The Vision of the

Church in Philadelphia

Part 1

 

Revelation 3:7-13

 

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. KJV


Introduction to Philadelphia

 

Revelation 3: 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

 

“And to the angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Philadelphia write:”

 

Revelation 3:7 is a message from Jesus Christ to those ones who are leading the church in the Philadelphia church age.  The Greek word for “angel” literally means a “messenger.”  The New Testament leaders, or “messengers”, would primarily be the elders, who are overseers in the church (READ Acts 20:17, 28; 1Tim.5: 17; James 5:14; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 14:23). 

 

The words, “in Philadelphia,” are translated literally from the Greek text as follows (bold type): “in the direction of being in a fixed position, of close association in dear, and active fondness as friends, coming from the same womb…”

 

“Philadelphia” means friendship that is fixed and stable; unshakable, regardless of circumstances.  This is to be the primary direction for the Philadelphian church age.  Furthermore, the friendship of the Philadelphian church is described in its intimacy by the terms, “close association in dear and active fondness.”  This implies a mutual care, love, and concern for one another, which is demonstrated in its “active” state.  After all, faith without works is dead.  The church in Philadelphia loves in both word and deed.

 

In the Greek text, the root word origin of “Philadelphia” ends with the Greek word, “delphus” (i.e. womb). This is a metaphor to describe the relationship we enter into with one another once we have been “born-again” by the Spirit of God (John 3:3-8); we become “brothers” and “sisters” of a spiritual family of God.  The “womb” obviously infers the place in which the birth takes place.

 

The church is referred to in the feminine gender (Ephesians 5:25-33; Galatians 4:24-31), because it is the spirit of our Father God that causes us to be born from above (John 3:3-16).  In figurative language, God’s spirit plants His eternal “seed” (i.e. Jesus; see Galatians 3:13-16) in the “womb” of the church.  At full term, the church goes into labor pains trying to be delivered of this man child (Revelation 12:1-6), who shall rule and reign together with Christ.

 

Since Revelation is a book expressing primarily symbolic and figurative language, the literal meaning of the word to “write” could more accurately be used to mean, “describe.”  It is the responsibility of the leaders in each church age to describe, by their life’s example (1 Tim.3: 1-7; Titus 1:5-9), and through their teachings, the message that God wants to speak to His people.  They are to “engrave” upon the hearts and minds of believers the true message of Jesus (2 Cor. 3:2-3). 

 

The doctrines that leaders in the church write and teach must align with what is described within the inspired Scriptures, and not from the traditions of Christianity.  The leaders of the Philadelphian church must also be an example in their everyday lifestyle of what God wants a Christian to be; otherwise, their words and teachings lose most of the intended meaning.

 

Jesus, The Undefiled One Speaks

 

“These things saith he that is holy”

 

The Greek word for the English, “saith” in an expanded, literal translation, reads, “be doing the describing by laying forth in a systematic discourse.”  This phrase, “to these ones,” this would be a reference to the “called out ones”; that is, to the believers in the church who have the spiritual ears, and a willingness to hear, and to obediently follow the message in this church age. 

 

The phrase translated as “be doing the describing by laying forth, in a systematic discourse” is a basic command to the elders who are leading the church.  They are to teach the written word of God in a systematic manner; that is, to use Scripture to interpret Scripture, rather than using terms that are “convenient” or “traditional” to interpret what the Scripture is saying.

 

When Revelation 3:7b uses the phrase “he that is holy” it should be translated as “that which is cherished as unblemished, pure and innocent.”  The KJV states it as, “he that is holy,” but the KJV translators added the personal pronoun “he,” which detracts the intended meaning of the text.  The Greek uses an impersonal pronoun “which.”  In other words, the original Greek text does not read, “ he that is holy,” but rather, “that which is cherished as pure and innocent.”   That which is “pure and innocent” could be a reference back to the Scripture.

 

The Philadelphia church will be a noble group of believers who will “cherish” only the pure and innocent Word of God.  They will be diligent to search the Scriptures daily as the Bereans did (Acts 17:10-11).  Like “pure and innocent” children, they will not allow even their own bias and tradition interfere with what God is trying to say. (READ Mark 10:14-15) 

 

As the son of man, Jesus Christ is “unblemished, pure and innocent” in his character.  Jesus provides the Philadelphia church the quality of character that they, as the body of Christ, are to “cherish.”  In the Greek word ‘hágios’ translated as “holy” we see all the characteristics of Christ being formed in his last day church in Philadelphia. 

 

They are morally blameless, innocent, sacrificial and giving, sharing in God’s purity and abstaining from earth’s defilement, deserving respect, blameless in heart and life, virtuous, purified and sanctified by the influences of the Spirit, and devoted to Christian affection (i.e. they are not sterile or legalistic).

 

In James 1:21-27 there is a clear picture of what the Philadelphia church should consider, “cherished as pure and innocent.”  Listed below are specific topics that communicate from scriptures the true character of Jesus Christ:

 

Ø      In humility receive the word implanted.

 

Ø      Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.

 

Ø      One who looks intently at the perfect law, the {law} of liberty, and abides by it.

 

Ø      Adherence to pure and undefiled religion in the sight of {our} God and Father, which is to visit orphans and widows in their distress, {and} to keep oneself unstained by the world.

 

Jesus is the undefiled and life-giving spirit that leads, guides and counsels his people.  He hears from and directs us in the will of his Father God.  The same anointing that was upon him in his ministry is now offered to those that are willing to hear his voice and obey his commands.

 

·         1 John 2:20, 27 But you have been anointed by [you hold a sacred appointment from, you have been given an unction from] the Holy one, and you all know [the Truth] or you know all things… But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which, you received from Him abides [permanently] in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you.  But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood, so you must abide in (live in, never depart from) Him [being rooted in Him, knit to Him], just as [His anointing] has taught you [to do].  AMP

 

The word “anointing” is nearly extant in our English vocabulary.  To anoint something or someone in ancient times meant to pour oil upon them (usually the head); it also meant to smear or rub someone ceremonially with oil or unctuous substances; also to spread over, as with oil.  We say, the man anoints another, or the oil anoints him.

 

Anointing has always been associated with dedication (consecration or sanctification).  It was practiced as a solemn ritual according to the Law of God in the Old Testament (Exodus 29).  Jesus anointed the blind man’s eyes with clay (John 9).

 

The use of oil in the consecrations of kings, of prophets and of priests was a sort of initiation; they were set apart or consecrated to their offices by the use of oil.  Hence the peculiar application of the term “anointed” to Jesus Christ who was consecrated by God as high priest, according to the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 5:10). 

 

God anointed Jesus when He poured forth the consecrated spirit upon him instead of oil (Luke 4:18).  Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus to prepare him for his death and burial; she used a very expensive ointment of perfume, signifying that his sacrifice was a sweet fragrance, acceptable unto God Almighty (Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-48; John 11:1-2).

 

Since we cannot see Jesus because he is invisible to our eyes, he provides us with unction from his spirit.  John use of the word ‘anointing’ in his epistle of First John would be familiar to Israelites of his time. 

 

Just like a priest or king anointed with ceremonial oil to set him apart for special service, believers in Jesus are also anointed with his presence to dedicate them in service, and to teach them regarding the things in the kingdom of God.

 

The church has been short-changed in the understanding of Jesus’ role to them as the last Adam.  Most Christians do not realize that when Jesus said he would return to his disciples after his ascension, it is as the consecrated, cleansing and life-giving spirit.  Jesus IS the “Holy Spirit” referred to in John 14:26.  The reason we can be certain of this is found in the Greek word “Parakletos” for “Helper” (or “Comforter; Counselor”” in some versions.”

 

It is perplexing and very confusing that nearly all Bible translations have utilized the phrase “the Holy Spirit” in John 14:26.  This translation error transforms the text into a hodgepodge of Trinitarian theological babble. 

 

The King James and other Bible versions translate with their theology, not from the Greek text!  Whether this is done willfully and knowingly is anyone’s guess, but it is certainly an attempt to use this verse to corroborate the “Holy Spirit” as being included as one of three distinct personages in the Triune godhead.  Taken literally (at face value from the King James Bible), John 14:26 would be interpreted as follows:

 

·         The Father (God) will send the disciples the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name.  In the Trinity, is this one person of God (the Father) sending another person of God (the Holy Spirit) in the name of a third person of God the son (Jesus)?  If so, then where is the co-equality of the three-headed Trinity so widely espoused?  And if all three persons of the Trinity were one person, then why would one person send another?  Wouldn’t they all just go?

 

The Greek word parakletos was a common term used in Roman culture and society. 

It is properly a verbal adjective referring to an aid of any kind.  In the Greek writers, parakletos was used of a legal advisor, pleader, proxy, or advocate, one who comes forward in behalf of and as the representative of another. Thus, in 1 John 2:1, Christ is termed our substitutionary, intercessory advocate.

 

Jesus designates the Holy Spirit as “Paraclete” (John 14:16), and calls Him “another” Helper.  The Greek word for “another” is “állos” and it means, “another of equal quality” or “a different one of equal (the same) quality.”

 

Parakletos originates from the Greek word parakaléo; from pará (3844), ‘to the side of,’ and ‘kaléo’ (2564), ‘to call.’  As the parakletos, Jesus is more to us than a legal advisor; he comes to our aid, to help, to comfort, and to encourage us.  The root word parakaléo is also translated, ‘to comfort, exhort, desire, call for, and beseech strongly.’

 

Jesus is the Parakletos to Philadelphia; he teaches them how to treat each other, how to love each other, and how to keep their hearts morally blameless and undefiled.  Below, is the literal Greek rendering of John 14:25-29; it illustrates Jesus as the one called alongside Philadelphia and all believers throughout time that call upon his name.

 

The Appropriate Translation

 

John 14:25 These things I have spoken to you while staying near (in proximity) to you.

 

John 14:26 But the one called alongside you, the morally blameless spirit, whom the Father will dispatch (on temporary errand) in the name (character, authority and reputation) of me, that one shall instruct (teach) you all manner of things (pertaining to the sum of all my teachings) and shall remind quietly, by hinting or suggesting to the one's own memory, (to aid in gaining a mental grasp; i.e. recollection; by implication to reward or punish), the whole of everything I have said to you.

 

John 14:27 A state of prevailing peace (quiet or tranquility; freedom from disturbance or agitation) I shall send forth (from myself) to you.  My prevailing peace I give to you; not in the {same} manner the world {with its disposition} gives, do I give unto you.  Don’t let your heart be stirred up, agitated or troubled nor {be} timid (afraid).

 

John 14:28 You have heard how I said to you, ‘I go away (out of sight) and {then} come toward you.  If you loved me (and continued doing so) {I} supposed you would {have been} cheerful, because I go from here toward the Father, because the Father is greater and more than my existence.

 

John 14:29 And now I have said it to you prior to it being generated (coming into existence), the result being that whenever it is generated (comes into existence) you might give credence to it {and} be firmly persuaded to entrust yourself to {it}.

 

Commentary on John 14:25-29

 

·         John 14:25 – While remaining with his disciples in the flesh, Jesus reaffirms the experience they will have in the future with the parakletos (after he goes away).

 

·         John 14:26 In contrast to him actually being with the disciples in the flesh, he will come to them in spirit, and as the consecrated, morally pure and blameless spirit.  Jesus informs them that the Father will dispatch the glorified spirit of His only begotten son to be alongside them each time they call; hence the phrase “on temporary errand.”  When Jesus is dispatched to them from the Father and he promises to instruct them by quietly jogging their memory with regard to the teaching he had provided them. 

 

·         Perhaps this was even a precursor to those disciples who would be inspired by the life-giving spirit of Jesus to pen the gospels and epistles to the church.  This would explain how John, Matthew, Peter, Luke, and Mark had the capability to mentally grasp what was needed to write.  Otherwise, how could the four gospels be so perfectly parallel, and yet not be redundant copies of each other?  How could the apostles possibly remember so many details without aid from Jesus?

 

·         Jesus is still the morally blameless and life-giving spirit to us; he is the same today as he was then.  He gently reminds us of the teaching he has provided through the scriptures, and those who seek him, and obey his commands can hear his voice.

 

·         John 14:27 Perhaps the single most beneficial aspect of having a personal relationship with Jesus is the “state of prevailing peace” he gives to those who rely upon and trust in him.  The peace Jesus gives is unlike what the world with its’ disposition being self-centered offers.  Jesus can and does give a state of tranquility that is firm and lasting because it involves making the conscience right before God.

 

·         John 14:28 Jesus had supposed his disciples would be more cheerful when he told them he was going to his Father and in turn would come back toward them.  He told them the reason this was the best scenario is because the Father is greater (meaning more; of greater scope and accessibility).  The point Jesus is making is simple: If he goes away, he then unites in spirit with the Father who is also spirit.  This in turn gives all men access to Jesus as the parakletos.  Jesus feels this should be cause for rejoicing on the part of the disciples, and not sorrow.

 

·         John 14:29 Prior to the parakletos being generated (coming into existence), Jesus informed the disciples it would be so.  This would lend credibility to the consecrated spirit of Jesus (i.e. – the holy spirit) when it came to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4).

 

It takes humility to allow God to plant His word in your heart.  This idea of implanting the word goes together well with the Greek word “grapho” meaning, “to engrave.” Planting something implies putting deep into the soil of our hearts, just as engraving means to have something permanently etched in us.

 

When the Philadelphia church hears the commands of God, they allow it to take root in their hearts, and this produces a desire for them to be “doers of the word.”  The church in Philadelphia has a, “pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father.”  They desire to help those in distress, as well as keeping their lives unstained from the influence of the world. (Read Ephesians 5:25-27)

 

In Ephesians 5:25-27we find different aspects of what God is calling the Philadelphians to “cherish.”  

 

Ø      Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church; the husbands of the church in Philadelphia will really do this.  These are role models for others to see how Jesus loves his church.  Their love, tenderness, respect and devotion to their wives enable the husbands in Philadelphia to be a living demonstration of Jesus Christ. 

 

Ø      Having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.  Again, the husbands of the church in Philadelphia furnish testament of how God forgives.  They live together with their wives in an understanding and considerate way.  They acknowledge the woman’s weakness emotionally and physically.  They cleanse her by the “word” (logos = reasoning & logic).  That is, they use their God-given reason, logic and emotional stability to nurture and protect their wives.

 

Ø      That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory.  Since the husband/wife union is symbolic of Christ and the church, the husbands in the church of Philadelphia present their wives in all her glory.  In other words, they to not put her down or criticize her in front of others.  Rather, they can and do proclaim to others, “This is my beloved.  There is none like her among women.  She is all-together lovely, and her value is greater than riches.  She is my beloved, and my best friend.”

 

Ø      That she should be holy and blameless.  The Greek reads literally, “ sacred (physically, pure, morally blameless) and unblemished, unblameable, without any a flaw or blot, not as a disgraceful person.”  The greatest sin among husbands has always been to blame their wives.  Husbands in the Philadelphia church will overcome this sin, and present their wives as blameless.  Unlike too many husbands, they will never disgrace her!  While they acknowledge their wives have problems and weaknesses, to the husbands of Philadelphia, their wives are without flaw or blemish.  When the world and the church witnesses this kind of love, surely they will say, “God is among them.”

 

Ephesians 5:25-27 is dealing with both the practical and the typological.  The command for husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church commands husbands to cherish their wives, with Christ as the example to follow.  Being cleansed by the water of the word is a metaphor.

 

The Greek word for “water” means “a rainy shower.”  The Greek word for “word” is “rhema” meaning “an utterance; to speak or say.”  In this metaphor we can see two things:

 

Ø      The husband showering his wife with understanding, by how he speaks to her and showing he cherishes her heart as innocent and pure.

 

Ø      Because the Philadelphia church has an ear to hear it is “showered” with every “word or utterance” that proceeds from the mouth of God.

 

The entire passage in Ephesians culminates with Christ presenting the Philadelphia church to God the Father, in all her glory, as holy and blameless.  It is important to note the church in the age of Philadelphia is not some super-sinless wonder church.  They are merely those that have learned to overcome their weak areas and keep their sins under the blood of Jesus.  They still make plenty of mistakes, but they are not afraid to confess their faults one to another (READ James 5:16). 

 

Because they keep their sins continually forgiven, the Philadelphia church is a body of believers that the accuser (Satan) cannot find reasons to blame.  To maintain a state of existence where one’s sin is forgiven involves two things; First, confessing sins to God, and second, confessing faults to one another.  Philadelphia “cherishes” this way of life, keeping them under the blood of Jesus and therefore “pure and innocent.” (Read Colossians 1:18-23)

 

In Colossians 1:18-23 the thing to be cherished as,” pure and innocent,” is being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.  Jesus bore our sins in his own fleshly body.  He, who knew no sin, became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.  It is because of this reconciliation that they are presented to God as “holy and blameless.” 

 

Philadelphia is required to have the perseverance needed to, “continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel.”  They don’t buy into the lie of Calvinism with its, “ once saved, always saved,” doctrine.  The Philadelphians must cherish what Jesus did on the cross to make them, “pure and innocent,” by continuing in the faith firmly established and steadfast. (Read Colossians 3:1-14)

 

Colossians 3:1-14 presents the believers in the Philadelphian church age a tremendous challenge to cherish the “pure and innocent” character of Jesus.  To cherish Christ’s character is more than a mental concept.  It involves a transformation of our complete lifestyle so that it Jesus is revealed through our actions.  In Colossians 3:1-14 we read, “Consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.”  This means we must be dead to the things that give us an ungodly thrill (i.e. – the cravings of the flesh). 

 

In Colossians 3:1-14 we read, “Put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, {and} abusive speech from your mouth.”   Some examples are angry silence towards your spouse, reacting with fits of rage towards someone who upsets you on the road, slandering or gossiping someone you dislike, telling off color or sexual jokes, cussing, holding critical thoughts in your mind because you are upset with someone, etc.  The Philadelphia church can prove they cherish that which is pure and innocent by their behavior and thoughts.   

 

In Colossians 3:1-14 we read, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its {evil} practices.”  The word “lie,” means,” an attempt to deceive by falsehood.”  Christians in America so often lie to one another.  They do so in a variety of ways.  One way is using business practices such as multi-level marketing schemes (e.g. – Multi-level marketing business schemes) to get Christian brothers and sisters involved with deceptive recruiting.   Another way is condescension and self-righteousness, particularly if someone confesses sin to them.   This is a form of deceit.  There are many more examples one could give.

 

The Philadelphia church will not treat one another in a fraudulent or deceptive way.  They will not regard one another with suspicion.  Their signature is honesty and openness.  They are willing to freely confess their faults to each other without fear of criticism, and without concern that they will be judged and slandered.  They trust each other because they are friends.

 

In Colossians 3:1-14 we read, “Put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him {a renewal}.”   To “put on the new self” is a conscious decision.  We must ask God for the wisdom and the grace to help us (READ James 1:2-9).  Jesus is the image of the One who made us a new creation; He is our example (READ Colossians 1:9-15).   The Philadelphia church follows Jesus as their example.

 

In Colossians 3:1-14 we read, “As those who have been chosen of God, holy (hágios) and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”  Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience...these are the qualities of the church in Philadelphia.  Their relationships have been sorely tested, and through each fiery ordeal they learn to forgive each other. 

 

Philadelphia is a church that has learned to accept adversity and God’s discipline.  Because of this they live their individual lives seeking the conviction and mercy of their Father God.  They look in the mirror and don’t forget what manner of person they are.

(Read James 1:21-25)

 

Because Philadelphia lives in a state of cognitive awareness, acknowledging the mercy of God, and their own propensity toward sin, their hearts are filled with compassion for others.  It is a natural outflow to forgive others.  They reach out with forgiveness to those people ignored by most Christians in America...the backslidden and bitter; the non-church goers; the drug addicts; the street people; the generation ‘X’ teenagers; the elderly; the disabled; AIDS patients (the lepers of modern day America), single moms, etc.  Like Jesus, Philadelphia’s empathy knows no bounds.

 

In Colossians 3:1-14 we read, “Beyond all these things {put on} love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”  God’s love is the principal dynamic uniting the church in Philadelphia.  They don’t associate with other believers based on denominational agreement, or on common ‘doctrines.’  While doctrinal truth is something they will never compromise, their “bond of unity” is based on the love of God in Christ.

 

Speaking The Truth In Love

 

“He that is true”

 

In the phrase “he that is true” the KJV translators erroneously inserted the personal pronoun “he.” This makes it sound as though it were a person who was “true.”  The Greek interlinear not only omits the personal pronoun, but also uses the word “true” as a noun rather than an adjective.  The Greek idiom reveals that what is being spoken about here is truth.  Furthermore, it refers to truth that has not been concealed. 

 

In Revelation 3:7b “he that is true” is rendered from the Greek as follows, “First, the truth, by not concealing (it).   This is a reference to the unadulterated word of God.  It is a command to the messengers leading the church of Philadelphia.  They are being commanded by Jesus to freely, boldly, and openly speak the truth. 

 

The only way leaders in Philadelphia can speak the truth, particularly when it is contrary to the what majority of the Christian world believes, is being convinced of it through their own personal study of the scripture.  The Philadelphian church and it’s leaders are not afraid to speak the truth in love, even though it may go again the grain of what mainstream Christianity teaches, and even though it will most certainly result in persecution from both the church and the world.  It may cost them the benefit of personal relationships with other Christians who, being unwilling to receive the truth, will ostracize them.

 

·         Matthew 5:14-20   “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do {men} light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.  Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.  Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches {them,} he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I say to you, that unless your righteousness surpasses {that} of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (NAS)

 

The disciples in the church of Philadelphia continually reach out to meet the needs of others.  These good works are not done out of a sense of “duty,” but rather in response to the love of God working within them.  Unlike so many self-righteous so-called “born-again Christians” they fulfill the commandment of Jesus to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34).  They understand the being “born-again” mean being “generated from above.”  In other words, every day Philadelphians seek their Father in heaven as the birth, or origin of how they act (John 3:3).

 

Today there is a second great ‘Reformation’ going on within the church.  Those believers that are a part of the church in Philadelphia are challenging the doctrines and practices of Christianity that have been in existence since the first Reformation. 

 

Christianity today has inherited many of its’ most important doctrines from Catholicism.  These doctrines and the practices are not scriptural.  The Philadelphia believer is searching the scriptures daily.  Like the Bereans in the days of the early church, they seek the truth. 

 

·         Acts 17:10-11 And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.  Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, {to see} whether these things were so.  (NAS)

 

Some of the false doctrines being taught by Christianity today are as follows:

 

Ø      The teaching that a one-man pastor should lead the church.  The scripture clearly teaches a group of elders are to lead the church as equals, functioning in different roles.  Of those elders, not many should call themselves “teachers.”  Most Christians today have little more than a casual relationship with their “pastor.”  This is clearly a different pattern than established in scripture.  (Acts 15:6)

 

Ø      The teaching that Christians should practice the O.T. laws of tithing instead of being able to give freely from their hearts to meet the needs of people.  Most of the money Christians give to the “church” is for the expense of the building, maintenance of the facility, salary for the staff, utilities, etc.  Very little is ever given to meet the needs of the poor, the widows, the elderly, etc.  (2 Corinthians 9:2; 1 Corinthians 16:2-4)

 

Ø      The teaching that church is a building or a place to meet, rather than the people.  Although the N.T. pattern in the Book of Acts and other books clearly indicates Christians met primarily in homes, Christians today insist on having their lavish church buildings.  Millions of dollars are donated to build, furnish and maintain them.   (Acts 7:48-50; Ephesians 2:18-22; Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 2:4-8)

 

Ø      The teaching and practice of “communion” using small plastic cups of grape juice with tiny pieces of unleavened bread (similar to unsalted ‘Wheat Thins’).  The Scripture teaches a sharing of meals together, along with a sharing of our entire lives together (sharing our time, emotional support, energy, groceries, help, money, goods, etc. with our brethren in need).  True communion is not a ritual celebration of grape juice and pieces of crackers.  It is a sharing of our love and what we have with those who are in need.  (1 Corinthians 11:23-34)

 

Ø      The teaching that “worship” is having a Sunday morning song service.  Yes, we are to sing praises to our God together, but the deeper meaning of “worship” is presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.  The scripture distinguishes between “praising” God (i.e. – singing and playing musical instruments) and “worshipping” God (i.e. – laboring together with Christ to do the work and will of God).  (Romans 12:1)

 

Ø      The blasphemous teaching of “giving” to “receive” is a spiritual disease rampant in the Christian church in America.  Men like Robert Tilton, Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar (a fitting name) and a host of other televangelists and ministers teach giving money insures financial return from God.  Most pastors teach that a Christian is commanded by God to give money to a church or Christian ministry or else they will be “cursed by God.”  They use Malachi 3:8-10 as their “proof” text.  Ironically, they rarely mention the most important kind of giving; that is, the gift of love.  Televangelists claim you will be blessed with an even greater financial return than what you give (i.e.-a hundred-fold return, as they say).  This teaching is heretical, and it is the wicked form of avarice because it uses the blessed name of Jesus to promulgate greed.  The scripture advises us against feeling affection for of money, and those who pursue it will wander away from the faith (1Timothy 6: 6-11).

 

Ø      The teaching that God is a “Trinity, Triune, Three Persons, or Three-in-One.” (Words not even found in the Bible).  Although the scriptures use the terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the teaching of the Trinity originated centuries after the scriptures were written.  The Trinity comes from the Athanasian Creed (A.D. 325).  The Athanasian Creed AD begins like this: 

 

“Whoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic faith: Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled: without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.  And the Catholic Faith is this:  That we worship one God in a Trinity, and Trinity in Unity...” (And so on). 

 

Ø      Must we believe the Catholic faith to be saved?  Or rather, should we hold fast to the scriptures?  The doctrine of the Trinity teaches that there are “three persons of God” (another phrase not found anywhere in scripture).  The teaching of the Trinity says that there are three distinct, and separate persons of God who are mystically united as one God.  The scriptures teach very clearly that God is ONE; not ‘three-in-one’ (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:28-29).  Many Christians today purport unless a person believes in the Trinity, they are not saved.  Without realizing it, these same Christians are spouting Catholic doctrine from the Athanasian Creed.  (READ James 2:19) 

 

Ø      The teaching that Jesus was pre-existent before he came to earth; that He left His throne in heaven, and, as God, became a man!  As absurd as this may seem, it is what most Christian ‘scholars’ teach.  The fact remains that Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary at a particular point in time. (READ Matthew 1:20; Luke 2:21 with Galatians 4:4)  If God became a man, the preposterous conclusion is, as Jesus hung on the cross, God died!  The scriptures clearly teach that God is not a man, nor is He the son of man (Numbers 23:19).  On the other hand, Jesus claimed to be the son of man (Matthew 8:20; 11:19).  When Jesus died on the tree, it was a man dying, not God (Matthew 27:54; John 11:49-52).

 

Ø      The teaching that Jesus is fully God and fully man at the same time.  How could this teaching be true?  Jesus himself cried out near the point of his death, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).  After his resurrection, Jesus said, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God” (John 20:17).  The scriptural teaching of Jesus being a man has almost completely become lost in Christian theology today (READ 1 Timothy 2:5).

 

Ø      The practice of having “church services” (it almost sounds like ‘social services’) where only one or two people do the speaking (usually in a lecture format).  The Scripture admonishes the participation of each member of the body when we gather together (1Corinthians 14:26; 12:7).  The notion of a one-man pastor has its ancestry in Catholicism where there is one priest over a parish.

 

One could enumerate on more areas of manmade philosophy within the Christian church today, but that is not the purpose of this study.  The most important point is the Philadelphia church will speak and teach the truth without concealing it.  They will stand for the truth even if it means exposing all of the false doctrines in Christendom. 

 

The church in Philadelphia will not win any popularity contests; their sole desire is to give pleasure to God.  By exposing that which is false, there will be intense persecution directed at the Philadelphia church, even by Christian brethren. 

 

Love Is The Key

 

“He that hath the key of David”

 

The phrase in the KJV, “he that hath the key of David,” is translated literally holding (it) in possession as the key to a closed lock, evident token or proof of love...”  The KJV translators inserted the word “he.”  They assumed there was a “he” holding the key of David because the Greek uses a verb indicating possession.  There is some “thing” that is being held in possession.  It is the key to a closed lock.

 

The phrase “the key of David” should be translated from its meaning of the word “David” in the original language.  The word “David,” (as transliterated in the Greek), when traced back to it’s root meanings, literally means, “evident token or proof.” 

 

When Revelation 3:7b states, “holding (it) in possession as the key to a closed lock” this is indicating two things.  First, “holding (it) in possession” would refer to the value; this relates to the believers who are a part of the Philadelphian church that value the Word of God; they hold it in possession as something more valuable than even their own lives. 

 

Second, “the key to a closed lock” refers to the doors of opportunity that the truth of God’s word will open to them.  In the last days there is a famine in the land for the hearing of the word of the Lord (READ Amos 8:11).  People are hungry for answers, both within the church, and without.  Years of tradition in the churches have masked what God has been trying to say through His Word, and now, in these last days the truth has been revealed to those who are willing to follow the Scriptures alone.  Therefore, it is like a “key” to unlocking hearts and minds that are spiritually imprisoned. 

 

“ The evident token or proof of love” is a verification of the truth.  When the truth is made plain through those who are bold enough to go against the grain of tradition, it bears witness within people’s hearts as such.  The truth of God’s word spoken in love, (without all the nonsense which man has added to it), and lived out by a people willing to follow it, becomes an evident token of proof.  It becomes a reality to those who have “an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”

 

Symbols are used to characterize the subject matter being conveyed in the Book of Revelation.   Hence, the meaning of the phrase in the KJV, “he that hath the key of David” symbolizes something other the David’s key.

 

The Hebrew definition of David is “loving”; it originates from an unused root meaning properly, “to boil, i.e. (figuratively) to love” and by implication, it also means, “a lovetoken, lover, and friend.” 

 

Our final translation of the Greek and Hebrew words for David used would read as follows, “holding (it) in possession as the key to a closed lock, evident token or proof of a friendship which boils with love.” 

 

Although the impersonal pronoun “(it)” is not in the original Greek text, it was inserted for readability in the English idiom.  This pronoun “(it)” refers to what is being held (i.e. – the truth). The church in Philadelphia holds the truth, unconcealed, and it is the “key” to the door of friendship they have with one another and Jesus. Theirs’ is a friendship that is fervent, and boils with love. 

 

The world and the churches shall know believers in the Philadelphia are Jesus’ disciples.  How?  By the love they have for one another.  This love shall be the catalyst for revealing God’s truth to the world. 

 

·         John 13:34-35  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  (NAS)

 

These friendships will be similar to the friendship David had with his friend Jonathan, who loved David as his own soul.  Their friendship was “evident token” or “proof” of the deep love they had for each other.  

 

·         1 Samuel 18:1 Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.  (NKJ)

 

The “key of the house of David” is mentioned elsewhere in scripture, and it is worth noting to find out what this prophetic “key” is:

 

·         Isaiah 22:22-25  “Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, when he opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open.  And I will drive him {like} a peg in a firm place, and he will become a throne of glory to his father's house.”  So they will hang on him all the glory of his father's house, offspring and issue, all the least of vessels, from bowls to all the jars.  “In that day,” declares the LORD of hosts, “the peg driven in a firm place will give way; it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken.”  (NAS)

 

The language of Isaiah 22: 22 is nearly identical to the words of Jesus to the apostle John in Revelation 3:7.  Isaiah 22:22-25 is a prophecy of the crucifixion of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.  Isaiah’s words are a stinging rebuke to Israel for turning away from Yahweh as their defender and becoming self-reliant. 

 

Israel’s only salvation will come when Yahweh sets the “key of the house of David” on Jesus’ shoulders.  This deliverance came to them the first time when Yahweh allowed His only begotten son to be pegged to the cross (“in a firm place”). 

 

After Jesus was crucified, Yahweh raised Him from the dead, and he ascended to the throne of “all the glory of His Father’s house.”  The load of sin that Jesus bore for the sin of Israel, and of the whole inhabited earth, would “break off and fall” from all who believed in his death and resurrection.

 

Most of Israel rejected Jesus as the Messiah at his crucifixion, but some of its lost sheep found their way home.  Even the Gentiles could be grafted into covenant with Yahweh through Jesus’ death and resurrection.  In Isaiah 22:22-25 the “least of vessels, from bowls to all the jars” is a metaphor for the human vessels. 

 

These vessels would find salvation through the mediator whom Yahweh ordained.  The “least” refers to both Jew and Gentile who would be humble under the mighty hand of God, embracing the sacrifice of Jesus as propitiation for their sins.

 

Yahweh had made a promise to King David and his descendents; one of David’s descendants would sit upon the throne of Yahweh, and be over the house of David forever. (Read Psalms 89:20-37 with Acts 2:22-39)

 

The “key” of David is referring to the death and resurrection of Jesus, providing salvation to the whole house of Israel (i.e. - “For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself.”)  Jesus is the Messiah, fulfilling the prophecy of David. 

 

As spiritual descendent of David, Jesus was “exalted”.   God the Father made Jesus His, “first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth.”  Jesus fulfilled David’s prophecy in man ways, including, “The enemy (the devil) will not deceive him,” and God used him to, “crush his adversaries (i.e. principalities & powers).”

 

The blood of Jesus is the “key” to opening the door of salvation to all who will believe.  By faith in Jesus Christ, as the mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5), anyone can become a member of the symbolic, “house of David.”  They embrace the truth of Jesus as the Christ, “holding (it) in possession as the key to a closed lock, evident token or proof,” of redemption.  (Read Ephesians 4:21-25; John 8:31-32; John 3:17-21; John 4:23; John 18:36-38)

 

·         John 14:5-6 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, how do we know the way?”  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me.”  (NAS)

 

·         John 17:14-19  “I have given them Thy word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil {one.}  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth.  As Thou didst send me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.”  (NAS)

 

The Philadelphia church is a group of believers worldwide in these last days before the return of Jesus.  The greatest thing that they hold in their possession is the truth of God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus.  These believers are not a group of  “super-spiritual Christians.”  The fact is they are more real, more transparent and touchable than many of the self-righteous ‘church goers’ who do little more than warm a pew on Sunday morning. 

 

·         1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind, {and} is not jealous; love does not brag {and} is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong {suffered,} does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (NAS)

 

The Philadelphia believers struggle with personal sin on a daily basis, but they are not afraid to admit their weaknesses to their brethren.  They don’t greet the unbeliever with religious clichés, nor do they project the “Christian image.”  They are honest about their feelings, difficulties and so forth.  When the unsaved see this, they are much more receptive to them and to their message of truth.  Their emphasis is on building trust in friendship before slamming someone with scripture.  The old saying that applies here is: “People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.”

 

·         James 5:19-20 My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins.  (NAS)

 

·         I John 3:18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  (NAS)

 

It is their lifestyle of willingness to let God’s lovingkindness shine through them to others that causes Philadelphia to overcome the weak areas in their lives.  How can this be?  The truth is simple.  When one’s focus is on helping others, his or her personal struggles seem to pale in comparison.  The weak areas are still there, but looking past them becomes easier.  In other words, it is difficult to ponder on your own problems when you are busy helping someone else with theirs’.

 

 The truth is not concealed, but revealed in the depth of friendships believers in Philadelphia have established with each other.  Love for God the Father, Jesus Christ, and each other is manifested in genuine friendship.

 

·         Job 29:4 As I was in the prime of my days, when the friendship of God {was} over my tent.  (NAS)

 

·         Psalms 122:8-9 For the sake of my brothers and my friends, I will now say, "May peace be within you."  For the sake of the house of the LORD our God I will seek your good.  (NAS)

 

·         Proverbs 18:24 A man of {many} friends {comes} to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  (NAS)

 

·         John 15:13-15  “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends, if you do what I command you.  No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.”   (NAS)

 

Revelation12: 5, 10-11 is prophetic of the conquering church that is born and caught toward the throne of God; this is the same as the church in Philadelphia.  They have been united together as one man, and are symbolized as a “male child.”  That is, they were birthed by God; created by His spirit in the womb of the visible Christian church.

 

·         Revelation 12:5, 10-11 And she gave birth to a son, a male {child} who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne... And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night.  And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.”  (NAS)

 

The reason Philadelphia overcame was because of the blood of Jesus, and the word of their testimony.  The Greek for “word” of their testimony is “logos.”  Logos is the root word origin of the English “logic.”  The literal meaning of “logos” (word) in Revelation 12: 10-11 is “thoughts expressed in actions or deeds.” 

 

Philadelphia overcomes by the blood of the Lamb (Jesus’ sacrifice) and by their thoughts expressed in actions or deeds.  In other words, believers in Philadelphia ‘walk-the walk’ rather than merely ‘talking-the-talk’ or ‘talking-the-walk.’

 

·         James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.  The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. (NAS)

 

James 5:16 shows a willingness to confess shortcomings and to accompany it with prayer for each other.  These two elements are needed for any believer to be made whole and healed.  True humility involves being enthusiastic to confess your sins before God and your brethren. 

 

This is why friendship is the key focal point of the Philadelphia church.  This kind of vulnerability is only possible when you are with trusted friends and are certain of their acceptance.  Fear of rejection dominates relationships that don’t have the steadfast commitment of friendship.

 

Keys and Locked Doors

 

“The key of David”

 

To conclude our commentary on the “key of David,” it is necessary to list some scriptures that address “keys” and  “closed locks.”  Below is a list a few passages, followed by brief remarks indicating the relationship of “locks” and “doors” to the church in Philadelphia:

 

·         Song 4:12 “A garden locked is my sister, {my} bride, a rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.”  (NAS)

 

Solomon and his bride are symbolic of Christ and the church.  Solomon was king of Israel; Jesus is King of kings.  Solomon wooed the Shulamite, seeking her as his future wife.  Jesus calls us to be his own, speaking to our hearts with love and conviction. 

 

Similar to believers in Jesus, the heart of Solomon’s’ future bride was “a rock garden locked, a spring sealed up.”   In reference to the Philadelphians, their hearts have become hurt and damaged by the abuse experienced in the monolithic organization called “Christianity.”  Their hearts become “locked up” but Jesus has the key of life from his Father, and he opens with empathy, mercy, sympathy, truth and love.

 

Our negative encounters with other Christians can make our heart like a garden locked to our dearly loved bridegroom, Jesus.  Over-controlling pastors, gossiping in the church, self-righteous criticism, lies and slander (i.e. – bearing false witness), refusal to help those in need (or worse yet, indifference and apathy with regard to the needy), showing partiality and ostracizing those outside church social circles.  All these, and many more things make a believer’s heart “locked” tight. 

 

To “unlock” wounded and hardened hearts of disillusioned Christians is no easy task.  Trust that has been broken will need to be re-established.  Christian friends are needed who will be patient with one another while the wounds fester, drain and heal.  Appreciation and recognition and affirmation expressed will help.  Consistent and unwavering friendship paves the way for God’s spirit to unlock the doors of sealed hearts.

 

·         Jeremiah 13:19 The cities of the Negev have been locked up, and there is no one to open {them} all Judah has been carried into exile, wholly carried into exile.  (NAS)

 

In this message to Judah by the prophet Jeremiah, we see symbolically how sin causes whole churches (i.e. – cities) to become “locked up” and captive to the enemies of Yahweh.  If taken literally, this scripture reveals that the power of rampant sin can ensnare whole cities, and keep them in bondage. 

 

This is America today; it is locked tightly in the grip of disobedience and rebellion to God.  The Hebrew meaning of the word “Negev” is “to be dry.”  America’s cities are in a spiritual drought; the springs of God’s spirit have dried up inside the churches and without.  The only “key” to bring them out of the devil’s stronghold is the blood of Jesus shed for the sin of the world. 

 

Jeremiah says, “and there is no one to open {them}.”  The believers in Philadelphia will step in and fill this role.  They possess the truth that will set the captive free.  Those in the churches that have “ears to hear” will rejoice at their message; the rest shall answer with persecution for Philadelphia.

 

·         Psalms 141:3-5 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.  Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice deeds of wickedness with men who do iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies.  Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon the head; do not let my head refuse it, for still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.  (NAS)

 

The phrase “the door of my lips” is used as a metaphor for speech.  The “key” to the door is seeking God’s righteous discipline.  If we ask Him to guard our lips, He is happy to oblige.  However, His ways are often painful, and it is important to acknowledge His discipline by repenting and seeking the things above, where Christ is seated (READ Colossians 3: 1-10).  T

 

The psalmist writes, “smite me in kindness and reprove me.”  However, the real “key” is found in the heart attitude, “do not let my head refuse it.”  It is difficult to receive rebuke from a brother, but the church in Philadelphia is willing to be corrected:

 

·          Proverbs 27:6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. (NAS)

 

Philadelphia is characterized by their fixed and stable relationship as friends.  They know each other well enough to know that a brother’s rebuke may wound the pride, but bring effectual conviction, repentance and a changed life. 

 

·         Ezekiel 45:19  ”And the priest shall take some of the blood from the sin offering and put {it} on the door posts of the house, on the four corners of the ledge of the altar, and on the posts of the gate of the inner court.”  (NAS)

 

Ancient doorways were simple, square, entering openings in the wall with a stone or wood lintel and a stone threshold rose slightly above the floor. Doorposts probably let into the stone at top and bottom, and, unlike our present doorframe, had no headpiece. When no wood was used, the stone jambs of the opening constituted the doorposts. The post functioned according to the commanded in Deuteronomy 6:9; 11:20, and in it is fitted a small case containing a parchment on which is written the exhortation to obedience.

 

This archaic example exhorts us to protect the doorposts of our hearts with commitment to obey God’s commandment from scripture.  Jesus is the Great High Priest who sprinkles the entrance to our inner house with his sacrificial and cleansing blood.  Because of his blood, we are protected from the evil one, and God’s spirit can freely access ours. 

 

Philadelphia will keep their spiritual house sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb of God.  They will not live in the defeat of shame and condemnation (READ Roman 8:1).

 

·         Hosea 2:14-20  “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her.  Then I will give her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor as a door of hope.  And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.  And it will come about in that day,” declares the LORD, “That you will call me Ishi and will no longer call me Baali.  For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will be mentioned by their names no more.  In that day I will also make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and will make them lie down in safety.  And I will betroth you to me forever; yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. Then you will know the LORD.”  (NAS)

 

Yahweh used the prophet Hosea to rebuke His people.  This rebuke to Israel was for calling upon the names of the “Baals” (false deities) for help.  The first application of this prophecy is to Israel in the Millennium, when Yahweh will betroth them forever as a people.  Israel will know the names of their Baals no longer, and they will be betrothed to God calling Him their “Ishi” (husband).  The marriage symbolizes a commitment with a single-eye for Yahweh alone. 

 

The second application is typological.  It refers to Yahweh’s dealings with the church, and with Philadelphia in particular.  The Christian church has it’s “Baals” too; television addiction, adultery, fornication, materialism, careers before God, sports and hobbies as all consuming, idolization of  “churches” or “denominations,” boasting, ministerial pride, Internet addictions, etc. 

 

We venerate our pastors and leading ministers as being super-spiritual icons.  Orthodox churches have many Baals...saints, priests, popes, icons.  In the last days God is calling true believers to forsake Baali as their master, and call Him their “Ishi” (meaning, “husband”).  Philadelphia is married to God in one sense, and in another sense they are joined to Jesus as their bridegroom. 

 

The Philadelphia church is willing to forsake those things in their lives that hold them captive.  These are the affections of the heart that we naively or rebelliously call our “master” (i.e. – Baal).  The “key” that Philadelphia will use to escape the Baals that master them leads through “door of hope.”  This door of hope is called the valley of “Achor.” 

 

The figurative meaning of Achor is, “to disturb or afflict.”  They must be “disturbed” from their complacent attitude towards sin, and go through the “afflictions” that lead to godly sorrow and repentance.  Because he loves them, Yahweh will purge them of their false gods.  There can be no hope without suffering. 

 

Once they have come through the valley of Achor (affliction), they will no longer call Yahweh, “Baali,” but “Ishi” (Literally, “my husband”).  The Philadelphia church will not be married to their idols any longer, but like a wife to her husband, they will be married to one husband, even Yahweh.

 

The main point here is a comparison between being, “on the alert,” by being faithful to do the will of God.  This is the “key” to getting into the door that leads to the wedding feast.  Are you busy about your Father’s business?  Do you prefer the needs of others above your own?  A great drowsiness will come upon the entire church (the 10 virgins); this represents spiritual sleepiness and apathy. 

 

Only those who are accustomed to hearing the Bridegroom’s voice on a regular basis will awake in time to trim their lamps, and enter into the door.  This is what the church in Philadelphia will do.  They love Jesus and hear His voice.  The question is, will you be a part of the Philadelphia church, or will you be a part of the lukewarm Laodicea church?  Worse yet, will you ignore completely the calling of Jesus, and be cast into everlasting fire?  (READ Luke 12:34-40; 13:24-47)

 

·         Luke 13:22-27 And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem.  And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there {just} a few who are being saved?" And He said to them,  Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’  Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’; and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’”  (NAS)

 

The church in Philadelphia must be like those who enter the kingdom of God through the “narrow” door.  Again, Jesus uses the “door” as an analogy to entering into His will.  This particular door is “narrow.”  The Greek definition of “narrow” is “narrow from obstacles standing close about.”  There will be many temptations and obstacles that you must push through to enter into the kingdom of God. 

 

Most Christians in America are satisfied with status quo.  Yes, they will say to Jesus, “We ate in drank in your presence.”  They had their nice little church services where they sang praise to Him and enjoyed His presence.  They will also say to the Lord on that day, “You taught in our streets.”  What they failed to say to Jesus was, “We taught about YOU in the streets.” 

 

How many Christians in America are going out into the streets and helping the homeless, the gang members, the drunkards, the widows, the single moms, the elderly, etc.?  How many Christians are willing to share their faith in Jesus on the job, or even with their next-door neighbor?  How many Christians even know their next-door neighbors, let alone share the gospel with them?  In another parable about the “narrow” way, Jesus emphasizes treating others the way you want to be treated.  THIS is the narrow way:

 

·         Matthew 7:12-23 "Therefore, however you want people to treat you, so treat them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.  Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.  Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits.  Grapes are not gathered from thorn {bushes,} nor figs from thistles, are they?  Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit.  A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  So then, you will know them by their fruits.  Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'  And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'”  (NAS)

 

To enter the narrow gate you must have a certain key.  It is not the ability to prophesy, cast out demons or work miracles in Jesus’ name.  Many charismatics erroneously take for granted these things are the “fruit” of a true believer.  Jesus says differently.  The key to entering the narrow gate is treating others however you want people to treat you.  The “good fruit” is evidenced by your life, not your ministry or gifts. 

 

Many in Philadelphia are labeled as “lone rangers” because they are not inside the mainline church organizations.  Instead, these radicals are out in our streets teaching the lost about Jesus!  They work regular jobs like regular people do.  They give from their heart to meet the needs of those around them.  This is the by-product (i.e. – fruit) of their relationship with the Son of God.

 

Of course, this is not to imply that Christians who attend the traditional type church services don’t ever share their faith. Those who are a part of the church in Philadelphia can be found within and outside of church organizations.  It is their heart relationship with Jesus that motivates them.  The point here is that the majority of people who claim to be born-again Christians are not making disciples for Christ.  The believers who are truly making disciples are those called a part of the church in Philadelphia. (Read John 10:1-10)

 

Jesus is the door of the sheep.  Only by entering through Jesus Christ can a person be saved.  This is very basic.  There is something much deeper in John 10:1-10 that Christ is saying.  It is not enough to just have a one-time salvation experience, and then to assume that you will enter through the door. 

 

The “key” to this door is summed up in the statement, “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.  To him the doorkeeper opens.”  True shepherds in these last days are a part of Philadelphia because they listen to the Great Shepherds’ voice. 

 

If you have truly found the door, you will “shepherd” God’s sheep.  That is to say, you will feed them, care for them, and protect them from enemies.  If you are living this manner of lifestyle, then as Jesus said, “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.”  To be a part of the church in Philadelphia, you must be willing to lay your life down for others, and to shepherd and feed God’s sheep with the word of God (READ John 21:15-17; Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-3).

 

·         Acts 14:27 And when they had arrived and gathered the church together, they {began} to report all things that God had done with them and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.  (NAS)

 

·         1 Corinthians 16:7-9 For I do not wish to see you now {just} in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits.  But I shall remain in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective {service} has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.  (NAS)

 

·         2 Corinthians 2:10-13 But whom you forgive anything, I {forgive} also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, {I did it} for your sakes in the presence of Christ, in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.  Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord, I had no rest for my spirit, not finding Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I went on to Macedonia. (NAS)

 

·         Colossians 4:2-3 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with {an attitude of} thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned.  (NAS)

 

The four scripture passages listed above are dealing with the aspect of doors of opportunity to share the gospel.  Acts 14:27 calls it, ...a door of faith.”  1 Corinthians 16:9 call it, “a wide door for effective {service}.”  2 Corinthians 2:12 call it, “for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord.”  Colossians 4:3 call it, “a door for the word.

 

Certain “keys” can be found in the verses above.  In Acts we learn that it was God Himself that opened a door to the Gentiles.  To apply this principle today, it will take the Spirit of God to help us share our faith with certain types of people.  For example, to share with homosexuals we must be dependent upon God’s love and anointing to reach their hearts (the lepers of our day are AIDS patients; most of the church distains, rather than loving them). 

 

Again, in 1 Corinthians 16 we find God is the one who opens the door.  At the same time there are many adversaries.  Today, we should not be surprised that when we share our faith, our enemy (Lucifer), will use people and situations to try to hinder us.  In 2 Corinthians 2 another “key” to unlocking the doors of opportunity is given; that is to always forgive those who have hurt us in some way.  We must be forgiving, “in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” 

 

Lastly, in Colossians 4, we learn another “key” to allow God to unlock the door to share the word; it states, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with {an attitude of} thanksgiving.”  In any age, Philadelphia or otherwise, prayer with a thankful heart keeps us alert to the needs of others because we are in touch with the Master.  A thankful heart is one that continually acknowledges God as his or her source.  

 

·         James 5:7-9 Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.  You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.  Do not complain, brethren, against one another, that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.  (NAS)

 

James 5:7-9 is an allegory.  In these scripture verses both the Lord and the church are compared to a farmer waiting for his soil to produce a precious crop.  In this analogy, the farmer waits until his crops have received the early spring rains to start growth, and the late rains that are intended to bring the harvest crop to full maturity.  We can easily see how this allegory could be applied to the church age of Philadelphia. 

 

The Philadelphia church’s harvest could speak of two things.  James 5:7-9 could refer to the point in time when the body of Christ comes to full maturity, and then Jesus will return to take the “first-fruits” of His church with him before the Great Tribulation. 

 

In order for the Philadelphia church to meet the requirements for maturation, believers must reverence the scriptures as God’s inspired word, and operate their lives accordingly.  This is happening today more and more, as Christians are willing to depart from orthodoxy and tradition.  They are not easily carried away by manmade philosophy and deceit. 

 

Believers all over the world are finding common fellowship with each other based on their salvation through Jesus, and their agreement with the word of God. (Read Mark 4:26-29; Ephesians 4:11-16)

 

In Ephesians 4:15-16 the church in Philadelphia must attain to the unity of the faith, and become, “a mature man.”  James 5:7-9 says this will require patience, as God’s crop (His people) is maturing.  As God’s people mature, they are like a crop of wheat developing to maturity.  There will be a many individual believers growing together like individual plants grow as part of a much larger crop. 

 

Ephesians 4:15-16 says this maturing crop becomes ready for the Lord’s harvest: “we are to grow up in all {aspects} into Him, who is the head, {even} Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” 

 

Patience is another “key” to a closed lock for the church in Philadelphia, because if they are patient with one another, then they won’t continually complain against one other (James 5:9).  Philadelphia must have patience, because, as the scripture says, “the Judge is standing right at the door.” 

 

Open Doors

 

“He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth”

 

The phrase, “he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth,” is translated literally, “The one, which opens up, by means of repetition, and not even one closes (it).  The “one which opens up...” could be a reference to Jesus, for he is the one who opens the hearts and makes the opportunities to share the truth.

 

Jesus’ followers in the Philadelphia church are also a part of the “one” which opens up.  Together in Jesus, believers in Philadelphia are his anointed co-workers.  They labor together with Christ, united and intent with one purpose… to lay down their lives for the Father in the name of Jesus.  This is their signature characteristic; persistent, repetitive and loving deeds of kindness extended to all men. 

 

The phrase, “by means of repetition” is a reference back to the earlier context.  It is a proven fact that people learn by means of repetition.  Instructors have long valued the importance of using repetition when teaching detailed subject matter to their students.  This is true in a wide variety of educational settings, but particularly when applied in grade school. 

 

God the Father has His own spiritual grade school.  The scripture refers to believers as God’s “children.”  Why didn’t He call us His “adults?”  While spiritual maturity is taught in scripture, God commands us to keep our hearts innocent like a little child.  The truth must be taught in a systematic discourse, and also repeatedly, in order for God’s “children” to weave it into the fabric of their lives, and to have it firmly planted in their minds and hearts. 

 

Weekly sermons at Christian church services, by themselves, become nothing more than brief information sessions.  The church needs to be in an environment where questions can be asked, and the individual input of every believer incorporated in body ministry.  We must return to the scriptural teaching of assembling together in one another’s homes.  Together, in an environment where no one is exalted above another, we must repeatedly search the scriptures. 

 

Diligent, tenacious, prayer, and habitually study of God’s word is the responsibility of any believer who wants to be a part of the church in Philadelphia.  He or she cannot rely on a lifetime of excusing their apathy by saying, “This is what MY pastor teaches.”

 

At first the truth “opens” a person’s heart, but then repeated teaching and living of that truth to others helps them to absorb it.  Once the truth becomes the very essence of one’s life, and has opened the door for them to find more and more of Jesus, then “not even one closes.”

 

Stated another way, once a person has the word of God planted firmly in his or her heart, and it has opened the door to new freedom in Christ, no can one close their heart to the truth.  This especially applies to those that have found purpose in their walk with the Lord.  Like Jesus, they desire to “finish” the work God has given them to do.

 

·         John 4:34-35 Jesus said to them, “My food (nourishment) is to do the will (pleasure) of Him Who sent Me and to accomplish and completely finish His work.  Do you not say, It is still four months until harvest time comes? Look! I tell you, raise your eyes and observe the fields and see how they are already white for harvesting.”  AMP

 

·         Isaiah 22:22 "Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, when he opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open.  (NAS)

 

Does Isaiah provide a clue to the interpretation of John's vision in Revelation?  If so, we must scrutinize Isaiah more carefully.  Both texts are nearly identical.

 

Isaiah is the prophet most quoted by Jesus during his public ministry.  Perhaps it was the Lord's favorite portion of scripture.  Retaining its awe-inspiring antiquity these ancient words of Isaiah are spoken by Jesus to John after he ascended to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God! 

 

This fact alone proves beyond any doubt that Isaiah's oracle in chapter twenty-two has its ultimate fulfillment in the church of Philadelphia.  Most Bible scholars have never given this consideration, and its intended fulfillment has eluded them.

 

Both Isaiah and the apostle John speak of the "key" of "David."  Isaiah adds one more element calling it "the key of the house of David."  We know from the teaching of the New Testament that the church is the "house" of God.  Each member is a living stone, all built together as a house for God's spirit to indwell.  Jesus Christ is the precious "corner stone" from which the whole house is built.

 

·         1 Peter 2:4-6 And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  For this is contained in Scripture: "Behold I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone and he who believes in Him shall not be disappointed."  (NAS)

 

The messengers in Philadelphia are given the "keys" to God's spiritual house, the church.  Its leaders hold in their possession the key of "David" which represents God's love.  According to the literal definition, this is a key used for opening a lock.  This language represents the God-given authority to use His word to unlock and open the doors to the hearts of believers who are receptive to the truth.  Jesus is the "door" to their heart, and the truth of scripture spoken in love is the "key" to opening them up to receive.

 

Philadelphia's messengers also have the ability to close and lock the door to God's house, and to keep it shut.  They are good leaders, vigilant, always watching out for the flock of God.  They shut the door to wolves in sheep's clothing, dogs, and evil workers.  They thresh the winnowing floor to separate the wheat from the chaff.  They are like Jesus, the good shepherd.  Shutting the door with truth is what is pictured here.

 

Next we will look at the entire context of Isaiah chapter twenty-two.  Since it has already been demonstrated that Isaiah's vision is parallel to Revelation 3:7-8, a brief discourse is shows relation between the antiquities of Isaiah's inspired writing and its' last day fulfillment in the church of Philadelphia.

 

ISAIAH CHAPTER 22

The oracle concerning the valley of vision

 

1.                  The oracle concerning the valley of vision.  What is the matter with you now that you have all gone up to the housetops?

2.                  You who were full of noise, you boisterous town, you exultant city; your slain were not slain with the sword, nor did they die in battle.

3.                  All your rulers have fled together, and have been captured without the bow; all of you who were found were taken captive together, though they had fled far away.

 

The oracle concerning the valley of vision is literally, "The utterance of doom revealed to the arrogant."  Just as Jerusalem of old, the Christians and the church in America today are self-exalted, arrogant and defeated.  Church services, television ministries, revival meetings, retreats (not advances), music and Christian musicians, speakers and guest speakers, authors and writers, evangelists and televangelists…all these have been captured by the trickery of the serpent through greed, materialism, apathy and religious pride.  They are altogether a “boisterous town.”

 

The church refuses to walk in humility by reaching out to the widow and orphan.  Instead Christianity, as a rule, has become, "full of noise," and an, "exultant city."  The pastors today are not real shepherds, but work as hirelings for pay.  This is what is meant when Isaiah says, "All your rulers have fled together, {and} have been captured without the bow."  Most ministers today have no idea what real spiritual warfare is; let alone how to use the weapons of spiritual battle.

 

4.                  Therefore I say, "Turn your eyes away from me, let me weep bitterly, do not try to comfort me concerning the destruction of the daughter of my people."

5.                  For the Lord GOD of hosts has a day of panic, subjugation, and confusion in the valley of vision, a breaking down of walls and a crying to the mountain.

6.                  And Elam took up the quiver with the chariots, infantry, {and} horsemen; and Kir uncovered the shield.

7.                  Then your choicest valleys were full of chariots, and the horsemen took up fixed positions at the gate.

8.                  And He removed the defense of Judah.  In that day you depended on the weapons of the house of the forest,

9.                  And you saw that the breaches in the {wall} of the city of David were many; and you collected the waters of the lower pool.

10.              Then you counted the houses of Jerusalem, and you tore down houses to fortify the wall.

11.              And you made a reservoir between the two walls for the waters of the old pool.  But you did not depend on Him who made it, nor did you take into consideration Him who planned it long ago.

12.              Therefore in that day the Lord GOD of hosts, called {you} to weeping, to wailing, to shaving the head, and to wearing sackcloth.

13.              Instead, there is gaiety and gladness, killing of cattle and slaughtering of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine: "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die."

14.              But the LORD of hosts revealed Himself to me, "Surely this iniquity shall not be forgiven you until you die," says the Lord GOD of hosts.

 

Isaiah wanted no comfort for the bitterness of soul he felt as he watched God's people in religious ruin.  The leaders in Philadelphia feel this same sense of acrimony as they witness the testimony of Jesus in ruins amongst the Laodicean church. 

 

Christians today have lost the vision of God for souls; they have left their first love for houses and lands, for pleasure and riches.  They say they are rich and increased with goods and "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we may die.".  They don't know they are poor and miserable and blind and naked.  They will face "a day of panic, subjugation, and confusion in the valley of vision." 

 

This corresponds to the great tribulation when the beast shall arise, and they can neither buy nor sell without the mark of the beast, or the number of his name, which is 666.  Laodicea will all be killed. (Read Revelation 3:14-22; 13:15-18).

 

15.              Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is in charge of the {royal} household,

16.              'What right do you have here, and whom do you have here, that you have hewn a tomb for yourself here, you who hew a tomb on the height, you who carve a resting place for yourself in the rock?

17.              'Behold, the LORD is about to hurl you headlong, O man.  And He is about to grasp you firmly,

18.              And roll you tightly like a ball, to be cast into a vast country; there you will die, and there your splendid chariots will be, you shame of your master's house.'

19.              "And I will depose you from your office, and I will pull you down from your station.

 

The "steward Shebna" means "minister familiar with growth."  The leaders in Christendom today are more concerned with the "growth" of their congregations than they are with actually shepherding and discipling God's sheep.  To them, it is a numbers game. 

 

Being in charge of the "royal household" is symbolic of ministers in charge of the church who was chosen by God as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for {God's} own possession" (1 Pet 2:9). 

 

Ministers today are no longer humble servants, nor do they bring life to God's people.  Instead, as Shebna, they have used the "rock" (symbolic of Jesus) as a "resting place" (i.e. - a tomb; dead churches).  God will pronounce His judgment on these lazy servants, and He will say to them "you shame of your master's house."

 

20.              "Then it will come about in that day, that I will summon My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah

21.              And I will clothe him with your tunic, and tie your sash securely about him, I will entrust him with your authority, and he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.

 

As the Almighty begins to depose the self-serving leaders of the Christian church who have fleeced the sheep, He will raise up others with a shepherd's heart, "Then it will come about in that day, that I will summon My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah." 

 

The Hebrew meaning of "Eliakim" is "Whom God establishes and causes to stand" or "Whom God resurrects."  Eliakim was put into office over the inhabitants of Jerusalem and over the house of David because he was merciful to the distressed. 

 

The elders of the church in Philadelphia will be put in charge of the New Jerusalem, the house of God's love revealed in Christ Jesus because they care for the hungry, the sick, the naked, the strangers, and the prisoners (READ Matthew 25: 32-46). 

 

God will summon these obscure servants from the four corners of the earth to lead His people.  He shall raise them up and establish them.  As the apostle Paul, they are called by God, not man, "Paul, an apostle, not {sent} from men, nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead." (Galatians 1:1; NAS)

 

22.              "Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, when he opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open.

23.              "And I will drive him {like} a peg in a firm place, and he will become a throne of glory to his father's house.

 

We have already reviewed the "key of David" and its relation to Philadelphia.  Isaiah 22:22-25 is a double prophecy; first of Jesus, then of Philadelphia.    The Hebrew for "house of David" reads as follows (using all of its root origins and implied applications):

 

·         "a house that is built, especially as a family whose friendship is boiling with love." 

 

The parallels between the literal renderings of “the house of David” and “Philadelphia” are astounding.  Two primary characteristics are prominent:

1)      Fervent, active, fond relationship as friends. 

2)      Coming from the same womb, and built together as a family of believers; in others words, born of the Spirit of God, relating to each other as brothers and sisters in Jesus (in a very tangible way).  The literal translation of the Greek word for Philadelphia is: "in the direction of being in a fixed position, of close association in dear, and active fondness as friends, coming from the same womb." 

 

The phrase in Isaiah 22: 23, "And I will drive him {like} a peg in a firm place, and he will become a throne of glory to his father's house," reads differently when using literal, figurative and/or remote applications from the Hebrew text:

 

·         "I will become to him a bondsman by hand clasping him, and driving a nail through to fasten him.  He will become of a condition of mind to rise up and to build up, support, and to foster as a parent being faithful, trustworthy, enduring, morally true and coming to exist clothed in honor by building his father's house as a family." 

 

Jesus, the glorified son of man, will "clasp" hands with the elders leading Philadelphia.  This signifies a permanent joining of one particular body of believers to Jesus, including the willingness to be "crucified with Christ" (symbolized by being fastened with the nail).  Jesus engenders this close tie only with those who will be faithful to build up his Father's house, the church, and foster it as a parent would his family.

 

24.              "So they will hang on him all the glory of his father's house, offspring and issue, all the least of vessels, from bowls to all the jars.

25.              "In that day," declares the LORD of hosts, "the peg driven in a firm place will give way; it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken."  (NAS)

 

The words, "they will hang on him" read like this in the Hebrew, "they will suspend him over."  In other words, Jesus will use his authority from the Father to assign responsibility to Philadelphia (i.e. - all the "least" of the vessels) to care for and lead his spiritual offspring. 

 

Jesus taught those who make themselves the "least" in God's kingdom would become foremost.  The least refers to those with a servant's heart.  The messengers in Philadelphia are those entrusted with the authority to lead and guide these servants of Jesus with the word of God.

 

·         Luke 9:47-48 Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him.  Then he said to them, "Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all-- he is the greatest."  (NIV)

 

Below is a classic example of the “open door” concept that was given in the message to Philadelphia.  Elisha the prophet sent one of the sons of the prophets to anoint Jehu the captain of Israel as the new king.  Elisha instructed this unnamed servant to go and to pour the anointing oil over Jehu’s head, pronounce him king, tell him to slay wicked King Ahab, then flee as quickly as he could out of “the open door.” 

 

After reading the narrative, the figurative importance of this passage from 2 Kings will be given.  It takes a servant’s heart, the call of God, and truth in the inner man, willingness to respond, being properly equipped and instructed to go in and out of the “open door.”

 

II Kings 9:1-10

 

1.                  Now Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets, and said to him, "Gird up your loins, and take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead.

2.                  "When you arrive there, search out Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in and bid him arise from among his brothers, and bring him to an inner room.

3.                  "Then take the flask of oil and pour it on his head and say, 'Thus says the LORD, "I have anointed you king over Israel."' Then open the door and flee and do not wait."

4.                  So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead.

5.                  When he came, behold, the captains of the army were sitting, and he said, "I have a word for you, O captain." And Jehu said, "For which {one} of us?" And he said, "For you, O captain."

6.                  And he arose and went into the house, and he poured the oil on his head and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'I have anointed you king over the people of the LORD, {even} over Israel.

7.                  'And you shall strike the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel.

8.                  'For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male person both bond and free in Israel.

9.                  'And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah.

10.               'And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and none shall bury {her.} " Then he opened the door and fled. (NAS)

 

Elisha means, “God is salvation.”  Figuratively he represents God, who is calling His anonymous servant (one of the sons of the prophets).  This nameless servant typifies the messenger in Philadelphia; unnamed because he is not seeking his own glory.  Unlike many in the Christian ministry who prefer to see their own name in the public eye, those in Philadelphia work in obscurity as unprofitable servants (READ Luke 17:10).

 

Elisha tells the servant, “Gird up your loins.”  As the seat of strength, the loins are girded with belts of leather or cloth.  Girded loins are a mark of eagerness for service.  Philadelphia is a church comprised of those ready to serve, having their loins girded, not with leather or cloth, but with the truth.  The truth of God’s word is the center of their spiritual strength (READ Ephesians 6:14).

 

The servant is told to take a flask of oil to anoint Jehu.  Oil represents a life of prayer, and staying filled with God’s presence.  He was sent to “anoint Jehu.”  Jehu means literally, “He is he.”  It is taken from the 3rd person singular form of Jah, the name for God, meaning,  “he is.” 

 

God is sending the messengers of Philadelphia to speak His truth to individuals they have never met.  However, when they finds who God is sending them to, his Spirit will tell them, “’This is he’ I have sent you to anoint.”

 

Elisha’s servant was told he would find Jehu in Ramoth-gilead, which means, “the heights of the rough places.”  Ramoth-gilead was a Levitical “city of refuge.”  Philadelphia has not been called to a comfortable ministry behind a pulpit, desk or microphone.  God sends them to the “rough places” such as the inner-city districts, where urban gangs, drug addicts, alcoholics, unwed mothers, aimless children, abandoned elderly and other folks in “rough” places. 

 

Just as Jesus, they are not sent to those who consider themselves righteous, but to the sinner who knows he or she is unrighteous.  Philadelphia finds its ‘city of refuge’ where they can bring God’s message, then exit through the open door provided by Him.  They find their refuge in Jesus; Jesus is their “door.”

 

When Elisha’s servant found Jehu he, “bid him arise from among his brothers.”  Here the servant symbolizes bringing the anointed truth to other believers “among” their lukewarm peers in the Christian church.  Since the servant would certainly not be welcome among the other captains, so too Philadelphia will not be welcome by the mainstream churches.  They have an anointed message directed at those who have ears to hear, and this will make other Christians jealous.  The truth of scripture will upset the proverbial “apple cart” of orthodoxy.

 

Because of the nature of their calling, like Elisha’s servant, Philadelphia will often be instructed by God to, “Then open the door and flee and do not wait.”  This correlates with the concept taught in Revelation 3:7b, “The one which opens up, by means of repetition and not even one closes.”  Philadelphia’s messengers will repeat this process of entering doors open by God to share an anointed message, and no one, or nothing that exists shall shut those doors until their mission has been completed.

 

Selah

 

Continued in Part 2


Links to the Entire "The Vision of the Church in Philadelphia” Series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7



 

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