The sixth church (of the seven churches of Asia) that Jesus addressed through the pen of John is the church in Philadelphia. The message is recorded in Revelation 3:7-13, saying —
7 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.
Philadelphia was a unique church – of the 7 mentioned, 5 were rebuked and required to repent! Who were the exceptions? Smyrna was one; Philadelphia, the church in the city of brotherly love, was the other. Let’s dig into what we can learn from Philadelphia, and apply in our lives today!
Lesson 1: “Little Strength” Is Not An Excuse
Jesus told Philadelphia that “thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name” (v. 8). Though their strength was small, they STILL kept His word and refused to deny His name! That is a powerful testimony! How many times do we, in a weak moment, fail to obey God’s Word and instead give into our flesh, distractions, or emotions? Philadelphia shows us “little strength” is not a good enough excuse to disobey God. Weary, weak, or worn, we still must do what He says!
So, what do we, who want to please God, do if we find our strength is low? Jesus told Philadelphia that He set before them an open door, and no man can shut it (v. 8), and the reason why is because they had little strength. What is an open door for? It allows you entrance to a place! Jesus gave Philadelphia access, and if you have faith and His Spirit (Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:18; 3:12), you have access too! Bottom line: When you know your strength meter is low, RUN TO JESUS! He is the door, and He said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
We serve a God that can handle and help our little strength! Isaiah 40:28-31 preaches to anyone in that position, saying:
“28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, [that] the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? [there is] no searching of his understanding. 29 He giveth power to the faint; and to [them that have] no might he increaseth strength. 30 Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: 31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint.”
He NEVER runs out of strength, and He can increase yours! Just make up your mind: whether my strength is high or low, whether I’m on the mountain or in the valley, I’m determined to keep His Word!
Lesson 2: Keep His Word!
As we’ve explored, while they had little strength, Philadelphia still kept His Word (v. 8). Jesus reiterated this in v. 10 when He told Philadelphia, “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.“
Wow! They kept His word and specifically the word of His patience, where they had to wait on Him, and because they did, He’d KEEP them FROM the hour of temptation. Not in the hour, but from it so they’d avoid it altogether! If we go through some things RIGHT, keeping His Word patiently, He’ll keep us from going through something else! “Kept” (v. 8, 10) and “keep” (v. 10) all come from a Greek word that speaks of a watch, or guarding by keeping the eye upon, noting, or fulfilling a command. No matter what, we have to look at, hold onto, and obey His Word! In other words, we must KEEP IT! Why?
- If you want to be blessed, Jesus said, “Blessed [are] they that hear the word of God, and keep it” (Luke 11:28).
- 1 John 2:3-5 teaches us, “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”
- If you love Him, Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words… He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” (John 14:23-24).
- The heart that is good ground for His Word is described as those who “in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep [it], and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).
No matter what, keep His Word! Hold onto it, observe it, and do it, whatever the cost.
Lesson 3: He’s Coming Quickly!
Jesus made an important statement to Philadelphia that we all need to remember: “Behold, I come quickly” (v. 11). In other words, Jesus is coming! Say it three times out loud: Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming! JESUS IS COMING! We must remind ourselves that He’s coming, and He’s coming quickly, shortly, soon. Revelation 22, the last chapter of the entire Bible repeatedly confirms this fact:
- Rev. 22:7 – “Behold, I come quickly: blessed [is] he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”
- Rev. 22:12 – “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward [is] with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”
- Rev. 22:20 – “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
If you reread verse 11, you’ll notice the statement “Behold, I come quickly” is followed by a colon, a punctuation mark that lets us know the explanation of the thought is coming. Then Jesus gives us an instruction to obey, once we know He’s coming quickly: “hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” What you already have from God, HOLD FAST! Grab tightly to it, and as we learned from Sardis, don’t let anyone take anything from you that Jesus gave you!
He specifically mentioned not letting any man take your crown. A crown was a prize, a reward, and even 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 speaks of us striving to obtain an incorruptible crown, similar to the person running in a race for a corruptible crown. How crazy would it be to run for Jesus, to keep His Word with little strength, to go through patiently, and then before He comes to lay down your crown? Remember He’s coming and hold fast to what He gave you that lasts for eternity.
What did you learn from the church in Philadelphia? What stands out to you? Share your comments below!