February 17, 2018

Gems in Revelation - Part 132


Gems in the book of Revelation

Part 132 - Revelation 3:12
The city of the name

The ‘gem’ is in the promise that ends the letter following the words ‘to the one who is victorious’. Here is the rest of the letter :

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. 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.

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.

Names are important in the letter to Philadelphia. People are named for one of 3 reasons:
i) the parents liked the name, the way it sounds or some association it brings to their minds;
ii) it is a family name handed down through the generations - though that may be a trap as some names may go very out of fashion, for example someone who ought to be call Euphemia, a very old fashioned and clumsy name in our culture, may be called Effie for a generation or two and then that is boiled down to Fay, a much nicer sounding name;
iii) the name may be given to express the character and personality of the person.
All 3 can be found in the Bible but the important one for our purposes is the last, the name that expresses personality and character.

To start with the name of the city is significant, phila = love and delphia = brother, so brotherly love.

The small Christian community in the city did not enjoy brotherly relations with the Jewish community. The latter would have been a large and respected part of the city with many good buildings, big houses and a well understood part in the community including non-participation in some activities because of their belief in one god. The Christians would probably have been only a few dozen strong and from the poorer section of the society with no great respect shown to them.

So their problems were not with the pagan groups as in most of the cities that received letters but with the ancient people of God who they were always trying to convince should now be setting out to follow a convicted criminal Jew! Hence the talk about keys of David “ 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.” (referring to a new leader of the people; Isaiah 22:22) etc. They had survived and done more than just survive - they had used what strength they had well and earned the promise that they would be kept from further trials.

As a result they are told they will be pillars in ‘the temple of my God’, bearing the names of the great city of the new heaven and the new earth, the name of God and the new name of Jesus. That is a promise that all the power and personality of the triune God will somehow be theirs. That is a tremendous promise to them - and to us. That makes it well worth persevering in our walk with Jesus even if we have but little strength. It is not necessary to be a member of some great and famous church. A little struggling church will do provided it has ‘kept my word and not denied my name’.

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