Revelation #10 Revelation 3:7-13 (MSG) End Time Dilemma, The Need to Endure


Revelation #10 Revelation 3:7-13  (MSG)  End Time Dilemma, The Need to Endure

Ephesus the spirit is judgmental. Smyrna is in danger of giving in. Pergamum infected with a spirit of compromise. Thyatira tolerates false teachers. Sardis looks alive but is spiritually apathetic to the point of being spiritually dead, hypocrisy is the problem. Jesus' message: Are you awake? Are you listening? You are in a war for your soul. Now Jesus turns His attention to the congregation in the city of Philadelphia.  Not Philadelphia Pennsylvania by the way.

The city of Philadelphia was an agricultural area noted for its vineyards, so it is not surprising the patron God is Dionysus.  Dionysus is the Greek god of wine. The city conducted a yearly festival called Bacchanalia known for wild dancing, drinking, and sexual activity.  The city is also on a major trade route, its nickname was “Gateway to the East.”  The city was prosperous. Jesus is impressed with how well the congregation was serving the Kingdom. 

Revelation 3:7-13 (MSG)

Write this to Philadelphia, to the Angel of the church. The Holy, the True—David's key in his hand, opening doors no one can lock, locking doors no one can open—speaks:

8 "I see what you've done. Now see what I've done. I've opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don't have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn't deny me when times were rough.

9 "And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan—watch as I strip off their pretensions and they're forced to acknowledge it's you that I've loved.

10 "Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I'll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test.

11 "I'm on my way; I'll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown.

12 "I'll make each conqueror a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, a permanent position of honor. Then I'll write names on you, the pillars: the Name of my God, the Name of God's City—the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven—and my new Name.

13 "Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches."

Jesus introduces himself to the congregation as the Holy and True the holder of David’s key. In Jewish culture, the Holy One is the title for God, for Yahweh (Isaiah 65:16). The true one can be understood to mean genuine, the real deal, the real Messiah.  The Greek word translated as truth means that which is real as opposed to that which is unreal. Jesus is reality.  This reference may give us insight into Jewish opposition to the congregation, who stood the party line that Jesus was a false Messiah. Holy and True means that Jesus has been set apart to carry out His messianic mission (Mounce, p 116). The Key of David refers to Jesus’ lineage, He is a son of David, and having the key is a way of indicating that Jesus has undisputed authority to admit or exclude from what we will read later on in the Revelation is called New Jerusalem (Isaiah 22:22. Mounce, p. 116). That Jesus allows people into the Kingdom may be contrasted to the local Synagogue being only able to excommunicate people.  Jesus lets people in, and all anti-Christ positions keep people out. Access to God was through Judaism, but now it is through Jesus. In John 10:9 Jesus refers to himself as the door, the gate, for His sheep. Despite what the opposition may say only Jesus has “absolute and exclusive power to give entrance to or exclude from His Father’s Kingdom” (Ladd, p.59).

The congregation in Philadelphia might have been small, it might have been poor, and it was most likely not very influential, so their activities in evangelism didn’t stir up a lot of hate and discontent among the pagans.  But the Jews on the other hand were oppressive. Even though the believers don’t have much strength, much power, they haven’t let that stop them from doing the work of the Kingdom. The work of the Kingdom is bringing God’s reign to earth, we pray thy will be done on earth, those who have bent the knee to Jesus are to do this work.  Preaching the gospel, teaching the Bible, making disciples, and serving others are all activities involved in bringing God’s will for justice and righteousness to earth. The believers in this congregation are commended for their work.

These brothers and sisters also have been dealing with persecution.  To what extent we do not know but they went through a rough time according to Jesus and they stayed true, they passed the test.  Most likely opposition in the Synagogue to this Jesus Messiah cult led many believers to be shown the door, they were excommunicated from the community.   The door was closed to them. Because of the stalwart Jews, Jesus identifies them as members of Satan’s club, a synagogue of Satan. In the gospel of John, Jesus rebukes the crowd and tells them: “You're from your father, the Devil, and all you want to do is please him. He was a killer from the very start. He couldn't stand the truth because there wasn't a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies” (John 8:44 (MSG). The dualism that John employs again places a person in one of two camps, those who believe and belong to Jesus, and those who refuse to believe and belong the Satan, the Devil, the Liar, the Murder, the Accuser, or simply the Adversary. Jesus names them non-Jews, for if they truly were Abraham’s children, they would not have rejected Him.  You certainly can understand the animosity that exists even to this day between Judaism and Christianity.

The Jews shut the door for communion with God to believers, and Jesus opened the door to all who bend their knee to His Lordship

The apostle Paul writes some interesting things about Christians and Jews. 

Romans 2:28-29 (MSG)

Don't you see: It's not the cut of a knife that makes a Jew. You become a Jew by who you are. It's the mark of God on your heart, not of a knife on your skin, that makes a Jew.


For the stalwart Jew, circumcision was a must. Paul says it’s just outward, not inward.  If faith does not manifest in works you may be in the same boat as the Jews who reject the Messiah.


Galatians 6:16 (MSG)

All who walk by this standard [the cross of Christ] are the true Israel of God—his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them!


It is not who your mom and dad are that makes you right with God.  It is not some ritual that makes you right with God, saying the sinners pray, for instance, rather it is following Jesus. You walk the walk, this is the sign that you are one of God’s chosen people.


In Ephesians (2:11-16) Paul tells us that Jesus has made the two groups one.


There is only one “people of God.”  Those who have committed their lives to be a slave of Jesus are those who will be recognized as such.


In Colossians (3:10-11) Paul tells us that anyone who has believed is being renewed in the knowledge and image of the Creator.


Then in Romans 11Paul indicates that his Jewish brothers and sisters will eventually be saved.


So we have a mystery about the future of unbelieving Jews or is Jesus telling the Philadelphia Christians that there will come a time when these non-messianic Jews will acknowledge that they were wrong and the Christians and Messianic Jews were correct? Would Christians have found solace in Isaiah 60:14? “The sons of those who oppressed you shall come bending low to you, and all who despised you shall bow down at your feet."  If so, we should consider this as a recognition of Truth on the part of those who refuse to acknowledge Jesus as Lord.


In case you are wondering what the difference is between a Christian and a Messianic Jew, the only difference is lineage.  Christians are from a gentile lineage.  Messianic Jews are those who believe in Jesus as Messiah and are from a Jewish lineage.


Those who refused to believe threw those who did believe out of their fellowship, out of their place of worship. There will come a time when those who rejected Christ and who should have known better will acknowledge that those, they persecuted were right. (Isaiah 49:23, Romans 11:23 & 26). In this acknowledgment, will they repent and believe?  The Apostle Paul hopes that they can be grafted back into the Kingdom (Romans 11:23).

Jesus promises the congregation that having persevered during their testing, they will persevere when the whole world is subject to trials.  Since they endured patiently the trials put on them by the Jews, they will have the experience necessary to endure what is coming (John 17:15). When we consider Jesus, His endurance becomes our model for living through rough times. We endure by looking to Jesus embracing His attitude revealed to us in Hebrews 12:1-2 which reads “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross despising the same.”  In the rough times find strength in the promises of what is coming. Consider the rewards Jesus has promised to the overcomers. Don’t think for a moment that Jesus doesn’t care what you are dealing with, that He somehow doesn’t understand, pain and suffering and loss for He has suffered, and he can help those who are suffering now to endure (Hebrews 2:18). If you want greater power to endure, get closer to Jesus.

Christians need to endure because there is a time of testing that is coming to the whole world.  The purpose of the test is to discern if you know the truth or not. Those who know the truth will hold to the faith. The time of testing we will read about as we proceed further in our study, involves natural disasters, violence, war, economic collapse, and a greater hostility towards believers.

It's best to understand coming quickly as not a chronological reference in the sense of a short time, but rather as a prophetic fact that it will come to pass. When the time has come, the overcomer will be a pillar in the Temple of God.  If you are a pillar you are a source of strength, support, and guidance.  You are reliable, dependable, and trustworthy. You are a person who can be counted on no matter what. Being made a pillar is a recognition of the importance of your contribution to bringing God’s salvation to humanity. 

Upon you, the pillar, Jesus is going to write the name of His Father and His city and with the new name that Jesus will be known by. The overcomer’s ownership by God, the overcomer’s citizenship in New Jerusalem, and the overcomer’s special intimate knowledge of Jesus will be on display. (Numbers 6:22-27)  

The revelation is revealing Jesus.  From this message to the congregation in Philadelphia, we learn that Jesus is the open door to salvation. We learn that we can trust Jesus with our lives and with our future. Within him resides all reality. We learn that when we feel as if we are being overcome we can rely on Jesus’ strength to endure and get us through the rough times.  We learn that Jesus shares his victory granting any overcomer a permanent place in the Kingdom of God.

Here's what you can apply to your life right now.  To endure the rough times, get closer to Jesus.  The oft-neglected means of getting closer to Jesus is the daily practice of the 7 habits of a disciple.  As you read and study scripture, as you pray, request, intercede, and listen, as you allow fellowship to sharpen you as iron sharpens iron, as you use your gifts to serve others, as you obey the commands of God and the teachings of Jesus, as you, as you celebrate what God has blessed you with, giving Him His due as the giver of life and resources and protection, and as you allow yourself to be open and honest, willing to learn, willing to be corrected, through your contemplation, you will draw closer to Jesus. The closer, the more intimate you become with Jesus, the more power you will have to endure the testing that is here now and becoming more intense.




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