Return to Bible Commentary Menu
Return to Main Menu
Christ's Message to Philadelphia
The Faithful Church
Known as the City of Brotherly love, this earthquake prone city was the home of this faithful church. Founded by the Pergamon King Attalos II, for his brother Eumenes, this city often changed its name during various times of its history, depending upon what ruler the inhabitants wanted to honor. The name Philadelphia was a reflection of the love and commitment that Attalus II showed to his elder brother Eumenes who ruled throughout Lydia before him. Thus, the City of Brotherly Love. Attalos wanted his new city to be a center for the Greco- Roman civilization, this way he could spread the Greek Culture and language toward the east. This made the city of Philadelphia a mission of sorts for evangelizing this new culture. As the last city to fall to the Turks in 1392, Philadelphias resistance was haled as an island of Christianity in the sea of Turkish domination.
According to tradition it is believed that the church was either established by Lucius, a relative of Paul, or by Demetrius, who was sent by the Apostle John. Because Christ was the center of this church, it had an open door to God, and this door was Christ John 10:7 & 1 Timothy 2:5.The church was very active in evangelizing because God had created opportunities for witnessing, outreach, and missions. When a church is faithful, true, and holy, God opens doors Acts 14:27. The more we remain beside Jesus Christ, and the more faithful we are to follow His truth, the more doors will open for us.
Many have wondered what the characteristics of a Philadelphian Christian are. The primary answer would be a Christian who bears the Fruits of the Spirit Galatians, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This type of a Christian reads and meditates upon God's Word daily, thus allowing His wisdom and love to be firmly planted in the mind and heart. This allows the Holy Spirit to work through him. James described this as receiving with meekness the Word of God.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:21 The characteristics of a Christian who bears the Fruits of the Spirit, has the type of traits we should all strive to achieve. However, even if we ever reach that point in our walk with Christ, we may not know ourselves that we have achieved that goal. The reason we would not know is because of our humility. Humility is one of the traits of the Philadelphian Christian, humility to the point of indifference towards ones own accomplishments. The other traits are as follows;
Trustworthiness, This Christian is faithful to his calling, even in times of trouble, persecution, and hardship, and he will not depart the calling, but can be trusted in his obedience to the Word.
Loyalty, This Christian is not just loyal to God and His Word, but he is loyal to his fellow Christians who know they can depend upon him to do that which is right.
Helpfulness, This Christian provides assistance to those in need, and they are a useful member in society, that is as long as the tasks they perform for society do not conflict with the laws of God. They will also display a work ethic that is usually one of the best an employer could ask for.
Friendliness, This Philadelphian Christian is friendly to the brethren, and even to those who persecute them by speaking evil or belittling them. This is a very difficult thing to do, and the only way to accomplish it is by being filled with the Holy Spirit to the extent that agape love flows through them to those who persecute and spitefully use them
Courteousness, One who is graciously considerate towards of feelings of others. This Christian does not fly off the handle and verbally abuse others, nor do they hurt the feelings of others through prideful and arrogant actions. A Philadelphian Christian is polite and tactful in their dealings with others, and it shows in their good manners.
Kindness, This person is generous, warm-hearted, charitable, and has legitimate sympathy and understanding for the feelings of others. They are tolerant and patient in the face of provocation from others and are not easily provoked. They are not only decent towards people, but also humane and considerate when dealing with animals.
Obedience, Philadelphian Christians are obedient to God and to those whom God has placed in authority over them. They follow the laws of man and will be seen as a law-abiding citizen. The only time a Philadelphian Christians would rebel against the authorities above them, would be when the orders go against the laws of God.
Cheerfulness, Even in the face of adversity, these Christians are at peace with God because they are filled with the Holy Spirit. They exhibit the joy and pleasure of knowing that they belong to God, regardless of what may happen to them in the World, because they know that one day they will be with God and all suffering, pain, and sorrow will be over.
Thriftiness, These Christians are wise with that which God has entrusted to them. They are also industrious in their work while being very prudent and wise in the way they spend their money.
Bravery, The Philadelphian Christian possesses the kind of courage, boldness and valor that is not the pretentious bravery known as bravado, but instead, this Christian is one who would willingly put their life on the line to save another, and they would be embarrassed by any attention that they may receive for doing so.
Cleanliness, These Philadelphian Christians are free from the stain of sin, and their life is free of addictions and crime. This Philadelphian Christian is not just clean on the inside, but they keep himself clean on the outside.
Reverence, These individuals show deep respect, love, and veneration toward God. You will not catch them slipping and using the Lord's name in vain, because these Christians have a healthy dose of fear and reverence for the Creator of the universe.
In Proverbs 22:1, Solomon tells us that a good name is to be chosen rather than great riches. A man's worth is usually judged by his character and his character is judged by the life he has lived. In His closing remarks to this church, Christ promises that those who overcome and persevered will have three names written on them.
1.) And I will write on him the name of My God, which means that on this pillar, God will write His very own name. The believer persevered for this name. He went through trial for that name so God will write His own name on this pillar.
2.) The second name will be the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. Chapters 21 & 22 of Revelation gives a brilliant, and striking description of the "New Jerusalem." This is the place of wonderful fellowship with God. To people living in an earthquake zone, this would have been a picture of stability as apposed to destruction and decay, because all Christians will eternally fellowship with God.
3.) Christ says the last shall be His new name that is written on the believer. No one knows that name yet but in Revelation 19:12 it says that when Jesus appears, He will come with that new name. Just as the followers of Christ are now identified by His name, thus we are called Acts 11:26 Christians, we will then be recognized by His new name, and that name will be written on us.
Like Smyrna, Philadelphia is the only other city of the seven that still has a remnant of Christians left, most likely due to their faithfulness to the Gospel. And although both churches were poor, weak, and suffering from the Jewish persecution, they were full of life and vigor. Just as the city was loyal to the Roman Empire, these Christians stayed loyal to their faith in Christ. Of all the churches John wrote to, Philadelphias prosperity lasted the longest, probably as a direct result of God blessing them for their faith in Him. A close look at the message of Revelation 3:10 shows what many scholars believe alludes to the rapture of the church before the tribulation that is to come. The phrase I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, is believed to refer to a global crisis in the future that Jesus promises to keep the church from suffering in. Jesus encourages them to hold fast and preserver so that no one takes their crown from them.
Like Philadelphias history of being a mission for the Greco-Roman culture, this church represents the age of the Great Awakening and Worldwide Missions Movement started by such notables as evangelical preachers Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, and missionaries Carey, Judson and Livingstone. Last week I wrote about the church of Sardis and how dead it was. Well, as dead as the Sardis Christians were in their spiritual walk, so was the church of Philadelphia on fire for God, winning souls and teaching the Word with love. The church with "little strength" is now a pillar of strength possessing honor forever in the very presence of God. Every Christian who accepts the finished work of the One who suffered and died on the cross, has eternal life, not temporal life, and that Life is in Christ Jesus.
I pray that those who have ears to hear, will hear the voice of the Lord and call upon His name.Return to Bible Commentary Menu
Return to Main Menu