Reading through Revelation – Chapter 3:7-13, Philadelphia


“the city of him who loves his brother”

Revelation 3:7-13


And write unto the Angel of the Church which is of Philadelphia, These things saith he that is Holy, and True, which hath the key of David, which 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 call themselves Jews, and are not, but do lie: behold, I say, I will make them that they shall come and worship before thy feet, and shall know that I have loved thee.

10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, therefore I will deliver thee from the hour of tentation [temptation], which will come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

11 Behold, I come shortly: hold that 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 the new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and I will write upon him my new Name.

13 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches. 

Rosa gallica purpuro-violacea magna, a painted engraving of a rose by Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759–1840).

The Church at Philadelphia –

the church of the city of him who loves his brother –

Pleasing Jesus,

hearing His commendation,

and receiving His certain and blessed promises.



International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Bible Study Tools

“A city of ancient Lydia in Asia Minor on the Cogamus River, 105 miles from Smyrna. It stood upon a terrace 650 ft. above the sea. Behind it are the volcanic cliffs to which the Turks have given the name of Devitt, or ‘inkwells’; on the other side of the city the land is exceedingly fertile, and there was produced a wine of whose excellence the celebrated Roman poet Virgil wrote. Philadelphia is not so ancient as many of the other cities of Asia Minor, for it was founded after 189 BC on one of the highways which led to the interior. Its name was given to it in honor of Attalus II, because of his loyalty to his elder brother, Eumenes II, king of Lydia. Still another name of the city was Decapolis, because it was considered as one of the ten cities of the plain. A third name which it bore during the 1st century. A.D. was Neo-kaisaria; it appears upon the coins struck during that period. During the reign of Vespasian, it was called Flavia. Its modern name, Ala-shehir, is considered by some to be a corruption of the Turkish words Allah-shehir, ‘the city of God,’ but more likely it is a name given it from the reddish color of the soil. In addition to all of these names it sometimes bore the title of ‘Little Athens’ because of the magnificence of the temples and other public buildings which adorned it. Philadelphia quickly became an important and wealthy trade center, for as the coast cities declined, it grew in power, and retained its importance even until late Byzantine times. . . As in most Asia Minor cities, many Jews lived there, and they possessed a synagogue. . .

E. J. Bank


The Final Prophecy of Jesus: An Introduction, Analysis, and Commentary on the Book of Revelation

Oral Edmond Collins

“Christ addresses the church of Philadelphia as the One whose words are from ‘him who is holy and true’ (7a). ‘Who is like you – majestic in holiness?’ (Exod 15:11) ‘There is no one holy like the LORD’ (1 Sam 2:2). ‘He who is holy and true’ is a clear affirmation of the Deity of Jesus. The absolute holiness of Christ indicates that He is set apart as God from all imperfection and moral evil. As holy, His authority is unblemished and His promises sure. 

“Jesus walks among the churches as one who holds the keys to David’s theocratic kingdom. The concept is covenant-oriented. Jesus is the true Davidic king and the fulfillment of the theocratic kingship by which God rules over the hearts of believing men. He absolutely controls their destiny regardless of Satan’s opposing forces which have invaded the evil world, even at times Christ’s church, as at Philadelphia. 

“Because Christ holds the keys, the same keys He delegated to Peter and the Apostles (Matt 16:19; 18:18), He opened the door of opportunity to His church to be Christ’s servant and messenger to the world. As Pergamum is the gateway to Phrygia, so every local church placed by Christ has neighboring peoples who need the Gospel. Philadelphia was not a strong church but, in the face of opposition and with the enablement of the Spirit of God, they had remained faithful. They had not denied their Lord. There is no higher calling of the church of Jesus Christ in any circumstance than to obey the Word of God. With obedience there is ultimate victory and vindication.

“Christ is coming soon! Though the original readers in the Philadelphia church didn’t live to witness that event, their next moment of consciousness beyond death will witness Christ in his glory and introduce them into the blessed age to come (1 Cor 15:18-23; 1 Thess 4:15). Then they with us will be made perfect (Heb 11:39), and we will be crowned with life and immortality, for ‘our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ’ (Phil 3:20).”


Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965

“An Open Door, which None Can Shut”, 3:8

“God had warned the churches of Ephesus and Sardis against boasting of their influential standing. Here, He cautions the Church in Philadelphia not to be discouraged because they are a nobody; for God is not dependent on worldly prestige.”

“Kept from Trial”, 3:10

“The Church in Smyrna had been told that they were to Suffer Persecution (2:10). Here, to the Church in Philadelphia, the promise is to Keep them from Suffering (3:10). Both Faithful Churches, God does not deal with all in the same way, but with each as He Himself knows best, beyond our understanding till we reach the other shore.”


Greek study for Revelation 3:10

Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament
Revelation 3

Verse 10

Patience (υπομενηςhupomenēs). “Endurance” as in Revelation 13:10; Revelation 14:12 as also in 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

Thou didst keep (ετηρησαςetērēsas) – I also will keep (καγω τηρησωkagō tērēsō). Aorist active indicative and future active corresponding to each other. For a like play on the tenses of this verb by Christ see John 17:6 (τετηρηκανtetērēkan), John 17:11 (τηρησονtērēson), John 17:12 (ετηρουνetēroun). From the hour of trial (εκ της ωρας του πειρασμουek tēs hōras tou peirasmou). This use of εκek after τηρεωtēreō in John 17:15, αποapo in James 1:27. Trial brings temptation often (James 1:2, James 1:13). Jesus endured (Hebrews 12:1.) and he will help them. There is still a church in Philadelphia in spite of the Turks. Which is to come (της μελλουσης ερχεσταιtēs mellousēs erchesthai). Agreeing with ωραςhōras (feminine), not with πειρασμουpeirasmou (masculine). Upon the whole world (επι της εποικουμενης οληςepi tēs epoikoumenēs holēs). The inhabited earth (γηςgēs) as in Revelation 12:9; Luke 2:1; Acts 16:6, etc.), not the physical earth, but the world of men as explained by the next clause. To try (πειρασαιpeirasai). First aorist active infinitive of purpose from πειραζωpeirazō probably to tempt (cf. the demons in 9:1-21), not merely to afflict (Revelation 2:10). That dwell upon the earth (τους κατοικουντας επι της γηςtous katoikountas epi tēs gēs). Present active articular participle of κατοικεωkatoikeō explaining “the whole world” just before.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD - English legend, Photo - Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD – English legend, Photo – Caliniuc. Philadelphia is a little south of the center of the province.

Philadelphia. View from lower city facing acropolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Philadelphia. View from lower city facing acropolis. Photo by Leon Mauldin. Leon’s Message Board.


Unexcavated Theater at Philadelphia. Photo ©Leon Mauldin. Leon's Message Board.

Unexcavated Theater at Philadelphia. Photo ©Leon Mauldin. Leon’s Message Board.



Reading through Revelation – Chapter 3:1-6, Sardis


Revelation 3:1-6


1 And write unto the Angel of the Church which is at Sardis, These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, I know thy works: for thou hast a name that thou livest, but thou art dead.

2 Be awake, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy work perfect before God.

3 Remember therefore, how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou wilt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

4 Notwithstanding thou hast a few names yet in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments: and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.

5 He that overcometh, shall be clothed in white array, and I will not put out his Name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his Angels.

6 Let him that hath an ear, hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches.


Ephesians 5:14

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and stand up from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.


The message to the Angel of the Church at Sartis contains a statement that leads to a troubling question: Can someone who is born again, in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells, have their name blotted out of the Book of Life? Here is help to answer this:

A problem has arisen in the minds of some. If the Lord states that He will not blot out the name of the overcomer from the book of life, does this not mean that other names can be blotted out of the book of life? In other words, does this verse not teach that it is possible for one who has really been born again to lose his salvation?. . . The problem will disappear when we realize the principle of Scriptural interpretation that no obscure passage should ever be quoted in contradiction to a clear line of Scriptural teaching for which there are plain statements and great masses of teaching.

Life in the Scripture is eternal life. Salvation is eternal salvation (Heb. 5:9). This is the only kind of life and salvation the Scriptures know anything about. 

REVELATION: An Expository Commentary, Donald Grey Barnhouse, Zondervan, 1971

I’m grateful for light on this passage. The message to Sardis not only contains this difficulty but it is sad, or rather, somber. Do you agree that it is? May the Lord help us to live in the light of eternity and to let go of this world which is passing away!


Halley’s Bible Handbook, 1965

“. . . Sardis was famous for arts and crafts, and was the first center to mint gold and silver coinage. So wealthy were the Lydian kings, that  Croesus became a legend for riches, and it was said that the sands of the Pactolus were golden. Croesus also became a legend for pride and presumptuous arrogance, when his attack on Persia led to the fall of Sardis and the eclipse of his kingdom. The capture of the great citadel by surprise attack by Cyrus and his Persians in 549 B.C., and three centuries later by the Romans, may have provided the imagery for John’s warning in Revelation 3:3. The great earthquake of 17 A.D. ruined Sardis physically and financially. The Romans contributed 10,000,000 sesterces in relief, an indication of the damage done, but the city never recovered.”



International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

Bible Study Tools

“Sardis is of special interest to the student of Herodotus and Xenophon, for there Artaphernes, the brother of Darius, lived, and from there Xerxes invaded Greece and Cyrus marched against his brother Artaxerxes. . . It was moreover one of the oldest and most important cities of Asia Minor, and until 549 BC, the capital of the kingdom of Lydia. It stood on the northern slope of Mt. Tmolus; its acropolis occupied one of the spurs of the mountain. At the base flowed the river Pactolus which served as a moat, rendering the city practically impregnable. Through the failure to watch, however, the acropolis had been successfully scaled in 549 BC by a Median soldier, and in 218 by a Cretan (compare Revelation 3:2,3). Because of its strength during the Persian period, the satraps here made their homes. However, the city was burned by the Ionians in 501 BC, but it was quickly rebuilt and regained its importance. In 334 BC it surrendered to Alexander the Great who gave it independence, but its period of independence was brief, for 12 years later in 322 BC it was taken by Antigonus. In 301 BC, it fell into the possession of the Seleucidan kings who made it the residence of their governor. It became free again in 190 BC, when it formed a part of the empire of Pergamos, and later of the Roman province of Asia. In 17 AD, when it was destroyed by an earthquake, the Roman emperor Tiberius remitted the taxes of the people and rebuilt the city, and in his honor the citizens of that and of neighboring towns erected a large monument, but Sardis never recovered its former importance (compare Revelation 3:12). Again in 295 AD, after the Roman province of Asia was broken up, Sardis became the capital of Lydia, and during the early Christian age it was the home of a bishop. The city continued to flourish until 1402, when it was so completely destroyed by Tamerlane that it was never rebuilt. Among the ruins there now stands a small village called Sert, a corruption of its ancient name . . .”

E. J. Banks


IVP New Testament Commentaries

The Message to Sardis

“. . . The message to Sardis lists no specific enemies, internal or external. There is no name calling – no liars, no Balaam or Jezebel, no deep secrets of Satan, no synagogue of Satan, no throne of Satan. Consequently, of all the congregations in Asia, we know least about Sardis and its problems. Yet no other message is more damaging or more urgent than this one. . .

“[Sardis’s] greatest days were behind it, but. . . was still, under Roman rule, an important center of the woolen industry. Abundant archaeological remains include a temple to Artemis, a huge gymnasium and the largest synagogue yet found in the ancient world, suggesting a Jewish community numbering in the thousands (Finegan 1981:177-78). A sermon of Melito, a Christian bishop at Sardis, entitled On the Passover (see Hawthorne 1975:147-75), testifies to a spirited, sometimes bitter, debate with this Jewish community in the second century. Yet as far as we are told, the problem of the congregation in John’s time was not with the Jews, nor with the Roman Empire, nor with false prophecy, but solely with itself. . .

You are dead (v. 1) is a dramatic way of saying “you are spiritually asleep” (compare Eph 5:14), for the angel is then told, Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die (v. 2). The call to awake, and to remember, obey and repent (v. 3) assumes the real possibility of change. Yet the milder-sounding words that follow, I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God (v. 2), are deliberately understated, implying that the angel’s works are unacceptable to God, and therefore a failure (Beckwith 1922: 474; compare Dan 5:27, “You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting”). . .

“The message to Sardis reveals nothing definite about the church’s predicament beyond the fact that it is about to die. Only the metaphorical reference to those few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes (v. 4) offers a possible clue. They are promised that they will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy (v. 4), a promise immediately reinforced by a word to those who ‘overcome,’ who will, like them, be dressed in white, whose names will not be blotted from the book of life, but rather acknowledged before my Father and his angels (v. 5; compare Mt 10:32-33 par. Lk 12:8-9). At Sardis, clearly, the few who had not soiled their garments were the ‘overcomers.’

“. . . It is likely that the problem at Sardis was a strong tendency to compromise Christian faith for the sake of conformity to social and cultural standards set by Asian society and the Roman Empire. This spirit of compromise was linked not to one particular faction in the Christian community (as at Pergamum and Thyatira) but to the majority. The ones who had not soiled their clothes had become marginalized. They were the small faction. This explains the severe tone of the message, but it is impossible to be more specific as to the exact nature of the compromises made at Sardis.”

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD - English legend, Photo - Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Roman province of Lydia circa 50 AD – English legend, Photo – Caliniuc. Sardis was its capitol.

Sardis. Artemis Temple and 5th century A.D. Church. Photo copywrite Leon Mauldin. Blog credit: Leon's Message Board -

Sardis. Artemis Temple and 5th century A.D. Church. Photo copyright: Leon Mauldin. Blog credit: Leon’s Message Board.

A resource for defining the Nicolaitans and other Gnostics

Revelation 2:6

To Ephesus

But this thou hast that thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.


Revelation 2:15

To Pergamos

15 Even so hast thou them that maintain the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

The doctrines and deeds of the Nicolaitans: A thing Christ hates

History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 100-325

Philip Schaff

§ 120. Schools of Gnosticism.

The arbitrary and unbalanced subjectivity of the Gnostic speculation naturally produced a multitude of schools. These Gnostic schools have been variously classified.

Geographically they may be reduced to two great families, the Egyptian or Alexandrian, and the Syrian, which are also intrinsically different. In the former (Basilides, Valentine, the Ophites), Platonism and the emanation theory prevail, in the latter (Saturninus, Bardesanes, Tatian), Parsism and dualism. Then, distinct in many respects from both these is the more practical school of Marcion, who sprang neither from Egypt nor from Syria, but from Asia Minor, where St. Paul had left the strong imprint of his free gospel in opposition to Jewish legalism and bondage. [Nicolaitans]

Examined further, with reference to its doctrinal character, Gnosticism appears in three forms, distinguished by the preponderance of the heathen, the Jewish, and the Christian elements respectively in its syncretism. The Simonians,  Nicolaitans, Ophites, Carpocratians, Prodicians, Antitactes, and Manichaeans belong to a paganizing class; Cerinthus, Basilides, Valentine, and Justin (as also the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, though these are more properly Ebionitic), to a Judaizing; Saturninus, Marcion, Tatian, and the Encratites, to a Christianizing division. But it must be remembered here that this distinction is only relative; all the Gnostic systems being, in fact, predominantly heathen in their character, and essentially opposed alike to the pure Judaism of the Old Testament and to the Christianity of the New. The Judaism of the so-called Judaizing Gnostics is only of an apocryphal sort, whether of the Alexandrian or the Cabalistic tinge.

The ethical point of view, from which the division might as well be made, would give likewise three main branches: the speculative or theosophic Gnostics (Basilides, Valentine), the practical and ascetic (Marcion, Saturninus, Tatian), and the antinomian and libertine (Simonians, Nicolaitans, Ophites, Carpocratians, Antitactes).

Having thus presented the general character of Gnosticism, and pointed out its main branches, we shall follow chiefly the chronological order in describing the several schools, beginning with those which date from the age of the apostles. . .

§ 121. Simon Magus and the Simonians. . .


A resource for defining the doctrine and works of the Nicolaitans

Revelation 2:6


But this thou hast that thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.


Revelation 2:15

15 Even so hast thou them that maintain the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.

A thing Christ hates

History of the Christian Church, Volume II: Ante-Nicene Christianity. A.D. 100-325

Philip Schaff

§ 122. The Nicolaitans.

The Nicolaitans are mentioned as a licentious sect in the Apocalypse 2:6, 15. They claimed as their founder Nicolas, a proselyte of Antioch and one of the seven deacons of the congregation of Jerusalem (Acts 6:5). He is supposed to have apostatized from the true faith, and taught the dangerous principle that the flesh must be abused, that is, at least as understood by his disciples, one must make the whole round of sensuality, to become its perfect master.

But the views of the fathers are conflicting. Irenaeus (who is followed substantially by Hippolytus) gives a very unfavorable account.

“The Nicolaitanes,” he says, “are the followers of that Nicolas who was one of the seven first ordained to the diaconate by the apostles. They lead lives of unrestrained indulgence. The character of these men is very plainly pointed out in the Apocalypse of John, where they are represented as teaching that it is a matter of indifference to practice adultery, and to eat things sacrificed to idols. Wherefore the Word has also spoken of them thus: ‘But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.’”

Clement of Alexandria says that Nicolas was a faithful husband, and brought up his children in purity, but that his disciples misunderstood his saying (which he attributes also to the Apostle Matthias), “that we must fight against the flesh and abuse it.”


Reading through Revelation, Chapter 2:1-7 – Ephesus

Revelation 2:1-7

1599 Geneva Bible

The Revelation of Saint John the Apostle

1 John is commanded to write those things which the Lord knew necessary to the Churches of Ephesus.

Unto the Angel of the Church of Ephesus write, These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, and walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks.

I know thy works, and thy labor, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear with them which are evil, and hast examined them which say they are Apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.

And thou wast burdened, and hast patience, and for my Name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted.

Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works: or else I will come against thee shortly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou amend.

But this thou hast that thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.

Let him that hath an ear hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches: To him that overcometh, will I give to eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.

my two cents 

What does it mean to “have left thy first love”? This has puzzled and convicted me. To ‘have left’ is an action that was taken. Is it to abandon our initial all-consuming love for the Lord, His Word, and fellowship with other Christians? These go together, brethren. Please correct me, if correction is needed! 

Most Christians probably wonder who the Nicolaitans were, so to better understand them, I’ve included two helps: one from Matthew Henry’s Commentary at, and the other from Bible Study Tools: 

The Nicolaitans were a loose sect who sheltered themselves under the name of Christianity. They held hateful doctrines, and they were guilty of hateful deeds, hateful to Christ and to all true Christians; and it is mentioned to the praise of the church of Ephesus that they had a just zeal and abhorrence of those wicked doctrines and practices. An indifference of spirit between truth and error, good and evil, may be called charity and meekness, but it is not pleasing to Christ. Our Saviour subjoins [appends] this kind commendation to his severe threatening, to make the advice more effectual.

Smith’s Bible Dictionary at Bible Study Tools:

Nicolaitans (followers of Nicolas), a sect mentioned in (Revelation 2:6; Revelation 2:15) whose deeds were strongly condemned. They may have been identical with those who held the doctrine of Balaam. They seem to have held that it was lawful to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication, in opposition to the decree of the Church rendered in (Acts 15:20; Acts 15:29). The teachers of the Church branded them with a name which expressed their true character. The men who did and taught such things were followers of Balaam. (2 Peter 2:15; Jude 1:11) They, like the false prophet of Pethor, united brave words with evil deeds. In a time of persecution, when the eating or not eating of things sacrificed to idols was more than ever a crucial test of faithfulness, they persuaded men more than ever that was a thing indifferent. (Revelation 2:13; Revelation 2:14) This was bad enough, but there was a yet worse evil. Mingling themselves in the orgies of idolatrous feasts, they brought the impurities of those feasts into the meetings of the Christian Church. And all this was done, it must be remembered not simply as an indulgence of appetite: but as a part of a system, supported by a “doctrine,” accompanied by the boast of a prophetic illumination, (2 Peter 2:1) It confirms the view which has been taken of their character to find that stress is laid in the first instance on the “deeds” of the Nicolaitans. To hate those deeds is a sign of life in a Church that otherwise is weak and faithless. (Revelation 2:6) To tolerate them is well nigh to forfeit the glory of having been faithful under persecution. (Revelation 2:14; Revelation 2:15)

EPHESUS (Ephesos, “desirable”) was one of the two most important cities of Asia Minor, Smyrna being the other.

Street scene at the archeological exacavations at Ephesus. Ephesus (Ancient Greek Ἔφεσος, Turkish Efes) was an ancient Greek city on the west coast of Anatolia, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey.Street scene at the archeological excavations at Ephesus.