Revelation 3:7-13 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. How does the Lord Jesus introduce Himself to the church in Philadelphia? See Revelation 3:7a (printed below)

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: This is what the one who is holy, the one who is true, the one who holds the key of David, the one who opens and no one can shut, the one who shuts and no one can open… (Revelation 3:7)

In introducing Himself to the church in Philadelphia, the Lord Jesus declares that He is “the one who is holy, the one who is true.” That is to say, He is a just and righteous God; faithful to reward and honor those who are faithful to Him (cp. 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7).

2. Whom does the Lord Jesus describe as “the synagogue of Satan?” What does He say about them? See Revelation 3:9 (printed below)

Listen; I will cause those who belong to the synagogue of Satan, those who claim to be Jews, but they are not, they are lying—I will cause them to come and bow down at your feet and know that I have loved you. (Revelation 3:9)

“The synagogue of Satan” is defined as “those who claim to be Jews, but they are not.” The Lord Jesus is referring to the unbelieving Jewish community in Philadelphia: they declared themselves to be the people of God; they made such a declaration on the basis of their physical descent from Abraham; but in fact they were devoid of any spiritual association with Abraham and with the Messiah, thus their claim was false. It appears that this unbelieving Jewish community contributed to the trial faced by the church in Philadelphia, maybe even instigating it. But the Lord shall honor His faithful church by causing the unbelieving Jewish community to “come and bow down at your feet.” Whether in the immediate present or on the Last Day, the Lord Jesus will cause the unbelieving Jews to acknowledge that He is the Messiah and that those who believe in Him are His people, the people of God.

3. For what does the Lord commend the church in Philadelphia? See Revelation 3:8b (printed below)

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have a little power, and that you kept my word, and did not renounce my name. (Revelation 3:8)

The Lord commends the church with the words, “you kept my word, and did not renounce my name.” The tense of the Greek verb indicates a specific point of time in the past. No doubt, in the very recent past this church encountered a specific testing of their allegiance to Christ. But the church remained faithful; they kept Christ’s word and did not deny His name.

4. What do you think the Lord means when He informs the church, “I have placed before you and open door” and “I know that you have a little power?” (Revelation 3:8)

The “power” the church possesses is power before the Lord: spiritual power with God derived from their faithfulness to Him in the face of trial. The “open door” granted to this church is the direct result of the power they possess with God. The symbol of the open door represents accessibility to the Lord and assurance before the Lord. When you display Christian courage or perseverance, God grants to you a special measure of evidence and assurance that you, indeed, belong to Christ and partake of His ultimate victory and salvation.

5. What promise does the Lord make to this church? See Revelation 3:10 (printed below)

Because you have been faithful to the word that testifies of my perseverance, I in turn will be faithful to keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world in order to test those who live on the earth. (Revelation 3:10)

Because the church in Philadelphia has been faithful to her Lord by keeping His word, the Lord will be faithful to her by keeping her from “the hour of trial.” This “hour of trial” is defined as “the trial that is going to come upon the whole world in order to test those who live on the earth.” This hour of trial is a reference to that period of history when the anti-Christ empire is permitted by God to exercise its demonic rule over the world. For the church in the first century, that hour of trial came in the form of the Roman Empire, especially at those periods when that empire vigorously sought to impose upon all its subjects its demand for divine homage to its emperor and itself. The Lord’s promise to the faithful church in Philadelphia is that as a reward for faithfulness in her present trial, the Lord will spare her from this greater future trial.