SERMON TOPIC: Revelation-3c

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 18 February 2024


Sermon synopsis: Philadelphia: the faithful church with little strength.

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REVELATION – chapter 3 (cont.)


The letters to the 7 churches have a similar structure.

An address to a particular church.

An introduction of Jesus.

A statement regarding the condition of the church.

A verdict from Jesus regarding the church.

A command from Jesus to the church.

A general exhortation to all Christians with a promise of reward.

So far, we have looked at:

Ephesus: the doctrinally astute church which had left its first love.

Smyrna: poor, persecuted – but spiritually rich Church.

Pergamum: the compromising church.

Thyatira: the adulterous church.

Sardis: the dead church with the reputation of being alive

Now we will examine:

Philadelphia: the faithful church

Philadelphia: the faithful church with little strength.

Revelation 3:7-8 (NIV)

7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

The ancient city of Philadelphia is 44 kms (27 mi) from Sardis and 77 kms (48 mi) from Laodicea.

a) An Address to a particular church

“To the angel [messenger] of the church in Philadelphia write …”


Philadelphia (modern name, Ala-shehir ) sits near the Cogamus River and is located in the Kuzucay valley, near the bottom of Mount Bozdad.

It was the newest of the cities Jesus addressed in Revelation. It was established in 189 BC by King Eumenes II of Pergamon (197–160 BC).

He named the city for the love of his brother, who would be his successor, Attalus II, whose loyalty earned him the nickname, "Philadelphos", literally meaning "one who loves his brother". *

* https:// wiki/ Ala%C5%9Fehir

Attalus III, the last of Pergamum’s kings, lacked a royal heir to the throne. Upon his death in 133 BC, he bequeathed his kingdom (which included Pergamum and Philadelphia) to the Roman empire.

Rome's Asia province was created in 129 BC by bringing together Ionia and Attalus' former kingdom. *

* https:// biblepic/ churches-of-revelation-philadelphia.html

The 19th century Pulpit Commentary notes that in Roman times Philadelphia was not equal to Ephesus or even Laodicea; and for law courts its citizens had to go to Sardis. It further notes:

Nevertheless, it has outlived all these three, and still continues on the same site, and perhaps within the same walls, as of old.

At the close of the 14th century it was the last Byzantine city to surrender to the Turks .

To this day (19th cent.) it retains the privilege of free Christian worship, with the use of bells for service, and processions in public - a thing allowed by the Turks in no other inland city of Asia Minor. It has a bishop and a dozen churches, and it is said that about a third of its 15,000 inhabitants are Christian.

But its Greek inhabitants fled the town during World War I and created Nea Filadelfeia, in Greece.

b) An introduction of Jesus

In all the other letters, Jesus uses symbols describing himself that come from the vision John had of him in Chapter 1. But in this letter, he makes no reference to that vision.

V7 These are the words of him who is holy and true…

This was not John’s personal message to these believers; it was a message from Jesus.

These do not describe “tendencies” within Jesus, but His very being. They also show that Jesus is Yahweh, because He alone is holy in an absolute sense. (Guzik)


The Holy One is a common Old Testament title for God (Isaiah 40:25; 43:15). God’s holiness highlights his righteousness and illumines all.

How did Isaiah respond to seeing God’s glory? He became acutely aware of his own sinfulness.

Jesus assumes that title (Holy) and identifies himself with the God of Israel. He is holy – set apart; his holiness is his “majestic otherness.”

His holiness also indicates his “moral otherness” - his character is flawless.


Jesus promises this church many good things. Identifying himself as “True” reassures them that he is trustworthy and can be counted on to keep his promises.

There are two Greek words which can be translated as “true.” One means “true and not false.” But this one actually means “true and not fake,” with the idea of being real or genuine. Jesus is the true Saviour as opposed to the false gods of the pagans; they are spurious gods.

“True” is a favourite word with John, “expressing more than the opposite of “false.” It implies that which is perfect in contrast with the imperfect; the reality in contrast with the shadow; the antitype in contrast with the type; the ideal which is the only real in contrast with the real which is only ideal” (Ellicott).

V7 … who holds the key of David

The language “properly denotes authority or control - as when one has the key of a house, and has unlimited access to it” (Barnes).

The key stands for ownership and possession. Only family have a key - normally to the home. They have authority to open or close upon someone as a right in law.

Therefore when Jesus Christ opens a door he has authority to do so and the Church can progress with confidence that the opening they have been given will remain as long as God’s will is being done.

V7 … who holds the key of David

The reference to the key of David is a clear allusion to Isaiah 22:22 where it refers to access to the king’s palace.

Shebna is called the “steward” who was “over the house,” that is, the royal household. He was essentially King Hezekiah’s right-hand man.

He was supposed to lead Jerusalem in God’s ways. Instead, he was only concerned for himself. He tried to give himself greater honour than had been bestowed upon him. He was more interested in his own affairs than he was in simply doing his job.


God replaces Shebna with a godly and dependable man named Eliakim, and Isaiah says the following to Shebna about Eliakim:

Isaiah 22:21-22 (NIV) I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

Eliakim is granted authority over the palace and the king’s affairs; he controlled access to King Hezekiah of the royal line of David. He has “the key to the house of David”.

The words paint vividly the supremacy of the office to which Eliakim was to be called. He alone was to decide who was to be admitted into the king’s chamber, and for whom the king’s treasury was to be opened. In Revelation 3:7, the symbolism is reproduced in its higher application to the King of kings. (Ellicott)

Eliakim is clearly a type of Christ. Jesus refers to this passage and applies it to himself.

He holds the key of David but he does far more than open the way to talk to an earthly king. In Christ’s hand, the key opens the door into the presence of God, his kingdom and eternal life.

Consider how that promise would be received by a church experiencing exclusion and persecution.

When the community excludes them, when friends and family shut them out, when the rulers slam shut every door that would help them, Jesus sets before them an open door into God’s presence.

V7 … who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

This again emphasizes his authority. He opens and shuts as he wills with no opposition.

His will cannot be opposed. He governs the events of history on earth. He will open some doors; he will close other doors. What he opens no one can shut, what he shuts, no one can open. No human power can contravene what he determines. *

* Ibid.

C) A statement regarding the condition of the church

V8 I know your deeds…

Jesus said this to each of the seven churches. The church at Philadelphia had served God well in difficult circumstances, and Jesus knew it. (Guzik)

… See, I have placed before you an open door …

Philadelphia was called The Doorway to the East because it lay on the main highway that stretched from the major port of Troas in the West, through a mountain pass to the inner region of Asia Minor, and eventually all the way to India.

It was situated where the borders of Mysia, Lydia and Phrygia meet together. The main roads that reached into these commercially rich regions all met up in Philadelphia.

Because it was so strategically located, in the early 2nd century BC, the Greeks made it a colony for spreading their language and culture into those regions.

It fulfilled its mission, bringing Greek religion, philosophy, government, art and language to all Asia Minor.

Barclay mentions that they were so successful that by AD 19 the Lydians had forgotten their own language and were all but Greeks. Ramsay says that Philadelphia was the centre for the diffusion of the Greek language.

Because it was a town renowned as a “missionary” city for Greek culture, some take Jesus’ reference an open door to mean evangelistic opportunity for the gospel.

This idea is not without merit because Paul uses similar terms to describe God opening doors for the gospel.

1 Cor 16:8-9 (NIV) But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me…

2 Cor 2:12 (NIV) Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me…

Col 4:3 (NIV) And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ…


But in context, this metaphor has no connection to Jesus’ earlier quotation of Isaiah 22:22. So I prefer the interpretation that accounts for his reference back to the account of Eliakim granting access to the Davidic king.

The church was being intimidated by those who “claim to be Jews though they are not” (3:9). Despite being weak in some respects, they had remained faithful and had not denied Jesus. So, he promises them an “open door” of blessing and access to the heavenly king.

… that no one can shut…

No one has the power of preventing this, for he who has control over all things concedes these privileges to you.


He has free and unrestrained access to the house; the power of admitting anyone, or of excluding anyone.

Applied here to the Saviour, as king in Zion, this means that in his kingdom he has the absolute control in regard to grant admission or exclusion of anyone.

He can prescribe the terms; he can invite whom he chooses; he can exclude those whom he judges should not be admitted.

A reference to this absolute control was every way proper when he was addressing a church, and is every way proper for us to reflect on when we think of the subject of our personal salvation.


V8 … I know that you have little strength …

The tenses used point back to some epoch in the history of this Church when some heavy trial or persecution arose, which tested the sincerity, fidelity, or Christian love of the faithful. (Ellicott).

Socially speaking, Christians were outnumbered. Religiously speaking, Rome didn’t recognize them—they worshiped a man Rome hung on a cross. Economically speaking, they often didn’t have the resources to be influential. *

* https:// sermons/ sermon/ 2021-11-07/ philadelphia-keeping-the-word-for-the-crown

They may have little power, but they have access to a King with all power. *

They may not have much on earth, but they are rich in heaven. *

Jesus has opened the door to the heavenly city for them - using the key of David.

The same promises applies to us – who have little strength but yet have remained faithful to Christ.

* Ibid.

… yet you have kept my word …

Despite being troubled by the false teaching they had kept Jesus’ Word.

So here we are not to suppose that these good souls in Philadelphia lived angelic lives of unbroken holiness because Jesus Christ has nothing but praise for them. Rather we are to learn the great thought that, in all our poor, stained service, He recognizes the central motive and main drift, and, accepting these, is glad when He can commend. ‘Thou hast kept the word of My patience,’ … (MacLaren)

“The church of Philadelphia is commended for keeping the Word of the Lord and not denying His Name.

Success in Christian work is not to be measured by any other standard of achievement.

It is not rise in ecclesiastical position.

It is not the number of new buildings which have been built through a man’s ministry.

It is not the crowds that flock to listen to any human voice.

All of these things are frequently used as yardsticks of success, but they are earthly and not heavenly measures.”


Instead of folding under pressure, they kept Jesus’ word. We too must focus on keeping Jesus’ word no matter how small we might feel.

The world looks big and powerful, when compared to the church.

The world and its resources and influencers and powers can make the church feel small, insignificant, weak. *

* https:// sermons/ sermon/ 2021-11-07/ philadelphia-keeping-the-word-for-the-crown

You read the news and think, “How can I possibly make a difference? What good are my little attempts?”

You hear stories of authorities treating Christians however they want, and you wonder, “What could I possibly do in the face of that power?”

Smaller churches often lack the resources other organizations have, and they can start wondering, “What good could we possibly do?” *

* Ibid.

That’s when the temptations enter, too:

Maybe if we become hip, relevant, more like the culture, then we’ll have greater impact.

If we just had more money and better facilities, maybe that’ll do it.

Maybe we can baptize some secular methods to win friends and influence people.

If we could just increase our numbers somehow, then we can succeed.

But none of these are the way Christians overcome. *

* Ibid.

Here’s the greatest strategy: keep Jesus’ word.

You will win, not by imitating the world.

You overcome not by partnering with the world politically, morally or financially, but by keeping Jesus’ word.

You overcome Satan and the world by holding fast to Jesus’ word.

Wherever Jesus has placed you, keep his word.

You may be small and insignificant to the world. You may have little power when compared to others. But when you keep Jesus’ word, you will be a true victor.

In the eyes of persecutors, you will look weak and small. But in the eyes of Jesus, you will be victorious.

… and have not denied my name.

When Christians were brought before pagan magistrates in times of persecution, they were required to renounce the name of Christ, and to disown him in a public manner. It is possible that, amidst the persecutions that raged in the early times, the members of the church at Philadelphia had been summoned to such a trial, and they had stood the trial firmly. (Barnes)

Some churches that claim great faithfulness to the word of Jesus deny His name – His character. They represent the manner and style of Jesus as something very different from what the Bible shows. (Guzik)

Revelation 3:9-10 (NIV)

9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.

10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.


Philadelphia and Smyrna are the only two churches who are not given any rebuke from Jesus. Like the church of Smyrna, Philadelphia seems to have been attacked by a specific group of non-believing Jews. Both churches are praised for their perseverance in the face of persecution.

Jesus condemns the enemies of the Philadelphian believers:

v9 “I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan…

The Jews of Philadelphia who were persecuting the Christians are called a “synagogue of Satan”, as they were identified in the letter to Smyrna (2:9).

These persecuting Jews have joined Satan to war against the church. Similarly, Jesus told the Pharisees who persecuted him, while claiming to be Abraham's descendants, "You are of your father the devil" (John 8:44).

Synagogue OF SATAN

… who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars…

These people were Jews in name only. Being a Jew - a true child of Abraham - is more than just sharing a bloodline.

This referred to certain Jews in that city who claimed to be Jews (spiritual descendants of Abraham) but were only his physical descendants. Their attitude toward the things of God was far removed from Abraham's faith.

This “synagogue of Satan” is not a blanket reference to all of Judaism, nor all of the Jewish people.

Rather, Jesus is indicting a specific group in a specific area. In fact, Jesus said these offenders were Jews in name only. He called them liars. They actually belonged to Satan and served him.

Perhaps the aggressors tried to force the Christians to be circumcised and to put themselves under the law of Moses, just as Judaizers tried to persuade the churches of Galatia to accept circumcision and submit to the law of Moses (Gal 1:6–7; 3:1–6).

Ignatius alludes to such an issue in an epistle written to this church ten to twenty years later. In an epistle to this church, he warns the Philadelphians: “But if any one preach the Jewish law unto you, listen not to him.”(Ch. 6)

But the Christians at Philadelphia resisted the Judaizers' efforts.

The legalistic message of “the synagogue of Satan” is to insist that salvation is obtained by good works.

But Christ says that he has set before us an open door - without having to force anything. Just consider the access he grants:

John 14:6 (NIV) “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Christ is not just suggesting that the Philadelphians are going to heaven, they already have open access to the king enthroned in heaven - through Jesus’ blood.

Heb 10:19-22 (NIV) Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body … let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience …

v9… I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you”

These persecutors will experience a reversal of fortune – and be forced to acknowledge that the church constitutes the true people of God. They will respect them and openly acknowledge God's blessing upon them.

The background for this verse is found in Isaiah, but with an unexpected twist. Isaiah said the Gentile nations would do homage to Israel:

Isaiah 45:14 (NIV) … They will bow down before you and plead with you, saying, ‘Surely God is with you …

The imagery bears a striking similarity to Rev 3:9. But ironically what these Jews hoped to gain from the Gentiles, they themselves must render to the Christians. They would concede that the church consists of the people of God.

This prophecy looks to the time when the Jews will finally acknowledge their Saviour and recognize the largely Gentile church as the people of God.


v10 (NKJV) Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

How would the church at Philadelphia have understood this verse?

The exact nature or timing of this "hour of trial" is not clearly defined in the text, but it's generally interpreted as a period of testing or tribulation that would affect the whole world. *

In context the trial that comes upon the whole world in Revelation is what we call the 7-year Tribulation when the Beast (Antichrist) rules.

* https:// church-in-Philadelphia.html


As Jesus says the messages to the 7 churches are also relevant to today’s church (“Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches”), we believe that this “hour of trial” is a prophetic reference to the 7-year Great Tribulation, which precedes Jesus’ earthly Millennial kingdom. So Jesus is promising to keep Christians from that hour of trial.

Based on this and other passages, many Bible interpreters conclude that the rapture is an event distinct from the second coming of Christ. The fact that the Philadelphians are promised to be preserved from the time of the tribulation corresponds with the pretribulational view of the rapture. *

* Ibid.

David Guzik writes:

Those who believe the church will be here on earth during this time of Great Tribulation focus on Jesus’ command to persevere, and say the context demands seeing this as protection that enables the faithful to persevere in the period.

Those who believe that Jesus will come for His church before this time of Great Tribulation note that protection is promised from the very hour of trial, not just the trial itself.

However, persevere is in the past tense, showing it is something that the Christians had already done before the hour of trial, which has not yet come upon the world. The promise is a reward for past perseverance, not the equipping to persevere in the future. (Guzik)

“As far as the Philadelphian church was concerned, the rapture of the church was presented to them as an imminent hope.” (John Walvoord)

v10 (NKJV) … I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

The test is directed against those who dwell on the earth. This phrase is used nine times in the Book of Revelation, and it speaks of those who are not saved in Jesus. Revelation 17:8 makes the term synonymous with the lost: And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world. This test is for unbelievers, not Christians. (Guzik)

Revelation 3:11-13 (NIV)

11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.

13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

e) A command from Jesus to the church

v11: I am coming soon ...

When they read this, some might say, "This was written almost 2,000 years ago. The church has been expecting him ever since, but he still has not come. How could he say, 'I am coming soon?’”

In this Greek context “coming soon” means something that will happen "quickly or suddenly," not necessarily "a short time from now." *

“The expression ‘quickly’ is to be understood as something which is sudden and unexpected, not necessarily immediate.” (Walvoord)

* https:// Revelation/ 3/ Revelation-3-11.html

Jesus told the faithful at the church in Thyatira to “hold on to what you have until I come” (2:25). In similar fashion he tells the believers at Philadelphia, “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (3:11)

While they wait for his coming, Jesus urges these believers to hold on and prevent the enemy from depriving them from a crown.

Jesus recognizes how well they’re running the race. He sees how far they’ve advanced. Now, he comes alongside them to cheer them on, to reassure them of his return, to help them persevere to the end. “Don’t give up. You’re almost there. The crown of life awaits you.” *

* https:// sermons/ sermon/ 2021-11-07/ philadelphia-keeping-the-word-for-the-crown

so that no one will take your crown.

“As long as we are in the world there will be forces warring against us; and we shall have to fight our worst selves and the tendencies which tempt us to prefer the visible to the unseen, and the present to the future.

So the Church which had no rebuke received the solemn injunction: ‘Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.’

There is always need of struggle, even for the most mature, if we would keep what we have. The treasure will be filched from slack hands; the crown will be stricken from a slumbering head.

So it is not inappropriate that the promise to this Church should be couched in the usual terms, ‘to him that overcomes,’ and the conclusion to be drawn is the solemn and simple one that the Christian life is always a conflict, even to the end.” (MacLaren)

The Philadelphian believers would have been familiar with marathon races.

To complete a marathon successfully, a runner had to adhere to strict discipline and abide by the rules governing the race.

If he won the race, he would receive a crown as his reward.

Paul understood that the Christian life is not a 100-yard dash but a marathon.

He ran the race patiently, adhered to a strict disciplined and kept the rules.

He ran to win and expected to receive an imperishable crown (1 Cor 9:24–26). *

* https:// Revelation/ 3/ Revelation-3-11.html

At the end of his life, Paul said that he had finished the race and anticipated a crown as a reward from God (2 Tim 4:7–8).

We, too, are running a marathon that requires discipline, diligence, and patient endurance. We must keep our eyes on Jesus and not be distracted. Upon completing the race successfully, we too will receive a crown.

Despite their little strength, the Philadelphians must keep running.

You too, must keep running.

As the times get harder and it is even more difficult to be a Christian.

As hostility increases and the world becomes more and more secular and casts aside much of the trappings of Christianity that it had formerly practiced.

Then we must be careful that we do not give up and go along with worldly attitudes and worldly pursuits.

We must not allow a desire for status, prestige, fame, a beautiful home and the things the world lusts for, to become central in our thinking.

"Hold on to what you have," says Jesus, because there is danger that someone may take your crown. (Ray Stedman) *

* https:// new-testament/ revelation/ the-little-church-that-tried


Jesus promises 3 things to overcomers:

He will make them a pillar in the temple of God.

Never again will they leave it.

He will write on them three names.

One major drawback of living in Philadelphia was earthquakes. Two earthquakes in 17 and 37 AD leveled levelled the city.

The aftershocks went on for years and portions of the city were forever collapsing. The historian Strabo reports that every wall in Philadelphia had cracks and people were constantly being injured or killed by falling masonry. *

After the major earthquake in 17 AD, Emperor Tiberius, in lieu of the damages, allowed the city to be free of taxation.

* https:// HD257D/ assets/ files/ Revelation-3.7-13-See-the-Open-Door.pdf


V12 (NKJV) He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God …

The Greek word nikōn refers to someone who overcomes or obtains victory. Jesus promises to make "the conqueror" a pillar in God's temple.


Pillars are pictures of strength, stability, permanence and dignified beauty. When you visit ancient ruins, you will notice that often all that is left standing are the pillars.

Bear in mind that Philadelphia suffered from frequent earthquakes. While buildings often collapsed, strong pillars would remain standing.

Jesus promises that nothing could cause the conquering believers in Philadelphia to collapse and fall. They would stand tall like firm columns in a temple. While the residents left the city in search of a safe place when earthquakes struck Philadelphia, Christian overcomers would remain firm.


… I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it.

The overcomer would have a place of permanence and stability with God, in contrast to an uncertain place in this world. (Guzik)

God will also honour overcomers by erecting a pillar in their name, as was the custom in Philadelphia.

So, those who struggled with weakness Jesus makes everlasting pillars in the house of God. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13). Jesus’ words of comfort certainly would have been a blessing to the Philadelphians who had faithfully stood for Christ in their pagan culture. His words continue to serve as an encouragement to faithful believers today. *

* https:// church-in-Philadelphia.html

But this is a promise that is clearly figurative as there shall be no temple in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:22) because there shall be no distinction of things into sacred and secular, for all things and persons shall be holy.

Paul refers to the three apostles (Peter, James and John) in the Jerusalem church as “pillars,” implying pre-eminence and the office of supporting the church.

Jesus offers us this same strength, to remain standing in Him when everything around us crumbles. The pillar holds up the building. The only thing supporting the pillar is the foundation. True pillars in the church support the church, and they look to Jesus as their support foundation. (Guzik)

Inscribed columns are found in a number of temples in the Greco-Roman world, but the inscriptions on the columns of the Temple of Zeus at Euromos in southwestern Turkey are especially noteworthy. These inscriptions typically note who donated the column! *

* https:// holylandphotos. 2014/ 03/ 11/ inscribed-columns-in-temples-2


v12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God … I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.

Jesus promises to inscribe on these overcomers (pillars):

the name of the Father

the name of New Jerusalem

his own name

These names are marks of identification because they show who we belong to. They are marks of intimacy, because they show we are privileged to know Him in ways others are not. (Guzik)


… I will write on them the name of my God …

“The name of God would be conspicuously recorded on it to show that he belonged to God.

The allusion is to a public edifice, on the columns of which the names of distinguished and honoured persons were recorded; that is, where there is a public testimonial of the respect in which one whose name was thus recorded was held.

The meaning is, that he would be known and recognized as belonging to God; the God of the Redeemer himself - indicated by the phrase, ‘the name of my God.’ ” (Barnes)

… I will write on them … the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem …

“That is, indicating that he belongs to that city, or that the New Jerusalem is the city of his habitation. The idea would seem to be, that in this world, and in all worlds wherever he goes and wherever he abides, he will be recognized as belonging to that holy city; as enjoying the rights and immunities of such a citizen.” (Barnes)

… which is coming down out of heaven from my God …

The New Jerusalem will descend from heaven when Jesus establishes His royal residence on earth (Rev 21:9–27). Hebrews 13:14 points out that believers do not have a permanent residence on earth, but we look forward to living in a permanent one. The permanent city is the New Jerusalem. *

* https:// Revelation/ 3/ Revelation-3-12.html


… and I will also write on them my new name.

The last of the triple inscriptions declares that the victor shall be conspicuously Christ’s. (MacLaren)

What is the new name? Possibly it refers to this passage:

Rev 19:12,16 (NIV) … He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself… On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.

… he who bears the new name of the Lord is thereby designated as eternally belonging to the Lord as though with the Lord’s own signature. (Meyer)


A general exhortation to all who will hear

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

This verse challenges believers once again to heed what the Spirit says to the churches. The corrections, challenges, and promises given to the churches of Asia Minor are appropriate for believers in every period of history. We must not simply read them for our intellectual improvement. Rather, we must read them for our spiritual good. *

* https:// Revelation/ 3/ Revelation-3-13.html

The warnings and promises to these churches contain valuable lessons we can take to heart and apply to our lives.

2 Tim 3:16–17 (NIV) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

We must apply the Word to our lives.

James 1:25 (NIV) But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.


“We all want to hear the praise and encouragement Jesus gave to the church at Philadelphia. If we will be like this church, we must stay on their foundation, which was Jesus’ name and Jesus’ word. We must also depend on their source of strength which was Jesus, not themselves.” (Guzik)

In summary, this letter to Philadelphia is not about the mighty works of great men. It is all about the great help available to those who are weak, but who keep God's Word, who do not deny his name, and who persevere in faith.

Your strength may be small, but Jesus’ strength is without limit. If you remain faithful in trial, Jesus reminds you that he has the key of David, and through him you will always have access to the throne of God.


AUTHOR: Gavin Paynter

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Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http://

Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV: Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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