The sixth letter in Revelation 2-3 is written to the church in Philadelphia:
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie- behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:7-13 ESV)
Once again, Jesus says nothing “against” the church in Philadelphia. What can we learn from the church in the city of brotherly love?
What does Jesus say about the church in Philadelphia? 1) He knows their works. 2) He knows they only have a little power. 3) He knows that they have kept his word. 4) He knows that they have not denied him.
Again, Jesus begins the letter with a focus on the works of the people. In this case, the works, keeping Jesus works, and refusing to deny Christ are all accomplished with only a little power. More than likely, this refers to influence within the city of Philadelphia, since Christ himself has unlimited power (“who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens”). Perhaps this refers to political or financial influence. Whatever kind of power these people lack, they are able to please Jesus without much power – remember, he has speaks nothing against them. Combined with works, Jesus also mentions their obedience and their faith. These are continuing themes throughout these letters.
What does Jesus want the church in Philadelphia to do? He wants them to hold fast. Once again, Jesus does not add to his requirements for his followers in Smyrna. He only wants them to live according to the faith that they have – in fact, he wants them to continue living as they are.
What does Jesus promise the church in Philadelphia? Like the church in Smyrna, Jesus makes a promise to the church in Philadelphia. But, this time, he promises that they will avoid persecution. But, the avoidance will not be by their own hands. Jesus himself will keep them from persecution.
Again we see Jesus focusing on works, faith, obedience, and persecution. And again, we see that for those who are living their life in the righteousness of Christ, he only asks that they continue to hold fast to him in faith. Jesus requires his followers to trust him if they are living in persecution or if they are not living in persecution. He expects his followers to live a life of faith if they have much influence in their community, or if they have little influence in their community. Whatever the situation or circumstance, Jesus asks his followers to hold fast to him in faith.