by Ruth Olsen
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I know you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name (Revelation 3:8c).
Like the other letters to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation, this letter addresses the past, present, and future of the church in Philadelphia. Footnotes in a study Bible can help us understand this letter or a good commentary such as Where earth meets heaven – a commentary on Revelation by John G Strelan (1994).
Jesus finds no fault with the church in Philadelphia – and he is the Davidic Messiah with the authority to open and close doors (also see Matthew 1:1–17; 28:18–20). The ‘open door’ most likely symbolises the ‘door’ of salvation through Jesus Christ himself, the only access to God (Ephesians 2:18; Acts 4:12) and through whom we come to know God as Father (John 14:6).
Jesus tells them he knows their deeds and faithfulness. He says he also knows the doings of those who oppose them – hostile pseudo-Jews who did not walk ‘in the spirit of faithful Abraham’, ‘the synagogue of Satan’ that also caused trouble at Smyrna (Revelation 2:8–11; Strelan, pp 62,84; also see Romans 2:28,29).
Jesus will deal with them. He encourages the Christians to hold steady and that those who remain faithful will be made ‘a pillar in the temple of my God’. Pillars commonly have a load-bearing or stabilising function or can stand alone like commemorative pillars. And Jesus will write three names on them, giving them identity, strongly reassuring them that they are safe with him; they belong to him.
There’s a theme flowing through this week’s devotional readings of relational trust in Jesus, right where we are. No matter what, annoyances, difficulties and even opposition can arise, yet how we deal with it is the thing that matters. As we hold to Jesus, trusting him, he will bring us through the trial, test or difficulty by the power of his Spirit, our Helper. We have not been left alone; he will provide us with the strength and patient endurance needed, fresh and new each morning!
Lord Jesus, you know our past, present and future. Enable us to endure patiently, knowing your presence as your Spirit leads us. Amen.
Ruth has been the other half of her husband Steen for 48-plus years. She has lived in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales, ACT, New Zealand, and now again in Adelaide, South Australia. Together with their children and grandchildren, they number 11, so Ruth says it was rather sad when lockdown caps were 10 per household! Among many other activities, she is often reading or learning French. She is grateful for open borders now, with more caravan trips beckoning.