Revelation 2-3 contains 7 letters written to 7 historical churches of the first century world. More than just ancient letters, these letters are absolutely filled with practical themes for us to consider today. All but two of the letters follows a similar pattern (recipient, identification of author, commendation, condemnation, charge to correct, challenge to persevere, challenge to hear the message). The letter to Philadelphia breaks the pattern at one point—it has no word of condemnation.
Have you ever just needed to be encouraged? Sometimes we need to be rebuked and corrected. Other times we just simply need to be affirmed and encouraged. Blessed is the person who knows when we need that time of affirmation. I had a Seminary Professor who did that for me. God is like that. To the church at Philadelphia, He exhorts. To this church, on this occasion at least, He has no words of condemnation. Hear, or as the text reads, “Behold” these words of encouragement.
Behold the Opportunity of the Door Before Us
What is this door? We are not going to get very far into this text until we are able to understand the identification of the door. What are the possibilities?
- Our Salvation
- Revelation 3:20—Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.
- Our Evangelism
- Acts 14:27—After they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported everything God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
- 1 Corinthians 16:9—because a wide door for effective ministry has opened for me —yet many oppose me.
- 2 Corinthians 2:12—When I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ, a door was opened to me by the Lord.
- Colossians 4:3 3—At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah —for which I am in prison —
So, which is it? I am not 100% sure. The commentaries lean toward the first. They argue that in context, this speaks of salvation in terms of entry into the Messianic Kingdom. The argument has great merit. To be sure, our salvation is consistent with the words of verse 7. They also argue that in Revelation, the imagery of an open door does not speak towards evangelism.
However, I believe that from context, we could also make an argument toward the second option—evangelism. Remember, these are letters to churches, not individuals.
The 3 clauses of verse 8 tilt the evidence in favor of evangelism.
Again, we cannot get very far in this text if we do not make a choice. So, let’s consider it as the door open for churches.
Reasons God Opens Doors to Some Churches:
God opens doors to churches that . . .
- Depend on Him. Blessed are the churches that recognize that our power is in Him.
- Declare His Word. God always honors the preaching of His Word.
- Do not Deny His Name. Here is the heart of the Gospel.
What if a church says, “We cannot reach that kind of person,” or “We don’t have enough money,” or “It will cost too much money,”? Why not believe that God opens the door and the door He opens, no one closes?