Reflections on Revelation #65

Day 65 

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this:” Rev 3:7 NASB.

The name “Philadelphia” means “brotherly love. Brotherly love is a wonderful thing that brings profound joy to both the giver and the receiver. This was the era of revival and missionary activity that thrust Christianity onto the world stage. This occurred from the late1700s to the 1840s. 

Jesus declares Himself to be the one who holds the key of David. He has the authority to open and to shut. This makes Him the one who controls entrance to the royal palace, the place where the authority of the kingdom is concentrated. 

The language of this text is based on Isa 22:22. Judah was under attack by Sennacherib of Assyria. The leaders of the nation had gathered weapons, shored up the city walls, and secured the water supply of the city. But God criticized their work because in all their preparations they never asked Him for help. Instead, when they realized that their situation was hopeless, they decided to party and enjoy what few resources they had left before death overtook them (Isa 22:1-13). 

Shebna, who was in charge of the royal palace (think chief of staff), proved to be as materialistic as the people, commissioning a spectacular grave to be carved out for himself in a prominent place (Isa 22:15-16). The Lord deposed him from his position and gave the key of David to Eliakim instead (Isa 22:17-21). From then on Eliakim would be the one with the authority to open and shut the doors of the kingdom (Isa 22:22). 

As in Smyrna, the members of the church at Philadelphia experienced conflict in relation to the local synagogue. It is likely that the Christians of Philadelphia were dis-fellowshipped from the synagogue and may have questioned whether they had lost their place in heaven as well. Historically, this is also a time when Christians were dis-fellowshipped as Protestantism fragmented, e.g. the expulsion of the Wesley’s from the Anglican fellowship. Jesus assures them that He, and He alone, decides who enters the temple of God. In a relationship with Him, their position is secure. 

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