Revelation 3:7-8 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:
8 ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name."
When you look at the seven churches that are addressed by Jesus in the book of Revelation, two of them stand out as mighty pillars: Smyrna and Philadelphia. Of the two, we could say that Smyrna was commended for her courage and conviction in the face of suffering. The other one, Philadelphia had been commended for being faithful and not turning away from the opportunities the Lord placed before her. What is faithfulness? Faithfulness could be defined as repeated, moment by moment loyalty to Jesus Christ exercised by faith. Older versions of the Bible use a similar meaning word: "longsuffering". Galatians 5:22 lists it among the nine-fruit of the Spirit - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness." Faithfulness is a Spirit produced fruit that must be picked and consumed by the Christian. Jesus commended the Philadelphian church for her staying faithful despite being situated in the midst of unfavorable circumstances. In today's post, we aim to consider Jesus' letter to the church at Philadelphia and discover how He wants a S.T.A.Y faithful church.
A quick word is in order about the City of Philadelphia before getting to its church
The great archaeologist Sir William Ramsey writes these words: "The situation of the city fully explains this saying. Philadelphia lay at the upper extremity of a long valley, which opens back from the sea. After passing the Philadelphia the road along this valley ascends to the Phrygian land and the great Central Plateau, the main mass of Asia Minor." Ramsey then later states: "Philadelphia, therefore was a keeper of the gateway to the Plateau; but the door had been permanently opened before the church, and the work of Philadelphia had been to go forth through the door and carry the gospel to the cities of the Phrygian land."1 Able commentator Robert Mounce comments on Philadelphia's original purpose as a city: In its development under Pergmene rule Philadelphia was intended to serve as a 'missionary city' to bring Greek culture..."2
Though the city had many physical and political opportunities because of its location and history, the year 17 A.D spelled disaster as the city suffered a major earthquake. For the next several years aftershocks followed, prompting the citizens of Philadelphia to live outside on the countrysides in makeshift homes. For a long time the only thing that stood in the city were the Greco-Roman Columns. A couple of Roman Emperors lent their support to rebuilding the urban center, resulting in two name changes of the city to indicate its loyalties to those who helped her get back on her feet. The background of this city, like the other churches, serves as material to describe spiritual qualities somehow emulated by the resident church. As Dr. John Walvoord notes: "the Philadelphian Christians will be permanent like a pillar in the temple and, speaking figuratively, they will stand when all else has fallen."3
What ingredients in Revelation 3:7-13 does Jesus give for Christians to S.T.A.Y faithful?
I want to simply list for you the four ingredients of staying faithful that we find in Revelation 3:7-13 by way of the acronym "S.T.A.Y".
Strength of Jesus Christ. Revelation 3:7-8
True power of the Gospel. Revelation 3:9
Application of the scripture. Revelation 3:10
Yearn to run for Jesus. Revelation 3:11-13
1. Sir William Ramsey. Letters to the Seven Churches. Baker. Pages 404-405
2. Robert Mounce. The New Internation Commentary on the New Testament - The Book of Revelation. Eerdmans. Page 115
3. John Walvoord. The Revelation of Jesus Christ - A Commentary. Moody Press. 1966. Page 88.
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