Philadelphia is the church that every Christian should want to be identified with. In this study, we'll learn why Jesus loves this particular church so much, and how we too can bless Him by living the same way.
You know, it's amazing how long some things last, for example, the false rumor that the Book of Revelation is hard to understand, but chicanery say we for you see, the word revelation means that something has been revealed. And the first words of this book tell us exactly who it is that's being revealed. It's the revelation of Jesus Christ. And God wanted us to read this book so much that he promised those who take the time to read and respond to it a special blessing.
And that blessing is found in Revelation one three. It says, Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep those things which are written in it for the time is near. But God knew they would still be. Those who would claim revelation is hard to understand. So to make this book easy to understand, he also included an easy to follow outline. And that's found in Revelation 119, where Jesus gives John these instructions.
Write the things which you have seen. And up to that point, John had seen the resurrected and glorified Jesus in Chapter one. Then Jesus tells John to also write the things which are that refers to the church age, which began in 32 A.D., continues to the present day and is prophesied in chapters two and three, which we are studying today. And then finally, Jesus tells John to write the things which will take place. After this, John is told to write about future events that will take place after the church age ends and that third act begins in Revelation for one.
Let me read it to you. John says, After these things, I looked and behold a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard, which was the voice of Jesus in Chapter one, was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here and I will show you things which must take place after this. And despite appearing over 20 times in the first three chapters of Revelation, guess what word never again appears in the narrative after revelation.
For one, it's the word church, and we're going to learn. That's because the church will no longer be on the earth after revelation. For one, the church like John will go up. And when the church goes up, what comes down? The wrath of God. And we find that in Revelation six 16, where the time period known as the Tribulation begins. And we're told the response of those who are still on the earth at that time, they said to the mountains and rocks fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne.
That's God, the father. And from the wrath of the lamb, the lamb is who it's Jesus. It goes on in verse 17 of chapter six and says that the people will cry out for the great day of his wrath has come. And who is able to stand? We're going to travel through 2000 years of church history in chapters two and three. Then the church will go up in Revelation for one and Ralph will come down in chapter six, verse sixteen.
There will be seven years of tribulation continuing all the way up to Chapter nineteen when Jesus will return to the Earth with his church in the event known as the second coming. And there will be even more revealed later in our study through this incredible book. But here's what we know. If you love Jesus, then your story will end with the words and they lived happily ever after. Where in Revelation Chapter three, studying the second act of the book, which Jesus described to John as the things which are today we will be studying the sixth of seven letters written by Jesus to seven churches in the Roman province of Asia.
Each of these letters speaks on four different letter levels. Each letter speaks to a local literal church around 96 A.D.. When John is recording this, each letter speaks to all churches at all times. Each letter speaks to all believers at all times, and each letter speaks to prophecy. Each church prophesies a portion of the last two thousand years of church history in precise chronological order. Regarding the prophetic application of the churches, we've studied Ephesus, the Apostolic Church.
Smyrna, the suffering church polygamists, the compromising church fire, Tirah, the Catholic Church, Sardis, the Reformation Church, which began around 1400 A.D. And today we are studying the sixth church in Philadelphia. In our previous study, we learned that the church at Sardis prophetically represented the time period of the Reformation and the emergence of the most famous mainline denominations. Jesus told them that while they had a name, an ornament in Greek, a famous history, a great church founder, a rich heritage, they were in reality dead.
They had reached the point where they had moved away from the word of God and from his spirit for the most part, and so for the most part, his spirit had left the building. We've learned about two of the four churches that continue to exist to the present day fire, Tyrer, the Catholic Church and Sardis, the Reformation or denominational church. Let's dig into the third church that exists up to the present day, Philadelphia. Philadelphia was a beautiful and prosperous city built on the hillside of Mount Tomalis on a main road between Rome and Troas in the province of Asia Minor.
It was founded in 189 B.C. by the king of polygamous humanists. The second, his younger brother, a Tallis. The second traveled with him to establish the city. And you so appreciated this that he named many of the new buildings and roadways after his brother. In fact, they were so close that a coin was minted in Philadelphia that bore the image of Yemeni's, the second on one side and his brother Atlus on the other. When Yemeni's died, he left the city to his brother, who responded by naming even more roads and buildings after his beloved brother than his brother had named after him.
Their legendary relationship was the reason the city came to be known as Philadelphia Greek for the city of him, who loves his brother. The Romans used Philadelphia as a regional headquarters for the promotion of Hellenism, which is Greek culture, including the Greek language to the eastern part of the empire, which had been resistant to Hellenism. It was, for all intents and purposes, a cultural missionary city. Today, Philadelphia is in Turkey and is named Alasdair, which means the city of God in Arabic.
It's still a real city today. Looking at Philadelphia on the prophetic level, we reached the time in history when the effects of the Reformation had run out of momentum. Sardis, the great mainline Protestant denominations, was spiritually dead and we talked about that in our previous study. Philadelphia ushered in the next phase of church history, which began around 1793 A.D. And prophetically, this is your first fill in. We can call her the missionary church, the missionary church, and we'll discover that she will cease to exist after the rapture.
Why? Stay tuned. Jesus told his disciples to take the gospel into all the world. And if we're honest, the church has been wildly inconsistent over the centuries. At following Jesus's instructions, as we discussed in previous messages, the church was established around 32 A.D. but stayed huddled in Jerusalem until persecution radically intensified under Caesar Nero beginning around 54 A.D.. This forced the Jerusalem believers to scatter across the empire in 313 ad Constantine and, like Linnaeus, issued the edict of Millán, which officially ended the empire's persecution of Christians after around 250 years of persecution.
By the time 380 A.D. rolled around, Christianity had become the state religion of the Roman Empire, and by 600, the church and state were so intimately married to one another that the work of spreading the gospel was actually viewed as complete in the eyes of many. And for the most part, that's how things stayed until the seventeen hundreds. When history records that a great zeal for missionary work suddenly seized the church, quoting Bruce Shellie's church history in plain language.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, Protestant Christianity scarcely existed outside Europe and America. Asia was almost untouched by the gospel, except for small traces in India and the East Indies, where the Dutch had taken over from the Portuguese for sheer magnitude. The Christian mission in the nineteenth century is without parallel in human history. In the late eighteen hundreds churches and missionaries mobilized in a way for the gospel not seen since. Quoting again, by the end of the 19th century, almost every Christian body from the Orthodox Church of Russia to the Salvation Army, and almost every country from the Lutheran Church of Finland and the World Enza and Church of Italy to the newest denomination in the United States, had its share in the missionary enterprise overseas.
Almost overnight, a door opened for the gospel and churches began sending out missionaries to every corner of the Earth. It was a move of God that was unparalleled in its global reach at the same time. News was spreading of new lands being discovered in the Holy Spirit stirred the heart of a man named William Carey to carry the gospel to these unreached peoples. William Carey was the first modern day missionary and goes down in history as the father of modern missions.
He was a shoemaker and Baptist preacher who took his exceptional gifts for languages and bought me with them to India in the late seventeen hundreds, where he learned 12 languages and devoted his life to ministering the good news of the Gospel. What is perhaps Kerry's greatest quote captures his missionary zeal, attempt great things for God, and expect great things from God. William Keris example inspired other now famous missionaries, including David Livingston, who brought the gospel to South Africa in the mid 80s, hundreds, and Hudson Taylor, who founded the China Inland Mission in 1865.
This missionary movement saw churches springing up all over the world as men like Dale Moody started initiatives like the first Sunday school program for children. Prophetically, this season of church history was marked by the rise of evangelicalism, a Christianity that was gripped by the great commission. Well, you had to know Satan wasn't going to take all of this sitting down. He was watching as the church returned to God's word and began to be filled afresh with the spirit's power.
And he decided to do something about it. His plan to create counterfeits of Christianity that were really, really close to biblical Christianity and yet far enough away from it to not be biblical Christianity, similar enough to confuse, yet different enough to be void of any power to save movements and cults began to spring up at an unprecedented rate to name a few Mormonism in 1830, seventh day, Adventism in 1863, Christian Science in 1875, Jehovah's Witnesses in 1879, the Unity School of Christianity in 1889 and the Unification Church in 1954.
As a result of this surge of cultish activity, a movement known as fundamentalism emerged within Christianity. What is fundamentalism? Well, let me explain by way of analogy. I'm a huge basketball fan. I grew up watching Jordan and Olajuwon and I still love the game. And like any sport, there are certain things that are fundamental to basketball. There are specific characteristics that define what is basketball and what is not basketball. For example, if the Sacramento Kings decided to try out a new offense where their players tuck the ball under one arm and just sprinted with it using their free arm to push defenders out of the way, well, we know what would happen.
The referee would blows whistle. He would call it traveling violation and likely reject the overly aggressive offender. If it was a wreck game among friends, everyone would say, What are you doing? What if my teammates and I decided to try a new defensive scheme where we used giant foam gloves to stop the other team from getting clean shots would get a similar reaction? Right. Why? The answer's simple. That's not basketball. What if I countered that argument by saying, well, what basketball is for you and what basketball is for me is different, so who are you to say what basketball is and what basketball is not?
Again, we know what would happen, somebody would say something along the lines of. Jeff, it's not my opinion. Basketball is something that is defined by a specific set of rules, there's a rule book that clearly lays out what makes basketball basketball. If you play by some other completely different set of rules than what you're playing is no longer basketball. It's something else. We all understand this analogy when it comes to sports, because we all understand inherently that the alternative to defined rules and sports would be absolute chaos.
However, when it comes to Christians holding each other accountable to actually live like Christians, it's not unusual to hear a requirement along the lines of, well, who are you to tell me what is Christian and what is not? But just as basketball has a rulebook that defines the game of basketball, Christianity has the Bible which defines what is and what is not, Christian and Christian fundamentalism is, in its truest sense, a movement rooted in remembering that Christianity is not open to each person's interpretation, desires or opinions.
Christianity is defined by the word of God. Evangelical Christians began to meet in 1985 to discuss all of this because they recognized the need to clear up all the confusion being caused by all these Christian cults. Simultaneously, a new liberalism had infiltrated many Christian seminaries and college campuses. Professors and even some pastors were beginning to move away from biblical Christianity to such a degree that their teachings could no longer be considered orthodox in 1989. This group of concerned evangelicals came up with the five points of fundamentalism which defined the beliefs that are fundamental to being a Christian, regardless of one's denominational affiliation or style of church.
Here are the five fundamentals they came up with. And it's on your outline. The inerrancy of Scripture. The Bible is without error. The literal nature of the biblical accounts, for example, miracles and the Genesis creation account. The degree of Jesus, Jesus is God, including the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection and physical future return of Jesus, and finally, the substitutionary atonement of Jesus on the cross. As you can see, true Christian fundamentalism from years past is very different to how the term fundamentalist is used today in popular culture, where it's come to mean something akin to crazy, uneducated, bigoted zealot.
I think the truth is that we've entered an age where whatever term we come up with for Bible believing Christians, our culture will begin to use it as a synonym for crazy, uneducated, bigoted zealot. It seems to be the fate of the more recent term that we've been using the term evangelical. Their first point, the fundamentalist group noted, was that to be a Christian, one must agree that the Bible is God's word, meaning it was directly inspired by God.
As Jesus said, heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away. Their second point was aimed largely at liberal pastors and liberal seminary professors. The fundamentalists felt the need to clarify that belief in the inerrancy of Scripture meant believing the Bible was actually true. When it says Jesus performed a miracle, that means it actually happened when it says God made the world from nothing and Adam and Eve were the first humans, it means those things actually happened.
Thirdly, they raised the necessity of belief that Jesus is God. Cults generally teach that Jesus is not God. It's one of the dividing lines between that which is Christian in that which is not building on the first and second points. They specifically included the virgin birth. In this third point forth, Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead in a physical, glorified body which he currently inhabits. And in the future he will return to the earth in this same body to reign with his church.
Jesus's resurrection and future return are not intended to be understood as mystical or allegorical events, but as literal events that have and will take place. And then finally, they said, a Christian must believe that Jesus atoned. That means Jesus paid for our sins by dying in our place on the cross. And Christians must believe this was the only way for us to receive salvation. This was a needed and helpful document at the time. And sadly, such clarity seems to be needed by much of the church again today.
As we learned earlier, Philadelphia means the city of him, who loves his brother and brotherly love, is what gripped this church around 96 A.D. and in church history beginning around 1793. This letter will reveal a church that genuinely loved Jesus and cared about being faithful to him above all else. And when you genuinely love Jesus, you can't help but catch his heart and love for your brother and for the lost in both. 96 A.D. and prophetically in church history, Philadelphia loved Jesus and his word, which drove them to love people foreign near with the gospel.
Let's get into the text where in Revelation, chapter three, verse seven, and to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. Right. We would say to the pastor these things says he who is holy, he who is true, he who has the key of David, he who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens. The first part of Jesus's title is he who is holy holy means set apart. When we talk about God, when we talk about Jesus being holy, we're talking about the fact that he is on his own, a whole nother level.
He's the almighty. He's always existed. And he predates everything because he is the source of everything. He's different from us in the most profound ways. He is quite simply. Other. To forget that he is holy is to forget who he is, God's holiness should inspire all reverence and, yes, even fear. There's a reason God's word tells us more than once that a fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. A right view of God's holiness enables us to understand the seriousness of sin, the greatness of Jesus's work on the cross, and just how blessed we are to be able to approach his throne with confidence.
Then Jesus refers to himself as he was true. The word true literally means absolute, real or genuine. In contrast to falsehood, Jesus is absolute truth incarnate. And we're going to talk more about that in our next study. I think G. Campbell Morgan got it right when he succinctly explained that the holiness of Jesus's nature refers to his perfect character. While the truth of Jesus's nature refers to his perfect conduct. As we read through this letter to Philadelphia, we're going to realize that Jesus isn't reminding this church of his holiness as a criticism he doesn't think they've forgotten.
Rather, he's seeing it as an encouragement. One of the things revelation does, and I hope you've started to pick up on this is is drop little breadcrumbs that are designed to take your mind somewhere else in the scriptures for an explanation or for greater detail. And when I was thinking about Jesus encouraging this church by reminding them that he is wholly my mind, went to first Peter Chapter one where the apostle Peter quotes the Old Testament and reminds his readers that God has commanded us to be holy, for I am holy.
You see, Jesus is holy in the sense that he is other, but he calls us to be holy in the sense that we are to be set apart, consecrated, reserved exclusively for him and his purposes. Our lives are to belong completely to Jesus. That's how we are to be holy. And that's how Jesus is encouraging this church. He's saying keep on living lives that are set apart for me. Keep on holding on to that which is true.
And then Jesus calls himself mysteriously he who has the key of David who opens and no one shuts and shuts and no one opens. The key of David is an Old Testament reference that we're not typically familiar with. It's from an obscure part of the Book of Isaiah, where a man named Aliah Kim is replacing a corrupt man named Shobna as governor, or we would say national treasurer of the Palace of King Ezekiel. If you read Isaiah 22 starting around verse 15, you'll find that even though it's talking about Likeme, it has a second layer, a Remez, a mysterious layer of application that is a messianic prophecy, meaning the text when it's speaking about a lie.
Kim is also speaking prophetically of Jesus as the king, Hezekiah sat and ruled from the literal throne of David. David was the second king in Israel's history and all the kings who came after him sat on his throne. It's a real object that is always referred to in scripture as the throne of David. The governor of the King's palace would be given an object called the key of David. It was a real physical object that symbolized incredible power. Some scholars describe it as a type of ring, while others describe it as a large object worn over the shoulder.
Either way, this key granted its bearer access to all the resources of the kingdom and the Treasury. Additionally, it gave one the authority to grant others access to the king. If you wanted to get to King Hezekiah, you had to go through Shobna and then later through like him. While that whole story is worth studying, because there's a lot there that we don't have time to touch on. All you really need to know for now is that the key of David represents access to the king and the king's resources.
Here's the bottom line. Make a note of this. The titles Jesus gives himself in this letter are intended to encourage believers to remain holy and focused on the truth of his word, knowing they will be rewarded by him, knowing they will be rewarded by him. Now, here's the commendation. Jesus writes for Philadelphia's report card. Verse 8 says, I know your works if you're living for Jesus. Him knowing your works is a good thing because he turns our earthly works for him into eternal rewards that will be waiting for us in heaven.
Now, Jesus, the one who holds the keys to the kingdom when he. When something nobody can shut it, when he closes something, nobody can open it. That Jesus tells this church what he has done for them with those keys, he says, see, I have set before you an open door and no one can shut it for you, have a little strength and have kept my word and have not denied my name. Compared to most of the other seven churches, Philadelphia is receiving an exceptional commendation here from Jesus, don't miss the connection that Jesus is making here between their works and this open door.
It's because of their righteous works that he has opened this door for them. When the Lord finds believers who are faithful with what they have, he loves to give them more. As Jesus taught, he who is faithful in what is least is faithful. Also in much. We see this principle at work when a likeme takes over from Shobna and in James 516, when we're told that the effect of fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Even in the age of grace that we're living in, there is still a connection between living righteously and having access to the King's resources.
I would encourage you to meditate on and study that principle further. Jesus says. I have set before you, before you the Philadelphia church, specifically an open door in First Corinthians nine 16. The Apostle Paul writes for a great and effective door has opened to me. And when you read the context around that verse, it's obvious that Paul is referring to an opportunity that had opened for him to take the gospel to a new region because of how the phrase an open door is used in the Bible in relation to Christians on the Earth.
Most scholars agree that it refers to an opportunity to do what you and I would call missionary work, taking the gospel to places and peoples that have not yet heard it. Now take a quick look ahead to the very last line of verse nine. Jesus says, To know that I have loved you, to know that I have loved you. Whatever this church is doing, Jesus loves it. He loves it. And he declares that nobody is going to be able to shut the door, that he is open for them.
And yet what we're seeing take place across the world right now seems to be the closing of that missionary door. It's increasingly difficult to send missionaries around the world as religious governments refuse to allow Christian missionaries to cross their borders and communist or secular countries put up open door closed doors. I'm sorry as well. We're seeing incredible indigenous moves of God in places like Iran, Ethiopia and China. But the missionary door for the Philadelphia church seems to be in our time rapidly closing.
Jesus said, I've set before you an open door and no one can shut it. That means only Jesus can open or closed this door. So what's going on? Well, before Jesus closes that door, he's going to open another door in Revelation for one. He's going to come back for his church and he's going to come soon. Jesus told them, for you have a little strength instead of strength. Some Bible translations more accurately use the word power.
It's the Greek word dunamis. And I know you've heard it. It's where we get our word dynamite from. What a wonderful compliment, though, to get from Jesus. He says you got a little bit of dynamite in you. Their church may have been small, but it was full of the Holy Spirit power and Christians who loved each other held to the word of God and faithfully proclaimed the gospel prophetically. This seems to imply that at the time of the Rapture, a small minority of churches will hold to biblical standards of holiness and truth.
And then Jesus says, You've kept my word. This church places an emphasis on keeping God's word on obeying, honoring and loving the scriptures. They keep the Bible central and they honor it as authoritative over their lives. So write that down. This is a commendation for them. They kept God's word. They kept his word. The New Testament lists the two identifying marks of a disciple of Christ. In other words, if you love God internally, these are the two external characteristics that will be evident in your life.
When Jesus was praying to his father for his disciples, he said, I have manifested your name to the men whom you have given me out of the world. They were yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. And then in John thirteen thirty five, Jesus famously said, By this all will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another. According to Jesus, the external characteristics that Marcus is his disciples are keeping his word and loving one another.
The church at Philadelphia is actually doing what? Jesus said to do, which is why he wants everyone to know that he loves this church, he loves this church, this is the church we should all want to be part of, and this is the church gospel city is striving to be, then Jesus says and have not denied my name, the church at Philadelphia and every church since. And you and I today all needed and need to hear this.
The third of the Ten Commandments is you shall not take the name of the Lord, your God in vain. And I agree with those who suggest this has nothing to do with cussing or bad language. The word vain in the original Hebrew means emptiness, vanity, falsehood, nothingness, emptiness of speech, lying and get this worthlessness of conduct. I believe that taking the name of the Lord in vain means identifying yourself as a Christian a little Christ, literally, while living in a way that grossly misrepresents Jesus, living as though it means nothing.
That you've been adopted into the family of God are now a child of the father and are a temple of the Holy Spirit. You can come to your own conclusions, but I believe Jesus is commending this church for living lives that prove they don't take his name lightly. They don't take his honor lightly. They understand that they are ambassadors for Christ. They are his representatives on the earth. We live in a day and age when the word God is not offensive.
Neither are words like Allah or Buddha. But what name is offensive? Jesus. Jesus. Despite societal pressure, this church is not confused or ashamed about who God is. His name is Jesus. His name means Jehovah is salvation because his is the only name under heaven that has the power to save. This church loves the name of Jesus. Make a note of that. They love the name of Jesus. Peter told us that in the last days there would be those who call themselves Christians but deny the name of Jesus in their teachings.
We saw that happen during this period of church history when there was an explosion of new cults and religions that profess to be Christian but were in reality denying the Lord Jesus. The good news for the Philadelphia church is that they've stayed focused on God's word and haven't been deceived or caught up by any false gospels, false teachers or false religions. And and Jesus commends them for that, for holding to the truth of scripture. And he continues into verse nine saying, indeed, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews and are not but lie.
Indeed, I will make them come and worship before your feet and to know that I have loved you since we encountered this synagogue of Satan. Back in the letter to Smyrna, where we learned it was likely a reference to Jews who were betraying their ethnic Christian brethren to the Romans that they might be imprisoned, tortured or even murdered. We can safely assume that around 96 A.D. a similar situation was playing out in Philadelphia. But what about the prophetic application of this warning?
How does that fit? To be honest, it's not as clear as the other letters, but I'll share my personal belief with you for your consideration. The phrase the synagogue of Satan refers to those who claim to be doing God's bidding. But we're really doing Satan's bidding. When a church is loving and serving God faithfully, Satan will always stir up opposition. Always, generally, we know and expect this, but it still takes many Christians by surprise when that opposition comes from those who claim to be serving God.
I believe that the past few decades have shown that the most challenging resistance to the Philadelphia church is coming from another church. The church at Loadicea, the last days church, which we will study next week. The Philadelphia Church brought God's people back to the word and fundamentals of the faith. The world system, which is run by Satan, didn't like that. Wow, what a shock. Satan's not a fan of the church that loves Jesus most predictable response ever.
That part shouldn't surprise any Christian. I don't believe the church needs to be concerned by a world increasingly hostile toward the church. We know from our earlier studies of churches like Smyrna that persecution only purifies the church and makes her more effective. We also learned how effective Satan was at undermining the power of the church when he joined the church and married her to the state, to the culture, to society at large. In a similar way, I believe Satan is attacking the Philadelphia church with the latest in church, he is attacking the church that faithfully holds to the word of God with the church that elevates society and the culture above the word of God.
I believe that prophetically, the synagogue of Satan that biblically faithful churches today are battling is the latest in church, the church that is more concerned with being approved by the culture than they are of being approved by Jesus, the church that is all too happy to publicly condemn the biblically faithful churches. If it means scoring a few more points with the culture. And I believe Jesus is saying stay faithful to me in my word, because in the end you will be vindicated by me.
And those in the latest in church will see that you were on my side and they were not. Verse 8 10, because you have kept my command to persevere back in Verse 8, Jesus commanded this church for keeping his word and then here in verse 10, he commends them for keeping his command to persevere. Remember back in Revelation one three where John mentions the special blessing on the Book of Revelation? That's what this church is doing. They're living in obedience to God's word.
They're reading it and they're reading it. And that's why we want to be like them. Write this down. They've stayed faithful to Jesus. They've stayed faithful to Jesus. They've accepted the invitation of Jesus to be blessed by reading and heeding his word. The Philadelphia church is all about God's word. And God says, that's what I like to see. I love this church because you've kept my command to persevere. Here's what I'm going to do for you.
I also underline this whole section here. I also will keep you from the hour of trial, which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. The original Greek is emphatic that the hour refers to a specific appointed time, like the hour of his trial. Jesus is speaking here of the tribulation. The Bible refers to it as a time of testing and trouble. And according to Jesus, it's about to come upon the whole world.
In Greek, the word our can refer to an hour, a day or even a season. In this case, it's referring to the hour of the tribulation. A future time period will learn, will last seven years. Now, some will say, oh, Jesus is saying that he will sustain believers and give them the strength to endure the tribulation. And they will often offer as evidence a line from Jesus's great high priestly prayer in John 1715, where he prays to his heavenly father regarding his disciples.
I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. And they will say, See, Jesus wants his followers on Earth to endure suffering. The problem is that the original Greek makes it absolutely clear that is not what Jesus is saying. In Revelation three ten, the Greek phrase used to describe being kept from something consists of the verb te ratio and the preposition ecch ecch means out of, away from.
And when it's used with Taddeo it refers to a continuous existence outside of something. There are different Greek prepositions one can use to communicate endurance rather than removal. And here's the kicker. Terayon and Ek are only used together in one other place in the New Testament. John 1715 in that verse, which we just read, was Jesus praying that his disciples be kept in the evil one. Was he praying that they would be kept through the evil one? Of course not.
He's praying that his disciples would be kept away from the evil one, that they would have a continuous existence away from Satan. Jesus asked his heavenly father to keep his disciples from Satan, and he personally promises the church at Philadelphia. He doesn't pray or ask his father this. He personally promises the church at Philadelphia that they will be kept from the tribulation. I also want you to notice that this is not going to be a local event, but rather a worldwide event.
I also will keep you from the hour of trial, which shall come upon the Jews in Israel. Christians, the church. No. The whole world, it's going to be a worldwide event, this coming trial, meaning that it obviously hasn't happened yet, but as we are discovering, it's coming soon. We're even told that the purpose of this trial is to test those who dwell upon the earth. Beginning in chapter for Revelation, we'll use terms like those who dwell on the Earth for the exclusive purpose of describing those on the Earth who have rejected Jesus, those who dwell on the Earth.
The Earth dwellers are not just people who are on the Earth in the tribulation. It specifically people on the Earth who have rejected Jesus and will continue to do so throughout the seven years of the tribulation. Despite the Rapture and all the supernatural signs that will be evidenced, the Greek word for dwell means to dwell permanently. In contrast, the Bible calls believers sojourners and pilgrims on the Earth. The idea is in revelation. Those who dwell on the Earth are those who would rather be part of the Kingdom of the Earth, the kingdom of Satan, than the Kingdom of Heaven and the Kingdom of God.
That's not who we are. We're not those who dwell on the earth. We're Sojourners and pilgrims. We're just passing through a place that is not our home. But these people on the earth will consciously choose to align themselves with the world instead of Jesus. And here's the kicker. Listen, Jesus tells us here that the trial that is coming is for them, not believers. It's for those who dwell on the earth, not believers. We'll find that after the rapture.
Revelation tells us there will be some Gentiles, some non Jews who become believers during the tribulation, but they will be martyred at the hand of Antichrist, not supernaturally protected. The cost of their second chance will be their earthly lives. There will, however, be a group of Jews who are supernaturally protected during the tribulation, and from that group will come a hundred and forty four thousand Jewish missionaries who will evangelize an incredible amount of people across the earth during the tribulation.
When we reach that part of our study, we'll learn that everyone on Earth will have to decide whether to take the infamous mark of the beast. Those Gentiles who become believers will obviously not take the mark, and for that decision they will be executed. So just think with me here, it doesn't make a lick of sense to say that what Jesus is promising the Philadelphia church is that he will enable them to endure the tribulation. Believers won't be supernaturally protected in the tribulation.
We'll see that later on in Revelation. They'll lose their lives in the tribulation. The picture painted by Revelation has pretty much no gentile believers making it through the tribulation. Those who are gentile believers before the tribulation are going to be removed before the tribulation begins. And it's going to be fascinating to see how God is going to do that. Take a look at Verse 8 10 again. You know, it's a fascinating thing that in the original Greek, the phrase the whole world means the whole world.
Even during the two world wars, the whole world was not affected. There were tribes in jungles that had no idea anything was going on. Jesus uses that phrase very specifically because he wants us to understand that this coming hour of trial is going to be unlike anything the world has ever seen before. Suffice it to say, Jesus cannot be referring to events that have already taken place in history because nothing like he's describing has ever taken place in history. Make a note of this.
Jesus promises to keep them from the tribulation. He promises to keep them from the tribulation. You might recall Paul reassuring the Thessalonians believers by telling them this, but you brethren are not in darkness so that this day should overtake you as a thief. Believers are supposed to recognize the hour when these events are about to unfold. Then just a few verse is later, Paul reminds them, for God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, the world is going to enter into the tribulation.
However, the church believers are not. If you're a believer, you will never experience the wrath of God in that good news. So what criticism does Jesus have for the Philadelphia church? Write this down. None. None. No criticism, they're keeping his word and sharing the gospel, and because they're doing that, Jesus has nothing critical to say, just as he had nothing critical to say about Smyrna, the church that was dying for him. So so this is important.
Jesus has no criticism for the church that is suffering for him or the church that is proclaiming him. As far as an exhortation goes, Jesus says this in verses and behold, I am coming quickly, underline that I am coming quickly and then underline these two words. Hold fast what you have that no one may take your crown. Just a quick reminder, Crown speak of rewards, not salvation. The believer salvation is a settled, finished issue among the seven letters crowns are only mentioned here and in the letter to Smyrna, the only two churches that, as we said, also received no criticism from Jesus.
Look at verse 11 again. When do we receive our crown? The text clearly implies that believers have their crown now because no one can take something from you that's not already in your possession. That means even though believers may not know it or may not be able to sense it, many are walking around with crowns already. Jesus is already handing them out, and I can't help wondering how differently we would view each other and our sufferings if we could see those crowns right now.
Our future with Jesus is so certain, its future history, it's as certain as the events of yesterday that have already happened, we're already there, but not yet. This glorious, yet hard to fathom reality is what Paul was speaking of when he told us that we've been seeded with Christ in heavenly places, present tense. Write this down. The exhortation is hold fast, hold fast. Jesus says you're doing great. Keep going. Don't let anyone take the crown I've already placed upon your head.
Don't let anyone distract you from the rewards that you've already accumulated in heaven. That's encouraging because it reminds me that I want to keep living in light of the ultimate reality of eternity. I want to add to my treasures in heaven. Jesus wants Philadelphia to know that he is coming quickly. I had to underline that in the original Greek the word quickly Toku means suddenly or soon when Jesus comes for his church, he will come suddenly. But he also tells us here that he will come soon.
Now this is the key. He will come soon relative to this church, his position in church history, we might not feel like it soon, but in terms of world history, Jesus is coming very soon. Get this, the first letter was addressed to Ephesus, and Jesus didn't say anything about coming back for his church. All he said was, come back to your first love me. The second letter went to Smyrna. Jesus said, you're going to go through intense suffering and you need to be faithful and to death.
But there was no mention of him coming back. Then came Pergament, the unacceptable marriage church, and Jesus didn't talk to them about his coming either. And then suddenly something changed. We came to the church at five Tirah. The church focused on the woman who had brought all kinds of paganism into the church. And Jesus warns the people in that church who have bought into all that paganism that they will go into great tribulation, more specifically the tribulation to those in that church who have not bought into that paganism.
Jesus says, hold fast what you have till I come. If Jesus is telling someone this church to hold fast until he comes, then this church must exist until he comes. And if some in this church will go into the tribulation, then this church will also have to exist until the tribulation. Out of that church came the next church in history, Sardis, the Reformation or denominational church, they receive both good and bad news and Jesus also talks to them about his coming.
He says, you will not know what our eye will come upon you. We talked about that in our previous study. Although this church reformed many things, they never reformed their eschatology, their end times theology using his own language from the Olivet Discourse and Paul's. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Jesus warns the Guardians that most in their church are not ready for his coming because they're not saved. This means the church at Sardis must exist when Jesus comes for his church.
And then we come to Philadelphia, and we heard Jesus tell them, I want you to know that I'm coming quickly. If Jesus encourages this church by telling them he's coming soon, then this church must be on the earth. When he comes in the next chapter, we're going to look at the final church, Laodicea. And to them, Jesus is going to say, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock." The Weymouth New Testament puts it like this: "I am now standing at the door and am knocking." That last church won't hear Jesus say I'm coming quickly. They'll hear him say, I'm here, I'm at the door. This is the last call. The final four churches come into existence sequentially, one after another, but those final four churches exist simultaneously as well. They exist at the same time until Jesus comes for his church. All four of those churches exist right now. The first three churches of the seven do not mention is coming.
The last four churches of the seven all mentioned his coming. Therefore, those last four churches must be in existence at the time of the Rapture Verse 8 12. He who overcomes will make him a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall go out no more. The language Jesus uses here contrasts with the unstable reputation of the city of Philadelphia around 96 A.D. You see, the city had been destroyed by a catastrophic earthquake in 17 A.D. And despite being rebuilt, the city didn't grow especially large because so many were terrified of the prospect of another natural disaster.
If we stay passionate about Jesus, if we keep the faith, God says, he will establish us in his kingdom like pillars in the temple of the Old Testament will be in our resurrected bodies, glorified like Jesus, impervious to our current highs and lows, will finally be truly stable, unshakable. Can't wait for that, can't wait, then he says, I will ride on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and I will ride on him.
My new name will learn more about all that when it actually takes place in the latter chapters of Revelation, a promise in the previous chapter I'm sorry. In the previous letter, Sardis had a name that they were so proud of, only to have Jesus tell them it was empty. And then here we see Jesus pointing to the name of my God, the city of my God, and the new name he's going to write on us. There's a lesson in there about the names and titles that we should be concerned with, about the names and titles that actually matter in life.
In summary, write this down. Jesus promises the overcomer. He promises the Christian citizenship in his eternal kingdom. He promises the overcomer citizenship in his eternal kingdom. As Christians, we are called to live our earthly lives as citizens of heaven, he who has an ear, let him hear what the spirit says to the churches. And speaking of churches. Here's what I think the application is for all churches. Because the church exists first and foremost for Jesus.
All Christians should lean in when he tells us what he loves to see in his church. And Philadelphia tells us that Jesus loves it when his church catches his heart for the lost and his word when we begin to love the loss with the heart of Jesus. This letter tells us he gets actively involved in opening doors for ministry. It is impossible to be a church that keeps his word without being a church that teaches his word. I believe it's clear from his letter to Philadelphia that Jesus wants his church to study his word, take it to heart and seek to keep it to live it out.
As churches were called to join the Holy Spirit in reaching out to the lost and to learn God's word that we might live God's word. Regarding the application for you and I, for all believers. You are an ambassador for Christ, so am I. If you're a Christian, then you are a little Christ. That's what the word means. You represent the name of Jesus and part of the responsibility that comes with that is understanding the way you live can help people understand the reality of a God who loves them.
Jesus loves you, there's nothing you need to do to earn his favor or his blessings, you can't earn your salvation. Jesus already did that for you. But listen. If you're grateful for your salvation, if you desire to be a blessing to your lord and savior and master, if you're interested in representing him well to the world around you, then I would encourage you to spend some time praying, reflecting and meditating on the four values that came up in this letter, in this letter to the church that Jesus loves.
Here are the four things I see. Jesus loves them because they keep his word as the authority over their lives. They proclaim his word by sharing the gospel when they have opportunity. They're willing to suffer persecution for him and they're ready to die for him daily or ultimately. You see, Jesus had no criticism for Philadelphia and Smyrna, and when we take a step back, these are the four characteristics we see across these two churches, study them, take them to heart.
If you want to live a life that blesses Jesus, I'm going to end with this for real. Do you remember how earlier in this message I shared that revelation takes your mind to other places in Scripture? And I found my mind taken to First Peter Chapter one as I contemplated Jesus introducing himself by emphasizing His Holiness? Well, I honestly couldn't believe what I was reading when I went there in Scripture and just read the other verse is around it. Peter is writing to churches, including churches in Asia, possibly including the church at Philadelphia, and what he writes beginning in verse 13 of First Peter one.
It's essentially a summary of Jesus's letter to the church in Philadelphia. It's incredible. I know we're going along, but would you mind if we just read it together to close? So turn to first Peter 113 with me and I'm going to replace some words with the more accurate translation. Peter writes, Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts as in your ignorance, but as he who called you is holy.
You also be holy in all your conduct because it is written be holy for I am holy. And if you call on the father who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear, knowing you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for you.
Through him, you believe in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory so that your faith and hope are in God. Since you have purified your souls and obeying the truth through the spirit, insincere love of the brethren love one another fervently with a pure heart having been born again, not of perishable seed, but imperishable through the word of God, which lives and abides forever because all flesh is as grass and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers and its flower falls away. But the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the Gospel was preached to you. Would you by your head and close your eyes. Let's pray together. Jesus. Thank you for your word. And thank you for the church at Philadelphia. Thank you for our faithful brothers and sisters around 96 A.D. when this was written, who were being faithful to you, clinging to your word, proclaiming you, desiring to make your name famous.
And Jesus, it's our desire that prophetically we would be part of that Philadelphia church. So, Lord, we ask that you would help us to live lives set apart for you. If there's an area of our life that is not bringing you glory and needs to change, Lord, just bring it to our attention right now in the name of Jesus by the power of the spirit. Lord, help us to cling to your word and to hold fast to it through the ups and downs.
We know that we are in fleshly bodies right now that are that are unstable, but Lord, we know that by the power of your spirit. We can live lives that are built upon the rock of Jesus, and so no matter what we're feeling, no matter what thoughts are running through our mind, Lord help us to live lives surrendered to the spirit dictated by your word and by your spirit, Lord, that we might be firmly established even in this life as we represent you.
And then, Lord, we pray for boldness to proclaim the Gospel to those who don't know it. To those who need you, Lord, we ask for opportunities, and then we pray for supernatural boldness to walk through those doors that you open for us. And we do pray for those opportunities, Lord, that your name might be made more famous during our time as Sojourners on the Earth. We love you, Jesus. We bless you. We thank you for saving us.
It's in your precious name. We pray. Amen.