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Revelation 3:7-13 Bible Study Guide With Questions – Letter To Church Of Philadelphia

Revelation 3:7-13 Video Bible Study

Revelation 3:7-13 Audio Bible Study

Outline

I. Greeting (7)
II. Commendation (8-10)
III. Counsel (11)
IV. Promise and Reward (12)
V. Hear (13)

I. Greeting (7)

Discussion Questions

  • How is Jesus described in this passage?
  • What is the key of David?
  • What does Jesus do with this key?
  • What does this teach us about Jesus’ character?
  • Why was this specific description of Jesus important for this specific church to hear?

Cross-References

Revelation 1:18 – And the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

Teaching Points

1. The words of the holy one, the true one – Unlike most of the descriptions of Jesus shared with each church, this one is not a direct quote from Revelation 1. Rather, it is a summary of Jesus’ character revealed there. In Revelation 1, Jesus was revealed for example as having a shining face and white hair. Both of those show Jesus’ holiness.

2. Who has the key of David – The key of David is also referenced in Isaiah 22:22.

Isaiah 22:22 – And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.

The key represents the authority the key holder has over a specific domain. One could say figuratively that Steve Jobs held the key of Apple or Elon Musk held the key for Tesla. Those were their companies. They were in charge. Final decisions were made by them. Leaders with the key have authority to fire or hire employees according to their own discretion.

Here Jesus is described as having the key of David. Jesus was the final fulfillment of the Davidic covenant. The kingdom promised to David’s descendants belongs to Jesus. He is the King. Jesus will reign on David’s throne over the whole earth. This will be literally fulfilled during the millennial reign. And from that time forth Jesus will then reign forever over the new Jerusalem.

Who can enter this kingdom? Who is allowed to be part of it?

Jesus has the key. He is the decision maker. He is the authority. He is the king. He decides.

3. Who opens and no one will shut and shuts and no one opens – Jesus is the only way for a person to come in to the kingdom (John 14:6).

John 10:9 – I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

Jesus described Himself as being the door. He is the door and He holds the key. These are two ways of saying the same thing. It means that we must enter through Jesus. Many people believe in a type of universalism. They think that as long as you are sincere in your belief and a relatively good person, in the end you will make it. The idea is that all roads lead to heaven.

Jesus emphatically rejects that idea. He holds the key. Buddha doesn’t have one. Muhammad doesn’t have one. That truth is both a comfort and a warning. It comforts true believers because it reminds us that when Jesus welcomes you in and opens the door to you, no one can close it.

For the saints living in the end times this is especially encouraging. Even if the world government persecutes and kills you, they can’t take away your salvation. Jesus does not give them the key (the authority) to do so. If they are faithful, Jesus will hold the door open for them. By His grace, they will be welcomed into His kingdom.

At the same time, it is a warning. You cannot open this door by yourself. Your own merits cannot save you. The authority is in Jesus’ hands. If He decides against you, there is no appeal. Once shut on you (when all of your chances run out), it will not be opened again.

In the time of Noah, God Himself shut the door of the ark (Genesis 7:16). When the door shut, the opportunity for salvation from the flood was over. The last chance had run out. No amount of banging or weeping could get the door to open.

Application: It is important to know that Jesus opens and shuts the door. You don’t know when the door will shut and your chances will run out. So don’t put the Lord to the test. Today is the day of salvation. Come to Him while the door is open.

Secondly, don’t fear man. No one can shut the door on you except Jesus.

II. Commendation (8-10)

Discussion Questions

  • What is this open door that Jesus sets in front of them?
  • What did Jesus commend this church for?
  • Since they had little power, how could faithfully keep His word as they did?
  • When we are weak, how can we remain faithful?
  • Who are those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews?
  • When do you think God will make these “fake Jews” bow down at their feet?
  • What what this show about Jesus’ relationship to this church?
  • What may verse 10 refer to?
  • How would this church be kept from the hour of trial that is coming on the world?

Cross-References

John 10:9 – I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

Matthew 7:13-14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Luke 6:10-12 – “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?

Proverbs 3:3-4 – Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.

Luke 3:8 – Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.

Teaching Points

1. I know your works – Jesus says this phrase to each church. And the church of Philadelphia is one of only two (along with Smyrna) that received no criticism from Jesus.

2. I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut – The statement here is very similar to Jesus’ description of Himself in verse 7. He alone could provide salvation.

From the context it appears that most in the church of Philadelphia had come through this door. The emphasis on the fact that no one else could shut it likely points to the fact that they faced persecution or opposition from the culture around them. Certainly Satan wanted to keep them from entering the door. And he would have used worldly systems to try to accomplish that plan.

Jesus comforts the church by reminding them that He set the door in front of them. He kept it open by His power. The very gates of hell could not overpower Him (Matthew 16:17-19).

3. You have but little power and yet you have kept my word and not denied my name –

Jesus does not commend them that they are strong. Neither is that a criticism that they are not strong. No man is strong. Every person is weak of ourselves. It is also important for us to see that even the church of Philadelphia, which was not criticized at all, was weak. It wasn’t due to their own wisdom, skills, or intelligence that they could follow God faithfully.

2 Corinthians 12:9 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 4:7 – But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.

2 Corinthians 2:16 – And who is adequate for such a task as this?

God intentionally uses normal people as vessels to spread the gospel to show that it is His power which saves (Romans 1:16) and not ours. He does not want boasters in heaven bragging about their spiritual prowess (Ephesians 2:8-9).

It is not wealth, status, worldly logic, or arguments which save. He changes hearts. We are like a jar of clay which is holding the most expensive diamond in the world. That in itself is a contrast which contrasts the common with the exquisite. It keeps us humble and reminds us to rely on Him. Because it is all Him, He gets all the glory.

In these letters to the churches, we have seen again and again that God asks us to “conquer” the world and temptation. You cannot conquer by your own power, for you have little. You can only overcome through Christ. The power is from Him. The victory is for Him. The glory is to Him.

Application: God calls us to keep His word. It is possible, but not through your own will power. You must lean to depend on Christ. What are some practical ways you can learn to depend on Jesus in your Christian walk and when facing temptation?

4. Those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not – These were people who Jewish by blood. A real Jew is not one who is merely ethnically Jewish. A real Jew is one who is one who professes Jesus and gives His heart to God, being renewed in His heart.

Romans 2:28-29 – For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

Satan used even those who were Jewish by blood to persecute the church and fight his battle against God. We see this in the case of Judas, a Jew who was indwelt by Satan and betrayed Jesus. The Pharisees and religious leaders who opposed Jesus were also tools of Satan. And the church of Philadelphia also faced more Jews in this category.

It is important for no one to rely on their family, bloodline, or culture for salvation. John the Baptist told the Jews of his day that they wrongly relied on the fact that they were Jewish. He told them that God could make Jews spawn from the very rocks under their feet (Luke 3:8).

And “Christians” may do the same thing. Some believe they are Christians because they were born into a Christian family. Others believe they are Christians because they live in a “Christian” country. In some countries, people’s religion is recorded on their ID when they are born. They may be labeled as “Christian” simply because their parents are.

Application: Salvation is through faith by grace. It makes no distinction between skin color, blood line, or ethnicity. Do not rely on the fact that you live in a place with a lot of Christians or that your parents are. God has no grand-children. You must have your own relationship with Jesus. Do you?

5. I will make them come and bow down before your feet –

We see a similar promise in Isaiah 60:14.

Isaiah 60:14 – The sons of those who afflicted you
shall come bending low to you,
and all who despised you
shall bow down at your feet;
they shall call you the City of the Lord,
the Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Those who opposed the saints of Philadelphia would be dealt with by Jesus. He would make everything right. One day these very people who tormented them would have to bow to them to show their respect and their apology.

When will this happen?

The text does not give the answer. Perhaps it will occur at the final judgment before the guilty face their sentence and are condemned to hell.

Application: Live for the long term. Have an eternal perspective. It may appear that the enemies of God are victorious or prosperous in the short term. But in the end, He will set everything right (Psalm 73:17). They will receive what they deserve. So live for God and be faithful to Him without compromise.

6. They will learn that I have loved you – What a beautiful statement. It doesn’t matter what others think of you. What matters, is what Jesus thinks of you. His opinion is the one that counts because He holds the key. And He loves you.

Application: When you are mistreated and unloved by those around you, remember that Jesus loves you. He does not stop loving you just because people do. Let that promise comfort you.

7. Because you have kept my word, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world –

What does this statement mean? Is it a promise of a pre-tribulation rapture?

This is a widely debated verse. Those who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church generally use this verse as one of the pillars of their argument. They point to the fact that this hour of trial is coming on the whole world, and that therefore it refers to the tribulation. And they argue that “keep you from” means that the church will be taken away so that they do not experience this hour of trial at all.

Those who do not believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, point to the fact that this phrase “keep you from” in Greek (the word “ek”) can mean to “keep you through” or “preserve you in” the trial. Therefore they believe that this promise means that God will protect believers from succumbing to the trial.

John Piper for example says, “God’s promise to keep us from the hour of trial probably doesn’t mean that we are taken out of the world, but rather that God will keep us from the faith-destroying effects of the hour of trial. He will guard us. He will protect our faith.”

They also point to other uses of the Greek word like in 3 Timothy 3:11.

2 Timothy 3:11 – My persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.

And from them [ek], the Lord rescued me. In this case, Paul was not removed from the persecutions. Instead he was given strength to endure through them.

Like many things in Revelation, your interpretation of this verse will depend on the lens you view end times events from. If you believe in pre-trib, you will claim this verse in support of it. And if you believe in post-trib, you will view this verse as a promise that God will give you strength to face the persecution of that tribulation.

This verse should not be used as proof of either view, because it is not 100% clear what it means.

Certainly believers should not be surprised to face trials.

1 Peter 4:12 – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

I was raised in a church that believed in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. But does the Bible really teach two comings? Over the years, I am finding it increasingly difficult to see that plainly taught in the Scripture. I hope it is true, but would not be surprised if God so ordains that the church does go through the tribulation (and if you read through Revelation it is clear many believers do).

So what comfort can we take from this verse?

If you are faithful, God will either keep you from the trial (sometimes) or preserve you in it (more often). He will not allow those trials to wreck your faith. Thus it is a very similar promise to the one in Revelation 3:5 that He will not blot out your name from the book of life if you conquer.

Application: Be faithful to God. Keep His word. When you do that, He will give you strength to sustain you through any challenges and trials you may face.

III. Counsel (11)

Discussion Questions

  • Knowing that Jesus’ return is imminent, what should they do? What should you do?
  • What crown does this refer to?
  • How can you make sure that you will receive this crown?

Cross-References

John 14:3 – And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

Revelation 12:12-13 – “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

John 9:4 – We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work.

Teaching Points

1. I am coming soon – Many Bible passages describe us being in the last days or the last hour.

1 John 2:18 – Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

The last days is a period of time encompassing the whole church age in between Jesus’ first and second coming. We don’t know how long these “last days” will last, but they are typified by increasing evil and rebellion toward God. Because God didn’t set any specific time period for the last days, they could end at any time.

We must remember that to God a day is as a thousand years and thousand years as a day (2 Peter 3:8). The events in the book of Revelation are fixed. God knows the exact hour when they will occur. And history is speeding toward this epic climax. For our part, God designed it to be unknown and imminent so that every generation would live with that expectancy and readiness required.

Jesus is coming soon. His return is imminent.

Application: We should be ready. The time is getting ever closer. Let us work while it remains day for the night is coming when no man can work. (John 9:4)

2. Hold fast what you have so that no one may seize your crown – The saints in this church were doing well. So Jesus’ counsel to them was simple, hold fast. Keep doing what they were doing. Finish the good fight. Don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t let go of the faith. Press on.

Throughout Scripture we are encouraged with these admonitions.

Application: What are some practical ways to hold fast?

IV. Promise and Reward (12)

Discussion Questions

  • What did the saints in this church need to conquer specifically?
  • What does it mean to be a pillar in the temple of God?
  • How is having God’s name written on them significant?
  • What does this promise show us about the relationship of believers with God?
  • How do these promises encourage you personally?

Cross-References

Psalm 100:3 – Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Romans 14:8 – For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Teaching Points

1. The one who conquers – This church faced opposition from the Jews (in name). In addition, they faced temptation from within themselves to stop holding fast. Any believer can grow tired or become complacent. And that may cause a believer to give up. But Christ enables His saints to persevere and hold fast to the end.

2. I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God –

This promise is similar to the principle in Ephesians 2:19-22.

Ephesians 2:19-22 – So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

A pillar is something that is integral and important. It serves the function of supporting the whole building. And Jesus also says that “he will never go out of it.” So this promise means that the believer who conquers will have an enduring and important role in God’s temple. This promise is also related to the beginning of this letter where Jesus says He has the key and opens the door. Therefore the believer who remains faithful will be in His kingdom. And we will not only be in it, but we will have an important roll to help or support others in it.

Every believer has great value in His sight. And every believer has an important function. We serve a role now in the church and we still will in the eternal kingdom.

3. I will write on Him the name of my God –

Jesus says three things will be written on the one who conquers, the name of God, the name of the city of God (the new Jerusalem), and the name of Jesus Himself.

Writing His name on the saints, is a reminder of His ownership of them. He is our Master and we are His subjects. It also shows His protection. As our king, He will protect us, preserve us, and watch over us. And writing the name of the holy city shows us that we belong to it.

A simple way to say this is that believers are members of God’s family and of His kingdom.

Reflect: How does this truth affect you?

It gives us security and comfort (John 10:27-30).

V. Hear (13)

Discussion Questions

What is the Holy Spirit saying to you personally in this letter?

Application: What is the Holy Spirit leading you to do in response to this letter?

7 Churches Of Revelation E-Book Study – If this study is helpful, you can download our letters to the 7 churches study in PDF or other E-book versions.

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