Thursday, 8 October 2020
“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Revelation 3:8
Again, as with each church thus far, Jesus says to the church at Philadelphia, “I know your works.” He is fully aware of all that goes on in any given church and at all times. Nothing misses His attention as He walks among the lampstands. Of this church, He continues with, “See, I have set before you an open door.”
The Greek literally reads, “I have given before you a door opened.” What this means is debated. It could be as noted in the previous verse what Paul relayed several times concerning a favorable opening to conduct evangelism. It could be that He has opened heaven to the church as a whole, meaning they are all of the true faith in Christ; none are excluded. Another explanation is that the Lord has opened the meaning of Scripture to them. The first seems the most likely. It is what Paul mentioned several times, and it is a primary purpose of the church.
As salvation is an individual matter, it seems unlikely that the Lord would refer to the church having an open door to salvation, even if all are saved. And Scripture is opened to those who read it, contemplate it, pray about it, and so on. It could even be that the open door is simply a way of saying that they will prosper in any and all of these ways. The church has found the Lord’s favor, and He has opened His door of favor to them. Of this door, whatever the exact meaning is, Jesus says, “and no one can shut it.”
As He said in the previous verse, He is “He who opens and no one shuts.” Once the Lord has opened a door, for whatever reason, it will remain open as long as He determines it to be so. In the case of this open door, the Lord graciously opened it to them saying, “for you have a little strength.”
This could be taken as “a little strength,” or “little strength.” If the former, it means that they may have a source of strength, even though it is weak. In this, the Lord assists them to complete the strength they need. Or, it could be that they are lacking any real strength at all, and the Lord has opened this door to them in their affliction. Either way, the Lord perceives a state of lack. He is either filling it up, or completely assisting them in accomplishing the task by opening this door for them. He further notes that they “have kept My word.”
This is a point of obedience. Believers are saved by faith in Christ. But that salvation is to be worked out in obedience to the word. This is not a point of salvation, but one which shows a love for what is right, and it is a point upon which they will be rewarded. To keep the word of the Lord is consistently considered as pleasing to Him throughout Scripture. This church was faithful to what the Lord expects of His people.
To end the verse, Jesus adds in, “and have not denied My name.” This is one of the highest notes of faithfulness to the Lord. When persecution comes, people may shut up about their faith, hide the fact that they follow Christ, and even deny His name at times. This is a part of the human condition – as is evidenced in Peter’s denial of Him on the night before His crucifixion. For those who stand fast and are willing to acknowledge Him, even in such trying times, the Lord acknowledges it as that which is truly faithful.
The church at Philadelphia is commended by the Lord because what they have done is commendable. It is a note to all who wish to be pleasing to Him.
Life application: Jesus acknowledges that He is aware of the works of the church in Philadelphia. This, in turn, tells us that He is aware of the works of all churches – both good and bad. He is surveying the tasks and devotion of His people and is not simply a sideline quarterback.
Understanding this, let our actions be the epitome of faithfulness to Him. In this, He will certainly be pleased. Should we fail Him, He will remain faithful, because – as Paul says to Timothy –
“If we are faithless,
He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
Great and majestic are You, Lord God Almighty! When the world comes against us, You are there strengthening us and giving us the hope of eternal glory. We know that nothing in heaven or on earth can separate us from the love which You have lavished upon us through Christ Jesus our Lord. Thank You for Your sure and eternal promises! Hallelujah and Amen.