“Philadelphia” means, “brotherly love.” The Church that was located there had proven itself to be a unique congregation in terms of its love for Christ and for the work that Christ had assigned to her. The Church was not very large or strong. Yet, they were effective in the work of Christ because they made Kingdom work their priority. And because of their commitment to kingdom work, Christ speaks to this congregation in a special way—giving special promises and granting special assurances.
When we make kingdom work our priority, nothing that can hinder our effectiveness. Regardless of the obstacles that confront us, we can be successful. In fact, Jesus is impressed with us when we are willing to work in spite of our apparent insufficiency. Jesus says to this Church, “Even though you have little power, you have kept My Word and not denied My name. And because of your faithfulness over little, I am ready to give you more. Thus, I’ve set before you an open door.”
From a human perspective, this Church was limited. It wasn’t a large congregation; it didn’t have a lot of money or a great deal of influence in the affairs of city government or economics. But what it lacked in worldly power, it more than made up for in spiritual fervor. This Church had learned how to function beyond its ability; they had learned how to be strong in spite of their weakness. And because of their reliance upon their spiritual resources, Jesus said, “I’ve set before you an open door.”
God uses people that the world has deemed insufficient. When God was looking for a people to call the earth back to Him, He didn’t go to Egypt or to Babylon, but He called on Israel, which was considered to be the least of all. When Jesus chose men to be His disciples, He didn’t go the Sanhedrin Counsel, but He chose fishermen and tax collectors—people that the rest of the world had thrown away. It reminds us that it doesn’t matter what the world thinks of us, it doesn’t matter how much of the world’s power we accumulate. The only thing that matters is that we develop the discipline of the Philadelphia Church—that we keep God’s word and that we refuse to deny His name.
Of course, we will be tested. But when the test comes, we can survive and overcome if we remember from where our Help really comes. Jesus, in addressing this Church, identifies Himself as, “The Holy One, holding the key of David.” He says, “I am the One who shuts doors that no one can open and who opens doors that no one can shut.” This means that real power, real strength comes from leaning and depending on Him. His will cannot be opposed, regardless of the size of the opposition. He governs the events of humanity, and in accordance with His own will, He opens some doors and He closes others. And no human power can interfere with what He has determined He will do.
This was good news for the Philadelphia Church; this is good news for us. Are we ready to walk through Christ’s open door?