Have you ever been locked out of your apartment or house? What did it feel like? Have you ever been “locked out” of certain relationships or groups? What did that feel like?
Continuing our series from Revelation 1-3, “Revealed,” we will look at the church in Philadelphia fromRevelation 3:7-13 this weekend. Before you begin your study, ask God to speak to you through the Scripture. Then, whether you are alone or with a small group, read that passage aloud.
There is not a lot that we know about the church in Philadelphia. It is likely that this church was founded when Paul spent extensive time ministering in the city of Ephesus in Asia Minor (see Acts 19). The city was founded in 189 B.C., making it the youngest of the seven cities mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3. It was intended to be a center of Greek culture and language, situated at a crossroads of many important trade routes. The city’s name derives from the close relationship between King Eumenes of Pergamum and his brother, Attalus II, whose nickname was Philadelphus (literally, “brother lover”).
- This letter begins with a description of Jesus in 3:7, which is loosely based on Revelation 1:18. What do you think is significant to this local church about Jesus’ description of Himself here?
- Verses 8-10 are words of strong encouragement from Jesus to this church. In fact, this is one of two letters with lots of encouraging words and no correcting words (see also the letter to Smyrna in 2:8-11). What do you see as the clearest words of encouragement for this church?
- In one sense, Philadelphia was a missionary city for Greek culture. Because of this, there seems to be a missionary impulse in Christ’s words for Philadelphia. What might that mean?
- What words of encouragement and mission would Jesus speak to your church or, more personally, to you?
- Jesus says that the one who overcomes – or is victorious – will be made “a pillar in the temple of my God” (3:12a). A pillar conveys both stability and endurance. Christ also promises to write a threefold name upon them (3:12b). Philadelphia had a history of difficult earthquakes that shook it, sometimes to destruction. What would these promises mean to the church there?
- How is God speaking to you through your study of this letter to the church in Philadelphia? How might you take it into action this week? If you are in a small group, discuss this together. If you are on your own, take some time to write down your thoughts on this.
Next week: We conclude our series “Revealed” by looking at the church in Laodicea from Revelation 3:14-22. Read the passage ahead of time to prepare for the message.