Seven Letters, Part 6: Philadelphia

By Kyle Bueermann

In this series of blog posts, we are diving into the seven letters from Jesus to the churches in Revelation chapters 2-3. With one exception, these churches needed to be revitalized.

In this post we’ll take a look at the sixth letter—to the church in the city of Philadelphia—in Revelation 3:7-13. Grab a copy of Scripture and let’s take a quick look!

The Promise, Revelation 3:7-8

This is, perhaps, the most encouraging of the seven letters. Jesus begins by identifying Himself as “the Holy One, the true one, the one who has the keys of David, who opens and no one will close, and who closes and no one opens.”

In v. 8, Jesus tells the church, “I have placed before you an open door that no one can close.” What an amazing promise! Open doors of ministry are an important theme throughout the New Testament. In one of the most well-known, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:9, “a wide door for effective ministry has opened for me—yet many oppose me.”

The church in Philadelphia had an amazing opportunity for ministry that the Lord had given them! But it would not be easy. In fact, Jesus continues by telling them he placed this open door before them “because you have little power.”

This was not a large church, but the key comes in the next phrase: “Yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” The same is true today. Even the smallest churches can have a huge impact on their communities if they remain faithful to Jesus and His Word. This is a powerful promise, indeed!

The Persecution, Revelation 3:9-10

Just like Paul experienced many who opposed him, this church had their opponents as well. In fact, Jesus describes these people as “those from the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews and are not, but are lying.” Not every opposition you face as a pastor and church is an attack from Satan, but the forces of evil do at times work to oppose the gospel. That was certainly the case in Philadelphia.

But even in the midst of the persecution, they were given the promise that they would, through Christ, ultimately overcome their persecutors. In fact, those who opposed the work of the kingdom of God would, in the end, bow at the feet of the church, “because they will know that I have loved you.”

Jesus promises His church that He will keep them from the worst of the persecution that is coming (v. 10).

His Presence, Revelation 3:11-13

The ultimate reason any church can endure is that while suffering is very real, it also is very temporary. Jesus promises the church in Philadelphia, “I am coming soon.” He then encourages them to hold on to what they have and reminds them of the promise: “The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go out again.”

No matter what we may face in this life, followers of Christ have the ultimate promise of eternal life with Almighty God! So, hold fast, brother!

A Prayer

My prayer for you is that your church would experience an open door for ministry in your community much like Paul and the church at Philadelphia experienced. I also pray that you would not grow weary because of the opposition you may face—both within the church and from the community. Remain faithful to Jesus! Follow His plan and His Word! And remember that, no matter what opposition you may face, it but a “light, momentary affliction” compared the blessing of eternal life with Jesus Christ!

You can find the previous installments in this series here:

Published September 16, 2021

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Kyle Bueermann

Kyle Bueermann is the a Rural Specialist for the Replant Team. He served as a youth and music minister and as a senior pastor for nine years in New Mexico. He’s married to Michelle and they have two kids: Noah and Hailey. He’s a fan of the Texas Rangers and loves black coffee. Kyle and his family live in Lubbock, TX.