Jesus is the key to salvation and what He opens, no one can shut, and what He shuts, no one can open.
Revelation 3:7-13 “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
“‘I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, 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 from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
A little while ago, some of the ladies decorated a room downstairs for a baby shower. It was beautiful. The next morning, when they returned, they realized the door to the room was locked. They tried my keys, but they didn’t work. For over an hour and a half, several people tried to open the door. Just before the shower started, they got a hold of Anthony who had the right key and he opened the door.
You see, to open a specific door you do not need any key or lots of keys— you just need the right key. When it comes to salvation here or hereafter it is no different. You don’t need just any key; you need the right key that Jesus has.
The problem is that people believe there are many ways to get to heaven, but what they need to know is that only Jesus has the key to open the door of salvation here and hereafter.
As we continue with our series, “Uncovering Revelation,” verse by verse, Revelation 3:7-13 was a letter to the church in Philadelphia. They received no condemnation because they believed that Jesus had the only key to their salvation here or hereafter. Therefore, they held on to Jesus.
The big idea is that if we don’t want to receive any condemnations, we must believe that Jesus does not only have the key; He is the key to salvation here and hereafter. Do you believe that? Revelation 3:7-13 reveals that the key to opening the door of salvation is in believing the truths about the person of Jesus, the power of Jesus, the promise of Jesus.
The Key is in the Person of Jesus
Revelation 3:7 reads, “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.” Jesus speaks to each church through its angel, the messenger who is the pastor of that church.
A pastor of the church is the primary communicator of the truth. When he fails to communicate the truth, his church fails to follow Jesus. Too many churches are suffering with the delusional gospel today because their pastors do not know the person of Jesus.
For example, the Unitarian churches reject the deity of Jesus while the Universalist churches seek universal reconciliation. I googled Unitarian Universal churches near me and I was amazed that they look like our church. They even have similar language like worship, connect, serve, and grow.
A pastor of a church is also the gatekeeper of the teaching that comes in and goes out. I am glad that the pastor of the church in Philadelphia delivered the teachings he received from Jesus faithfully. Otherwise, we would not have this precious teaching on the person of Jesus. Verse 7 tells us about three titles of Jesus that exult and magnify the person of Jesus.
First, the holy one. The word holy is hagios, meaning different. God is the only one who uses this title in the Bible because He is different from His creation whether on earth or in heaven. He is of a different essence. Therefore, He alone is worthy to be worshiped. In Isaiah 6:3, Isaiah heard angels worshiping God and the verse says, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.” No man, no angel, none of the created things are holy; only God is holy. That is the title the Risen Lord Jesus uses in verse 7 to reveal who He is because He is of the same essence as God.
Second, the true one. In Greek, we have two words for true, alethes and alethinos. Jesus did not use the first word which differentiates true facts from false statements but He uses the second word which differentiates real from unreal. It connects visible facts to reality, describing someone who is true inside and out. This means the Philadelphians can rely on Jesus because He does not just have the name above all names. He also has the nature of God. He is the true one. This means when you meet Jesus, you do not meet a person you meet reality and truth itself.
Third, the one who has the key of David. This is a reference to Isaiah 22:22. The key of David in the messianic context is the fulfillment of all the promises made to David. Jesus will rule over the whole earth from the throne of David literally for a thousand years and then forever over the New Jerusalem mentioned in Revelation 3:12, which is a reference to heaven where no one can enter without the permission of Jesus. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
The application is, never compromise on who the person of Jesus is no matter how offensive it seems. The key to opening the door of salvation is in believing not only in the person of Jesus but also in the power of Jesus.
The Key is in the Power of Jesus
Revelation 3:8-9 says, “I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” What is this open door that Jesus has set before them?
Some argue that it is Jesus Himself. In John 10:9 Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” It is true that Jesus is the key to salvation and the door to heaven but here, door means something else.
To understand that we need to know a little about the history of the city and the church. It was founded by colonists from Pergamum. The king of Pergamum loved his brother so much that he decided to build a city to commemorate his love for his brother thus he called it Philadelphia meaning city of brotherly love. The city was a border city and was founded with the special mission to spread Hellenistic (Greek) culture, ideas, and language in the region.
Just as it was the open door for the Hellenistic mission, the church was an open door to evangelistic mission in the region. So, the open door was an opportunity for the profession and proclamation of the gospel. As it is always where the gospel advances persecution, Satan's influence, and doctrinal impurity grows.
The language in the rest of verses 8 and 9 says, “I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.” Little power could mean they were a small church with next to no influence but a huge focus on the basics of faith.
First, Focus on the Word. A church that preaches the Word, and practices the Word is preserved by the Word.
Second. Focus on Prayer. A praying church is a powerful church with the uninterrupted presence of Jesus. Prayer opens all sorts of doors in our lives.
Third, Focus on Witness. A witnessing church is an authentic expression of God's love toward the community where He puts us in places even in places with persecution.
Verse 9 indicates the Philadelphians were persecuted for their faith, but Jesus promised in His power He would bring the persecutors to their knees.
History tells us that among all seven churches, Philadelphia was the longest-surviving church that withstood pagan influence for centuries and it wasn't until the 14th Century when Timur, commander of a Muslim army eradicated the church. One source said, the Muslim armies gathered every single Christian and brought them into the prominent Cathedral there and martyred them all. Another source said Timur displayed their heads on spikes. The good news is that the open door Jesus promised turned them into a missionary church that sent missionaries therefore their witness did not die with them. How about us? How are we using the open door?
The application for us is that God has given us all an open door of opportunity to profess and proclaim Jesus. We are surrounded by Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, atheists, and nominal Christians. If you believe in the power of Jesus, then act, profess, and proclaim Jesus.
The Key is in the Promise of Jesus
Jesus makes six promises in Revelation 3:10-13.
The first promise is in verse 10,“Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.” One of the most popular bedtime stories in my house is “Going on a Bear Hunt.” The whole plot is, when coming across obstacles, “we can’t go over it, can’t go under it, we’ve gotta go through it.” The message in the New Testament is the same. God’s promise is to keep us in and through all trials. However, verse 10 is the only exception. In the phrase “from the hour of trial,” from is translated from the Greek word ek, meaning “out of.” God promises He will keep the church out. This is a clear reference to the tribulation, a seven-year period of unbearable pain that the whole world but the church will go through. Jesus promises He will take all genuine believers out of the world before the tribulation begins. This event is known as the Rapture.
The second promise is in verse 11, “I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” The crown is the crown of salvation which we can never lose if we remain in Jesus. Jesus does not want us to worry about losing our crown. Instead, He is saying, don’t give it up. Endure by holding fast to your faith, the basics of faith, the Word, Prayer, and Proclamation. Essentially Jesus is saying that He is coming very soon so keep trusting Him.
The third through sixth promises are in Revelation 3:12.
The third promise, “The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, Never shall he go out of it.” This means, if anyone conquers, in Greek nikōn meaning obtain victory, then he or she will have a permanent place in the presence of God and that once you are in, nothing can take you out. That is the state of every believer because the security of our salvation is the promise of Jesus.
The fourth promise, “and I will write on him the name of my God,” meaning they belonged to God. And no one can dare to touch God’s precious possessions.
The fifth promise, “and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven,” which means being the citizens of the new Jerusalem.
The sixth promise, and my own new name. This means they belong to Jesus. Every individual that belongs to Jesus is a child of God and therefore has been made a citizen of the new Jerusalem the city of God, a reference to heaven.
Historians say Philadelphia suffered several earthquakes and was described as a “city full of earthquakes.” They were always living in a state of fear of earthquakes, in search of a safe haven. God assures them of a safe place in heaven that is forever, where they would stand tall like firm columns in God's temple, the dwelling of God. If your life is constantly in a state of turmoil, this promise is for you too.
Jesus closed His address by making the message relevant to every church that names the name of Jesus with verse 13, saying, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
The application is keep His Word so that Jesus may fulfill His promises. Interestingly, if you believe in the person of Jesus, the power of Jesus, and the promises of Jesus, then you don’t need to worry about keeping the Word because Jesus keeps us so that we can keep His word.
I was talking to a man who said, I believe all paths lead to salvation whether you come through Confucius, Buddha, Moses, Muhammad, or any other religious figure. I believe that this man believed what he believed, but you see the problem is not believing.
The fact is that every religious figure died in the hope of salvation but only one rose to life from death triumphantly to offer the hope of salvation.
His name is Jesus and only He has the key to open the door of salvation here and hereafter. Unless we believe in the person of Jesus, the power of Jesus, and the promises of Jesus the door of salvation remains shut, no matter what we believe.
Ask yourself if you believe in Jesus or in the person of Jesus. Believing in Jesus and believing in the person of Jesus that is who Jesus is and what He has done for us are two different things.
Do not listen to the voices coming from all directions and sometimes, even from within, that try to convince you that perhaps your salvation needs more work, or perhaps people can be saved through other ways. There is only one way, and His name is Jesus.
Just as in the days of Noah, the door of the ark was open for a long time. Similarly, the door to salvation has been open for a very long time but just as it was then, once the door was suddenly shut, no one was able to open it. A day is coming when Jesus will shut that door, and no one will open it.
Let's profess and proclaim the person of Jesus, the power of Jesus, and the promises of Jesus because Jesus does not only have the key to salvation; He is the key to salvation here and hereafter, and what He opens, no one can shut, and what He shuts, no one can open.
1. What does the key of David mean in Revelation 3:7? (Read Isaiah 22:22).
2. What might Jesus mean in Revelation 3:8 when He says to the church in Philadelphia “you have but little power?” How can this be a positive thing?
3. In Revelation 3:10, Jesus promises “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world.” Is this a reference to the Rapture? If yes, then why was the church in Philadelphia not raptured? (Read Daniel 9:25-27)
Deeper Study Questions
In Revelation 3:10-13, Jesus makes six promises. How do these promises apply to you as an individual as well as to a church?
Jesus’ address to all seven churches in Revelation 2-3 has a specific pattern. To better learn to how to make observations in Scripture, spend a few minutes seeing the pattern by inserting the correct verse against the statement below, focusing only on 3:7-13.
Specific church addressed
Description of Jesus
Jesus commends the church
Jesus rebukes the church
Jesus gives a solution for the rebuke
Jesus gives a high-stakes warning
Jesus’ promise for those who conquer