· Church in Philadelphia. The name Philadelphia means “loyalty and devotion,” which we translate from the Greek word as “brotherly love.” This was the city’s way to reverence its gods, Artemis, Helios, Zeus, Dionysus, and Aphrodite, and the Roman emperors Attalus II and Eumenes II (220-130 B.C.) who were brothers. The city was devastated by frequent earthquakes and was destroyed in 17A.D., then rebuilt. However, it then had a smaller population than the other cities. This city is now called Alashehir. It was a city of some importance from John’s time through the Middle Ages because of its commercial centers and trade roads leading in and out, and was considered the gateway to Asia Minor.
· Holy and true refers to the deity of Christ, meaning that God is the Holy One (Isaiah 40:25; Hab 3:2-3; Mark 1:24; Rev. 6:10; 15:4; 19:11).
· Key of David is one title of Jesus Christ as the Messiah from the line of David. Key means the person who holds the authority of the house, connecting it with David, and denotes His authority to open and shut all things and that He is in command of His Kingdom. It also means that only Christ is authorized and able to lead and save us. Jesus uses this image to encourage them, that even though they have been excluded from the synagogue and from their friends and family, they are not excluded from Him! They are special and the real heirs to David (Isaiah 22:22; Hab. 3:2-3; Matt. 16:19).
· What he opens has two meanings. Our opportunities would be one; the other is His opening the door to the Kingdom in contrast to the Jews who shut it (Matt. 23:13; 1 Thess. 2:15).
· Little strength. This church has remained faithful throughout all of the devastating persecutions, but they are worn out, and need encouragement and hope.
· Synagogue of Satan means being apostate, opposing Christ, and refusing to heed the precepts of God’s Word and call; it means doing the opposite, which is one’s own will and agenda. A Synagogue was a place of worship, a place for learning and studying, and a place for community activities. Jesus refers to the local Synagogue, which, as with the Church of Smyrna, was very antagonistic to the Christians (John 8:39-44; 2 Cor. 11:14-15; Rev. 2:9-10).
· Claim to be Jews. These Jews were claiming that all the nations would eventually bow down to them because they were the real children of God by lineage and history versus the Christians, who were His real people by faith. To be His people means we accept His election by faith; thus by faith, as demonstrated by obedience, we are His children. This is compared to someone who just goes to a church, or says he or she is a Jew or Christian but never takes his or her faith seriously or for real. We either belong to Christ or to Satan; there is no middle ground (Psalm 72:10-11; Prov. 14:19; Isa. 49:23; 60:11-14; Mal. 1:2; Rom. 2:28-29)!
· Fall down at your feet refers to reverence and a posture of worship and of great respect and awe. Here, it means that Christians will be at Christ’s feet (Isa. 45:14; 60:14; Acts 10:25; Phil. 2:10; Rev 1:17).
· Acknowledge that I have loved you means that since Jesus loves you, you should not care who else does or does not. Also, the opponents of Christianity will be judged, so we are not to concern ourselves with those who oppress us; they will get what they deserve! We, who are His faithful, have received our place in His kingdom; the pretenders will not have a place (John 17:23).
Our bad experiences can be like a prison, keeping us within the bars we have made from fear, anxiety, and stress. Such a prison prevents our being stretched or experiencing any growth from learning, therefore preventing us from taking what we have been through and making it sweet and productive. Having persevered in the past helps us persevere in the future. The church at Philadelphia was able to do so, so we can, too. The key is to hold on even when we do not see any handles to grasp. When we hold on to Him, and Him alone, Christ will reward and keep us, and we will be victorious!