August 28, 2021
Scripture: “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.” Revelation 3:8 ESV
Observation: Located thirty miles southeast of Sardis, Philadelphia (modern Aleshir) was strategically founded along a Roman highway to Asia in 140 BC by Attalus II. Attalus gave the city his surname: Philadephia (which means brotherly love). With extensive commercial and cultural exports to Asia, Philadelphia became known for its open-door policy. It benefited from the region’s volcanic ash that produced fertile soil and much crop production, but it all suffered horrendous earthquakes that periodically leveled the city. In 17 AD, one such quake caused so much destruction that many citizens relocated their homes outside the city walls. In response to the disaster, Caesar Tiberius alleviated taxes and invested money to rebuild Philadelphia. Consequently, the city changed its name to Neocaesarea (the city of the new Caesar).
With its history in mind, John pronounces Jesus’ encouraging words to Philadelphia, the sole church of the seven that received no reproof. Instead, in contrast to Philadelphia’s turbulent history, the saints are encouraged to persevere with the promise that he has set an open door before them (free access to him), which no one will be able to shut. And, in verse 12, he makes two additional vows: that they will never have to relocate outside his temple (never be displaced from his kingdom) and that he will write his new name on them (they will never lose their identity as children of God). Interestingly, to date, Philadelphia is the only one of the seven churches with continuous Christian representation.
Takeaway: In seasons of trial and suffering, carry on with your mission, knowing that our Brother’s door is always open. And though our earthly addresses and names may change, we will always have a home with him and carry on the family name.
Prayer: Father God, please help us to persevere in our kingdom work and be quick to call on your Son who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13) when we are weary. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling