DEEPER STUDY # 1
(3:7) Philadelphia: there are five historical facts that seem to have a bearing upon the message to the church.
1. Philadelphia was founded as a border town to spread Greek culture to surrounding areas. In fact, it was situated
right on the borders of Lydia, Mysia, and Phrygia. The church knew exactly what it meant to be missionary minded, to have
an open door for the spread of the gospel (Rev.3:8; cp. Acts 14:27; 1 Cor.16:9; 2 Cor.2:12; Col.4:3).
2. The name Philadelphia means brotherly love. The very name of the church gave the believers a constant reminder:
they must love one another if they were going to fulfill their missionary calling.
3. Philadelphia knew what it was to live in the midst of insecure surroundings and under constant stress and strain. The
city sat over a large earthquake fault. In A.D. 17 a terrifying earthquake hit a huge area. It completely destroyed Sardis and
ten other cities. Philadelphia was spared total destruction. But for years the city was hit by unending
tremors—each adding its own panic and crumbling walls to the devastation. The experience of having to constantly run in
and out for safety terrorized the population. The experience was never forgotten by succeeding generations. The church
knew what it was to be given the hope of becoming a “pillar in the temple of God” and the promise to the overcomer that “he
shall go no more out” (v.12).
4. Philadelphia, after its destruction by the earthquake, was given aid by the emporer Tiberius for rebuilding. In ap-
preciation the city changed its name to Neocaesarea, the New City of Caesar. The church knew what it was to be given a new
5. Philadelphia had a Jewish synagogue within its city limits. The Jews claimed to be the only followers of the true
God (v.9). They claimed the keys of David, the right to open and to shut the door to God and His kingdom (v.7). The church
knew what it was to trust and know Him who alone “is true [and]...hath the key of David [and]...openeth and...shutteth”
(3:7) Jesus Christ—Church: there is the speaker, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. What Jesus Christ says about Himself
speaks to the heart of the church that is alive and faithful.
1. Jesus Christ is holy. The word holy is a description of God Himself. Jesus Christ is claiming to have the very same
nature as God the Father, to be perfectly holy even as God is perfectly holy. Remember that holiness means to be set apart
and different from all other beings, completely and totally set apart. Christ is supremely holy. He reaches the summit of being
different from all other beings. This means something significant for the church that is alive and faithful. It means they are
worshipping and following God Himself by following Christ. By giving their hearts and lives to Christ, they are giving
themselves to the sovereign Majesty and supreme Force of the universe, to the most holy God Himself. The church is, there-
fore, under His care and love. Christ Jesus, the Most Holy God, will look after and take care of the church if the church will
just continue to be alive and faithful.
“Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy” (Ps.99:9).
“And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is
full of his glory” (Is.6:3).
“Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me” (Jn.8:46).
“For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed” (Acts 4:27).
“By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of
thy holy child Jesus” (Acts 4:30).
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteous-
ness of God in him” (2 Cor.5:21).
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but
was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb.4:15).
“For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and
made higher than the heavens” (Heb.7:26).
“Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations
shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest” (Rev.15:4).
2. Jesus Christ is the One who is true. The word true (alethinos) means the true as opposed to the false, the genuine as
opposed to the counterfeit, the real as opposed to the unreal. Jesus Christ is the true, genuine, and real God. He is the only
living and true God. There is none other. All the other gods worshipped by men are false, counterfeit, and unreal. This, too,
means a wonderful thing. God is not far off in outer space someplace, too far off to be known or reached. He is not the sha-
dowy figure that most men imagine Him to be. God is not distant from us. He has not left us in the dark to grope and grasp
and to stumble about trying to find Him. God does not hate us; He has not left us in the dark about Himself. God loves us. He
has revealed Himself to us. He sent the Lord Jesus Christ to bring the truth to us. Therefore, in worshipping the Lord Jesus
Christ we are worshipping the only true and living God. What the faithful church must do is continue to follow Christ, con-
tinue to make Him the focus of all that it does. When the church makes Him the center of all its ministries, activities, and
meetings, then the church is following the truth—following Him who is true.
“That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (Jn.1:9).
“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the
only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (Jn.1:14).
“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from
heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven” (Jn.6:32).
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