“Christ’s Message to Philadelphia Part 3”
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Revelation 3.7-13 Part 3
Revelation 3. We’re told in Scripture …. Proverbs 6:6 6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Ants are an example of perseverance.
Ants are small; however, they can travel long distances to bring home food and are very strong in comparison to their size. Some species can carry 100 times their own weight. If you could carry 100 times your own weight, that would mean you’d have no problem lifting a killer whale over your head!
The Argentine ant’s largest colony spans over 3,700 miles “from Italy to the Spanish Atlantic coast.”
Ants can travel around 100 yards in search of food. If you compare the weight of an ant to the weight of a human, that would be like you traveling 1,325 miles! … oh to have 6 legs!
Despite its stubby legs, the Saharan silver ant is the fastest ant in the world, speeding along at 855 millimeters per second—or 200 meters per second if it were the size of a human, Science News reports. That’s like you running 447 mph!
Ants are diligent, enduring, persevering.
“Go to the ant, you sluggard!”
Now, we’re told to persevere in our Christian faith in Revelation 3:7-13. There are times that get tough… pleasures beckon us, temptations abound, and people can cast derision upon us for trusting in Christ. But keep on going, the reward is great.
Revelation 3:7–13 7 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; 8 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. 9 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. 10 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. 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12 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. 13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
In our text, vv.11-12, we have further exhortation to persevere in our faith in Christ as well as promises for those who do.
We’re told of the Philadelphian’s perseverance…Jesus says they have persevered in trusting in Jesus… He says…thou
v.8: … hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast
True Christians persevere in the faith; they keep on trusting in Christ and serving Him, even in the face of great opposition… spiritual opposition or even persecution.
NEED: Folks, this is coming. There appears to be a time coming when those who trust in Christ will be physically persecuted in this land… it seems to be right around the corner. Try being an outspoken Christian in the public school system today or on liberal college campuses. What about certain professions? How difficult would it be to be a nurse having to deal with life and death issues, abortion and euthanasia? Owning a bakery can be horrible also!
TRANS: Now, our text is just vv.11-12. And first we have a further exhortation to persevere in light of Jesus coming.
Further Exhortation to Perseverance (3:11): Persevere
Revelation 3:11 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Jesus promises to come quickly.
Jesus promises to come quickly
“Behold, I come quickly”…But that makes us a little uncomfortable. Why? Because it’s been nearly 2,000 years. How is it that Jesus can say that he’s coming quickly?
A little difficult, bear with me. Let me give the major point first on this statement first.
Give the Major Point First: “Quickly” refers to His Imminent Return. Imminency refers to the fact that Christ could return for His Church at any moment, it is certain to occur, and no predicted event will happen before that return.” Again, Imminency means Christ could return at any moment, it is certain, and no predicted event will happen before that return.” At any moment, certain, and no major event will happen before then.
That’s the word quickly; behold, I come quickly.
ARG: Now, let me prove that quickly refers to imminency in 2 major points.
Disclaimer first: the term ‘quickly’ is just as it sounds. But the strict meaning of the term is watered down by the prophetic context. We have to understand ‘quickly’ within its prophetic context, from the viewpoint of the prophet.
Get into the mind of the prophet! What are they seeing?
The prophetic viewpoint, the viewpoint of the prophet, demands that the term be understood as imminent.
The prophetic experience is on of “telescoping.”
To understand this, we have to understand how prophecy works in Scripture. So often, in Old Testament prophecies of the first coming of the Messiah, you also have the second coming of the Messiah.
For example, in Micah chapter 5 we had the prophecy that when the Messiah comes he would be born in Bethlehem. Within just the span of two verses you also have the prophecy of the second coming. In verse two of that chapter you have prophecy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem., “You, Bethlehem Ephratha too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you one will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
And then in verse four it says, “he will be great to the ends of the earth.” He will be so great, he will have universal rule over all of the earth.
But that wouldn’t happen for thousands of years. And so this is one reason why the Jews stumble at Jesus being the Messiah. They believe that when the Messiah came, would set up his kingdom on earth right then and there.
Little did they know, that there would be thousands of years between his first and second comings.
It works the same way when Jesus quotes from Isaiah 61 at the beginning of his ministry in Luke chapter 4.
After Jesus is tempted in the wilderness, Luke records that he proceeds to Galilee and goes to Nazareth where he was brought up and taught it in the synagogue. He opened to the book of Isaiah and turns to Isaiah 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; 2 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord ….
And then Jesus closes the book and sits down and says “Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” And that’s because the rest of this passage has not been fulfilled. He stops in the middle of a sentence from Isaiah. If you keep going in Isaiah 61 the rest of verse 2 says … Isaiah 61:2 … And the day of vengeance of our God;
And reading even further in Isaiah 61, you will begin to realize that these things have to do with end time prophecy that has not yet been fulfilled. But Jesus knew that “the day of vengeance” wasn’t the purpose in His first coming so that’s why He didn’t quote that.
So the prophetic viewpoint is very important when we understand our text, “behold, I am coming quickly.”
ILL: the prophetic viewpoint, the view of the prophet is kind of like a telescope. If you take a telescope and you go to the mountains, and you set your telescope up to look at one mountain, it looks like the mountain that is behind that mountain is really close to the first mountain. However, if you were to measure the distance between the two mountains, it would be way more than what you would expect.
Similar to that, Jesus gives his prophets a vision. And so often when the prophet sees the prophecies in his vision, it looks to be very close to one another in time.
But that is simply assumed and is so often not directly stated in the passage.
So, from the prophetic viewpoint, when Jesus says, “I am coming quickly” we must interpret that with in the context of the kind of literature we’re dealing with, it is prophecy.
From the standpoint of prophecy, Jesus is coming quickly. The idea must be that His coming is imminent.
TRANS: Now, the idea of prophetic telescoping occurs in phrases like the latter days, last days.
latter days, last days
The prophetic viewpoint is further demonstrated when the New Testament authors use the words “latter days” and “last days” to refer to the church age.
For example, last days…
2 Timothy 3:1 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
Hebrews 1:2 2 [God] Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
2 Peter 3:3 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,
In the last days perilous times will come, God has spoken to us in these last days by his son, and in these last days, scoffers also shall come. Clearly, this refers to the church age.
So, these last days have been ongoing for nearly 2,000 years! That’s the prophetic viewpoint… and it creates in every generation of Christians, a sense of imminency… that Christ could come at any moment, and He could!
TRANS: Especially significant, is the apostle John’s statement in 1 John 2:18.
Scripture has a different standard when measuring time in prophecy, 1 John 2:18.
John, who wrote our Revelation passage, also wrote 1 John 2:18
1 John 2:18 18 Little children, it is the last [hour]: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last [hour].
It was the last hour, even during John’s day! That hour has been ongoing for 2,000 years. But again, this is the viewpoint of the prophet. He’s been given the vision and it appears that the first and second comings are close together. But like with a telescope, those mountains could very well be separated by hundreds or thousands of years.
And so the idea is imminency. Jesus could come back at any moment, we do not know how long it will be between the first and second comings of our Lord.
TRANS: And so we understand the prophetic viewpoint that it is one of telescoping; we can understand the fact that Jesus is coming quickly. He is coming quickly in the sense from the prophetic viewpoint.
And we also know “quickly” teaches imminency, because other passages of Scripture also teach imminency. We must interpret Scripture with Scripture. The larger volume of verses teach imminency in different ways. Therefore, we should interpret difficult passages in light of clearer passages.
So we see imminency in the word “quickly” … “I am coming quickly” because that is the prophetic viewpoint, one of telescoping.
But we also see imminency and other passages and metaphors that teach imminency.
Because other passages and metaphors teach imminence,
When Jesus teaches for example in Matthew 24 “that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only.” And, “watch therefore; for you know not what hour your Lord doth come.”
And especially Matthew 24:44, “therefore be also ready; for in such an hour as you think not the Son of Man cometh.” That’s imminency; He could come at any moment.
Also, the bridegroom metaphor and the virgins with their lamps teach imminency. Likewise when Jesus teaches that he will come back like a thief in the night. The idea is that He will come back at an hour that you do not expect.
And so therefore he could come back at any moment, just like a thief could come at any time during the night. That’s imminency.
That’s why when you read prophecies in the Scripture, and put them together, you can understand that prophecy, whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament,…. prophecy is not mainly concerned with length of time, as on a clock or a calendar.
ILL: And so again, imminency refers to the fact that Christ could come back at any moment, it is certain, and there is no major event that needs to happen before Christ comes back.
And when Jesus says in the book of Revelation in the context of prophecy, when he says, “I’m coming quickly.” He is referring to the fact that he could come at any moment, without any necessary delay.
ILL: It’s like a hanging rock. Picture yourself at the bottom of the cliff and you look up and you see a large boulder overhanging a small cliff and it’s rocking back and forth. It could fall at any moment!
That is just like Jesus return. He could come back at any moment.
Don’t be among those who scoff….
2 Peter 3:3–4 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
TRANS: In light of that promise of His imminent coming…
Jesus exhorts to hold fast what we have
Revelation 3:11 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
Hold on to what? The Christian hope! The open door and ultimately Christ himself.
“Hold fast” keep a hold of, hold on to it! Don’t let it go! Keep a firm grip on it. Because Jesus is coming, hold fast what you have! The progress you’ve made in Christ is a rich treasure… hold it fast. Maintain your walk with Christ and so prove that you are a true disciple of Christ! Don’t fall into the snares of the devil and depart from the living God!
ARG: Because we know there are servants that seem to be servants, but in actuality they are not. Jesus tells of such servants in….
Matthew 24:46–51 46 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47 Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49 And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50 The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51 And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
There are those appear to be servants, or claim to be true servants of Christ, but actually are not. And so Christians are told to “hold fast!”
“Hold fast” to what? … to the rich treasure of Christ and His likeness! And so prove that you are a believer in Christ…
TRANS: Why hold on to what you have? Why not let go of the Christian hope and Christ Himself?
That our crown not be stolen
Revelation 3:11 11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, [why?] that no man take thy crown.
EXP crown: now, a crown of course is a sign of victory at the ancient games. What is this crown that Jesus is talking about when he says that we should hold fast to the Christian hope why? “That no man take thy crown.”
The only other time “crown” is mentioned in these letters to the seven churches is in Revelation 2:10. You can look at that verse. Revelation 2:10.
Rev. 2:10 “be faithful until death, I will give you the crown of life.”
Now look again at Revelation 3:11: “hold fast what you have.” That is very similar to Revelation 2:10, “be faithful unto death.”
“Hold fast what you have,” “be faithful unto death.”
It is stated the same way. Jesus promises to give to those who hold fast what they have and are faithful to Christ until the end … he promises to give to us a crown of life.
But it could be that there are those who do not hold fast what they have and they are not faithful unto death. And what happens to them? They do not receive the crown of life.
Now, it is not so important for us to discover who it is who could possibly take the crown. The idea, the understanding is one of perseverance. Christians persevere, they are faithful to Christ till the end. They keep on trusting Christ until the very end. They live lives that can clearly be demonstrated to be Christian.
ARG: And they persevere. Now, this is not talking about losing your salvation.
“hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” That’s not losing your salvation… because…
John 6:37 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
Everyone that the Father gives to the Son will come to the Son and the Son will not throw him out. All who are the Son’s will be saved.
Likewise in John 10:28, no one can pluck a believer out of the Son’s or the Father’s hand…
John 10:28–29 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
If Jesus gives you eternal life, you will never perish. No one, including yourself, no one can be plucked out of Jesus hand or the Father’s hand.
At the same time true followers of Christ will persevere until the end, they literally will be followers of Jesus until the end.
Hebrews 3:14 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, [how do we know if we were made partakers of Christ?]…If we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
You are a partaker of Christ if you persevere until the end. Every Christian perseveres until the end. Someone therefore who does not persevere in their faith in Christ until the end was not a partaker of Christ.
Ways not to persevere/hold fast
Please understand though … we are not saved because we persevere.
But it’s that someone who is saved, will persevere. It is a characteristic of the Christian life.
So what would it look like not to persevere in the Christian life?
Reject Christ, Choose not to follow Him.
Someone does not persevere would be somebody who would seem to believe for a while, but they end up rejecting Christ and outright saying that they do not follow him.
There are countless pastors and contemporary Christian music artists whom we could cite as having rejected Christ outright like that.
Say you follow Him, but live for this world.
But a so called Christian also would fail to persevere and demonstrate that they are not actually a true believer if they live the lifestyles that are characteristic of the world but yet they claim to be a believer. These people are not persevering, they are not Christians.
Paul does talk about the so-called believer in 1 Corinthians 5. Even though they claim to follow Jesus, their lifestyle demonstrates that they do not. These are not persevering in the faith.
TRANS: Jesus concludes this letter with promises for those who do persevere and keep on trusting in Jesus.
Promise for those who Persevere (3:12): Writing a new name
Revelation 3:12 12 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.
These are difficult, but I think we can get it as we wrap it up this morning…
Pillar in the Temple: stable relationship?
“Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God”
Now, there are a few reasons to believe that Jesus is speaking metaphorically here.
No temple in final kingdom, New Jerusalem
First, there is no temple in the final kingdom, in the New Jerusalem…
Revelation 21:22 22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
Because there is no literal, physical temple, how can Jesus say He’ll make us into a physical pillar in the temple? It’s metaphorical.
CF. other uses of pillar in NT to arrive at stability, permanence
Also, a second reason we know it’s metaphorical, is because the Scripture uses ‘pillar’ metaphorically elsewhere.
Galatians 2:9 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, …
James, Peter, and John were pillars, they were permanent stable fixtures in the church.
1 Timothy 3:15 15 But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Therefore, …”pillar in the temple” here is metaphorical for what? For the permanent place the believer has in the final kingdom
That is supported by the statement in verse 12… “he shall go no more out….” A pillar stays…
That is permanent, glory to God! … the one who perseveres has a permanent place in the final kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ!
Write on him the name of the Father, New Jerusalem, and Jesus’ new name
And the promises conclude in verse 12 with Jesus promising to write on the true believer, the overcomer, three names. He promises to write on him the name of the Father, the name of the New Jerusalem, and Jesus’ new name.
To write your name on something, or in this case someone, has reference to ownership.
Presently, our citizenship is in heaven. But there is coming a day when that citizenship will be fully realized. We will be granted access into the new Jerusalem and we will enter into the heavenly city through its gates. And we will inherit everything that the Lord has for us….
We will feast from the tree of life, which Adam forfeited. We will be glorying and rejoicing in God with the help of the heavenly creatures. There will be unfathomable peace and unimaginable joy. We will be basking in the glory of the Lord Jesus as well as being reunited with Christian loved ones. We will rule and reign with him in the new Jerusalem for ever and ever and we will for ever leave behind all the rudiments of this world the curse the brokenness that we experience every day and we will be caught up in all of who he is for all eternity!
This is certain! Jesus said that he will make us a pillar in the temple of God and he will write upon us those names. IT’s permanent, it’s certain, Jesus owns us…
Loved with everlasting love,
drawn by grace that love to know,
Spirit sent from Christ above,
thou dost witness it is so.
O this full and precious peace
from his presence all divine;
in a love that cannot cease,
I am his and he is mine.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Revelation 3.7-13 Part 3
And so you who are the servant of Christ, the Christian, you follow Christ: persevere! Keep his word, do not deny his name, keep the word of his patience, hold fast to what you have in Christ.
God has called you to persevere! In him, you are an immortal champion. Rise up to that calling that he has called you to. He testifies that you are an overcomer in him, you are a victor, a victorious one! Now rise up to that very calling and live like the champion he is called you to be.
If a human weighs 160lbs, then a human could lift 16,000 lbs if he could lift 100 times his body weight. Orca whales weigh between 8-12,000 lbs. ↑