Philadelphia is a remnant body that exists in Christendom in the end times. The true church has become a remnant. In God’s view the remnant is the church and is what remains faithful to God. There may still remain some of the faithful in Thyatira and Sardis. Over time and with greater enlightenment from the Spirit and the Word the majority of the remnant will separate from the corporate body that is judged and no longer acknowledged by God. Jezebel is corruption. Sardis is spiritually dead. Together they make up the state of the corporate organized mass of Christendom.

There are a few different ways to look at the final four churches. In the prophetic element previously discussed I said they should be looked at as four parts existing at the same time forming the whole of Christendom at the end. In a sense this is a good way of viewing them because we are able to see each one existing distinctly at this present time. Jezebel is Romanism. The spiritual deadness of Sardis is Protestantism. Philadelphia is the faithful as a remnant body kept by God. Laodicea is Evangelical Christianity enveloped by the humanistic leaven.

Often with allegories, symbols, and prophetic language, you have to be aware of the possibility of double meanings. I’m not saying this is true of every symbol, but the majority of them have double meanings. Allow me to show you a few examples.

Daniel 2:36-38

“This is the dream. Now we will tell the interpretation of it before the king.  You, O king, are a king of kings. For the God of heaven has given you a kingdom, power, strength, and glory;  and wherever the children of men dwell, or the beasts of the field and the birds of the heaven, He has given them into your hand, and has made you ruler over them all—you are this head of gold.”

The statue in the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, for which Daniel is given the interpretation by God, represents the four world powers that would dominate the ‘times of the Gentiles’ (Luke 21:24). The head of gold has two meanings. It stands for both Nebuchadnezzar himself as king and the Babylonian kingdom or empire. The statue in all its glory is the four world empires seen from man’s perspective. When we are shown these same empires from God’s viewpoint they are unruly beasts (Dan. 7:2-8). So when we look at each individual beast we should be first thinking that this represents a distinct civil world kingdom that would come forth on the face of the prophetic earth in time. But each beast also has its leader or head – Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Alexander, and the Caesars. Notice what is said about the first beast.

Daniel 7:4

“The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.”

The lion, the kingdom of Babylon, loses its character as a beast and is made like a man answering to God. The beast character is always such that it doesn’t answer to God, but will go its own way and follow its own selfish will. The lion lifted up from the earth and made to stand like a man, having a man’s heart, is the beast losing his beastly character. This was directly the personal experience of king Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:10-37) which in turn changed the character and nature of his kingdom. He was directly judged by God for his arrogance and apostasy, made to act like a beast for seven full years, until he was made to acknowledge the Most High God.[109]

Sometimes an allegory or parable will have a very practical application separate from its symbolic meaning and interpretation. We find some examples of this in Matthew (Matt. 18:23-35 and Matt. 21:18-22). The practical application of the parable about the unforgiving servant is forgiveness (Matt. 18:35). With the miracle of cursing the fig tree the application is having faith in God to answer prayer (Matt. 21:21-22). But we have to realize that the practical application in no way deals with the allegories used or the interpretation they require. The main allegory in the parable is the unforgiving servant. Figuratively he represents the nation of Israel guilty of putting the Son of Man to death, but forgiven through the intercession of Jesus on the cross. After that, Israel is only a hindrance to any others receiving grace and forgiveness in the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:28-30, 23:13). The symbol of the fig tree is Israel serving as the test-case representing all mankind. It symbolizes man in Adam being tested in responsibility. God is looking for fruit in man, in Israel, but finds none. Both examples end with the setting aside of Israel, although the fig tree has deeper implications that go beyond Israel, reaching to the entire world.[110]

The Last Four Churches

Let us consider these thoughts in connection with the last four churches:

  • Thyatira contains Jezebel. Sardis contains Protestantism. Jezebel is corruption and Protestantism is spiritually dead. These two represent the public outward body of Christendom as set aside, yet are very distinct corporate entities. There is a faithful remnant that Jesus personally identifies as existing in both Thyatira and Sardis (Rev. 2:24, 3:4). We can see these two remnants as distinct from the two general bodies.
  • Laodicea is the last church in the list of seven.       They are spewed out of the Lord’s mouth. This seems to represent Christendom’s candlestick finally being removed. This was the threat at the beginning with Ephesus (Rev. 2:5). If there is only one candlestick for all of Christendom, then the spewing out is the removal of the candlestick representing all of the professing church – all except Philadelphia, the small remnant body. This would be like Jezebel and Protestantism together making up the general body of Christendom, forming Laodicea. They aren’t mixed together in themselves, but together make up the entire public body of Christendom spewed out. The remnants of Thyatira and Sardis are then viewed together forming Philadelphia. Jesus Christ alone is the Faithful and True Witness when the candlestick is finally removed (Rev. 3:14). Philadelphia is the wheat removed from the world (Matt. 13:30).

Revelation 3:7-13

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”: (8) “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name. (9) Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. (10) Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (11) Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (12) He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

(13) “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”’

The Character of Christ for Philadelphia

“He who is holy, He who is true…” This is the personal moral character of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is quite appropriate for this faithful remnant body. It is not a new sovereign work or ecclesiastical characters. The characterization of Christ for Philadelphia is not found in chapter one when He is in the midst of the candlesticks. Christ’s character and Philadelphia as the remnant church is entirely outside that which is corporate and ecclesiastical. It is not a reference to outward power of seven Spirits and stars in his right hand, as in miracles, signs, and power of the Spirit. Rather it is what the faithful remnant can readily find for support and sustenance in the person of the Lord Himself.   It is the proper character of Christ as found in the Word of God – He is holy and true.

“He who has the key of David…” This references His sovereignty. Soon the remnant will experience the exceeding greatness of God’s power toward them, as was demonstrated when God raised the Son of Man from the dead (Eph. 1:19-21). It will be a great sovereign work of God on our behalf. Jesus is “He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.”

The Open Door set before Philadelphia

The works of the faithful remnant are never questioned – “I know your works.” The open door set before them is one based on His sovereign power – “…and no one can shut it.” Many Christians interpret this to be an open door of evangelism for the church, but I believe that to be a misguided assumption going against the entire nature of His message to them.[111] The open door He sets before them will be the sovereign work in the rapture of the true church and taking Philadelphia into the presence of the Father. It will be a work done in sovereign power and grace on behalf of the true church (Eph. 1:19-23). It is Jesus Christ as the resurrection and the life for the faithful remnant (John 11:25-26). It is a door opened by Christ alone, and not by the help of man. “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking to me, saying, “Come up here…” (Rev. 4:1, I Thess. 4:16) John sees the same open door that is set before Philadelphia (Rev. 3:8).

Little Public Power in Philadelphia

“…for you have little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.” There is no apostolic power here. There is no great display of miracles. There is no return to the first position of Pentecost encouraged. The testimony here is that the public power is gone and it will not be recovered. You are of little strength. This is that by which you hold on, not win the world or the nation.

The Faithfulness of the Remnant Body

“Thy word I have hid in my heart…” The remnant is commended for keeping His word. This is especially characteristic of faithfulness in the last days – “…you have kept My word…” The security and sustenance of the remnant would not be in outward displays of power, but simply in hearing, reading, understanding, and keeping the written Word. This is the recognized means of blessing for the remnant.

It is the recognized authority of the Word and faithfulness to it which is the confidence of the remnant in perilous times. The last days are a time when evil men and seducers grow worse and worse. The seductive influence of the world must be met and resisted by each individual believer, holding fast to the written Word of God and not denying Christ’s name. Everything found in the world is against this. It is purposed by Satan for the setting aside of the Word of God, its validity, its authority, its usefulness. But the faithful remnant keeps it when the entire world denies it. When the world is all about denying the name of Christ, the remnant does not. They are faithful in the midst of the unfaithfulness of the general body of Christendom, and this makes a special impression on the Lord. He commends their faithfulness.

The Judaizing of Professing Christianity

Those who say they are Jews and are not, but are of the synagogue of Satan I believed refers to the pervasiveness of the judaizing leaven in the professing church in the last days. Arminianism is a subtle form of the same humanistic leaven that exalts man in his works. These teachings inundate professing Christianity in modern times and the church world has become intoxicated by them, to the point that we no longer have the ability to distinguish between the work of God and that of man.

The mixing of the church with Israel is extremely hurtful in spiritual things. The church today is mostly taught with the teachings of the Jews and the instructions of Judaism. It is religion that is earthy and appeals to the senses and emotions – this is the nature of its attraction and is why the masses in the professing church crave it (II Tim. 4:3-4). It is God’s religion of the world and therefore is according to the weak and beggarly elements (Gal. 4:3, 9-11, Col. 2:8, 20). It produces a walk by sight and physical senses, and incorporates fleshly ordinances and confidences (Heb. 9:9-10, Phil. 3:2-8). It is religion of human effort and accomplishment. It is a religion that man can do in order to fool himself into thinking he has right standing before God. It has no ability to produce a walk of faith (Gal. 3:12, II Cor. 5:7). There is little attempt to rightly divide the Word of truth today. There is very little understanding of the stark differences between Christianity and Judaism. [112]

While the mixing of the church with Israel has harmful effects on spiritual truth, it simply becomes the greatest of errors in the understanding of prophecy. By this mistake the true church loses its heavenly calling, its heavenly citizenship, and its spiritual blessings in heavenly places. The church is brought down low to the earth and all its hopes are rendered earthy and physical. The result of this is the church world’s erroneous thinking and great human efforts to prepare and control the earth and world to make it a better place for its own glory and habitation.

Philadelphia understands the Sovereignty of God

It will only be the judgments of God at the end of the age that makes for a better world (Isa. 26:9-10). The presence of the church or the human efforts of professing Christianity does not make the world better. All the presence of the church on earth really does, and this by the habitation of the Holy Spirit in her, is hinder the full display of evil coming forth at this time (II Thess. 2:6-7). That is it. Our job is not the eradication of evil from the world and its conversion. We aren’t permitted to do this work even in the confines of the professing church (Matt. 13:27-30). Shouldn’t this tell us something? Christendom ripens its own evil and corruption to its end, just as the world does. And the mind of God, the will of God, is to leave it alone. In both cases – the professing church and the world – the entrance and growth of evil and corruption was through the responsibility of man. The Scriptures teach that the responsibility of man will not and cannot solve the problem. [113]

What are we taught in the Scriptures as to how the evil is dealt with and eventually removed from these two separate entities – Christendom and the world? For both it is a sovereign work of God at the end of the age, and not before that time. For professing Christianity it is the wheat removed from the field and the tares bundled together and left in the field to be burned (Matt. 13:30). This is the rapture of the church into the heavens and the separation of the remainder of the professing church to be judged with the world (Matt. 13:39-43). As for the world, although there are judgments proceeding from the throne in heaven coming down upon the earth, the removal of evil begins at the return of the Son of Man. He will destroy the two beasts and bind Satan. The judging of evil continues for the length of His millennial kingdom. He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet (I Cor. 15:25).

We see how it is done – a sovereign work of God, and not by the work of man. So then, all the Arminian leaven that creates thoughts for doing great things and winning nations is found to be false, and not the will of God. He doesn’t have some great thing for the professing church to accomplish on the earth. It was to be the light of in the darkness of the world – a testimony of the truth of God – but it has allowed its own corruption, and has failed miserably in its corporate witness. ‘Into the world’ is not the calling of the true church. ‘On the earth’ is not the calling of the true church. Its calling is in the heavens, and there alone will you find her true purpose.

The Father’s and Son’s love for the faithful remnant

“Indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” (Rev. 3:9) This will only happen when Philadelphia is in glory and believers sitting on endowed thrones ruling as kings. This is another of the many references to glory that we find in this message. Particularly this thought references a passage in the gospel of John:

John 17:20-23

(20) “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; (21) that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. (22) And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: (23) I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”

The world ‘believing’ in verse 21 above refers to the believer’s present time in this world. The unity of believers as the Father’s family was to be its testimony in responsibility and was to cause the world to notice and believe that Jesus Christ was truly of God. This unity of one family in the earthly testimony of believers to the world only happened early on in Christendom. Now such unity is nonexistent and impossible. But Christ’s prayer to the Father goes on to the manifestation to the world of the true church in glory (Col. 3:4). This is when the world will ‘know’ the love of the Father for all the brethren as one family, because the world will see with their own eyes and they will know beyond any doubt. Christ assures the remnant of His love for them as well. He says to Philadelphia, “…indeed I will make…them come and worship before your feet…to know that I have loved you.” [114] This helps to sustain our faith during the present time of suffering.

Jewish Opposition to the Kingdom of Heaven

It’s possible to view this verse more from a literal sense (Rev. 3:9). In the time of Jesus and during the ministry of the apostles, the Jews hindered the preaching of the kingdom of heaven and the entrance of those wanting to come in. “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” (Matt. 23:13) There are many passages that show this general attitude and behavior of the Jews (Acts 14:2). I have no reason to doubt that it continued for the first few centuries of the existence of Christendom, even after the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Those of Israel who professed Jesus Christ and were living in the midst of the nation before 70 AD, were those put under some of the greatest persecutions and hardships (Heb. 10:32-34). The epistle to the Hebrews must be read entirely in this light. “Concerning the gospel they (Israel) are enemies for your sake (the Gentiles)…” (Rom. 11:28; see also Gal. 4:29)

Orthodox Judaism, as well as those of Israel who have varying Jewish beliefs are in a difficult place. Their fathers rejected and killed the promised Messiah of Israel (John 19:19-22). They have to deny this. God has set Israel aside. God says they are not His people (Hosea 1:9, Heb. 8:9). They must deny this. God judged Israel and destroyed Jerusalem and their temple two separate times. How can they admit this? To maintain any portion of Judaism – their religion – they must deny the legitimacy of all Christian claims and foundations (I John 2:22). For their own feelings of preservation, particularly as a people and nation, they must emphatically deny Jesus Christ, and thereby deny the very God who sent Him (John 5:37-40, 8:42, 15:21-24). This is the same God they say they worship (John 8:54-55). One can easily see their denial of Christ is far more than individual, but national, and thus with these types of corporate implications and pressures.

When Jesus says, “…who say they are Jews and are not, but lie…” it is most likely Israel’s propensity to rely on physical birth and circumcision. For the majority of the nation these were the only proper credentials for being the true people of God and favored by Him. They refused to acknowledge anything less, and by their religion and traditions certainly did not recognize Gentiles as having any status above that of dogs (Matt. 15:24-26). By birth they were Abraham’s children. Their circumcision in the flesh was their proof of this. But God thought otherwise, as attested by His Spirit in the Scriptures (Rom. 9:6-16, 4:9-14, 2:28-29). Although knowing full well they were descendants of Abraham after the flesh, Jesus approached the majority of the Jews as a synagogue of Satan (John 8:33-59).

The Present State of the Kingdom of Heaven

“Because you have kept My command to persevere…” (Rev. 3:10) A different translation that gives a better sense of what He is saying is “Because you have kept the Word of My patience…” Christ’s patience is that He sits at the right hand of God waiting until His enemies are made His footstool (Heb. 10:12-13, Rev. 1:9). At this time He is hidden in God and not manifested to the world (Col. 3:1-3). This is an important understanding when considering the present state of things on the earth and in the kingdom of heaven.

This kingdom presently has the king away in heaven. He sits on His Father’s throne and not on any throne of His own (Rev. 3:21). He is hidden in God away from the world. The kingdom of heaven cannot be described as a king physically present on earth reigning in manifested power and glory, and sitting down properly on His own throne of power. As a consequence of the King being away (yet in greater measure to the failure of men in responsibility) the kingdom of heaven exists as a spoiled crop of wheat and tares in the field of the world. There is a big difference in Scripture between what happens while He is away and what happens when He is physically present. At this present time on the earth it will not be the winning of the world, the filling of the earth with the glory of the Lord through the preaching of the gospel, and the church creating a utopian state into which we invite the Lord back, presenting the kingdom to Him. This is the height of Arminian arrogance as to what good men are actually capable of accomplishing by their responsibility while still in these bodies of flesh. And here I am specifically referring to what the spoiled crop in the world is able to accomplish at this present time.

The absence of the Lord allows for certain effects. The goings-on in the kingdom have their basis upon His servants being given responsibility. From the beginning the servants failed and they slept (Matt. 13:25, 25:5). A great contributing factor as to why there is failure in Christendom and among His servants is the simple understanding that we are still in these bodies of flesh. We are the new creation of God in soul and spirit as believers, but the body of sin is still with us. We have not received yet the end of our salvation: the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:11, 23). There is a difference between our capabilities in responsibility now and after we are conformed into the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). When we are glorified we will fulfill our responsibilities in the perfection of righteousness and true holiness. After the rapture of the true church there will be no failure in the individual believer or the true church. We will be perfectly like Christ. At this present time there is no perfection on this earth. No one has already attained (Phil. 3:12), although all believers are to reckon the old man as dead (Rom. 6:6-11). So then, there is failure in the flesh as concerning responsibility, especially in the corporate church.[115]

Another factor contributing to failure in the kingdom of heaven while the king is not present is the spoiled crop has its existence in the field. The devil is the god of this world. He showed he is active by coming in early on in the kingdom and planting tares (Matt. 13:25). The Son of Man’s servants could have stopped this but they were sleeping. If Satan is active it would be in the world in which he is god over. The Son of Man is away in heaven, but His planting of the wheat was in the world where the devil is the god. Satan already rules over the sons of disobedience and unbelief, so his efforts will be against that which belongs to Christ. He cannot touch the wheat but he can bring about the spoiling of the crop in the field. He has accomplished this beyond any doubt.

The kingdom of heaven is a mixture of good and bad by the work of Satan. This does not tell the whole of the story. Evil grows, matures, and ripens wherever it is found. Right now it is found in the kingdom of heaven – in Christendom. It does not remain stagnant or dormant. Evil prospers in this world and during this present age, because Satan is the god of this present age and world. The full display of it may be restricted by the presence of the Holy Spirit in the true church (II Thess. 2:6-7), but it is growing and ripening to the end. And again, it is doing this within the professing church.

A third factor contributing to the failure found in the kingdom of heaven is an obvious one – there are tares present in Christendom. The tares are the sons of the wicked one (Matt. 13:38). They are present in the ministry, in the schools and seminaries, in the pulpits on Sunday. They are among the counselors and administrators in the organized church body, holding positions of importance and power. In times past they have argued in the great theological debates and held prominent seats on councils determining church doctrine. The effect of their influence in the kingdom over time and in the history of the professing church is seriously underestimated.

All this does not excuse the church’s failure in responsibility. The professing church is guilty of its own lack of unity and oneness as a family and a body. It has failed in being the light of God left on the earth to shine to the darkness and wickedness of this world. The church has failed in its testimony to the glory of Jesus Christ, the Son of Man – the Head of the assembly to which the body is united by the power of the Spirit (Eph. 1:22-23, I Cor. 12:12-13). Simply put, the church has failed in its responsibility. The failure is non-recoverable, and the corporate body is without excuse.

Keeping the Word of His Patience

The three factors discussed above have no possibility of changing before the removal of the wheat from the world (Matt. 13:30). There is no possibility of improvement in the current situation and state of the kingdom of heaven. And so Jesus Christ waits until… This is the Word of His patience as it is revealed in the Scriptures. He waits for a kingdom and an inheritance, until His enemies be made His footstool. If we are to keep the Word of His patience as in Philadelphia, we will wait as He does. We do this by His Word, His promises, and the precious hope that He gives us. Through the Word and by the Spirit He guides us into the same mindset and thoughts that He has waiting, separated from the world and as united to Him. We will have the same inheritance He will have. We have the same hopes, joys, and expectations. His thoughts should be ours. We have the mind of Christ. It is our conformity to the position of Christ. If He is waiting, we are waiting with Him. [116]

We are also waiting for Him. As the Bridegroom has love and affection for the bride, she will, in earnest expectation, be looking for the Bridegroom (Heb. 9:28). The remnant is looking to heaven, eagerly waiting for the Savior from there, who will transform their lowly bodies that it may be conformed to His glorious body (Phil. 3:20-21). And so He says, “Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast what you have…” Having kept the Word of His patience, He, in turn, keeps them free and clear from the coming tribulation on the earth. He is not promising to preserve them through the hour of trial, as we see is promised in prophecy for a Jewish remnant. Philadelphia is His body and bride, and will not suffer such indignity (Eph. 5:25-30). They are not dwellers of the earth that need to be tested and tried or delivered through judgments (Rev. 3:10). They are not of the world and will not be judged with and as the world. He will give to them the crown of life.[117]

What should be noted with Philadelphia is that there is no instruction for maintaining the corporate position of testimony in the world. This thought is no longer addressed by Christ. Philadelphia is not viewed by the Lord as the corporate professing church. They are a small remnant in the midst of the gross corruption and unbelief of the mass of Christendom. Jesus tells them directly what their witness is to be before the world. Their testimony as the remnant church is that they have kept the Word of His patience (Rev. 3:10) and they are looking for His soon return.

The Heavenly Hope of the Remnant

When Jesus was raised from the dead He told Mary to tell His brethren (John 20:17),

“I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.”

When He says He is ascending to His Father, it is in relation to Jesus being the Son of God. When He says He is ascending to His God, He is speaking solely as the Son of Man and the relationship between man and God now being reconciled. This is the essence behind what He is saying in John 13:31-32 where this pairing is again found. When He speaks to Philadelphia concerning their hopes, He is speaking to them as the glorified Son of Man. He relates to them as having redeemed them and as having brought them to this position in which they enjoy the same relationship that He has with God as the glorified Man. Every hope He gives includes the phrase ‘My God’.[118]

“…a pillar in the temple of My God…” (Rev. 3:12): When the remnant on earth had little strength, they had to be faithful and persevere (Rev. 3:8). In contrast to this, in glory they are each pillars of strength in the house of God. This is eternal, for he shall go out no more.

“And I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God.” The name of His God written on us is the stamp of our heavenly citizenship. The city is our own proper dwelling place. The true believer is one who dwells in heaven while he presently walks as a pilgrim and stranger on earth.

“And I will write on him My new name.” The Son of Man will be given a new name from His God for the millennium, and Jesus will write this name on every one that is His, as belonging to Him.

God the Father has associated everyone in Philadelphia with the object of His infinite and eternal delight – Jesus Christ. By being accepted in the Beloved, God will show us the exceeding riches of His grace throughout the ages to come without end (Eph. 1:6, 2:7).

Philadelphia is characterized by faithfulness in their individual walk which gave them inward strength. This is in contrast to having little in the way of an outward display of power. They were faithful to the Lord in the midst of generalized corruption and spiritual deadness in the outward body of Christendom. All dealings with the professing church as maintaining a position of testimony in the world is completely set aside. Philadelphia’s testimony was that of keeping the word of His patience, and the expectation that Christ would come quickly. Philadelphia has little outward strength, but a greater nearness to Christ who has all the power and authority. They had greater affection for the Lord, greater intimacy of fellowship with Him, and the hope of the promises given to them has a greater identification with Him. The story of Philadelphia is the looking for the blessed hope of the church – the majority of His words to them point to His return for them and what they will have with Him in glory. “I have set before you an open door…Behold, I come quickly!”

                                                             Chapter 11: Footnotes

[109] Nebuchadnezzar’s experience is a remarkable foreshadowing of the prophetic progression of the times of the Gentiles. His arrogance and failure to answer to God, when God had set him up in world power and dominion, leads to his judgment (Dan. 4:20-25). His behavior is typical of the general character of all four beasts during all the times of the Gentiles. Of greater importance for our spiritual understanding is not simply that four beasts will exist in progression as Gentile world powers, but that the character and nature of any beast depicted prophetically is that it has apostate behavior and does not acknowledge the Most High God.

Nebuchadnezzar is made to act as a beast for seven years. The number seven, in this case, definitely refers to the prophetic thought of ‘wholeness’ or ‘complete’. His acting like an animal for ‘seven years’ is typical of the complete time span of the Gentile powers from the Babylonian empire all the way to the revived Roman empire seen in the future tribulation. At the end of seven years Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the Most High God. At the end of the ‘times of the Gentiles’ the Most High God will be acknowledged as possessor of the heavens and earth (Gen. 14:18-20, Dan. 4:25-26).

The name of God as ‘the Most High’ is His millennial name and directly points to this time in which all Gentile rule will be destroyed. He will be the sole possessor of the heavens and the earth. At this present time Satan is still in the heavens and he exercises a two-fold influence there. From the heavens he rules the world as the god of the world, controlling the course of this world and the sons of disobedience (Eph. 2:2-3). Also in the heavens he is the anti-priest against the church and accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10). Although he cannot touch the wheat, his work has been the corruption of the crop in the field of the world. This he has accomplished beyond any doubt, and beyond any thought of its recovery. When the wheat is removed from the field to the heavens, there will soon come a time when Satan and his angels are removed from the heavens and cast down to the earth (Rev. 12:7-9). This is when the Most High is again fully the possessor of the heavens, and the true church positioned there, seated in heavenly places, is ready for their part in the government of the Most High over the millennial earth (Eph. 2:6). But as yet the Gentiles have not learned that the heavens do reign (Dan. 4:26).

Satan being cast down to the earth marks the remaining 3 ½ years of Gentile power and civil rule. All his efforts at this time are his struggle to remain god of the earth and in control of the earth. “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” (Rev. 12:12) It is the time for divine sovereign judgments to prepare the way for the Most High to take back possession of the earth. When the stone, made without hands, destroys the Gentile statue, the two beasts are cast into the lake of fire, their armies destroyed, and Satan is bound in chains in the bottomless pit for 1000 years (Dan. 2:34-35, Rev. 19:11-20:3). This is when the Most High takes back possession of the earth, and that is why the name ‘Most High’ points to the millennium.

This is also why the entire passage in Genesis 14:18-20 is a type that points to the millennium. Abram represents the Jewish remnant in the end physically blessed by the Most High through His Melchizedek priest, after the defeat of all their enemies. This Melchizedek priest is also a King, who will bring in peace through righteous judgments during the millennium (Heb. 7:1-3). This priest will be the means by which the Most High will physically bless Israel, restoring the Jewish remnant in the land. The dividing of the millennial earth is associated with a restored Israel in the land and the name of the Most High in Deuteronomy 32:8-9. So then, the lesson taught to Nebuchadnezzar is that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men (Dan. 4:25). His experience is an allegory depicting the lesson that the Gentiles will learn when the world comes to the end of the period of time known as ‘the times of the Gentiles.’ (Luke 21:24)

This allegory of Nebuchadnezzar’s experience holds a double meaning. After the seven years the lion stood up like a man and was given the heart of a man (Dan. 7:4). This was true concerning the Babylonian kingdom when it existed (Dan. 4:28-37). The lion stopped acting like a beast. But the seven years also represents the entire time of the four beasts – the entire times of the Gentiles until they are fulfilled. The Most High God will then possess both the heavens and the earth during the millennium.

[110] The fig tree is symbolic of Israel. They were serving as the test case representing all mankind in Adam. God did not test all mankind under responsibility, just Israel. This was enough because there was no other nation or people as privileged by God. They were chosen and they were special (Deut. 7:6). God tested Israel in responsibility, looking for the fruit of obedience. This testing continued for a long time, from Mt. Sinai and the giving of the law, to the sending of Messiah to them so many years later. When Messiah was rejected, God was finished with testing the state of man in Adam. God never found fruit on the fig tree (Israel). That is why when Jesus came to the fig tree that morning He found no fruit. In all that time from Mt. Sinai to Christ Israel could not obey. There was no fruit produced.

Jesus curses the fig tree. What does that mean? Man in Adam, man in the flesh, man in this particular state and position, was proven by God to be utterly depraved. The tree being cursed is man in Adam being judged and condemned. “Let no fruit grow on you ever again” shows that man in Adam, left to his own resources, could never, and more importantly to understand, will never produce fruit unto God. God proved this and the testing was now complete. Man in Adam had to be condemned. Man in the flesh was condemned to death at that time. This was the outcome of the testing of Israel. Again, Israel was the test case representing all mankind in Adam.

What do I mean by saying man in Adam is judged, and the judgment is condemnation? And the condemnation is death? “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment…” (Heb. 9:27) For all unbelievers this is what lies ahead of them – this is their destiny, this is their end. This judgment was settled at the time of the cursing of the fig tree. Man in Adam, man in the flesh, and all of Israel is condemned to death. Why Israel too? Because that is what the entire nation of Israel was – sinners in Adam. So we have the entire world condemned at that time (John 12:31, Rom. 3:19). We also have Satan defeated and judged by the cross at that time (John 12:31, Heb. 2:14), although the world does not see or realize his defeat as yet. We have Israel set aside and the kingdom of God taken away from them at that time (Matt. 21:43). The time of the cursing of the fig tree is also seen in Scripture as the end of the world (Heb. 9:26). Jesus suffered as a sacrifice for sin at one point in time – once at the end of the world. It was the end of the world because sin and guilt were complete as to human responsibility. The testing by God was complete. Man in Adam, man in the flesh, is condemned to death. These same thoughts concerning the end of the world are applicable to another passage found in Galatians 4:1-4, only here it is referred to as ‘when the fullness of time had come’.

Allow me to show you one more insight related to the judgment of man in Adam. The fruit of man’s failure in responsibility is death. This is the judgment of man in the flesh. However, for certain ones this judgment already has been met and death has been abolished for them (II Tim. 1:9-10). These certain ones are believers, those in Jesus Christ, the second Adam. Death has been abolished as judgment and condemnation for them, and life and immortality has been brought to light through the gospel of Jesus Christ. This will be fully realized in the rapture of the church – life and immortality – when the body of Christ is glorified and removed from the earth. This is not true for man remaining on the earth and living on the earth during the millennium. Man on the earth at this time is still man in the first Adam. Death as a judgment still remains on the earth until the end of the millennium (I Cor. 15:24-26).

These are biblical principles that clearly show you these differences and through which you may understand all of Scripture. Being in Christ, in the second Adam, is the difference between what is removed from the earth into the heavens, and what remains on the earth if it survives the tribulation. The body of Christ is what was purposed by God to be ‘in Christ’ before time began (II Tim. 1:9-10, Titus 1:2, Eph. 1:3-6, Rom. 8:29-30). The entire body of Christ will be removed from the earth, even the bodies of the dead in Christ (I Thess. 4:13-18). What remains on the earth for the Son of Man to rule over in His kingdom is man in the flesh, man in Adam. Even the Jewish remnant, restored in the Promised Land, is not ‘in Christ’ and not in the second Adam. They are ruled over by the second Adam, but they are never in the second Adam. That is why on the earth death remains as a judgment until the end of the millennium. Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, rules on the earth for 1000 years. This will be how long it takes to put all enemies under His feet (I Cor. 15:25), because on the earth is man in Adam, still possessing a sin nature from Adam. He will reign on the earth as the glorified Man, and will systematically put an end to all human dominion and government in the world. But this is not the position of the church.

[111] The open door set before Philadelphia is not the evangelistic opportunity to the church of winning the world or increased missionary work. It isn’t an evangelistic opportunity at all. In the seven messages to the churches, Christ discusses and judges all the responsibility of the professing church. Not once in all the messages is the taking or preaching of the gospel into the world ever mentioned. Jesus never discusses with any church whether they are doing a great job in this area or chastens any church for failure. Don’t you think that is odd? Why isn’t this mentioned one way or the other when responsibility is discussed?

The reason for this is that the taking of the gospel into the world is not the responsibility of the church. It was the responsibility of apostles and evangelists, and now, without apostles today, just evangelists. The great commission is rightly labeled an apostolic commission, because that is who He was speaking to directly in sending them out into ministry (John 17:18). When the Father and the Son speak to the church it is by the Holy Spirit through the epistles. Never once in all the epistles is the great commission repeated, as responsibility given to the church. The Thessalonians and Corinthians are never told to pack up and move to Africa or Spain, as if this was in fact their responsibility.   Therefore it is not discussed in Revelation 2 and 3, when all the responsibility of the professing church is discussed. Apostles are in fact told to go, as I would assume to be true of evangelists like Phillip.

Titus 1:2-3      

“…in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior.”

We can see in the above passage that the promise of eternal life from God is to all believers. However, the commission of preaching of the gospel into the world was committed to Paul (I would assume committed to all apostles and evangelists as well). There is no commandment given to the church (the body in general) to preach the gospel into the world.

Titus 2:11-14

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, (12) teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, (13) looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (14) who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”

When Paul discusses in the same letter the responsibility of the believer/church upon receiving the grace of God in salvation, the preaching of the gospel and the making of disciples by the church is not included in their many responsibilities listed. He speaks of a godly walk and a constant looking for Christ to return. This is our responsibility. Also he discusses the believer/church should be zealous for good works, we are created in Christ for good works, and men should see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven by them.   But the preaching of the gospel into all the world is not a commandment or mandate given to the church.

That does not mean that God never uses the individual Christian to share the gospel with unbelievers. The presentation of the gospel is the common way that God uses to draw to Christ those that He quickens (John 6:44). Whether it is apostles, evangelists, other ministers doing the work of an evangelist, or individual believers, the gospel is to be preached to the world. If God gives us an opportunity, it is because He wants to use us in His work. It doesn’t mean we all, individually, have one of the five ministry gifts given when He ascended up on high. It doesn’t mean the church has a calling to preach the gospel into the world.

If you look closely at the doctrine of the body of Christ presented by Paul in Ephesians 4:9-16, you should realize that the five gifts given have a threefold purpose:

1.       For the equipping of the individual saints first

2.       For the work of ministry (in a sense it refers to all ministry)

3.       For the edifying of the body of Christ (the church)

Looking closely, we should also realize that the church is in the position of being taught and never in the position of teaching. The church is the learner that is being built up in stature and maturity, so it may withstand winds of doctrine and the trickery of false teachers – so she may be the pillar and ground of the truth (I Tim. 3:15). The purpose and intention for the body while on earth was to come into a unity of faith which can only involve the knowledge of the truth of God’s word. It involves the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The Holy Spirit was sent down into the world to gather the church. The church is not sent into the world to gather itself.

In the passage from Ephesians mentioned above (Eph. 4:9-16) we see what God’s purpose and intention was for the assembly (church), consequent to the ascension of Christ on high and He receiving gifts to give her. “…till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” I would ask any true believer to honestly evaluate how well the professing church has accomplished this responsibility? How does Christendom stack up in stature to the fullness of Christ? The assembly was given gifts so she could learn. By these gifts she was to be edified – growing up and maturing, and no longer a child. She was to possess the knowledge of the truth to keep her from being tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine. How has the professing church fared in this respect? Throughout her history the assembly has constantly fell prey to the deceitful trickery of false teachers. Has she always spoken the truth in love and has she ever grown up in all things into Christ her head? The Scriptures themselves declare that she has miserably failed in all her responsibilities and that her failure continues and worsens to this day.

Now the leaven comes in and blinds her, telling her that in her history she has done a great job at fulfilling her responsibilities. What a grand deception the leaven of human effort and accomplishment perpetrates on the professing church. When the church world falls for this deception, then the leaven is free to create new responsibilities of human effort.

[112] For a more thorough discussion of the character and nature of Judaism I refer you back to the first book in the Son of Man series – ‘The Son of Man Glorified’. That work contains extensive discussions on this particular subject, and Judaism contrasted with Christianity.

[113] This is the issue in the presentation of this entire book – what do the Scriptures say, what do they actually teach? What the Scriptures say is what God says. Will we be humble enough to submit to and place ourselves under what God has to say? Otherwise we go a different course, and most importantly, we go without God.

[114] This is another example of the failure of man in responsibility in a previous or present age that will be made good by the sovereignty of God in the age to come. This sovereign work towards the true sons of the Father’s family will be God displaying them with Christ in His glory (John 17:22-23). Where the family failed in its responsibility to show unity in the present age, it will be made good when we appear to the world with Christ in glory (Col. 3:4). There will be no failure in responsibility at that time.

In Scripture we can make this distinction on the subject of unity in Christianity. The Father is Head over the Father’s house. Individual believers are sons in that house, sons of the Father and sons of God. We are placed in this relationship with Christ after He accomplished the work of redemption. All the sons together make up the Father’s family, the Father’s house, the Father’s heavenly city, as well as the Father’s kingdom (John 14:1-3, Rev. 3:12, Matt. 13:43). We have this relationship with the Father as sons of the Father and born of God (John 1:12-13, Gal. 3:26-28). We stand in this relationship along with Christ as His brethren, seeing He is the first born among many brethren (Rom. 8:29). We are co-heirs with Him of God and the Father (Rom. 8:17, Gal. 4:6-7). The unity of this family is spoken of in John 13-17, but specifically in John 17:20-23. John only speaks of individual believers and individual faith, and eternal life though this. The unity John speaks of is the unity of sons together in the Father’s family and house (John 8:34-36).

The other unity spoken of in Scripture is that of the members of the body of Christ with each other. We are members one of another and the unity of the one body (I Cor. 12:12-27). The body is in union with Christ, its glorified Head in heaven, and this union was formed by the Holy Spirit. The church is the assembly, and is His body in union with Him. She is His bride or at least His betrothed bride waiting for the glory and the marriage presentation (Eph. 5:25-32, Rev. 19:7-9). Yet these relationships are more so with Jesus Christ Himself. It is Paul alone who speaks of the church as the body of Christ, and her responsibility for her unity on the earth (Eph. 4:1-4).

There is an importance placed in the message to Philadelphia as to the understanding of the sovereignty of God and of Christ, and the difference between the work of God and that of man. The character of Christ presented in this church is “…He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.”   His sovereignty is the key of David He possesses. The proper understanding of the sovereignty of God opposes all Judaizing and Arminian doctrine. It is the work of God alone and therefore only glorifies God. This understanding seems to be characteristic of Philadelphia, while the opposite will be found in Laodicea, the general body of Christendom.

[115] It is a much harder task to have the corporate entity of Christendom repent and return to its first position. At this time God views it as an impossibility that just will not happen. This is what is taught in His word, which is His judgment of the professing church. Individual responsibility is different from this. The question will always be this: Does God hold all of Christendom together, by its profession of Jesus Christ, responsible as a corporate body? Has He judged the corporate body as failed and in ruin? Can you see these important truths as taught by the Spirit in His word?

[116] Every blessing and hope for the believer is only experienced in Christ and with Christ, and is never apart from Him. We are His body, bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh. If He has not taken up His power to reign as King of kings and Lord of lords yet, then we do not reign as kings in this present life in any respect. He has walked on this earth in the flesh, and in so doing, His walk is an example for us to walk in on this earth at this time – “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” (I John 2:6) So also then, we ought to wait as He waits – this is the Word of His patience (Rev. 3:10).

[117] There is such a profound difference in the Scriptural character of Christ’s relationship to the true church represented by the remnant body of Philadelphia, and that of the remnant of Israel in the end.   ‘Behold, I come quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.’ This puts forth the true character and position of the rapture. It is personal and it is privilege. He is coming for her, His bride. She is looking for and expecting Him and her hope is to see Him soon. So at the end of the prophecy in chapter 22, He says, “I, Jesus…am…the Bright and Morning Star.” This awakens the heartfelt cry of the Spirit and bride together saying, “Come!”Then He assures us with His reply, “Surely I am coming quickly.” The church responds again, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” The taking of the church is such a personal thing between the Bridegroom and the bride. It is between Jesus Himself and the church.

This is not the case with His relationship with the end time Jewish remnant. They must be delivered through judgments in order for them to have their proper place in the earth. They are the earthly calling. The Lord’s physical return to the earth will be associated with warring and righteous judgments, and the gathering out of His kingdom all things that offend (Matt. 13:41). In the end before Israel can have their blessing of being restored in the land and prospering, they will have to be delivered by the execution of judgments. This is the reason for the many examples of the crying out for vengeance found throughout the Psalms. It is the Jewish remnant crying out:

Psalm 94:1-3

“O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs—
O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth!
Rise up, O Judge of the earth;
Render punishment to the proud.
Lord, how long will the wicked,
How long will the wicked triumph?”

The believer and the true church do not need vengeance to be with Christ in glory. God has given us grace as our part. It is in this we live and walk. We are not crying out for the Lord to come and avenge us of our enemies. We expect to be gathered together unto Him and to be caught up together to meet Him in the air. The cry for vengeance as is seen throughout the Psalms and other portions of Scripture is associated with the physical return of Christ to this world. It is always the language of the Israeli remnant, and not that of the church. In the example of the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8) she is crying out, “Avenge me of my adversary.” The resulting interpretation is, “And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?” The widow is symbolic and characteristic of the end time Jewish remnant and the use of the word ‘elect’ identifies them as such. God bearing long with them is God bearing long with the crying out of this remnant. It is sad when this parable is misapplied to the church in attempts to teach us how to pray.

“That your foot may crush them in blood, and the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from your enemies.” (Psalm 68:23) These are not the church’s thoughts. This is not our blessed hope (Tit. 2:13). If I have partaken of the grace of the Lamb, then I will not be associated with what is considered as the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:12-17). The church is associated with sovereign grace. The Israeli remnant is associated with righteous judgments. When the church is seen at the end of Revelation, it is the New Jerusalem whose trees have leaves for the healing of the nations.

Associated with the restored remnant of Israel on the earth is the government of God, which has its basis in the Jewish law and the outcomes according to judgments in righteousness – “For the nation and kingdom which will not serve you (Israel) shall perish. And those nations shall be utterly ruined.” (Is. 60:12) The earth is destined to be delivered through judgments, but the church’s portion is to be with Christ caught up in the air.

At the end of the passage referenced in Luke (Luke 18:1-8) Jesus makes this statement, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” Why such a question? The Jewish remnant will be like Thomas. They will believe only after seeing with their eyes – looking on Him whom they had pierced. If real bible faith is the evidence of things not seen, you can understand the Lord’s question.

[118] You may notice that only the first part of the terms are used. To Mary He said “… to My Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” (John 20:17)However, in the book of Revelation the relationship of God and Jesus Christ with the church is hidden. It is not the proper subject of prophecy, but rather the mystery of God. Therefore only half of the term is used – ‘My God’. In the book, when the term Father is used of God it is only in direct relation to Jesus Christ, usually as the Lamb slain (Rev. 14:1). When the name Father is used in close proximity to the church, as in the opening salutation of the book, it is still honoring the character of prophecy and the mystery by only using the term “…His God and Father…” (Rev. 1:6)

The terms, ‘the body of Christ’ and the ‘church’ are never used in the entire book. This shows you what the mystery of God is that was hidden from the prophets and prophecy. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, having the titles of Messiah or the Son of Man, was never hidden from prophecy. Neither was His suffering or death hidden, for He often said, “The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him…” (Matt. 26:24, Mark 14:21, Luke 22:22) So then in the book of Revelation the church is only referred to in allegorical forms – the twenty four elders or the bride of the Lamb. The rapture of the church is hidden in certain passages like Revelation 12:5 and 4:1.

It is also true that John was not the one who was given the dispensation or stewardship of the mystery. This was given to Paul (Eph. 3:9-10). So then John, Peter, and the others never use the terms, ‘the body of Christ’ or ‘the church’ in their writings or teachings (save Jesus being quoted in Matthew’s gospel). Peter does make an allusion to the church in I Peter 2. Only Paul teaches the doctrine of the church. But I believe the main reason the church is treated as such in the book of Revelation is because the subjects of biblical prophecy do not include the church. The great subjects of prophecy are Israel, the earth, and the government of God over the earth. It is by knowing general biblical principles that we will understand the detail of Scripture, not the other way around.