Verse 5 (continued): Though Jesus assures overcomers He will not remove their names from this list, His words imply the threat that the names of those who are not overcomers will be removed. The clear meaning of this verse is that the names of those who fail to continue in obedience and faith over the course of their lifetime can and will be removed. Overcomers have nothing to fear, but those who have soiled their garments do. Verse 5 (continued): In the final statement of this verse Jesus again declares Himself to be the one who decides a persons eternal destiny. Not only does He manage the book of life, but on judgment day He will be the one who will confess the names of those who were faithful before the Father and His angels. His words remind us of the statement in Matthew 10:32, 33, Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. Luke reports a similar statement in which Jesus promised to confess the one who is loyal to Him before the angels of God (Lk 12:8, 9). By referring to the angels the Lord is expanding our view of the heavenly courtroom so we can see the angels who will be present to witness the judgment. In either case (Mt 10:32, 33 or Lk 12:8, 9) His words present an unmistakable ultimatum: He will deny those who deny Him (2Ti 2:12).
Revelation 3:6, 7
Verse 6: Those willing to listen still have time to repent, and those who repent will be forgiven their past failures and restored. The Lords warnings are blunt and frightening because they are designed to alarm the dull hearts of those who are complacent in Sardis in the hope that they will repent. Verse 7: Philadelphia was a small city at the upper end of a broad river valley about 38 miles southeast of Sardis. It lay at the junction of the interior trade route and a major highway leading east to Pisidian Antioch. The area was fertile farmland following the course of the river northwest through Sardis and then branching down to the sea near Smyrna (M.J.S. Rudwick in The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, ed., Erdmans, 1971, p. 982). The citys name means brotherly love. It was founded in the second century B.C. by a king who had a brother so loyal he called him philadelphus (Rudwick).
Verse 7 (continued): Jesus introduces Himself to the church as the one who is holy, the one who is true, the one having the key of David, the one opening and no one shall shut and shutting and no one opens (literal). The word holy describes His sinless character and divine nature. The word true in a Hebrew context particularly means trustworthy. We use the word this way when we speak of a true friend. And by having the key of David He declares Himself to be the promised son of David or Messiah who will grant and deny access into Gods eternal kingdom. Verse 7 (continued): Throughout the Old Testament there is a theme that reflects the expectation that God would some day send a Savior to restore people back to that full level of relationship which Adam and Eve enjoyed before they sinned. In fact, the first glimpse of this hope was given in the garden of Eden even before the man and woman were driven out. God promised that the seed of the woman would some day bruise the serpents head (Ge 3:15). As the centuries passed this promise was restated in many ways until around 1000 B.C. when God revealed that this Savior would be a descendant of David (2Sa 7:8-17; Ac 2:29-31). From that point on the name and family of David became closely associated with this hope. So much so that in some places in Scripture the coming Messiah is called David (Jer 30:9; Eze 34:23, 24; 37:24-27; Hos 3:5).
Verse 7 (continued): This background explains the New Testament usage of the term son of David (Mt 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 21:9; 22:41-45; Lk 18:35-39) and it also explains the phrase key of David (Rev 3:7). Apparently, the church in Philadelphia, like the church in Smyrna (Rev 2:9), had faced great opposition from members of the local synagogue (Rev 3:9). This may have included physical and financial persecution, but it certainly included theological debate about Jesus claims to be Messiah. In light of this, His claim to hold the key of David was bold affirmation that He is indeed the true Messiah, and contains a warning to those who oppose Him. Faith in Him is the key which opens the door to Gods eternal kingdom. No one can prevent those He welcomes from entering, nor can anyone enter without His welcome (Jn 5:22-29).
Verse 8: Having just told this church that He is the one who will welcome or deny people entry into Gods eternal kingdom (Jn 10:7-9), Jesus now tells them, I have put before you an opened door which no man can shut
. His words may contain a promise for their present circumstances as well as their eternal destiny. What makes this so, is the word because. He says He has already placed before them an opened door because He knows their deeds. They are being rewarded for having done three things: 1) You have little power, meaning the Holy Spirit was still at work among them unlike Sardis (Rev 3:2) and Laodicea (Rev 3:17); 2) You kept My word, meaning they had earnestly tried to obey His commands (Jn 15:7, 14); and 3) you did not deny My name, meaning they had remained loyal to Him in the face of trial. Because of these three things the Lord says He will reward them with an open door. In their present circumstances this open door may be the opportunity to do effective evangelism (Ac 14:27; 1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12; Col 4:3, 4). And its possible the next verse tells us who some of those will be who come to Christ.
Verse 9: The literal rendering of the Greek in this verse reveals an interesting possibility. It says, Behold, I may give (some) out of the synagogue
behold, I will make them so that they will come and worship before your feet and know that I loved you. Jesus may be telling the church in Philadelphia that some of the Jews in the local synagogue who had been so hostile to Him would have a remarkable change of heart. The churchs faithfulness had kept its evangelistic capacity alive and they would be rewarded by having some of their most unlikely opponents humble themselves and confess Jesus as Messiah. Verse 9 (continued): This verse can also be seen as a promise looking forward to the return of Christ for it is certainly true that when He returns those who rejected Him will be forced to acknowledge their error. In a reverse of one of the great events of the Messianic Age, instead of just Gentiles humbling themselves before the Jews in order to worship the God of Israel (Isa 45:14; 49:22, 23; 60:14), unbelieving Jews, like these in Philadelphia, will be among those who humble themselves before the Lords disciples (both Jews and Gentiles) to acknowledge that Jesus is the true Messiah (Zec 12:10-13:1).
Verse 10: Believers in Philadelphia will be gloriously vindicated at the arrival of the Messianic Age, but Jesus tells them He will also protect them in the immediate future. He says a widespread hour of testing will arrive soon. This likely refers to another episode of persecution by the Roman government. Religious persecutions took place sporadically during Johns lifetime (he died about A.D. 100), particularly during the reigns of Nero (54-68) and Domitian (81-96). In the Roman system the provincial governor had a great deal of influence so the intensity of persecution varied from region to region. In the latter half of the first century Christianity ceased to be a legally recognized religion. In its early years it was widely thought to be a sect of Judaism, which was a protected religion, but as the rift between Judaism and Christianity grew deeper, Christianity ceased to be identified with Judaism. This exposed it to open hostility from the Roman government as well as local authorities. The warning we saw earlier given to the church in Smyrna (Rev 2:10) may point to the same approaching crisis since the two cities were only about 80 miles apart. However, the Lord told Smyrna to faithfully endure what they were about to suffer, but He told Philadelphia they would be spared from the trouble that would afflict most of the churches in the region.