Word@Work, Let God's Word energise your working day!

Letter to Philadelphia 2

Revelation 3:9-10
I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars – I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. (NIVUK)

As Philadelphia was the gateway to trade with the east, so Jesus promised that the church in that city had an open door to share the gospel – and nobody could stop the gospel being proclaimed (Revelation 3:8). But some in the large local Jewish synagogue were trying to silence the gospel by intimidating the church. Despite the fact that Jesus was a Jew, as were all His apostles and many of the believers in Jerusalem, the people who God had chosen to prepare the world for His Messiah were now in direct opposition to the church. In that sense they were not true Jews (Romans 2:28-29), because they were not fulfilling their God-ordained purpose.

It is strong language to say that those traditional religionists were from the 'synagogue of Satan'. Jesus said it in the same way in which He rebuked Peter before the transfiguration when Jesus explained that He was going to the cross: "Get behind me, Satan!" Any opposition to Jesus Christ comes from Satan’s evil scheming, to destroy Christ's authority and take His kingdom (Matthew 4:8-10). Satan entered Judas Iscariot (Luke 22:3) before the betrayal. Satan snatches away the seed of God's Word (Mark 4:15). Satan pretends to be a godly angel in order to deceive (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). Of course, although Satan can insert lies into people's minds, he often chooses to do so through other people – his unwitting accomplices. And Christless religion, in its many forms, appears to make anti-Jesus activity respectable.

Jesus assured them that the day will come when they will acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord, the King - the ruler of everybody. Romans 16:20 says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." This is an Eastern picture of submission (Psalm 47:3). Satan's rule cannot last for ever, neither can the power of his accomplices. At some point, those who oppose Jesus and His church will have to admit that they were wrong. Certainly, that will happen when Jesus returns (Revelation 1:7); but in God's mercy some will have the opportunity to repent (Acts 8:22) before that time; and the Apostle Paul did (Acts 26:12-18).

The church in Philadelphia had remained true to Jesus, and He assured them of His love. They had honoured Him and He would honour them (1 Samuel 2:30) by not bringing them to the fiercest trial. This has been variously interpreted. But the simple meaning is that the Lord would spare them further suffering. The call to us is not to be frightened or deflected from taking the gospel through the open doors which the Lord opens, and not to be cowered by the apparent authority of Christless religion. The Lord even loves those who are against Him, indeed at one time we were all against Him (Titus 3:3). But somebody showed Jesus to us, we responded and were saved. So, love Christ first of all, be ready to witness, be truthful about Jesus, be respectful to your listeners and trust Jesus for the outcome (1 Peter 3:15-17).

Great God. Thank You that Satan’s authority was crushed at the cross, and His fate is already sealed. Forgive me for ignoring Your 'open doors' because I wrongly believe that Satan and his accomplices will crush me. Help me to be bold to take the gospel opportunities You give me, and may I trust You for the outcome. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Bible Book: 

© Dr Paul Adams