Read Introduction to Revelation
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, ‘He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens’”
The letter to the church at Philadelphia is the sixth of the seven letters to the churches of Asia Minor (western Turkey today).
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write
Jesus addresses the next letter to the church in the city of Philadelphia. Philadelphia is located 28 miles southeast of the city of Sardis (modern Alashehir, Turkey). Philadelphia was notable for agricultural products. Earthquakes destroyed the city several times. The most recent earthquake to the writing of Revelation was in A.D. 37. Extensive damage occurred to the city in A.D. 17 (Tacitus Annals 2.47.3-4). Interestingly, Jesus promises to this church that they will be a “pillar in the temple of God.”
The city named itself about Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamum, who built the city (about 159-138 B.C., the youngest of the seven cities). The city had a significant Jewish population.
Many trade guilds abounded in this city as in Thyatira. The city was known especially for its wool and leather workers.
‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, ‘He who has the key of David
Jesus presents His unique authority to each of the seven churches. To the church of Philadelphia, Jesus describes Himself as someone who is holy and true and holds sovereign authority over the church. This speaks of the character of the one speaking to the church. His character gives Him the authority to deal with the issues of the church.
As someone who is “holy,” Jesus has the right to judge the church in Philadelphia. The word “holy” carries the idea in the Bible of someone separate and distinct (Is 6:3; 40:25; 65:16; Ha 3:3). Jesus is the Unique One. No one is like Him. There is no flaw in Him.
Jesus, as the “true” one, is the one who corresponds to reality. He is the only one true to reality. He is the Genuine One in contrast to liars. He is true to truth. He guards His church against false doctrine. We can count on Him to be true to His Word. He is the truth itself (Jn 14:6).
The phrase “key of David” may come from Isaiah 22:22 where God gave Eliakim the key to the house of David.” Before Eliakim received this key, an incident occurred that gave Eliakim the rights to the “key of David.” King Hezekiah caught Shebna [the former key holder] in a fraud. God sent him in exile to Babylon. God replaced him with Eliakim, giving him the “key of David.” This gave him access to all of David’s riches. Jesus, as the heir of the Davidic Covenant, will inherit the millennial kingdom. This is His political right. He will administer His church as He sees fit.
No one can oppose the will of Jesus. He has authority over the church. No one can contravene His will.
He who opens and no one shuts
By His sovereign, political authority, Jesus opens opportunities for the church. He sovereignly acts on behalf of the local church. Places of opportunity that would otherwise be closed, Jesus acts in those situations and makes them possible.
and shuts and no one opens
The word “shuts” means shut, lock, bar. Jesus bars certain church situations in His providence from happening. Jesus closes doors of churches when He pleases to do so. When churches become obstinate to His will, He closes their doors. He works to will and do of His own pleasure (Php 2:13).
We have a shut door in Acts 16:6,7 and an open door in 1 Corinthians 16:9.
Jesus sovereignly gives churches opportunities to minister.
If Jesus opens a door for us to minister, that is a lost opportunity. We should walk through any door that the Lord opens.
Ac 14:27, “Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”
Co 4:3-6, “…meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
1 Co 16:9, “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”
2 Co 2:12, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord…”