Revelation 3:7 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;

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.

9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

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.

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 is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.


MEMORY VERSE: And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. —Isaiah 22:22


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Philadelphia, a church that was small in number and faced opposition from both Jews and pagans, but had kept Jesus’ Word and had not denied His name, was promised an open door to proclaim the gospel through the ages, winning power against the troubling religious elements, keeping power from the hour of temptation, stabilizing power in the church of God, and a three-fold inscription of a spiritual name.




Revelation 3:7 “He that is holy”: The Holy One of Israel, a frequent Old Testament name for God; here it is equating Christ with God. “He that is true”: True is a term John commonly used; occurring nine times in the fourth Gospel, four times in John’s First Epistle, and ten times in Revelation.

Revelation 3:9 “I will make them to come and worship before thy feet”: “Most interpreters refer to the Jews. Others explain more generally, of the bowing down of the Church’s enemies at her feet. Trench refers to a passage in the Epistle of Ignatius to this Philadelphian church, implying the actual presence in the midst of it of converts from Judaism, who preached the faith which they once persecuted” (Vincent Word Studies).”




One of the first of the ancient cities which bore the name Philadelphia, this one was established in 189 BC by the Pergamon King Eumenes II, who named it for the love of his brother, Attalus II, who became his successor. Attalus III, the last of the Attalid kings of Pergamon, bequeathed the city to his Roman allies in 133 BC. Philadelphia became part of Asia when the Romans combined the Kingdom of Pergamon with Ionia in 129 BC.

Located southeast of Sardis, Philadelphia was constantly suffering from earthquakes due to its position on the volcanic slopes of Mount Tmolus, and was destroyed along with Sardis in the earthquake of AD 17. The Roman emperor Tiberius rebuilt the cities and relieved them of having to pay taxes. Because of its fertile volcanic soil, the area around Philadelphia was particularly suited for growing grapes. Early coins depict Bacchus, the wine deity. A sixth-century nickname for the town was “Little Athens” due to the many festivals and temples which could be seen there. One can gather that there was heathen opposition in Philadelphia; in the second century twelve Philadelphians were martyred there at the same time as Polycarp of Smyrna.

There was also Jewish opposition. Possibly Jews fleeing the destruction of Jerusalem came to Philadelphia for relief, but gave persecution to the Gentile Christians there. The epistle of Ignatius to Philadelphia spoke of “Judaism as one of their chief dangers. There were men among them who questioned the authority of Gospels and Epistles, and admitted only the Old Testament Scriptures as binding” (Pulpit Commentary).

What was meant by Christ keeping the Philadelphian church from the hour of temptation that would come upon the whole world? F. G. Smith, in Revelation Explained, quoted from Gibbon’s Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire about the longevity of the church at Philadelphia, even through the world-wide rise of Islam and Turkish rule: “The captivity or ruin of the seven churches of Asia was consummated [by the Ottomans] A. D. 1312, and the barbarous lords of Ionia and Lydia still trample on the monuments of classic and Christian antiquity. In the loss of Ephesus the Christians deplore the fall of the first candlestick of the Revelation. The desolation is complete; and the temple of Diana and the church of Mary will equally elude the search of the curious traveler. The circus and three stately theatres of Laodicea are now peopled with wolves and foxes. Sardis is reduced to a miserable village. The God of Mohammed without a rival is invoked in the mosques of Thyatira and Pergamus; and the populousness of Smyrna is supported by the foreign trade of the Franks and Armenians. Philadelphia alone has been saved by prophecy or courage. At a distance from the sea, forgotten by the emperors, encompassed on all sides by the Turks, her valiant sons defended their religion and freedom above fourscore years, and at length capitulated with the proudest of the Ottomans. Among the Greek colonies of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect—a column in a scene of ruins—a pleasing example that the path of honor and safety may sometimes be the same” (Vol. VI., p. 229).

“It held out against the Ottoman power until the year 1390 A. D., when it surrendered to Sultan Bayazid’s mixed army of Ottoman Turks and Byzantine Christians. This was six years after the death of Wycliffe, ‘the morning star of the reformation,’’ who opposed the corruptions of the Papacy, gave the world the first English trans­lation of the Bible, and sowed the seeds that soon grew and produced a Huss, a Jerome, and a Luther. So God preserved the Christians of Philadelphia in the East until He began raising up others to herald His truth in the West, whose labors soon ripened into the glorious Reformation of the Sixteenth Century” (Revelation Explained).

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




  1. The Word of My Patience: What may this mean?
  2. The Key of the House of David: Who has this key, and what prophet foretold this?
  3. The Open Door: After reading Philadelphia’s history, what do you think is meant by this?
  4. The Pillar: What did this mean to Philadelphia, and what does it mean to us?




What an encouraging story of God’s power! When God says, “I will keep you,” He literally means against ALL odds! When He says, “I will keep the door open,” He means just that. But what did He mean by making the overcomer to be a pillar in the temple of God?

Individually and as a community, believers in Christ make up the temple of God, or the church of God, which is the “pillar and ground of the truth” (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 2:20-22). Also, later in the Revelation, Christ is said to be the temple of the New Jerusalem. Here is a precious truth: Christ makes His abode in us; we are His habitation through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. But we also dwell and abide in Him!

And he shall no more go out. He speaks of permanence and of strength, as foreshadowed by two pillars in Solomon’s temple (II Chronicles 3:17) named Jachin (He shall establish) and Boaz (In it is strength). Here is our eternal security. As long as we are abiding in Him and He in us, we shall no more vacillate between sin and serving God. That can be the child of God’s experience in this life; and in the eternal abode, even the possibility of going “out” is permanently closed. No more temptation, no tests, no trials, no tribulation.

The triple inscription. Oh, Lord of glory, help us to more fully comprehend and experience what it means for You to write your Father’s Name upon us! To be completely owned by Him and possessed by Him! To bear His image and His seal! And to have the name of Your New Jerusalem, which also is “The Lord our righteousness” (Jeremiah 33:16), “The Lord is there” (Ezekiel 48:35), “Zion,” “The faithful city,” “The holy city,” “City of truth,” “Bride of Christ,” and never the designation of fallen, apostate religion, the “mark of the beast”!

It is becoming a pattern as we read in these epistles that whatever Christ is, that is what He makes us; He causes us to be partakers with Him. He was highly exalted with glory and honor after His submission and obedience to the cross, upon His ascension; and given a name which is above every name (Philippians 2:8, 9). Now He promises this glory (John 17:22) and this new name to every overcomer. Let us also endure the cross that we too might ascend with Him to gates of glory!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck




What a blessing it is when the Lord Jesus sets before us an open door, whether it be a door of knowledge and understanding or a door of opportunity! In the 24th chapter of Luke we read of two of Jesus’ disciples journeying toward Emmaus, on the day of His resurrection, confused, bewildered, and discussing the news of the day. “And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them” (Verse 15). At length, “their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Verses 31-32).

In Acts 16:14 we read of Lydia, woman of Thyatira, “whose heart the Lord opened.” Are there any attitudes or actions on our part that would cause the Lord to be inclined to open doors or to shut them on our behalf? Evidently, Christ set an open door before the church in Philadelphia because they had been strong, kept His Word, and not denied His name. Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).

On the other hand, we read in 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 of those who, “because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved…God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” To such the door of opportunity, knowledge, and salvation is shut.

It is imperative that we earnestly “seek” and “knock” at the appropriate time. “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). The five foolish virgins failed to get in earnest enough about what was available to them until “the door was shut.” Then, they came crying, “Lord, Lord, open to us,” but it was too late. Likewise, in the days of Noah, when God shut the door of the ark, no man was able to open it and enter. Christ has set before us an open door: “… Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Let us take full advantage of our opportunity.

—Bro. Harlan Sorrell