Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Notes on the Letter to the Church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13)

[For my Sunday school class tomorrow at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]


7 And write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia:
The holy one, the true one, the one holding the key of David– the one opening and no one will shut, and shutting and no one will open–, says these things:
8 I know your works– Look! I have placed a door having been opened that no one can shut before you– that[1] you have a little power yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 Look! I will deliver some out from the synagogue of Satan (those calling themselves Jews, when they’re nothing but liars). Look! I will force them so that they will come and they will grovel at your feet. And they will know that I loved you. 10 Because you kept my word about perseverance, I will also keep you from the hour of affliction that is about to come upon the entirety of humankind– to test those dwelling upon the earth. 11 I will come quickly: Hold fast to what you have, so that no one might take your crown. 12 I will make the victor a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall certainly not depart from it. And furthermore, I will write upon him the name of my God, the name of the city of my God (the new Jerusalem descending out of heaven from my God), and my new name. 13 Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

[1]$oti is “that” rather than “because” as it describes the known works following the parenthetical statement.

Introduction of the Author

Jo $agioV (ho hagios) “the holy one” is used throughout the NT as a title for the Messiah (Mark 1:24; Luke 1:35; 4:34; John 6:69; Acts 4:27,30; 1 John 2:20).[1]

Jo ajlhqinovV (ho alēthinos) “the true one” in this context “carries connotations of Jesus being the true Messiah, who has begun to fulfill messianic prophecy, though He is rejected by the Jews as a false messianic pretender.”[2]

Jo !ecwn th;n klei:n Dauivd (ho echōn tēn klein Dauid) “the one holding the key of David” is an allusion to Isaiah 22:22. As God had disposed with unrighteous leadership and established Eliakim (see Isa 22), God rejects the wicked rulers of the “synagogue of Satan” (see 3:9) and establishes Christ as sovereign over His Church.

Philadelphia was a military outpost of Greece, settled by retired military personnel, who were given land and planted vineyards. Due to military need and Italian pressure, Philadelphia was forced to stop wine production and begin growing corn. Philadelphia was destroyed by an earthquake in A.D. 62 and subsequently existed as a tent city. Philadelphia was known as the “city of the door” as it was a gateway city in ancient times and as it was historically at the farthest reaches of Greek society.[3]
Commendation of the Philadelphians’ Works
ijdou; devdwka ejnwvpiovn sou quvpan hjnew/gmevnhn, %hn oujdei;V duvnatai klei:sai aujthvn (idou dedōka enopion sou thupan ēneōigmenēn, hēn oudeis dunatai kleisai autēn) “Look! I have placed a door having been opened that no one can shut before you” is a parenthetical phrase set between the usual formula of Christ stating that the congregation’s works are known by Him– #oidav sou ta; !erga (oida sou ta erga) “I know your works”– and the content of the known works, introduced by $oti (hoti) “that,” as in 3:1 and 3:15. The Lord prefaces the content of the Philadelphians’ works (which, to this point, have been marked by “little power”) by giving a specific, present hope serving to spur them to greater works. This hope is an opportunity for effective gospel witness, as the ‘open door’ metaphor is consistently used in the NT (see Acts 14:27; 1 Cor 16:9; 2 Cor 2:12; Col 4:3).[4]
Encouragement to the Philadelphians
ejk th:V sunagwgh:V tou: Satana: tw:n legovntwn Jeautou;V IoudaivouV #einai, kai; oujk eijsi;n ajlla; yeuvdontai (ek tēs sunagōgēs tou Satana tōn legontōn heautous Ioudaious einai, kai ouk eisin all pseudontai) “out from the synagogue of Satan: those calling themselves Jews, when they’re nothing but liars” along with Jesus’ introduction to the Philadelphian congregation under clear messianic titles (a break from the letters to the previous congregations, which were prefaced in language reflecting that revealed in the first chapter of Revelation) all seem to indicate that the congregation was under persecution from the larger Jewish community that had rejected Christ.

In this passage, Jesus promises the Philadelphian congregation, kajgwv se thrhvsw ejk th:V $wraV tou: peirasmou: (kagō se tērēsō ek tēs hōras tou peirasmou) “I will also keep you from the hour of affliction.” The only other occurrence of a form of threvw (tēreō) “I keep” with ejk (ek) “from” is John 17:15, where Jesus prays that the Father will keep believers from the Evil One.[5]

Forms of the phrase tou;V katoikou:ntaV ejpi; th:V gh:V (tous katoikountas epi tēs gēs) “those dwelling upon the earth” occur throughout the book of Revelation (6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 12:12; 13:8, 12,14; 14:6; 17:2, 8), always referring to unbelieving persecutors.[6]
Promise to the Victor
stu:lon (stulon) “pillar” “was used as a metaphor in Greek as in English for persons in important leadership positions.”[7] That God would give believers in Christ such a prominent position within the temple is a direct affront against the unbelieving Jews who were persecuting them.

In this passage, Jesus promises the believer gravyw ejpj aujto;n to; !onoma tou: qeou: mou (grapsō ep auton to onoma tou theou mou) “I will write upon him the name of my God.” In Numbers 6:27 the children of Israel are said to have the LORD’s name placed upon them.[8]

th:V kainh:V jIerousalh;m (tēs kainēs Ierousalēm) “the new Jerusalem” is mentioned three times in Revelation (3:12; 21:2, 10). [9] Christ’s words about the new Jerusalem here hearken back to OT prophecies of a renewed Jerusalem, as in, for example, Isaiah 62:2.

Though emphasizing different aspects of the significance of the name written upon believers, to; !onoma tou: qeou: mou kai; to; !onoma th:V povlewV tou: qeou: mou…... kai; to; !onoma mou to; kainovn (to onoma tou theou mou kai to onoma tēs poleōs tou theou mou… kai to onoma mou to kainon) “the name of my God, the name of the city of my God… and my new name” does not necessarily indicate three inscribed names. Ezekiel 48:35 records the name of the new Jerusalem as “the LORD is there,” which may be translated, “the LORD is its name.”[10] Similarly in Matthew 1:23 Jesus is name Immanuel: “God with us.”
Charge to Heed the Word

[1]Thomas, 273.
[2]Beale, 283.
[3]Daniel E. Hatfield, “Revelation 3:7-13” (classroom lecture notes, 22440–Greek Syntax and Exegesis, Spring 2007).

[4]Beale, 286.
[5]Ibid., 290-291.
[7]R.C. Sproul, The Reformation Study Bible (Orlando: Ligonier Ministries, 2005), 1694.
[8]Beale, 295.
[9]Aune, 243.
[10]Beale, 294.



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