As a child, the word ‘Philadelphia’ meant a creamy cheese spread which I greatly enjoyed. As a teenager, I learned that ‘Philadelphia’ was a city in Pennsylvania. As an adult, I learned that the original city thus named was found in Asia and that the word itself meant ‘brotherly love.’ It’s no surprise, perhaps, to discover that the church in Philadelphia receives much praise from Jesus and no admonition. Despite having little strength, the church there had held fast to Christ, kept His word and had not denied Him. They had learnt the secret of enduring patiently even when facing opposition and were doing well.
Philadelphia in Asia was strategically located, a border town with the purpose of spreading Greek culture far and wide. Perhaps it is because of this that Jesus spoke to them about open doors: ‘I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.’ (Rev 3:8) He reminds them (and us) that ‘what He opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.’ (Rev 3:7) God is the God of opportunity. Sometimes, He opens a door; on other occasions (as in Acts 16:6-7), He shuts it. We can be sure that God is able to keep us through all trouble and that there are great rewards for those who are victorious. In the meantime, what is required is the faithful tenacity shown by this church. Daily obedience, ongoing love in the face of adversity and devotion to Christ are required from every one of us. We can leave the door opening to God Himself!