Philadelphia: Church of the Open Door
By Mark A. Finley
The ancient city of Philadelphia was founded in the second century B.C., and was named for Attalus II Philadelphus in honor of his love for his elder brother, Eumenes who preceded him to the throne. Ancient Philadelphia is located within the city limits of a modern Turkish town approximately 30 miles southeast of Sardis.
Evidently, the Philadelphian believers were extremely faithful to Christ and His Word. This city was a launching point for Christianity to make major inroads into Asia. In the context of the historic timeline prophecies of Revelation, Philadelphia represents the faithfulness of early Advent believers who, like their ancient Philadelphian counterparts, were faithful to Scripture and proclaimed the message of Jesus powerfully in the early nineteenth century.
1) How is the divine Being who addressed the church at Philadelphia described? What title does the angel give Him? Read Revelation 3:7 and compare this passage with Leviticus 19:2; Jeremiah 10:10; and John 14:6.
The living Christ is altogether holy and His words are eternally true. He Himself addresses John, instructing him regarding amazing end-time truths.
2) What does Jesus hold in His hand, and what does it represent? Read Revelation 3:7 and compare it to Isaiah 22:22 and Luke 11:52.
The key of David represents the Messianic promise: Jesus coming to this world as our suffering Savior, and eventually returning as our triumphant Lord. It has the idea of the complete restoration of this world from sin.
3) Read Revelation 3:7, 8; 10:1; and 14:6, 7. What has Jesus set before His church? What is the significance of this divine event? How does it apply to the miraculous advance of the Advent movement?
Jesus has entered the open door of the heavenly sanctuary in the closing work of this earth’s history. The door of the sanctuary and the door of salvation are open. No human being can shut the door that Christ Himself has opened. Heaven is making its final appeal to all humanity to prepare for the soon return of our Lord.
4) Read Revelation 3:7, 8 again. Who has opened this door? Can any human being shut it? Reflect on the doors Jesus is opening in your own life right now. What opportunities is He giving you today for which you can praise Him?
5) What promise did Jesus make to the church at Philadelphia, and how does it apply to Jesus’ last day church? Read Revelation 3:9 and compare it with Isaiah 56:7, 8; Joel 2:28-32; Amos 9:13-15; and Matthew 24:14.
Christ’s promise to the church at Philadelphia foreshadows a mighty last day movement of Spirit-filled believers who courageously proclaim His Word to the ends of the earth and experience the light of Jesus’ love and truth. See also Revelation 18:1, 2.
6) What assurance does Jesus give His people regarding the tumultuous trials of the last days? Read Revelation 3:10 and compare it with the wonderful promises of the presence of God in the trials of life recorded in Isaiah 41:10 and 43:1-4, 19-21.
7) Read Revelation 3:11, 12. How does the message to the church at Philadelphia conclude, and what glorious promise did Jesus make to His faithful end-time people?
This promise must have resonated with the believers in Philadelphia. Their city was known for its earthquakes. In fact, a devastating earthquake in A.D. 17 destroyed most of the city. People fled from their homes and were afraid to return. Christ’s promise is that His people would be like a pillar in the temple of God, never to be moved or shaken. The heavenly home that He prepares for them is one that they will never have to flee.
When the ground beneath our feet is shaking, and all of life seems to crumble around us, God’s promises are sure. He is eternally with us, and in His presence we are secure. His promises are true, and we can place our confidence in the Christ who will fulfill His every Word.