Wednesday in the Twenty-First Week in Ordinary Time

Revelation 3:7-13

Letters to the Churches: Philadelphia

The church at Philadelphia, together with the church at Smyrna, are the two churches which receive no rebuke from the Lord.  And they have this in common: They were weak by worldly standards but strong in the Lord.  It seems that this is an axiom of church life no matter when or where—the church is always strongest when it is weakest.  Did not the Apostle say, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10)?  Thus, it is a spiritual law for individuals as well as churches.

Christ introduces himself as the holy and true one—fitting since these words describe the believers in Philadelphia who derive their fidelity and holiness from their Lord.  The “key of [King] David” speaks to our Lord having the key of the Kingdom, including the power to allow some in and shut others out, without appeal.  That door is open for the church in Philadelphia to enter, for though they have little power they “have kept [his] word and have not denied [his] name.”  Unlike those in Sardis, Thyatira, and Pergamum, they refused to compromise with the lordly powers of this world, and rejoiced in suffering for it.  It appears that they especially suffered at the hands of some Jews in the city who perhaps informed the authorities, insinuating seditious intent.  But they are assured that these ethnic Jews will one day bow before the feet of the new Israel of God composed of Jew and Gentile, learning that God loved them while those hated them (Galatians 6:16). 

The Lord will reward their patient endurance by keeping them “from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on earth.”  We see believers experiencing tribulation throughout this Book, and Paul plainly tells us, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).  On the other hand, if God so desires to spare some that trial, who are we to question His wisdom?  Even so, Christ encourages them to “hold fast.”  Hear the rewards for those who “conquer”—the word that Christ continuously employs for faithful and patient endurance: “I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God” and “never shall he go out of it” (see Psalm 27:4; 84:10); “I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God,…and my own new name” (see 2:17).  In Eastern monasticism, the monks receive a new name upon their entry into the monastery.  To be named by one means to belong to that one and be changed by that one often reflected in the meaning of the name.  I like the name my parents chose for me, but I’d rather have the name he has chosen for me.  How special will that be!

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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