The Vision of the

Church in Philadelphia

Part 5


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


Revelation 3:11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.


The KJV “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” reads literally from the Greek text as, “I am coming suddenly, by surprise; use strength to retain that which you possess, in order that not even one (man, woman or thing) may be taking hold of the wreath that is a symbol of honor (your prize for having won the race).”


Jesus’ message to Philadelphia emphasizes that his return will be without any evident warning.  He commands them to hold onto their symbolic “victor’s wreath” by using the strength they possess in their relationships with God and each other. 


Jesus repeats a message He has delivered elsewhere in Scripture; that is, His appearing, (when He returns it will be without forewarning).  Now He commands the Philadelphia church to use the strength they possess in their relationship with God and one another to hold on to the symbolic victor’s wreath for having won the race. 


The “race” represents what the church in Philadelphia has striven become ONE with Christ Jesus.  Paul wrote about this race:


·         1 Corinthians 9:24-25 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize?  So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. (KJV)


The Philadelphians are told not to let any man, woman or any ‘things’ rob them of “the victor’s wreath” (that is, they are not to be robbed of their, “symbol of honor”).   Their symbol of honor is the alignment with the undefiled character of Jesus.


Sinful earthly relationships and/or demonic spiritual forces will seek to defile the bride of Christ; Philadelphia is espoused to Jesus, and they have eyes for only him.  This is why it is important for them to persevere and to hold the word of God in the place of highest esteem.  God’s word is the truth that strengthens their bond with Christ and each other.


The word of God is the straight path, and its truth will lead and guide them to their final victory over death’s sting.  Also, the “wreath” is a symbol of the fact that the Philadelphia church will rule and reign together with Jesus Christ in positions of honor:


·         Luke 19:13-24 And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas, and said to them, 'Do business {with this} until I come {back.}’  But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, 'We do not want this man to reign over us.'  And it came about that when he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him in order that he might know what business they had done.  And the first appeared, saying, 'Master, your mina has made ten minas more.'  And he said to him, 'Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, be in authority over ten cities.'  And the second came, saying, 'Your mina, master, has made five minas.'  And he said to him also, 'And you are to be over five cities.'  And another came, saying, 'Master, behold your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down, and reap what you did not sow.' He said to him, 'By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow?  Then why did you not put the money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?'  And he said to the bystanders, 'Take the mina away from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.' (NAS)


The parable Jesus told shows He expects us to be responsible with the gifts given to each one.  We are to use those gifts to increase the kingdom of God.  If we fail to obey His command, what we have been given will be taken away and given to another. 


This demonstrates the importance of guarding the gifts and talents given to us for God’s purposes, or else we will have our victor’s wreath taken away.  Don’t be deceived by the ‘once saved always saved’ delusion; Satan will seek to deceive the very elect if possible. 


“Behold, I come quickly”


Jesus is telling the Philadelphians that the race is nearly finished, but they must hold their victory until the end.  This is a sober warning.


We will now attempt to draw some principles from the meanings of Greek words used here to determine how the believers in Philadelphia can complete their journey.


·         Quickly” - 5035 tachu (takh-oo'); neuter singular of 5036 (as adverb); shortly, i.e. without delay, soon, or (by surprise) suddenly, or (by implication, of ease) readily.  5036 tachus (takh-oos'); of uncertain affinity; fleet, i.e. (figuratively) prompt or ready: (Strong’s Dictionary)


Philadelphia is characterized by their willingness to readily, and without delay to be forgiving those who have wronged them; prompt forgiveness is the key.


·         Matthew 5:20-26  “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.  You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.  Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.  Settle matters (tachu - quickly without delay, soon; suddenly, or (by implication, of ease) readily) with your adversary who is taking you to court.  Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.  I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.  (NIV)


Philadelphia maintains personal repentance from sin that is without delay knowing their Lord may return suddenly.


·         Revelation 2:16  “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, (tachu - quickly without delay, soon; suddenly, or (by implication, of ease) readily) and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.  (KJV)


·         Revelation 22:7 Behold, I come quickly (tachu - quickly without delay, soon; suddenly, or (by implication, of ease) readily): blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.  (KJV)


·         Revelation 22:11-12  “Let the one who does wrong, still do wrong; and let the one who is filthy, still be filthy; and let the one who is righteous, still practice righteousness; and let the one who is holy, still keep himself holy.  Behold, I am coming quickly (tachu - quickly without delay, soon; suddenly, or (by implication, of ease) readily), and my reward {is} with me, to render to every man according to what he has done.”  (NAS)


·         Revelation 22:18-20 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.  He, which testifieth these things, saith, Surely I come quickly (tachu - quickly without delay, soon; suddenly, or (by implication, of ease) readily).  Amen.  Even so, come, Lord Jesus.  (KJV)


“Hold that fast which thou hast”


Philadelphia believers “hold that fast” the things which are symbolized in a victor’s wreath:


·         Hold that fast” - 2902 krateo (krat-eh'-o); from 2904; to use strength, i.e. seize or retain (literally or figuratively); 2904 kratos (krat'-os); perhaps a primary word; vigor ["great"] (literally or figuratively).  (Strong’s Dictionary)


Philadelphians use their strength and vigor to retain the liberty won by Jesus, and in this clinging to Jesus; they are able to resist the influence of religious legalism and deception.


·         Colossians 2:15-19 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.  Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day--things which are a {mere} shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.  Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on {visions} he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not (krateo - holding fast to use strength, i.e. seize or retain) to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.  (NAS)


Philadelphia holds fast to the traditions, which align with sanctification in the truth of scripture; they do this by increasing their strength in every good work and word; this is the godly tradition they retain and practice.


·         II Thessalonians 2:13-17 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.  And it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.  So then, brethren, stand firm and hold (krateo - holding fast to use strength, i.e. seize or retain) to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word {of mouth} or by letter from us.  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.  (NAS)


Philadelphia clings to Jesus, as the son of man, one who can sympathize with their weaknesses, and who gives them access to the throne of God’s grace, to find help in overcoming sin.


·         Hebrews 4:14-16 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast (krateo - holding fast to use strength, i.e. seize or retain) our confession.  For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as {we are, yet} without sin.  Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.  (NAS)


Philadelphians lay hold of the hope, which is in Jesus as their high priest and mediator, who gives them access to the presence of God beyond the veil of unrighteousness.


·         Hebrews 6:16-20 For men swear by one greater {than themselves} and with them an oath {given} as confirmation is an end of every dispute.  In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold (krateo - holding fast to use strength, i.e. seize or retain) of the hope set before us.  This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a {hope} both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.  (NAS)


“That no man take thy crown”


·         Crown” = 4735 stephanos (stef'-an-os); from an apparently primary stepho (to twine or wreathe); a chaplet (as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor generally; but more conspicuous and elaborate than the simple fillet, 1238), literally or figuratively: KJV-- crown.  (Strong’s Dictionary)


Jesus tells Philadelphia to hold fast the wreath, which symbolizes a badge of royalty, or could also represent what they have won in the race for eternity.  Paul spoke of the race:


·         1 Corinthians 9:22-27 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some.  And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it.  Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but {only} one receives the prize?  Run in such a way that you may win.  And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things.  They then {do it} to receive a perishable wreath, (stephanos - as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor) but we an imperishable.  Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.  (NAS)


The converts who were discipled by Paul are referred to as being his “crown.”  The people he won for Jesus’ sake are the prize.  This is the heart of God.  This should be the prize sought after by every believer...souls! 


Philadelphia will be a soul-winning church!  To do the work of an evangelist, bringing good news of Jesus Christ to all who hunger and thirst after righteousness.


·         1Thessalonians 2:19-20 For who is our hope or joy or crown (stephanos - as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor) of exultation?  Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?  For you are our glory and joy.  (NAS)


·         2 Timothy 4:5-8 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown (stephanos - as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor) of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.  (NAS)


Perseverance under hardship, and affliction, is deserving of a victor’s wreath.  Only through sufferings can Philadelphia realize they have been “approved” by the Lord:


·         James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown (stephanos - as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor) of life, which {the Lord} has promised to those who love Him.  (NAS)


Those who are elders, and are the overseers of God’s flock, have as their victor’s wreath, the crown of a life, which is a proven example.  Theirs was a life of more than preaching and teaching; they had to live the gospel. 


The leaders in Philadelphia will be an example to the church and by their example of servanthood; the church will grow into a mature body of believers:


·         1 Peter 5:1-4 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as {your} fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to {the will of} God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.  And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown (stephanos - as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor) of glory.  (NAS)


Every crown will be thrown down before the Almighty God, for only through Him is victory possible.  He is the source of our strength, and by His grace alone can any man exult.  Philadelphia and all churches will lay before Him in complete adoration and praise:


·         Revelation 4:10-11 The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns (stephanos - as a badge of royalty, a prize in the public games or a symbol of honor) before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.  (KJV)





Continued in Part 6

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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