The Seven Letters Philadelphia.

The Seven Letters Philadelphia.


Pr Edi Giudetti

Introduction

What’s in a Name?

  • We come to the sixth of the seven Churches of Revelation
  • The Sixth historical Church in which a letter written is given to present to the angel of the Church of Philedelphia.
  • The Sixth Church in the physical circuit as taken from Patmos, where John was, through first to Ephesus, then Smyrna, Then Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis and now to Philadelphia before concluding in Laodicea. 
  • Philadelphia also representing the Sixth Church Period of history to date, a period dominated by the Gospel and missionary zeal around the worldthrough which we today remain the beneficiaries. The Philadelphian Church type followed the Reformation periodidentified by the Church of Sardis, where nothing good was reported by the Lord. It precedes the last Church period, that identified well by the Church of Laodiceawhere again, nothing good is spoken of by the Lord.
  • Philadelphia also represents the Sixth type of Christian that may find himself in any of the types of Churches noted before
  • And we will find in our final summary of the Seven Churches that, Philadelphia may be identified as the sixth stage a Christian might go through in his walk with the Lord.

Each of these Churches are named in Scripture, and each have a name that identifies the type of Church they were (We will speak more to this in that summary Sermon in a couple of weeks). 

Why are names so important in the Bible?

We have come to understand that every name in history actually has significance. People were often named prophetically, named by their nature (Nebal = Fool), some desired their names to change in line with their circumstances (Naomi = My Bliss or Pleasantness desired her name changed to Marah = Bitter)

Today we don’t name our Children names in accord with meaning but with that which is practical, traditional or pleasurable to the ear.

The City of Philadelphia had several names, this was the first name. Today it has a new name and we will talk about that soon.

Those who are born again are going to be given new names. The name you have now is that which you began life with and was given after your birth by those who gave you lifeand claimed you as their own. One day, that will change, a new name will be given youby the one who brought you into eternal life, who even now claims you as his own.

Who is he? 

He is the name above all namesthat was himself promised to come into this world to seek and to save that which is Lost. 

He is the name most recognised this time of year particularly. His name is the name most loved in all the world most especially by those who have been saved from their sin through this same name.  

The Name Apart From All Names

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 

Revelation 3:7


It is Jesus Christ that authors a letter to be given to the Church in Philadelphia. He was revealed first in Chapter one of Revelation. 

It is The Revelation of Jesus Christ, it is the unveiling of Christ, also known as The Apocalypse Of Christ (Apocalypse means That which was hidden no revealed)

And how indeed he reveals himself in the introduction of each letter to each Church and he does so here;

These things saith he that is holy, he that is true. These two identifiersset Christ apart from all else that is not Holy and Not true.

The words are given in a phrase that demonstrates distinction.

These things saith he that is holy; The author wants the recipient of the Letter to know that the writer is not like those that surround him, the authorities of the City are not holy, the Emperors of the nation are not HOLY, the Dionysian gods worshipped in the Acropolis are NOT HOLY, but nor are they even TRUE.

These things saith he that is holy, he that is true. Truth always denies error and Christ is True, he sets his name apart from all namesin that very distinction. No matter how hard the world tries to turn the attention of its subjects away from this name, it will always remain trueand it will always remain distinct from that which is false.

It was in Bible College, that I first learned of the incoming reference of the years before and after Christ as being changed. Changed by force through the institutions of ‘Education’, but more rightly called ‘Indoctrination’, that the two thousand years of historical referencingwould change from BC (Before Christ) and AD (Ano Domani ‘Year of our Lord) to BCE (Before “Common” Era) and CE (Common Era).

What was the Bible College complicit in doing? Removing the name above all names from our historical referencing. 

But what can it never actually do? 

Remove the reason for the referencing

Every year that ticks over references back ONLY to Christ and to no other. They change the name to teach a lie through obfuscation, but Jesus is TRUE and sets himself always apart.

An incredible picture that was first foreshadowed in Isaiah chapter 22 

These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;


Revelation 3:7

Today as well as in days gone by, those with many possessions, carry with them many keys. In days gone by this would be seen as somewhat of a status symbol. 

Anything of value had a key under which it was kept, and only those in authority possessed the keys. If a key was ever delegated it would only be delegated ultimately by the owner of that thing of value.

To have the Key of David the King is to have the keys to the Kingdom of the King.

Our passage telling us that it is Christ who opens that which no man can shut and shuts that which no man can open.

Just before the flood that came upon all the earth as a judgement upon all the Earth, it was the Lord that shut the door to the ark and none could anymore enter in.

And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.

Genesis 7:16

120 Years did Noah, a preacher of righteousness, build the ark against that day. For 120 years the men of the world had, as a witness against them, that which would preserve only a few through what would come upon all the Earth. 

For 120 years the door was open, but when the Lord shut him in, no man again did open.

Turn to Luke 13:23-25

23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, 24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:

Eternity is a door through which man must enter in while it is open, there will be a time that it shall shutfor all people, and no man will open. 

Today, the door that is open is identified by life, when life ends the door is shut

We all know we will die, but none of us know when. For all we know about the immanency of death, it will still come upon each one of us unexpectedly, and the door will be shut. 

To enter the door of eternal life now, you must believe the Gospel now.

The Name Accepted Above All Names

8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 

Revelation 3:8

Philadelphia, at the time of the writing of this letter was a small city with a small population, not much more than Sunbury today, It had a “little strength”. 

It suffered greatly during the horrific earthquake of AD17. Not only was much destroyed, but unlike every other city, it suffered great aftershocks and tremors for years to come. 

The ancient historian Strabo wrote, in a.d.20. 

Beyond the Lydians are the Mysians and the city of Philadelphia, full of earthquakes, for the walls never cease being cracked, and different parts of the city are constantly suffering damage. That is why the actual town has few inhabitants, but the majority live as farmers in the countryside, as they have fertile land. But one is surprised even at the few, that they are so fond of the place when they have such insecure dwellings.[1]

But it was the effectual gateway to all the major cities around it. It was itself an “Open Door”.

Not only via a trade route, but it developed a postal route that enabled communications throughout the region for one purpose, to bring about the new Greek culture after Alexander.

Sir William Ramsay identifies it as a Missionary City from the beginning.

“The intention of its founder (Philedelphia) was to make it a centre of the Græco-Asiatic civilisation and a means of spreading the Greek language and manners in the eastern parts of Lydia and in Phrygia. It was a missionary city from the beginning, founded to promote a certain unity of spirit, customs, and loyalty within the realm, the apostle of Hellenism in an Oriental land.[2]

As a result, the Lidian language, which was the prevailing language for many hundreds of years, was all but extinct before the first century AD.

Then, during what was known as the Pax Romana (The Peace of Rome), safe roads where built and Philadelphia became the gateway of the Gospel for the region. 

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it:

The “Open Door” the Lord had set was that which would enter into eternal life through their ministry. 

Why them? What made the Church of Philadelphia more adapt at loving the people around them enough to tell them of the Good News of how to escape damnation for sin?

for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

The Churches strength was not great, certainly not by numbers, it was a small city with a small church, BUT it hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

The Church believed the word of God and kept it, they did not sway like most churches, they did not compromise with the culture that surrounded them, with the Gods of the land. 

Only Smyrna, the persecuted Church spoken of earlier, and Philadelphia are given a perfect report card. 

They did not deny the Lord by Compromise.

They believed the Gospel and lived as if it was true, they ACCEPTED THE NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES, they hast not denied my name.They willingly attested the Name of the Saviour to all people. 

They simply preached….; 

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. 

Acts 4:12

Not through Dionesies, not through Apollos, not through any of the pagan gods, not by Mohamed, not by Brahma, not by Buddha, not by Krishna, not by any other false deity can any be saved,but by Christ. 

Incredibly, none of these even offer Salvation, all of them speak of the infinitely impossible works that man must do to enter into eternal life and even then, its left unsure, like a house that will fall in the slightest tremor, people remain in fear of eternal damnation all their lives long.

But Christ was promised to come, to be born as a man even from the very time of the fall of man, God knew man could not save himself. 

This is the season called Christmas many remember it, but the  Philadelphians lived their lives in remembrance of it;

“… when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

Gal 4:4-5

Him they preached, they did not deny his name by keeping him quiet. The City of Brother Love, preached the Love of Christ who’s very purpose in being born into this world was to come to seek and to save that which was lost. (Lk 19:10)

Bro Phillip was telling me this week of a woman coming up to a Hare Krishna in Sunbury this week telling him, “Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no man cometh to the father but by him!”

The man was preaching of a false way, a false Gospel, he himself needed to be saved and both she and Phillip loved him enough to both rebuke him and show him the way everlasting. 

They would not deny his name and behaved as the Philadelphian of old.

When something happens that blesses you that you know God’s hand was clearly evident, and someone ascribes it to Luck, do you correct them?Or by your silence, do you deny his name?

When the Lord prompts you to speak of the hope you have to another person, will you preach of the Name above all Names or will you pull back in silence?

The Philadelphians loved both Christ and the people around them, they demonstrated that by their actions. The Lord Knew their works just like he knows yours and mine.

Every Church likes to be identified with the Church of Philadelphia, yet so few even preach the Gospel even in the safety of their pulpits let alone to the contentions of the street.

Let me make something very clear, what makes a church likened to that of the Philadelphian Church is its members actions in sharing the Gospel. Are you all missionaries at heart? 

If so, you may be counted among the number.

The Name Encouraged to Keep

10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 

Revelation 3:10

There is something you and I look forward to at the end of every working week, some at the end of each fortnight, some at the end of each month. No guessing what it is.

It’s good to receive the wages of our efforts, to be paid by our employer for the work we have dedicated to during the period we have endured. 

Beloved, while we are here we endure life, but what makes life worth enduring is all that we see in that wonderful book of books.

I can’t imagine life without the Bible anymore, I honestly don’t know how I ever lived without knowing what it says and all that it teaches. It is the greatest book on Earth and it gives to me the very purpose and meaning of my life,how to live it, the wisdom to understand life and the incredible rewards of life.

And when we keep it, when we believe it enough to live in it, the joy we bring to our lives and to the lives of those around us is reward enough…but no, the Lord gives more.

 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

There are wages of a different sort however, one that will be repaid in full to those who deny the hope the Lord died for. This passage speaks of a time unique historically;

I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation

Daily life is filled with trials and temptations, tribulations and difficulties, nothing unique about it, nothing that should stand apart in reference to time than any other time.

I also will keep thee from the hour

What separates this passage from that which is the norm is an ‘hour’ separated from any other hour. It’s a time period distinct, one that stands apart from others.

Many commentators who’s desire it is to deny what the Bible teaches respecting the Great Tribulation and the catching up of every born-again believer, what is known as “The Rapture of the Church”prior to that time; they look to this verse and attempt to link it to the ‘everyday’. 

But that denies the simple syntax of the words, the words clearly refer to a specific period of time, the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world

They also ignore the motive for that specific period, the very reason it is separated from any other normal time period;to try them that dwell upon the earth.

If this passage referred to the ongoing continuous day to day life of testing and trials, why the need to add a short and temporary time reference? And to what end is the specific encouragement? 

The sinners of the world who continually reject the Lord will increase in evil and wickedness, we are seeing that happen right before our eyes this very day.

Queensland just deceptively approved Abortion to Birth Bill and an “Any reason to abort a child up to 22 weeks” That obviously includes Sex Selective Abortion. 

We cant just be thinking this is Queensland, the article states; The “Termination of Pregnancy Bill 2018 is almost a mirror image of the Victorian abortion law passed in 2008”[3]

That is JUST ONE of the most evil directions of our own nation today. 

The wages of sin will be rewarded and it will come upon the world as a thief in the night.

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Please note that the phrase keep thee from the hour of temptation does not say “keep thee THROUGH the hour of temptation” most commentators who teach this again ignore the juxtaposition of to try them that dwell upon the earth.

The “keeping” separates spatially from them that dwell upon the earth.

Beloved the passage refers to the Church in Heaven kept specifically for a time. A temporary period that has been set aside in Gods calendar for thousands of years and put off only for the sake of the mystery of the Church, that the gentiles would be saved. 

But when the fullness of the Gentiles come in, the Lord will lift the blindness of Israel and again begin dealing with them (See Romans 11:25)

Turn to Isaiah 26:20-21

Did you ever think to see the Rapture In the Old Testament? This is a fascinating passage I have not heard and answer for by those who deny the Bibles teaching of a pre-tribulational removal of the Church:

Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

Just as Righteous Lotwas removed before the destruction of Sodom, so too will righteous Philadelphia be kept from the hour of trial that shall come upon them that dwell upon the  earth. Not permanently, but to hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 

There is an urgency to the Gospel that the Philadelphian Church knew and lived, an urgency that could not simply wait for a more convenient time, people need to know NOW, the Lord will come quickly, we have no idea when, but when he comes what will he find you doing?

There is only an option of 2 things you will be doing;

  1. You will either be growing in your love for the world, the salvation of others you will not care much for, or;
  2. You will grow in your love for the Lord and the Gospel you will live for.

THERE IS NO STATUS QUO, you will always be moving in one direction or another.  

Kept Secure For A New Name

12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God,which isnew Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: andI will write upon himmy new name. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Revelation 3:12-13

It was Attalus II., 159–138 b.c. that the name Philadelphia is derived from. He was the brother of the King of the land. His devotion and loyalty earned him the epithet Philodelphus by his brother King Eumenus, who named the City after him. 

And hence what we have come to know as the name representing The City of Brotherly Love.

We forget that it is the Lord who knows the end from the beginning that orchestrates the events and peoples of the world for his purpose. 

The name of this city, just like the names of all the cities in this passage, is not a coincidence, it was given purposefully.

12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God,

The City is no longer called Philadelphia. It was in the 14thcentury that it was finally overcome by the Islamic invaders with the Christians vanquished from the land or destroyed and a new name was given to it.

The new name given the City is Alashehir, that is, “The City of God“.

Him that overcometh will I make a pillarin the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out:

Its an interesting phrase considering the nature of the area, the land shaking so often by tremors and earthquakes, the people always went out from under the heavy buildings during Quakes, but here the Lord says Him that overcometh will I make a pillarin the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out:

There is the greatest security and assurance in Christ. Those who are saved by him are kept by him, they are preserved and the passage is near completion as he states; and I will write upon him my new name.

Jesus was named before he came into the world, his name means Saviour. Jesus has many names, but we will always know him as Jesus, Saviour, it was his name from the beginning and it was given aforetime to show his purpose and what he will do when he came.

Luke 19:10 the Lord himself says “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost”

The vast majority of the people of the world do not know they are Lost. You don’t begin to look to be found until you know you are lost.

Jesus came to seek and to save that which is Lost. 

Today not even the time which traditionally celebrates his coming into the world, desires to acknowledge it. But he did come, he came to seek and to save ….you!

He sought me more than 22 years ago and I was found of him and he saved me and changed my state from one of an enemy of God, to one saved and adopted by him. 

I was savedbecause someone that was a part of the Church of Philadelphia type, prayed for me to be saved;

And anotherfrom the same type of Church at the time, shared the Gospel with me;

And twelve yearslater a man from that Philadelphian Church type was given a stage and told me I was sinner before a holy God and could never hope to be in heaven with God in that state. 

Then finally, there was another man a few months later who also seemed to be from there, preached the Gospel again to me and I decided to believe it and I was freed.

No more will sin claim my soul, no more with hell prevail against me, death has lost its sting and the grave has lost its victory all because some people, complete strangers to me,came with the same purpose as that which motivated the Church of Philadelphia, and I eventually made the choice to believe the Gospel.

I the LORD search the heart, try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.  

Jeremiah 17:10

Jesus is going to give me a new name, I don’t yet know what it will be, but it will perfectly suit who I will become by the end of my life. It will represent perfectly my life in Christ for all to see.

I tell you what I don’t want to be called? I don’t want to be called anything that represents my life today, I am praying that the Lord will continue to work in my life that my new name would better represent my joy in what he has done for me.

May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”

The Moravian Church dominated the Churchage after the reformation, it taught Baptists to preach the gospel, it taught Methodists to preach the Gospel, it taught Lutherans to preach the Gospel to all nations. They began the work of missions in earnest and in twenty years sent out more missionaries around the world than all the reformation Churches did in two hundred years. 

Though the Moravians themselves where identified as part of the Reformation, their beginning precedes it by almost a century. And their way of life and trust in the Gospel well reflects a line that can be drawn all the way back to church of Philadelphia.

During the eighteenth century, approximately one out of every 60 members of the Moravian church was serving as a missionary in a cross-cultural context. Scores of Moravian brothers and sisters literally giving up their lives and leaving behind their comforts for the spread of the gospel around the world. The story is told of two particular Moravian men who decided to sell themselves into slavery in order to reach unreached slaves in the West Indies. They sold themselves into slavery! And as they boarded the slave ship, these two men were said to have cried, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!”[4]

The Philadelphian Church was small, of little power, but it was faithful to the work of Christ and it did the work for which Jesus came into the world and for which he died. 


[1]Colin J. Hemer, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia in Their Local Setting, (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.; Livonia, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; Dove Booksellers, 2001), 156. (Citing Strabo 13.4.10 = p. 628)

[2]W. M. Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia and Their Place in the Plan of the Apocalypse, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1904), 391–392.

[3]https://www.cherishlife.org.au/resources/media-releases/abortion-bill-report-flawed-by-rushed-process-bias-and-censorship

[4]David Platt, David Platt Sermon Archive, 2012, 3615.


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