The Church in Philadelphia did not receive any words of rebuke from the Lord; it only received words of commendation and represents the churches from the 17th century to the 19th century. This was the most outstanding era of the Church. We can call this Church “ The True Church.” It was the time when the Kingdom of Heaven was really expanding.
This is not to say that there were many mega-churches at that time. Maybe there were more mega-churches during the time of the Church in Laodicea. The Church in Philadelphia was serious about doing mission’s work and spreading the Gospel overseas. At that time there were many unknown preachers who were willing to go to undeveloped places of the world, enduring patiently for decades and learning the language of the native people in order to preach the Gospel to them. They did not go to to big churches but to remote places where others were not willing to go so the Gospel would spread all over the world.
THE LORD ‘ S SELF-DESCRIPTION
7 “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.”
The Lord’s self-description mentions three things that are related to this church: Holy, true, holds the key of David.
Among the seven churches, this one proves to be the true representation of the Church. The true Church appears during this era. The three churches mentioned in Chapter 3 are somehow related to the truth. The Church in Sardis, “the name was real but actually they were not ,”they had the reputation of having the Lord of Life, but in reality, they were dead. The Church in Laodicea was “half true and half false,” they had a little bit of life, but they were neither hot nor cold. But this Church was the “true” Church; it had the reputation of being an excellent Church.
A true Church is a “holy” Church; it is “dedicated to the service of God”. Before the time of the Church in Philadelphia, the Church had a thousand years of being entirely influenced by the Roman Empire with its worldly values and systems . They only cared about authority, military power and financial resources. Their outward appearance was very glamorous, exactly like the people of the world. The holiness of the church disappeared little by little and it became unclean, corrupted, permeated with fights and scandals, similar to a social organization, fighting over power, status, wealth and pleasures.
A real Church is a “true” Church; it really has life, truly loves the Lord and worships Him with since hearts. It witnesses to the world in such a way that people can see Christ in the life of the believers.
The true Church “needs to expand” to the ends of the earth. “The key of David” is the “The key of the Kingdom of Heaven” and it refers to all kinds of opportunities. The phrase “open doors” appears in the New Testament five times and every time is related to spreading the Gospel.
What kind of church is a true Church? From all seven churches, only two received words of commendation without any words of rebuke. They were the Church in Smyrna and the Church in Philadelphia.
The Church in Smyrna had an abundant life because of their sufferings. Although they did not open doors, they were the breakthrough pioneer builders, the founding fathers. Even though they were far from the realization of the Kingdom of Heaven, they made firm its foundation . The other church eras that followed, though they had a lot of opportunities, were not able to vigorously further the expansion of the Church to the whole world.
During the time of the Church in Philadelphia they took hold of every open door to spread the Gospel all over the world, extending the territory of the Kingdom of Heaven to every corner of this earth. The Kingdom of Heaven had truly appeared. Christ is indeed holy, true and the Lord who holds the door to opportunities. The Church should also do likewise.
THE LORD ‘ S COMMENDATIONS
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.
All opportunities are given by the Lord. He controls when the opportunity arises and when it fades away. When He opens doors, no one can close them and when He closes a door, no one can open it. During this Church era, God opened many doors; He did not close any doors. Why were the doors not opened for the previous churches? Why did the Lord no open wide the doors of the Gospel? We should ask, how would a Church that does not preach the Gospel make use of an opportunity? The opportunity is given by the Lord, but the reaction of the people is also an important factor. If people do not want to take action, the opportunity will disappear.
主耶穌所說｢按才授銀｣的比喻，各人所得的銀子，不是代表才幹，不是主給不同的人有不同才幹。銀子是指｢機會｣。主耶穌不是說，按他的才幹給他才幹，乃是按他的才幹給他機會。有屬靈才能的人，機會就多，就應該好好利用這些機會。In the “Parable of the Talents” that Jesus spoke about, the talents that each person received did not represent the abilities that the Lord gave to each person. The talents represented“ opportunities ”. Jesus did not say that each person was given talents according to his own ability; instead, opportunities were given to each according to their talents. Those with spiritual gifts will be given more opportunities. You should make good use of those opportunities.
The earlier churches had authority, economic strength, and manpower and were well organized, but failed to spread the Gospel to the outside world, they wasted precious opportunities that the Lord had given them. This Church was not very strong, “you have little strength ” it says, because they did not have the support of a big organization, political influence or economic strength. People tend to look down on these kinds of small churches that have no manpower, no financial resources and no popularity. Who would have thought that this unrecognized group of people would spread the Gospel throughout the world? The weakest group of people in the world; any wealthy or powerful person could crush them with one finger, yet they became a pillar in the Kingdom of Heaven.
THE LORD ‘ S PROMISE FOR THIS LIFE
9 那撒但一會的，自稱是猶太人，其實不是猶太人，是假的( 說謊話的) 。10 你既忍耐守護著我的道，我必在普天下人受試煉的時候，守護你，免去你的試煉。
9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—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.
The promise that the Lord gives to the Church in Philadelphia has two aspects. The first aspect is for this life and the second aspect is for the afterlife. We can see that this Church is particularly loved by the Lord. We will take a look at the promise for the afterlife a little later; first, let us a look at the promise for this life.
( 一) 那些假弟兄要倒在你腳前：他們自命是正宗教會，天國代表，但最後必看見都落後失敗了。自從教會從羅馬教分出來後，遵守主道的都越來越興旺。死守傳統的，好像倒在這些守道的教會面前一樣。
(1) The false brothers will fall down at your feet: They call themselves the true church, the representatives of the Kingdom of Heaven, but in the end they will fall behind as failures. Ever since the Church separated from the Roman Catholic Church, those who follow God’s Word have become more and more prosperous. It is as if those who obstinately cling to traditions had fallen down before the believers who follow the Word of God.
( 二) 你既守護我的道，我必守護你免去末日大災難。他們將在大災難前被提，這大災難的目的，是為把真假信徒分別，既然是真的，就不需要考驗。那災難是全世界要受的，天災、地震、強風、海嘯、大雪、洪水、戰爭、恐怖暴力、大屠殺、核子戰爭、空難、疾病瘟疫，及不知名的病，全部湧出來。加上雞瘟、牛瘟等各種動物都傳播瘟疫。還有車禍、橋禍、樓禍、機器禍，各種災禍。這類災禍現在都見過了，所以末期不遠了。主說，這些積極傳福音的教會，都要免去末日的大災難。
(2) Since you have kept my command, I will also keep you from the great tribulation that will come at the end of times. They will be raptured before the great tribulation. The purpose of the rapture is to differentiate true believers from false believers and because they were true believers they would not need to go through the test. The calamities will come to the whole world, natural disasters, earthquakes, strong storms, tsunamis, snow storms, floods, wars, terrorist attacks, massacres, nuclear wars, plane crashes, diseases, epidemics, unknown incurable diseases, all these will appear at the same time. There will also be epidemics and plagues spread by chickens, cattle and other animals. In addition, there will be car accidents, bridge accidents, building accidents , machinery accidents, and all kinds of disasters. Many of these disasters are already appearing at the present time which is a sign that the end is near. The Lord said that the churches that actively spread the Gospel wil l be spared from the great tribulation of the end times.
THE LORD ‘ S ENCOURAGEMENT
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
主說：｢我必快來｣。因為天國版圖已達到全世界，是成熟的時候。主耶穌曾說：「這天國的福音要傳遍天下，對萬民作見證，然後末期纔來到。」( 太24:14) 現在是時候了，堅持一會，就可以得可誇的冠冕。
The Lord said: “I am coming soon.” The time is at hand, the territory of the Kingdom of Heaven has reached the whole world. The Lord Jesus once said: “And this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Now is the time, endure patiently and you will receive the glorious crown
A royal crown is glory. Everyone is in the pursuit of glory but the glory of the world is vanity. After each war that Napoleon won, he would issue his soldiers a badge that said: “I was in such and such war .” His soldiers felt very proud about it. That kind of glory is vanity, it is only temporary. Today he is a ruler, tomorrow he is a prisoner; today he is honored, tomorrow he is condemned. These things are seen every day.
The crown that the Lord gives is eternal. “So that no one will take your crown” sounds like the crown could be snatched away. Actually this translation is misleading. The correct translation should be: “Lest others get the crown and you do not get it.”Paul once said: “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?”The believers are not like contestants in the Olympic Games, they are not competing against someone else; they are running faithfully the road set before them. Those who persevere to the end will receive their reward.
基督徒有多種榮耀。七個教會中有兩個集體得到冠冕。示每拿為義受逼迫，生命豐盛榮耀，得著｢生命的冠冕｣，或稱｢豐盛生命的冠冕｣。非拉鐵非得到人靈魂歸主，這種榮耀，稱為｢可誇的冠冕｣( 帖前2:19) 。保羅說：｢我們的盼望和喜樂，並所誇冠冕是甚麽呢？豈不是主來的時候，你們站立得住麽？因為你們就是我們的榮耀、我們的喜樂。｣
Christians have different kinds of glory. From the seven churches, only two groups received crowns. The Church in Smyrna received the “crown of life” or “the crown of abundant life” because they suffered persecution; their life was abundant and glorious. The Church in Philadelphia led people’s souls back to God; this kind of glory is called “a crown in which to glory.” 1 Thessalonians 2:19 says, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?”
The apostle Paul tells us that the joyous time for a servant of the Lord is when the people they had led to Christ stand firm when put to the test; that is the real fruit. Every soul that has been led to Christ is like a diamond that adorns the crown. How many fruits can you count? How many of those fruits can you glory in? There are many people around you that have not heard of the good news of Jesus Christ, are you willing to be a warrior for the Gospel ?
THE LORD ‘ S PROMISE FOR THE KINGDOM IN THE COMING AGE
12 得勝的，我要叫他在神殿中作柱子，他也必不再從那裡出去。我要將我神的名和我神城的名- 這城就是從天上，從我神那裡降下來的新耶路撒冷，並我的新名，都寫在他的上面。
In the previous verse, the Lord promises to keep them from the great tribulation that is going to come on the whole world. Here the Lord promises to those who are victorious, to those unknown preachers of the Gospel, that in the future they will become very important figures in the House of God.
The Bible uses the Sanctuary to represent the Kingdom of God. Each one of us, believers in the Lord, are like a piece of stone, a brick, when put together will help build the Sanctuary.
這殿有兩大重要部份我們沒有希望在其中有份。第一是｢房角石｣，是基督自己，祂是最大的磐石。安妥之後，聖殿定好，無法更改。第二是｢根基｣，是使徒、先知的根基( 弗2:20-21) 。｢並且被建造在使徒和先知的根基上，有基督耶穌自己為房角石…… 聯絡得合式，漸漸成為主的聖殿。｣
This Sanctuary has two important sections which we can no longer be part of. The first section is “the cornerstone”, who is Christ Himself. He is the greatest Rock. Once the corner stone is in place, the Sanctuary will be firmly established, it can never be moved. The second section is “the foundation”, which are the apostles and the prophets. Ephesians 2:20-21 says, “Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.”
The third important section is being a “pillar” in the Sanctuary of God, this position is second to being part of the foundation, and this is the glory that Christians from later generations can pursue. They will become very important figures in the Kingdom of Heaven. They will never be laid off. This unique glorious position is reserved for the believers who actively proclaim the name of the Lord. Leaders of organizations or experts are not the important people in the Kingdom of Heaven. Those who spread the Gospel, who take part in the construction of the Kingdom of Heaven, those are the ones that are very important part of the God’s house. Satan is not afraid of famous people in the church, neither is he afraid of people who shed tears and make a decision; but he is afraid of any kind of action because when people start being active in spreading the Gospel, it will hurl down Satan from heaven.
When King Solomon built the temple, he installed two huge pillars; one was called “ Jachin ”, which means “stable”; the other one was called “Boaz”, which means “strong”. This group of stable and strong Christians will become great individuals in the Kingdom of Heaven, pillars in the House of God, will never be moved and will have eternal glory.
Three names will be written on the pillars: “The name of God”, “the name of the city of God”, and “Christ’s new name”. They are 100% important people who are part of God’s house, the New Jerusalem. They will reign together with Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven.