Revelation 3:7-13

What sort of church does Jesus prefer?

When Jesus looks at a church, He’s not studying outward things. He’s looking for the deeper signs of growing faith, fervent love, and abiding hope. He wants His churches to be motivated by love, founded on truth, strong under pressure, and unashamed of His name.

Of the seven churches, only Smyrna and Philadelphia received no words of condemnation. And it is not coincidental that both churches faced strong opposition because of their bold witness. Hard times generally make for strong churches, especially when the hard times come because the church refuses to compromise the gospel.

Revelation 3:7-13 records the letter to the church at Philadelphia, a city about 35 miles southeast of Sardis. The church in that city was the youngest and smallest of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3. Though the faithful congregation was small in size, our Lord had opened a huge door for them.

Here is a church of which Christ heartily approves. As we study this letter, let’s think about our own churches and consider how we measure up to God’s ideal.


(VERSES 7, 8)

A. Christ Himself opens the doors. When God opens a door, no one can shut it. And when He closes a door, no one can open it. God rarely shows us the big picture in advance. The “open door” is usually a door pushed slightly open. We still have to summon the courage to go through the door and see what’s on the other side

Jesus Himself, the One who is holy and true, the One who has all authority, opens doors for His people. It’s His job to open doors. He’s very good at it, and He doesn’t need our help. Our job is to go through the doors He opens, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, going wherever He may lead us.

B. Christ honors faith, not strength. Jesus said to the church at Philadelphia, “I know that you have little strength” (verse 8). Little strength and great opportunity often go handin-hand. Sometimes small churches think there is little they can do for the Lord, but it’s all a matter of perspective. The church at Philadelphia had little strength. We can assume that they didn’t have much money or many influential people. But they had great faith.

What is it that God honors? Faith. What is He looking for? Faith. What does He reward? Faith, simple faith.

Notice the two wonderful things Jesus says about this church: “You have kept my word” and “You have not denied my name.” The first involves holding fast to the words of Jesus. The second means you aren’t embarrassed by the first. Some people feel slightly ashamed of their faith.


(VERSES 9, 10)

Satan hates gospel preaching, and he hates gospel preachers. Sometimes we hear people talk about “easy places” to preach, but there are no “easy places.”

Let a man decide he is going to stand for Jesus, let him tell the community the whole counsel of God, let him firmly but kindly declare the saving gospel of Jesus, and he will have enemies soon enough. And not all of them will be outside the church.

I think the believers at Philadelphia cared enough about the truth that they had made some powerful enemies in the community. That was a mark of their faithfulness to Christ.

A. We will be vindicated (verse 9). The “synagogue of Satan” refers to those Jews in Philadelphia who persecuted the early believers. Seeing Jesus as a threat to their way of life, they hated Him and those who followed Him. But, Jesus says, they are liars. And that’s not all. The day will come when these hostile enemies will bow down and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Some commentators see this as a promise of vast gospel advance as the church preaches to the unreached people groups of the world. One day those who have no simpathy for Christ or for Christians will see how wrong they were.

B. We will be protected (verse 10). Sometimes the best you can do is to “endure patiently.” Spiritual warfare isn’t all roses and rainbows. Sometimes it means not giving up when you feel like throwing in the towel. Our Lord makes a precious promise to these suffering saints. He looks ahead to the “time of trial” that will engulf the whole world before Christ comes to establish His kingdom on the earth.

In the last days, things will be difficult indeed. Scripture often speaks of the time of trouble that will shake the earth and prepare the world for the coming of the Lord. Because God’s people have been faithful, Jesus will keep them in that time of trial.


(VERSE 11)

You can’t read this passage without getting a sense that the early believers expected Christ to come at any moment. He even said, “I am coming soon.” This text calls us to do two things while we look for the coming of Christ.

A. We are to wait for His return (verse 11). Jesus said, “I am coming soon.” How many of us believe that? We are to live as if Jesus will come at any moment and work as though our time is short.

B. We are to overcome by faith (verses 12, 13). The challenge to overcome is one we face every day. We are called to be “overcomers” every single day because we have a lot to overcome: temptations, frustrations, difficult situations, unexpected setbacks, internal discouragement, chronic pain, and personal failures.

We will be named and claimed. The power to name is the power of ownership. Those whom God has redeemed will be named and claimed by Him. All the old names—doctor, lawyer, professor, politician—won’t matter anymore. In that great day, the blood of Jesus will wash away all the “tags” by which we know each other. Our “good” names won’t matter, and our “bad” names won’t be remembered. We will all stand on the same ground—saved, redeemed, renewed, and renamed by our Lord.


If you want eternal security, you can find it only in Jesus Christ. One day we will have new names, and we will live in a city that cannot be shaken.

Faithfulness to Christ and to His truth is everything, especially in the days when iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall wax cold. Fear not! The reward is glorious! The honor is beyond all earthly honors! The contempt and enmity are but for a day; the dignity and the blessedness are forever and ever!

Indeed it is so. May God help us to be faithful to Him who has done so much for us!