In this letter Jesus provides words of encouragement for people who were faithful, but barely holding on. Philadelphia was a Roman trade center, filled with wealthy Romans and Non-Christian Jews. The early Christian church, however, was poor and powerless. This area also experienced frequent earthquakes, leaving this small church in a constant process of rebuilding. This strained their already limited resources. Yet, through it all they remained faithful.
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. 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.Revelation 3:7-9
Jesus reminds us that even when we are broken, weak, and hard-pressed on all sides we still have hope. Jesus has opened the door giving us a direct relationship with the Father. This is a door only he can open, and no one else can close. Even when we have nothing, we actually more than most. We have the Holy Spirit living within us. If we remain faithful, Jesus promises that one day false believers will be humbled, and faithful servants will be vindicated.
I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 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.Revelation 3:9-10
Few believers truly exhibit the level of perseverence shown in Philadelphia. It requires unwavering faith despite outside pressures to conform. Social pressures and times of crisis often weaken our resolve. We are often guilty of the pitfalls exhibited by the other churches. Patient endurance during hardship is a demonstration of unwavering faith. Last year provided many opportunities to test our faith, and many more are sure to come. If we continue to persevere, we will be victorious in the end.
I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.Revelation 3:11-13