Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Seven Churches of Revelation: Philadelphia Part 7 of 8

The Seven Churches of Revelation

David Q. Santos
6. Philadelphia: The Revived Church
Revelation 3:7-13 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
The word Philadelphia means brotherly love.[1] It was a small city located about 40 miles southeast of Sardis. Its location, vineyards, and wine production made it wealthy and commercially important.[2] This faithful church is commended for their perseverance in faith, keeping the word of Christ, and honoring His name. This is the only church other than Smyrna that is not given any criticism.

This church represents the church age that came out of the post reformation era from about 1800 AD to present. While there were many dead denominations some held to the faith and believed in the word of God. In particular Baptists and Methodists of this time period chose to take a literal approach to the Bible even though many institutions were leaning towards liberalism.

Few passages demonstrate the nature, purpose, and reality of the rapture better than Revelation 3:10. This passage is a promise to the Church to keep them out of the time period of temptation. Ryrie wrote, “The promise is based on keeping the word of His patience, a reference to all believers (see similar Johannine designations in John 8:51; 14:23-24; and 1 John 2:3). It was made to all the churches, not just the one in Philadelphia in the first century (not Rev. 3:13 and the similar close to each of the letters to these representative churches).”[3] The exegesis of this passage demonstrates that the Church will be externally kept out of this time. This is of course the blessed hope of the Bride of Christ. Walvoord wrote of this verse, “Pretribulationists have rightly regarded this passage as coinciding with the concept that Christ is coming for the church before the tribulation and will take the church out of the world and hence remove the church before this period of human history described as the Great Tribulation.”[4] This view is the product of pure exegetical and theological interpretation. This verse supports the view of the Church being taken out of the tribulation rather than being protected through and in the tribulation as some would argue. The two key phrases as to the timing of the rapture are “keep thee from,” and “the hour of temptation.” It is vital to the pretribulational rapture position to demonstrate that the “keeping” of the Church will be external from the tribulation rather than internal or through it.
“keep thee from”
The word “keep” (tereo) means “to attend to carefully, take care of, to guard, one in the state in which he is, to observe, to reserve: to undergo something.”[5] This promise is in direct contrast to the passages illustrating martyrdom during the tribulation (Revelation 6:9-10; 7:9, 13, 14; 13:15; 14:13; 16:6; 18:24; and 20:4)[6]. This contrast does not allow for the Church going through the tribulation. “The preposition ejk is the focal point of the debate over whether Revelation 3:10 promises internal or external preservation from the hour of testing.”[7] That is; will the Church be protected in the tribulation or will it be removed from that time. The word εκ “from” is rendered primarily as “of,” “from,” or “out of” in the Authorized Version. Strong’s defines the word as “out of, from, by, away from.”[8] This word by itself can have the meaning of being taken away from in either an internal or external scenes. However, when the entire promise is taken in its context coupled with exegesis of the following verse it becomes clear that the Church is preserved away from the tribulation.
“the hour of temptation”
In this revelation Jesus promised to keep the church saints from the hour of temptation or testing that would determine, demonstrate, or expose the kind of people being tested.[9] Christ based this promise on the fact that the Church saints had already passed their test. In light of that, it appears that because they had already passed their test, Christ promised that He would not put them into the period that, as will be demonstrated later, will have the purpose of testing a very different group of people.[10]

The church of Brotherly love is the church age that will be raptured or removed from the earth according to this promise. Of course there will be other churches in existence when this event takes place, since all four of the last four churches of revelation remain in existence until the coming of Christ. Those that will be removed to be with Jesus out of the tribulation are those individuals that are true believers in Jesus Christ.

Work Cited:
Courson, Jon. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: New Testament. Nashville. Thomas Nelson Publishing. 2003.
Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible. Thomas Nelson Publishers. Nashville TN. 1997.
Ryrie, Charles, Caldwell. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Chicago IL. Moody Press. 1999.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Ryrie Study Bible. Chicago, Moody Press. 1978.
Showers, Renald Dr. Maranatha: Our Lord, Come! The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc. Bellmawr, NJ. 1995.
Strong’s Bible Dictionary. The Online Bible Millennium Edition Version 1.2. Winterbourne Ontario, Canada. 1999.
Scofield C.I. Rev. D.D. Scofield Reference Bible-Reproduction of 1917. Greenville, SC. Stonehaven Press.
Townsend, Jeffrey L. The Rapture in Revelation 3:10. Dallas Texas. Bibliotheca Sacra. July-Sept 1980.
Wallace, Roy Dr. Studies from Revelation. Shreveport, Louisiana. Lin Wel Publishing. 2002.
Walvoord, John F. The Rapture Question. Grand Rapids MI. Zondervan Publishing House. 1979.
Walvoord, John F. The Revelation of Jesus Christ: A Commentary By John F. Walvoord. Chicago. Moody Press. 1966.
[1] Wallace, Roy Dr. Studies from Revelation. Pg 38.
[2] Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible. Pg 2170.
[3] Ryrie, Charles, Caldwell. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth. Pg 562.
[4] Walvoord, John F. The Rapture Question. Pg 255.
[5] Strong’s Bible Dictionary. #5083 tereo
[6] Townsend, Jeffrey L. The Rapture in Revelation 3:10. Pg 253.
[7] Townsend, Jeffrey L. The Rapture in Revelation 3:10. Pg 253.
[8] Strong’s Bible Dictionary. #1537 ek
[9] Showers, Renald Dr. Maranatha: Our Lord, Come! Pg 211.
[10] Showers, Renald Dr. Maranatha: Our Lord, Come! Pg 212.


  1. Margaret Macdonald in 1830 was the first person to ever teach that a "first" group (Philadelphia) would be raptured before the tribulation and that a "later" group (Laodicea) would be the only one of the seven churches to have to go through the tribulation. See "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" in the MacPherson Archives on the POWERED BY CHRIST MINISTRIES site. Interesting, right?

  2. This is not really interesting. It is born of cheap shot theology with no historical, theological, or Biblical fact.

    The allowance for the pretribulational view can be seen when the writings of ante-Nicene fathers such as Irenaeus are studied. Irenaeus viewed a sudden catching up of the Church prior to the great tribulation. Irenaeus (125-202 AD) wrote,
    "And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, “There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.” For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption."

    Therefore it is a fact that the doctrine of the rapture is historical.


  3. Here is another interesting reference.

    In the 1740s Edwards taught that three and a half years before the Antichrist will kill the two witnesses of Revelation 11, the Son of Man will appear in the clouds to raise the dead, change the living, and catch them up to be with Himself.


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