a true Jew?
    1. The members of the local synagogue in Philadelphia may have been accusing
      the Jewish Christians of forsaking their true Jewish identity
    2. Christ flips these accusations on their head
      • We become part of the true ‘Israel’ through spiritual re-birth and not
        through physical birth
      • The New Testament consistently presents the Church as the true ‘Israel
        of God’ (cf. Gal 6:16, 3:19)
      • Covenantal descriptions applied to national Israel in the Old Testament
        are applied to the Church in the New Testament (ie. ‘elect’, ‘redeemed’,
        ‘holy nation’, ‘kingdom of priests’, ‘treasured possession’)
  3. Closing the Synagogue
    1. By opening a door for evangelism, God was going to close the door of the local
      synagogue (or at least significantly reduce its membership!)
    2. Christ prophesies that the persecutors of the Philadelphian Church will become
      fellow worshippers: “behold, I will make them come and bow down before your
      feet and they will learn that I have loved you.”
    3. This local revival among the Jewish community in Philadelphia is a foretaste of a
      far greater revival that will one day take place among the Jewish people – cf.
      Romans 11:26

III. An Eternal Building – vv. 10-13

  1. A Promise of Protection
    1. Although verse 10 is often used as a proof text for the ‘secret rapture’, we must
      remember that this promise was given to real first-century Christians, and not to
      a future generation of Christians that was yet to be born in the distant future
    2. The same Greek phrase “to keep from” appears in John 17:15 and does not
      require physical removal from the world: “I do not ask that you take them out
      of the world but that you keep them from the evil one”
    3. In context, it seems that the “hour of trial” is in reference to the widespread
      persecution of Christians by the Roman authorities. The phrase ‘whole world’
      need only be understood in terms of the inhabited world that John’s original
      readers would have known (ie. the Roman Empire)
  2. A Promise of Vindication
    1. Although Christ may be appealing in v. 11 to the future hope of His visible and
      bodily return, it is more likely that He’s promising to ‘come’ and deal with the
      adversaries of the Philadelphian Christians
    2. Not every Biblical mention of Christ’s ‘coming’ is in reference to the end of the
      age. Many times throughout history Christ has ‘come’ to the aid of His people
  3. A Promise of an Eternal Building
    1. The ‘Temple’ is a figurative expression for the Christian Church
    2. To be made a ‘Pillar’ in God’s ‘Temple’ is a way of indicating the Christian’s
      permanent position in God’s Kingdom

      • When Solomon built the Temple, he incorporated massive pillars which
        he also named – cf. 1 Kings 7:15-22
      • Just as Solomon’s pillars were named by the King, so too have we been
        given new names as members of God’s Temple

No Response to “Philadelphia: Church of the Open Door – Revelation 3:7-13”

Comments are closed.