Write this to Philadelphia, to the Angel of the church. The Holy, the True—David’s key in his hand, opening doors no one can lock, locking doors no one can open—speaks:
“I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough.
“And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan—watch as I strip off their pretensions and they’re forced to acknowledge it’s you that I’ve loved.
“Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I’ll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test.
“I’m on my way; I’ll be there soon. Keep a tight grip on what you have so no one distracts you and steals your crown.
“I’ll make each conqueror a pillar in the sanctuary of my God, a permanent position of honor. Then I’ll write names on you, the pillars: the Name of my God, the Name of God’s City—the new Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven—and my new Name.
“Are your ears awake? Listen. Listen to the Wind Words, the Spirit blowing through the churches.” (Revelation 3:7–13)
Jesus’ words to the church in Philadelphia were words of encouragement for the trouble they were facing. Jesus promised that he would keep them “safe” during the “time of testing.” That is, they would remain with Jesus regardless of what happened; he would never leave them or forsake them, even in the darkest of times. The open door probably refers to the opportunity for evangelism that they had.
That God would “write on them” and that they would be “pillars” may be an allusion to the Maccabean Revolt. The great accomplishments of Simon Maccabeus during the revolt against the Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes were inscribed on tablets of brass that were attached to a conspicuous place in the Temple. For the people of Philadelphia their glory, their victory, was not in mighty deeds, but in bearing the name of God as citizens of the new Jerusalem, God’s eternal kingdom.
Life can be very difficult. But through everything, God never leaves us as grants us opportunities to share the Good News about the kingdom. And our names are forever written in his Book of Life.