The Seven Churches
The Church of Philadelphia
The city of Philadelphia was located seventy-five miles southeast of Sardis. It was a large city famous for its wine. The word Philadelphia comes from the Greek word phileo, meaning “brotherly love.” Therefore, Philadelphia means “city of brotherly love.”
In Greek, there are three words for love: eros, phileo, and agape. Eros means “intimate love.” This is referring to love based on need, such as a babies who need their mothers, or relationships based on physical attraction. This is a selfish and immature type of love. Phileo is love based on judicial fairness. This can include siblings that share a room, buying and selling goods, or the court settling disputes based on basic human rights. Agape means “unconditional love.” This is the type of love God has towards us. It is a mature love that is unselfish, forgiving, understanding, and unconditional. It should be our goal to have agape love towards our peers.
Getting back to Revelation, the letter to Philadelphia starts out as follows:
Revelation 3:7-8 – ‘And to the messenger of the assembly in Philadelphia write: These things saith he who is holy, he who is true, he who is having the key of David, he who is opening and no one doth shut, and he shutteth and no one doth open! I have known thy works; lo, I have set before thee a door – opened, and no one is able to shut it, because thou hast a little power, and didst keep my word, and didst not deny my name; (YLT)
The “key of David” is referring to phileo love. The name David means “love” in Hebrew. Also, David was a king that ruled with love, but he was not perfect. David made mistakes including refusing to take the ark of the covenant where God told him, committing adultery with Bathsheba, and killing Uriah to cover it up. Revelation also says that Philadelphia had little power and kept God’s word and His name. This sounds like a phileo type love between brothers. It is enough to open doors of opportunity to get to know Christ better.
Prophetically, the age of Philadelphia is referring to none other than the United States of America! The United States was declared independent from the Kingdom of Great Britain on July 4, 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson. America was built based on phileo love for all fellow men, with God at the center. America represents a power manifestation of the Kingdom of God on earth. Great missionary movements took place over the next 200 years, which spread Christianity throughout the world. This included the Baptist Missionary Society established in 1792, the London Mission Society established in 1795, the Wesleyan Missionary Society established in 1797, and the Anglican Church Missionary Society established in 1800.
Revelation 3:9-11 – ‘lo, I make of the synagogue of the Adversary those saying themselves to be Jews, and are not, but do lie; lo, I will make them that they may come and bow before thy feet, and may know that I loved thee. Because thou didst keep the word of my endurance, I also will keep thee from the hour of the trial that is about to come upon all the world, to try those dwelling upon the earth. Lo, I come quickly, be holding fast that which thou hast, that no one may receive thy crown. (YLT)
This passage mirrors the story of king Hezekiah in the Old Testament. In 2 Kings 19, the Assyrian army was about to attack Jerusalem, but God destroyed the army of 85,000 men in one night. Later on, Hezekiah became sick and was about to die. However, God spared his life again:
2 Kings 20:1,6 – In those days hath Hezekiah been sick unto death, and come unto him doth Isaiah son of Amoz the prophet, and saith unto him, ‘Thus said Jehovah: Give a charge to thy house, for thou art dying, and dost not live. […] and I have added to thy days fifteen years, and out of the hand of the king of Asshur I deliver thee and this city, and have covered over this city for Mine own sake, and for the sake of David My servant. (YLT)
This is parallel to the “hour of the trial” mentioned in Revelation. Often in the Bible, a prophetic day is 360 actual years. There are 24 hours in a day. Therefore, a prophetic hour is 360/24 = 15 years. God let Hezekiah live for an extra 15 years. This was his hour of trial.
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