To the Church in Philadelphia

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. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 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 lie down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 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 inhabitants of the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 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 from Heaven form my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the spirit says to the churches.

~ Revelation 3:7-13

This letter seems to hold a different weight than the other letters. Jesus seems very gentle with his words, both in praise and in reproof, and yet the promises to this church are far superior to the other letters. This church appears to be a church of people who hold strong to the word of God, and yet are afraid of the Jews living in their city. They have little strength, and yet hold strong, so it seems like the Jews mostly let them be without too much persecution. Most likely, the Jews do not see the church a a threat, instead just mocking them from afar, thinking themselves better than the Jews. They do not see the Christian church as a problem or a threat to their society, and so find no reason to persecute. The name of the city, Philadelphia, also means "brotherly love" so it is possible that the Jews feel an obligation to see the Christians as an estranged brother, someone not really to like but simply to tolerate.

And this is why Jesus speaks softly to this church; Jesus knows that they are weak, and even the slightest provocation may cause them to lose faith, so he does not want this letter to scare them farther away, but rather to encourage them to grow stronger and not be afraid of the Jews. But we should not be timid in our faith! We should not be afraid to proclaim the Gospel to everyone we meet, and we should not let our fear of rejection or persecution stop us from evangelising or living our lives every day wholly for Christ. Instead of giving in to the persecutors, which is exactly what Satan wants, stand strong and remain true and blameless, so that you may be blessed and receive the crown of life (James 1:12).

Just look at the story of Job, who was in the Lord's eyes blameless. He had great wealth, but in all things gave all he had up to God. Then one day Satan asked God to test Job's faith by taking away all he had, and Satan was sure Job would curse God's name. So God gave Satan power to take away everything from Job, but not lay a finger on Job. And so Job lost everything; all his cattle, all his sheep, camels, his servants. His sons and daughters were killed, and in the end, Job did not renounce the name of God. Rather, he shaved his head and removed his robe, saying that if it was God's plan to take all he had, then he will not keep anything the Lord has given him. This man does not fear fear those who would try to make him renounce his faith, and even Satan, the one who literally tries everything her can to steal you from God, could not break Job's faith. And this is exactly how we should live. We should not be timid, and our faith should be insurmountable.

And one thing that makes this letter stand out is the promises Jesus makes. First, he promises to make the hypocritical Jews, who put themselves above the church in Philadelphia, bow down to the Christians. God will break the Jews, forcing them to realize their mistake and how they put themselves above others, and will open their eyes to see that they are below the Christians. They will see that God loves the Christians for listening to his word, and for putting faith in Jesus, while the Jews do not have his love for they scorned the love of Jesus while they wait for a messiah who has already come. So the Jews will fall down and worship the Christians, realizing what they have missed and regretting that they can no longer repent.

But Jesus also promises that if they hold on to their faith until Jesus returns, that they will receive a crown that no one can take away. They will become a pillar in the temple of God. A friend was describing it thus: a pillar is an essential element in keeping a building erect. Remove a pillar and the whole building crumbles, but the very act of removing a pillar is very difficult. Pillars are built to be strong, to withstand an immense amount of force, and this is what God will make us: a people who are essential to make Heaven perfect in God's eyes, for he chose each of us individually, and once we are there we cannot be removed. Once we have obtained salvation, there is nothing in the world that can put enough strain on our faith to make us question our faith.

And so make every effort to live your lives every day not in fear of being persecuted, but steel yourself and proclaim the Gospel to the heavens! Romans 1:16, do not be ashamed of the Gospel, for its words are life and health to everyone who accepts it. At worst, you are rejected and maybe criticized, but blessed are those who suffer for what is right. And at best, you show people what is right, you share the good news, and you have helped someone give their whole life to Christ.