Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Revelation 3:7-13, The Message to Philadelphia (The Study of the Apocalypse)

     7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia2 write:
     The holy one, The true one3, the one who has the key of David4, the one who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens5, says this: 8 I know your deeds. Behold, I have placed6 an opened7 door before8 you9 , which no one is able to shut, because you have a little power10, but11 have kept my word and have not denied my name12. 9 Behold, I am going to make13 the ones from the synagogue of Satan who call themselves Jews (and they are not, but they are lying), behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet14 and they will know15 that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept the word of my perseverance16, I also will keep you from the hour of testing17 which is about to come upon the whole inhabited world to test the ones who dwell on the earth18. 11 I am coming quickly.19 Hold on to20 what you have21 so that no one may take your crown22. 12 I will make the one who conquers a pillar in the temple of my God23 and he will never leave it.24 I will write on him the name of my God25 and the name of the city of God, which is the new Jerusalem that is coming down out of heaven from my God26, and my new name also.27 13 The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

1 ὁ ἅγιος (the holy one)

Allusions to the Old Testament. Psalms 16:10; Isaiah 1:4; 37:23; Habakuk 3:3. A holy person is one who is set apart from the world. Beale* (Pg. 283) and Osborne*** (Pgs. 186-187).

     When we are reborn, regenerated into new life, we “put on Christ”. We become holy because He is holy. He calls us to be holy and we can only be made so by the cleansing power of Jesus and through His name. This is what He planned for us all along, our predestination, the plan for your life.

2 Philadelphia was founded around 189 B.C. It got its name from Attalus Philadelphus who showed his older brother (the king of Pergamum) so much love, that he received the name Philadelphus. The people of Philadelphia were proud of how they got their name. One of the biggest problems with Philadelphia was that the area in which it was located was prone to earthquakes. The city was leveled in 17 A.D. It was so bad, that the emperor allowed them to pay no taxes for 5 years so that they could recover. Philadelphia maintained close ties with Rome until the reign of Domitian. In 92 A.D., Domitian demanded that Philadelphia cut down half of their grape vines (wine was their biggest product). This so devastated the economy of the area that the close ties with Rome started to fade. The main god of Philadelphia was Dionysus, the god of wine. The city had a Jewish population (as indicated in the letter) and the christian church was probably planted there by disciples of the Apostle Paul.

     Philadelphia - love of a brother 
Hitchcock’s Bible Names

     How fitting is the meaning of this city’s name. The church here is commended for keeping the word of Jesus several times. We are told the we love God by keeping His commandments. It is by the love of our brother and Lord, Jesus Christ, that grace is offered. It is His love that gives us love and life. It is by His love it will be done.

3 ὁ ἀληθινός (the true one)

This probably is referring to Jesus being the “genuine” messiah who the Jews rejected. It could also represent Christ’s “faithfulness”. The title represents a bit of both. Beale* (Pg. 283), Mounce** (Pg. 116), and Osborne*** (Pgs. 186-187).

4 τὴν κλεῖν Δαυίδ (the key of David)

This comes from Isaiah 22:22. It represents access to the King and his palace. Here, it represents that Jesus is the holder to the access to heaven (the new Jerusalem). Beale* (Pg. 284).

     Jesus is the one promised to Abraham and to the nation of Israel as the King that would come. They were not able to see, or perceive Him during His first visit to earth. The kingship of David was only a shadow of the coming King.

     In Matthew 16:19 Jesus shares the keys with disciples and the Church.

     Matthew 16:19 ESV 
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

     The Greek word translated as “you” is plural, and applies to all of us.

5 The last praise in verse seven represents Jesus’ authority over who can enter the new Jerusalem. He is the only one who can “open and shut” the door to heaven. Beale* says that it also represents “an opened door” to witness (Pg. 286). In that case, the door remains open for the members of Philadelphia to lead (witness to) the Jews and other unbelievers to the “opened door”.

6 δέδωκα (have placed) 

Greek: “have given”. John is very free with his language.

7 ἠνεῳγμένην (opened)

This is actually a participle in the perfect tense. It means “having been opened”. The door was opened in the past, and remains open to the readers of the church in Philadelphia.

8 ἐνώπιόν - in the presence of, before 

Thayer’s Greek Definitions

     The door has been placed before us. Long before Jesus, a man named Moses placed before the nation of Israel a similar doorway, of blessings and curses, a choice of the narrow road or the broad road, of going right or left.

9 The church in Philadelphia had been “kicked out” of the local synagogue, but Christ has placed “an opened door” to his kingdom. In times past, the Jewish people were the chosen, but now, they have been “cut off the olive tree” and replaced with Gentiles.

     Jesus does not automatically transfer us into the kingdom. He makes it possible for us to enter and invites us to do so. Come.

     At some point the door will be closed.

10μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν (you have a little power)

It seems to be strange phrase to use of a church who has just been told that the “opened door” to heaven is placed before them. Since the whole letter to Philadelphia is upbeat and positive for them, this probably indicates that the church was small instead of meaning that they had “little spiritual power”. Osborne*** (Pg. 189).

     His strength is perfected in our weakness. It is in our weakness that we able to apprehend His strength and make it our own.

11 καὶ (but) 

Greek: “and”.

12 In other words, in spite of the church being small and always under persecution, they have remained faithful to Christ.

13 διδῶ (I am going to make)

Another example of how freely John uses language. The word actually is a form of δίδωμι which means “to give”, but is used in the LXX in the same way as John uses it here.

     Jesus will give them what they have chosen. We make a bed of our own choosing. We can dig a hole or climb the mountain. Our words and actions will judge us, and Jesus will reward us accordingly.

14 προσκυνήσουσιν ἐνώπιον τῶν ποδῶν σου (bow down before your feet)

or “worship before your feet”. An allusion to Isaiah 60:14 where the oppressor of Israel will come and pay homage to the Jews. Here, John has reversed the role.  Now, it is the Jews who will pay homage to God’s faithful whom the Jews persecuted.

15 γνῶσιν (they will know) 

or “they will realize”.

16 τὸν λόγον τῆς ὑπομονῆς μου (the word of my perseverance)

or “the message of my endurance”. In other words, the church was keeping the example that Jesus laid out when he endured all the way to the end of his earthly ministry which lead him to the cross. The church in Philadelphia follows this example.

I should also note here that this phrase could also be translated “my word of perseverance”. If this is indeed what John intended, then the meaning of the passage would change. In that context, it would be a command from Jesus for the church “to endure” in spite of the persecution that they are experiencing.

     It could be that both meanings apply. We are to imitate Him, to live as He showed us.

17 τῆς ὥρας τοῦ πειρασμοῦ (the hour of testing)

This phrase doesn’t refer to a “time”, but to an “event”. That “event” will happen to the “whole inhabited world”. The event is not a local event that is coming, but an “global” event.

     We are told we are not of this world, but citizens of another kingdom and are merely passing through. We are told not to conform to the world, but be transformed through the renewing of our minds and a heart made new. Those who dwell on earth could be viewed as those who have not chosen to walk in the light from heaven, but with their feet rooted to the dust of the earth.

18 As one would expect, there is much commentary around this passage. There are some questions that need to be answered. What does Jesus mean when he says κἀγώ σε τηρήσω ἐκ (I also will keep you from)? There are two views: 1. This means that Jesus will take the believers of Philadelphia “out of” the testing (rapture) and 2. Jesus will protect the believers as the testing occurs. In order to examine what this really means, one must look at how “keep from” or “keep out of” is used elsewhere in the NT.

John 17:15 

     οὐκ ἐρωτῶ ἵνα ἄρῃς αὐτοὺς ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου, ἀλλ ̓ ἵνα τηρήσῃς
αὐτοὺς ἐκ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

     I am not asking that you take them out of the world, but that you
keep them from the evil one.

In this context, one can see the different use of the preposition ἐκ (from, out of), but we also see from this context that “keep” means “protection”. In this case, “protection from the evil one”.

So, is there a “rapture” before the testing that protects the believers from the “wrath of God”, or will God protect the faithful from the “wrath of God” as the “wrath” is going on? That will unfold as the book continues. It is not to be decided here.

Osborne*** (Pgs. 192-195) and Mounce** (Pgs. 119-120).

     Either way, God promises His protection and presence.

19 ἔρχομαι ταχύ (I am coming quickly) 

Note the present tense again. Jesus’ return is imminent.

     And sure...

20 κράτει (Hold on to) 

Greek: “Grasp!”

21 The church has their God, their faith in him, and the “opened door” before them that leads to the kingdom of God.

     The One who has opened the door extends His hand in invitation, offering His strength and power if we but accept it. If we do, He will lift us up.

22 τὸν στέφανόν σου (your crown)

As in 2:10, we see the victor’s “crown” again. If one completes the race, one will receive a crown, if one doesn’t complete the race, the one who presents the crown will remove it.

23 In other words, Jesus will make the conqueror a “supporter” in the temple of God. It also carries an ideal of being permanent. This is reinforced by the next phrase “and he will never leave it”.

     Not from the sense of being a prisoner, but a reward for the one who follows after Jesus and overcomes the world.

24 ἔξω οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃ ἔτι (he will never leave it)

Greek: “he will never go outside of the temple anymore”. In other words, the one who conquers will always be in the temple of God as a pillar.

25 This represents God’s ownership of the person.

     We are told Jesus will have a name written on His thigh that no one else knows. We are told we will receive a new name only to us. It is only by His name we are to be saved. We take His name when we call Him Lord.
     Just as His law is written on our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we will be in the perfect image of God as intended.

26 Paul refers to “the Jerusalem above” in Galatians 4:26.
27 Three names will be placed on the person who Jesus makes to be a “pillar”. God’s name, the name of the “new Jerusalem” city, and the new name for Christ. The new name of Christ possibly refers to the name written on the white stone in 2:17. It is not mentioned here, so it is unknown at this place in the letter.


NT = New Testament 
OT = Old Testament 
ESV = English Standard Version 
NASB = New American Standard Bible
KJV = King James Version 
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A 
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV) 
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)


The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)

(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)

A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger

(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)

*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale

**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce

***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne

+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace

++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule

+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick

A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)

The Greek

Ἀποκάλυψις 3·7 Καὶ τῷ ἀγγέλῳ τῆς ἐν Φιλαδελφείᾳ ἐκκλησίας γράψον· Τάδε λέγει 1, ὁ ἀληθινός, ὁ ἔχων τὴν κλεῖν Δαυίδ, ὁ ἀνοίγων καὶ
οὐδεὶς κλείσει καὶ κλείων καὶ οὐδεὶς ἀνοίγει· 8 οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα, ἰδοὺ δέδωκα ἐνώπιόν σου θύραν ἠνεῳγμένην, ἣν οὐδεὶς δύναται κλεῖσαι αὐτήν, ὅτι μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν καὶ ἐτήρησάς μου τὸν λόγον καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσω τὸ ὄνομά μου. 9 ἰδοὺ διδῶ ἐκ τῆς συναγωγῆς τοῦ σατανᾶ τῶν λεγόντων ἑαυτοὺς Ἰουδαίους εἶναι, καὶ οὐκ εἰσὶν ἀλλὰ ψεύδονται. ἰδοὺ ποιήσω αὐτοὺς ἵνα ἥξουσιν καὶ προσκυνήσουσιν ἐνώπιον τῶν ποδῶν σου καὶ γνῶσιν ὅτι ἐγὼ ἠγάπησά σε. 10 ὅτι ἐτήρησας τὸν λόγον τῆς ὑπομονῆς μου, κἀγώ σε τηρήσω ἐκ τῆς ὥρας τοῦ πειρασμοῦ τῆς μελλούσης ἔρχεσθαι ἐπὶ τῆς οἰκουμένης ὅλης πειράσαι τοὺς κατοικοῦντας ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. 11 ἔρχομαι ταχύ· κράτει ὃ ἔχεις, ἵνα μηδεὶς λάβῃ τὸν στέφανόν σου.
Ἀποκάλυψις 3·12 Ὁ νικῶν ποιήσω αὐτὸν στῦλον ἐν τῷ ναῷ τοῦ θεοῦ μου καὶ ἔξω οὐ μὴ ἐξέλθῃ ἔτι καὶ γράψω ἐπ ̓ αὐτὸν τὸ ὄνομα τοῦ θεοῦ μου καὶ τὸ ὄνομα τῆς πόλεως τοῦ θεοῦ μου, τῆς καινῆς Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἡ καταβαίνουσα ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ μου, καὶ τὸ ὄνομά μου τὸ καινόν.
Ἀποκάλυψις 3·13 Ὁ ἔχων οὖς ἀκουσάτω τί τὸ πνεῦμα λέγει ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις.

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