Wednesday, 7 October 2020
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: Revelation 3:7
Jesus now addresses the sixth of the seven churches, beginning with, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write…” As has been noted, the “angel” is certainly referring to the leader of the church. Of the church in Philadelphia, Vincent’s Word Studies states –
“Seventy-five miles southeast of Sardis. The second city in Lydia. The adjacent region was celebrated as a wine-growing district, and its coins bore the head of Bacchus and the figure of a Bacchante. The population included Jews, Jewish Christians, and converts from heathenism. It suffered from frequent earthquakes. Of all the seven churches it had the longest duration of prosperity as a Christian city. It still exists as a Turkish town under the name of Allah Shehr, City of God. The situation is picturesque, the town being built on four or five hills, and well supplied with trees, and the climate is healthful. One of the mosques is believed by the native Christians to have been the gathering-place of the church addressed in Revelation. ‘One solitary pillar of high antiquity has been often noticed as reminding beholders of the words in Revelation 3:12 : “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God.”’”
Philadelphia means “Place of Brotherly Love,” and it was built by Attalus Philadelphus, the king of Pergamos. It is to the church that meets in this location that the Lord says, “These things says He who is holy.” Here, the word is hagios, signifying “set apart,” “holy,” and “sacred.” Three times, Christ Jesus is called the Holy One in Acts (Acts 2:27, 13:34, and 13:35). There it uses the word hosios. That signifies being holy by sanction. Christ is both holy by sanction and also set apart from sin and from that which is evil. This then corresponds to “the Holy One of Israel,” meaning the Lord of the Old Testament. Christ is the embodiment of this holiness.
Next, He says, “He who is true.” Here, the word is aléthinos – that which is made of truth. It signifies real, or genuine. It is prefixed by an article in the Greek – “The True.” Christ is the embodiment of truth. Of this word, Vincent’s Word Studies notes –
“Αληθινὸς is not merely, genuine as contrasted with the absolutely false, but as contrasted with that which is only subordinately or typically true. It expresses the perfect realization of an idea as contrasted with its partial realization. Thus, Moses gave bread, but the Father giveth the true bread (τὸν ἄρτον τὸν ἀληθινόν). Israel was a vine of God’s planting (Psalm 80:8), Christ is the true (ἡ ἀληθινὴ) vine (John 15:1). The word is so characteristic of John that, while found only once in the Synoptic Gospels, once in a Pauline Epistle, and four times in the Epistle to the Hebrews, it occurs nine times in the fourth Gospel, four times in John’s First Epistle, and ten times in Revelation, and in every instance in these three latter books in its own distinctive signification.”
Next, the Lord says, “He who has the key of David.” This refers to the type given in Isaiah 22, Eliakim –
“Then it shall be in that day,
That I will call My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah;
21 I will clothe him with your robe
And strengthen him with your belt;
I will commit your responsibility into his hand.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem
And to the house of Judah.
22 The key of the house of David
I will lay on his shoulder;
So he shall open, and no one shall shut;
And he shall shut, and no one shall open.
23 I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place,
And he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.” Isaiah 22:20-23
David is given in Scripture as typical of Christ, the ruling king. The house of David anticipates the kingdom of Christ. Eliakim was given promises that he would have authority over this office. Those things described of him by the Lord anticipated the greater fulfillment of them in the coming of Christ. What belonged to the throne and house of David would be managed by Eliakim during his temporary life. But those same things would be transferred to Christ for His eternal reign. Of this position, Jesus continues by saying, “He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.”
It is quoted from Isaiah 22:22 (above). The final authority of all matters over the everlasting kingdom of Christ belongs solely to Him. Anything He determines cannot be undone by another. That authority can be delegated, but the ultimate decision resides in Christ. For example, Christ said the following after Peter declared Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God” –
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’” Matthew 16:17-19
It was Peter who then opened doors and shut doors concerning spiritual matters especially as is recorded in the first chapters of Acts. A similar example of this from Paul’s ministry is found in Acts as well –
“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. 7 After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. 8 So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ 10 Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.” Acts 16:6-10
Paul also speaks of “a great and effective door” which was opened to him (1 Corinthians 16:9). In 2 Corinthians 2:12, he again mentions a door opened by the Lord for preaching the gospel. In Colossians 4:3, Paul asks the believers at Colossae to pray “that God would open to us a door for the word.” As Christ claims authority to open such a door, and as that prayer was to be made to God, it is another purposeful clue to the fact that Jesus is God.
Life application: The church of Philadelphia receives only commendation. It is a sound and faithful church. Because of this and because of their “little strength” that will be mentioned in the coming verse, the letter is addressed from:
“He who is holy” – The Holy One is a title ascribed to Yehovah in the Old Testament. Thus, Jesus is equated with God and is therefore capable of protecting and maintaining His church.
“He who is true” – Jesus is the embodiment of truth, and therefore His words are completely reliable, and the promises He will make to Philadelphia will come to pass.
“He who has the key of David” – Jesus is claiming that He is the ultimate fulfillment of the honors promised to the Messiah. He has all the authority of the kingship in His hand. Therefore, He is the One “who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.” In other words, His decisions are final, and all authority belongs to Him. If He accepts a person or a church, nothing can separate them from Him. If He rejects them, then the decision is final and the matter is settled for all eternity for them.
In the ultimate sense, Jesus has complete and sole authority over the door to either life or death for all humanity. Amazingly, He leaves the choice up to us as to which we will walk through. When the decision is made, it is sealed with His blood for salvation or for condemnation.
We choose Jesus! Lord God, be with us in our walk, and be with the churches we attend in our worship and pursuit of You. Help us to make right decisions, and to stand firm even in times of trial or persecution. We know that all power belongs to You, and so we have nothing to fear. Thank You for Your presence being with Your people. Amen!