Revelation 3:7
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
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(7) Philadelphia.—The town of Philadelphia derived its name from Attalus Philadelphus, the king of Pergamos, who died B.C. 138. It was situated on the slopes of Mount Tmolus, in the midst of a district the soil of which was favourable to the cultivation of the vine. On the coins of the town are to be found the head of Bacchus. The town was built on high ground—upwards of 900 feet above the sea-level. The whole region, however, was volcanic, and few cities suffered more from earthquakes; the frequent recurrence of these considerably reduced the population. But its favourable situation and fertile soil preserved it from entire desertion. And of all the seven churches, it had the longest life as a Christian city. “Philadelphia alone has been saved . . .; among the Greek colonies and churches of Asia, Philadelphia is still erect, a column in a scene of ruins.” Such is the language of Gibbon, referring to its later history. As a light in the world at the present day, we must look to no Eastern Philadelphia; the hand of William Penn kindled a light in its great namesake of the West.

These things saith he that is holy. . . .—Better, These things saith the Holy, the True, He that hath the key of David, that openeth, and no man shall shut, and He shutteth, and no one shall open.

Holy.—The main idea of the word here used is that of consecration. It is used of what is set apart to God; it does not assert the possession of personal holiness, but it implies it as a duty. It becomes, therefore, pre-eminently appropriate to Him who was not only consecrate, but holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners. Prof. Plumptre thinks there may be a reference here to the confession made by St. Peter (John 6:69), where the right reading is, “Thou art the Christ, the holy One of God.”

True.—A favourite word with St. John, and expressing more than the opposite of “false.” It implies that which is perfect in contrast with the imperfect; the reality in contrast with the shadow; the antitype in contrast with the type; the ideal which is the only real in contrast with the real which is only ideal;—

“The flower upon the spiritual side,

Substantial, archetypal, all aglow

With blossoming causes”

in contrast with the flower that fadeth here. Christ, then, in calling Himself the True, declares that “all titles and names given to Him are realised in Him; the idea and the fact in Him are, what they can never be in any other, absolutely commensurate” (Trench). In some MSS. the order of these words, “the Holy,” “the True,” is inverted.

The key of David.—Some early commentators saw in this key the key of knowledge which the scribes had taken away (Luke 11:52), and understood this expression here as implying that Christ alone could unloose the seals of Scripture, and reveal its hidden truth to men. In support of this they referred to Revelation 5:7-9. The fault of the interpretation is that it is too limited; it is only a corner of the full meaning. He who is “the True” alone can unlock the hidden treasures of truth. But the use of the word “David,” and the obvious derivation of the latter part of this verse from Isaiah 22:22, points to a wider meaning. Jesus Christ is the true Steward of the house of David. (Comp. Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:5-6.) The faulty, self-seeking stewards, the Shebnas of Jerusalem and Philadelphia, vainly claimed a right of exclusion from synagogue or church, where Jesus, the God-fixed nail in the sure place, upon which the bundle of earth’s sorrows and sins might securely be suspended (Isaiah 22:23-25), the Eliakim of a greater Zion, had the key of the sacred and royal house. In this, the chamber of truth was one treasure, as the chamber of holiness, the chamber of rest, the chamber of spiritual privileges, were others. In other words, though in a sense the keys of spiritual advantages are in the hands of His servants, “He still retains the highest administration of them in His own hands.” The power of the keys entrusted to Apostles gave them no right to alter the “essentials of the gospel, or the fundamental principles of morality.” The absolution given by them can only be conditional, unless the giver of it possesses the infallible discerning of spirits. The reader of Dante will remember how the cases of Guido di Montefeltro (Inf. xxvii.) and of his son Buonconte (Purg. v.) illustrate the belief which sustained so many illustrious spirits (John Huss, Savanarola, Dante), and in times of unjust oppression, tyrannical ecclesiasticism, and which this passage sanctions, that

“Nought but repentance ever can absolve;

And that though sins be horrible; yet so wide arms

Hath goodness infinite, that it receives

All who turn to it.”

Revelation 3:7-8. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write — “Philadelphia, so called from Attalus Philadelphus, its builder, is distant from Sardis about twenty-seven miles to the south-east. It is called by the Turks Alah Shahr, or the beautiful city, on account of its delightful situation, standing on the declivity of the mountain Tmolus, and having a most pleasant prospect on the plains beneath, well furnished with divers villages, and watered by the river Pactolus. It still retains the form of a city, with something of trade to invite the people to it, being the road of the Persian caravans. Here is little of antiquity remaining, besides the ruins of a church dedicated to St. John, which is now made a dunghill to receive the offals of dead beasts. However, God hath been pleased to preserve some of this place to make profession of the Christian faith, there being above two hundred houses of Christians, and four churches. Next to Smyrna, this city hath the greatest number of Christians, and Christ hath promised a more particular protection to it. Behold, I have set before thee an open door, &c., Revelation 3:8.” So Bishop Newton. But Mr. Lindsay’s account given of this church two years ago, in consequence of a personal inspection, is still more favourable, thus: “Whatever may be lost of the spirit of Christianity, there is still the form of a Christian church; which, according to the promise, has been kept from the hour of temptation, &c., Revelation 3:10. There are here about one thousand Christians, chiefly Greeks, who for the most part speak only Turkish. There are twenty-five places of public worship; five of which are large, regular churches: to these there is a resident bishop, with twenty inferior clergy. A copy of the modern Greek Testament was received by the bishop with great thankfulness.”

These things saith he that is holy, he that is true — Or, the Holy One, the true One; two great and glorious titles; he that hath the key of David — A master of a family has one or more keys wherewith he can open and shut all the doors of his house or palace. So had David a key, (a token of right or sovereignty,) which was afterward adjudged to Eliakim, Isaiah 22:22. Much more has Christ, the Son of David, the key of the spiritual city of David, the New Jerusalem; the supreme right, power, and authority, as in his own house. He openeth this to all that overcome, and none shutteth: he shutteth it against all the fearful and unbelieving, and none openeth — He hath likewise all authority and power in his church on earth, so that none can exclude from the privileges of that kingdom those whom he thinks proper to admit to the enjoyment of them; and none can bestow them upon those from whom he shall be pleased to withhold them. Likewise, when he openeth a door for the progress of his work, or the usefulness of his servants, none can shut it; and when he shutteth against whatever would hurt or defile, none can open. I know thy works — How exemplary they are; behold, I have set before thee an open door, &c. — I have given thee power and opportunity of spreading my gospel, which none can hinder thee from doing; for thou hast a little strength — A little courage and power; and hast kept my word — Both in judgment and practice; and hast not denied my name — Though my enemies have made many efforts to compel thee to do it.

3:7-13 The same Lord Jesus has the key of government and authority in and over the church. He opens a door of opportunity to his churches; he opens a door of utterance to his ministers; he opens a door of entrance, opens the heart. He shuts the door of heaven against the foolish, who sleep away their day of grace; and against the workers of iniquity, how vain and confident soever they may be. The church in Philadelphia is commended; yet with a gentle reproof. Although Christ accepts a little strength, yet believers must not rest satisfied in a little, but strive to grow in grace, to be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Christ can discover this his favour to his people, so that their enemies shall be forced to acknowledge it. This, by the grace of Christ, will soften their enemies, and make them desire to be admitted into communion with his people. Christ promises preserving grace in the most trying times, as the reward of past faithfulness; To him that hath shall be given. Those who keep the gospel in a time of peace, shall be kept by Christ in an hour of temptation; and the same Divine grace that has made them fruitful in times of peace, will make them faithful in times of persecution. Christ promises a glorious reward to the victorious believer. He shall be a monumental pillar in the temple of God; a monument of the free and powerful grace of God; a monument that shall never be defaced or removed. On this pillar shall be written the new name of Christ; by this will appear, under whom the believer fought the good fight, and came off victorious.And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia - See the notes on Revelation 1:20.

These things saith he that is holy - This refers undoubtedly to the Lord Jesus. The appellation holy, or the holy one, is one that befits him, and is not infrequently given to him in the New Testament, Luke 1:35; Acts 2:27; Acts 3:14. It is not only an appellation appropriate to the Saviour, but well adapted to be employed when he is addressing the churches. Our impression of what is said to us will often depend much on our idea of the character of him who addresses us, and solemnity and thoughtfulness always become us when we are addressed by a holy Redeemer.

He that is true - Another characteristic of the Saviour well suited to be referred to when he addresses people. It is a characteristic often ascribed to him in the New Testament (John 1:9, John 1:14, John 1:17; John 8:40, John 8:45; John 14:6; John 18:37; 1 John 5:20), and one which is eminently adapted to impress the mind with solemn thought in view of the fact that he is to pronounce on our character, and to determine our destiny.

He that hath the key of David - This expression is manifestly taken from Isaiah 22:22, "And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder." See the passage explained in the notes on that place. As used by Isaiah, the phrase is applied to Eliakim; and it is not to be inferred, because the language here is applied to the Lord Jesus, that originally it had any such reference. "The application of the same terms," says Prof. Alexander on Isaiah 22:22, "to Peter Matthew 16:19, and to Christ himself Revelation 3:7, does not prove that they here refer to either, or that Eliakim was a type of Christ, but merely that the same words admit of different applications." The language is what properly denotes authority or control - as when one has the key of a house, and has unlimited access to it; and the meaning here is, that as David is represented as the king of Israel residing in a palace, so he who had the key to that palace had regal authority.

He that openeth, and no man shutteth, ... - He has free and unrestrained access to the house; the power of admitting anyone, or of excluding anyone. Applied here to the Saviour, as king in Zion, this means that in his kingdom he has the absolute control in regard to tire admission or exclusion of anyone. He can prescribe the terms; he can invite whom he chooses; he can exclude those whom he judges should not be admitted. A reference to this absolute control was every way proper when he was addressing a church, and is every way proper for us to reflect on when we think of the subject of our personal salvation.

7. Philadelphia—in Lydia, twenty-eight miles southeast of Sardis, built by Attalus Philadelphus, king of Pergamos, who died A.D. 138. It was nearly destroyed by an earthquake in the reign of Tiberius [Tacitus, Annals, 2.47]. The connection of this Church with Jews there causes the address to it to have an Old Testament coloring in the images employed. It and Smyrna alone of the seven receive unmixed praise.

he that is holy—as in the Old Testament, "the Holy One of Israel." Thus Jesus and the God of the Old Testament are one. None but God is absolutely holy (Greek, "hagios," separate from evil and perfectly hating it). In contrast to "the synagogue of Satan" (Re 3:9).

true—Greek, "alethinos": "VERY God," as distinguished from the false gods and from all those who say that they are what they are not (Re 3:9): real, genuine. Furthermore, He perfectly realizes all that is involved in the names, God, Light (Joh 1:9; 1Jo 2:8), Bread (Joh 6:32), the Vine (Joh 15:1); as distinguished from all typical, partial, and imperfect realizations of the idea. His nature answers to His name (Joh 17:3; 1Th 1:9). The Greek, "alethes," on the other hand, is "truth-speaking," "truth-loving" (Joh 3:33; Tit 1:2).

he that hath the key of David—the antitype of Eliakim, to whom the "key," the emblem of authority "over the house of David," was transferred from Shebna, who was removed from the office of chamberlain or treasurer, as unworthy of it. Christ, the Heir of the throne of David, shall supplant all the less worthy stewards who have abused their trust in God's spiritual house, and "shall reign over the house of Jacob," literal and spiritual (Lu 1:32, 33), "for ever," "as a Son over His own house" (Heb 3:2-6). It rests with Christ to open or shut the heavenly palace, deciding who is, and who is not, to be admitted: as He also opens, or shuts, the prison, having the keys of hell (the grave) and death (Re 1:18). The power of the keys was given to Peter and the other apostles, only when, and in so far as, Christ made him and them infallible. Whatever degrees of this power may have been committed to ministers, the supreme power belongs to Christ alone. Thus Peter rightly opened the Gospel door to the Gentiles (Ac 10:1-48; 11:17, 18; especially Ac 14:27, end). But he wrongly tried to shut the door in part again (Ga 2:11-18). Eliakim had "the key of the house of David laid upon his shoulder": Christ, as the antitypical David, Himself has the key of the supreme "government upon His shoulder." His attribute here, as in the former addresses, accords with His promise. Though "the synagogue of Satan," false "Jews" (Re 3:9) try to "shut" the "door" which I "set open before thee"; "no man can shut it" (Re 3:8).

shutteth—So Vulgate and Syriac Versions read. But the four oldest manuscripts read, "shall shut"; so Coptic Version and Origen.

and no man openeth—Two oldest manuscripts, B, Aleph, Coptic Version, and Origen read, "shall open." Two oldest manuscripts, A, C, and Vulgate Version support English Version reading.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

See Poole on "Revelation 1:20", See Poole on "Revelation 2:1". Of this Philadelphia we read no more in holy writ. We are told there were three cities of that name, one in Egypt, one in Syria, another in Phrygia, or in Mysia or Lydia, which is that here intended.

These things saith he that is holy; that is, the Holy One, Acts 3:14.

He that is true; true to his word of promise or threatening.

He that hath the key of David; that is, the key of the house of David, mentioned Isaiah 22:22; the key of the church, which answered the temple, the house David designed for God: the use of the key is to open and shut, or make fast.

He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; who admits into the kingdom of heaven whom he pleaseth, and none can hinder him, and shutteth out of heaven whom he pleaseth. The house of David typified the church, the church containeth the number of those that shall be saved; Christ is here described as he who hath the sole and absolute power of saving and condemning whom he pleaseth.

And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,.... Of the city of Philadelphia; see Gill on Revelation 1:11; According to the Apostolical Constitutions (m), one Demetrius was ordained bishop of this church by the Apostle John; but this is not to be depended on; nor is it known who this angel was: however, certain it is there was a church in this place in the "second" century, in the times of Ignatius, who wrote an epistle to it, and which then had a bishop or pastor over it, whom he mentions (n), though not his name. And in the same century twelve Philadelphians suffered martyrdom at the same time Polycarp did (o); and in the "third" century a church remained in this place; and also in the "fourth", since a bishop of this church was in the council at Nice; and in the "fifth" century, a presbyter of Philadelphia was in the synod at Ephesus under Celestine; and in the "sixth" century, a bishop of this place assisted at the fifth synod at Constantinople; and in the "eighth" century, Stephen, bishop of the church here, was in the Nicene synod (p); and there are now very many that bear the name of Christians of the Greek Church in this place (q). This church is an emblem of, and represents the church in that period of time, in which will be the spiritual reign of Christ. Its name signifies "brotherly love", which in this interval will be very remarkable; saints shall not envy, vex, and distress one another any more; they shall be one in the hand of the Lord, and among themselves. Love, which is now so cold, and so much wanting in our present Sardian church state, will be exceeding warm and fervent, and in its highest pitch in the Philadelphian state. The characters Christ here assumes point at the holiness of life, truth of doctrine, and purity of discipline, for which this church state will be distinguished: in this period of time an open door for the Gospel will be set; it will be preached in its power and purity, and; will be greatly succeeded; the fulness of the Gentiles will be brought in, and the Jews will be converted; hypocrites and formal professors will be discerned and detected; great honour and respect will be shown the church by all men; and this state will be an emblem and pledge of the new Jerusalem state, of which mention is made in this epistle, or the thousand years' personal reign of Christ with all his saints:

these things saith he that is holy; which character not only agrees with Christ, as God, who is the Holy One of Israel, and equally glorious in holiness as his Father, but as man; his nature was free from original sin; his life from any actual transgression; his doctrines were pure and holy, and so were all his works, and all his administrations in each of his offices: and, as Mediator, he is the cause and author of holiness to his people; they are sanctified in him, and have their sanctification from him, and are sanctified by him: this character he chooses now to take, because he was sending an epistle to such as were lovers of holiness, and famous for it, both internal and external; so that while he describes himself, he points at persons, the members of churches in this interval:

he that is true; truly God, and truly man: true and faithful in the discharge of his several offices, and in the trust reposed in him, both of the grace and persons of the saints, and in what he undertook to do for them: he is truth itself, the truth of types, promises, and prophecies; and the sum and substance of all the truths of the Gospel; and is therefore to be depended on in every prediction and promise; and this title of Christ may have some view to the truth of doctrine which shall, in this period, prevail, and to the faithfulness and integrity of his people to his cause and interest:

he that hath the key of David; mention is made of David, because he was a type of Christ; and because from him Christ came according to the flesh, and whose throne he was to sit upon, in a spiritual sense; and because, in this period of time, the Jews are to be converted, who will seek the Lord their God, and David their king: and by the key of David is meant the key of the house of David; that is, the church of Christ, of which David's house and family were a type: and this key is either the key of knowledge, or it is expressive of power and authority. Christ has the key of knowledge, he knows all the persons of his people, all their affairs, and what they do in his house, and how they behave there: he has the key of knowledge in the Scriptures, and gives it to his ministers. And it may also design his authority in his house and church, in fixing the ordinances of it, in bestowing gifts on men, and in dispensing the blessings of grace and goodness; this may have some regard to the pure discipline of this church, as well as to its light and knowledge in the doctrines of the Gospel. The Targum on Isaiah 22:22 interprets the key of the house of David, of "the dominion" or "government of the house of David",

He that openeth, and no man shutteth, and shutteth, and no man openeth; he opens the Scriptures, which are shut to a natural man, as he did in his own personal ministry, when here on earth, and now by his Spirit; and none can shut them, either men or devils, or hinder the spread of light and knowledge by them: he opens the door of the Gospel, and gives an opportunity to preach it, and liberty of mind and expression to his ministers, and a door of utterance to them, and of entrance for it into the hearts of men, which none can shut, or hinder: he opens the door of the church, which is himself, and lets in his sheep into the sheepfold, into a Gospel church state, and the ordinances of it; and he opens the door of heaven by his blood and righteousness, and gives his people liberty and boldness to enter into the holiest of all, and brings many sons to glory in spite of all the opposition of men and devils: on the other hand, when he pleases, he shuts up the Scriptures, and the eyes of men from seeing what is in them; he shuts up the door of the Gospel, and forbids the preaching of it in this and that place; and the door of heaven will be shut by him at the last day, when all called to the marriage of the Lamb are entered, and there will be no opening. This shows the sovereignty, power, and authority of Christ, and which he will exercise in this church state, see Job 12:14. A like phrase is in the Talmud (r), , "when he shuts again, there is none that opens",

(m) L. 7. c. 46. (n) Ignat. Epist. p. 39. Ed. Voss. (o) Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 4. c. 15. (p) Eccl. Hist. Magdeburg. cent. 3. c. 2. p. 2. cent. 4. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 5. c. 2. p. 3. cent. 6. c. 2. p. 4. cent. 8. c. 2. p. 4. (q) Smith. Notitia, p. 143. (r) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 44. 2. Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 70. 3.

{6} And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the {e} key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;

(6) The sixth passage is to the pastors of Philadelphia. The introduction is taken from Re 1:18.

(e) All power of rule in commanding and forbidding, in delivering and punishing. The house of David is the Church, and the continual promise of David's kingdom belongs to Christ.

Revelation 3:7. The designation of the Lord is derived, of course, not immediately and in its particular details from Revelation 1:12 sq., but is formed with reference to the contents of the epistle that follows;[1399] yet the essential meaning of the predicates here used is no other than that expressed in the entire description, Revelation 1:12 sq., as only the peculiar mode of statement is conditioned by the opposition to false Judaism. Christ, rejected and traduced by the “synagogue of Satan,” is nevertheless the absolutely Holy One, the true Messiah, and the Lord of the earth.

ὁ ἅγιος. Incorrectly Eichh., Heinr.: “A divine ambassador.” So, too, the conception of holiness is improperly obtained by Calov.: “Christ, the Holy One, as the model of the holiness of bishops;” by Vitringa:[1400] “Christ the Holy One of Israel,[1401] as the antitype of the high priest, the prefect of the heavenly sanctuary; “by Ewald:[1402] “Who, on account of his very holiness, avenges the injury inflicted upon Christians by proud Jews.”[1403] “Too indefinite is Ebrard’s reference: “To whom every thing ungodly, even what is most deceptive, is an offence.” The ὁ ἅγιος, as well as the ὁ ἀληθινός, receives its living relation only in connection with the ὁ ἕχων τ. κλεῖν, and with respect to the epistle which follows. Incorrect are all interpretations of the ὁ ἀληθινός depending upon the presumption that ἀληθινός is synonymous with ἀψευδής or ἀληθής,[1404] while ἀληθινός means “genuine, with its idea corresponding to its name.” So the Lord calls himself (Revelation 3:14) ὁ μάρτυς ὁ πιστὸς καὶ ἀληθινός, because he is a trustworthy witness, and, just on that account, such an one as actually merits this name. Cf. Revelation 6:10, Revelation 19:2; Revelation 19:9, Revelation 16:7; John 17:3;[1405] 1 John 5:20 sqq.; Hebrews 9:24. Passages also like Revelation 21:5, Revelation 22:6, Revelation 15:3, Hebrews 10:22, are to be explained according to this idea. Incorrect, therefore, is the exposition of Vitr.: “Christ as the Mediator of divine truth, as the wearer of the true Urim and Thuminim.” Calov.: “Because he wishes that they who have received it of him guard the word of truth.” Ewald, Stern, etc.: “His promises in reference to the reward are fulfilled to the faithful.” Ebrard: “Who does not join in the falsehoods of those who malign Philadelphia, but on his part (Revelation 3:10) will bring the truth to light.” The proper meaning of the expression ἀληθινός has been correctly apprehended by Alcas., C. a Lap., and Grot.,[1406] but has been misapplied by them, as they have combined the two predicates ὁ ἅγιος, ὁ ἀληθιονός: “Who has true and perfect holiness—the superlative of holiness.” But the ὁ ἀληθ. has in itself[1407] an important meaning. Hengstenb. has given the correct interpretation, when in reference to Revelation 3:9 he mentions the calumnies of the Jews, attested by Justin Martyr, who wished to see in the Lord only “the one hanged,” and therefore a false Messiah. As opposed to such calumniating Jews, Christ is designated as the absolutely holy, and connected therewith as the true, i.e., the actual and genuine Messiah, heir and Lord of the truly abiding theocracy (ὁ ἐχ. τ. κλ. τ. Δαυΐδ, κ.τ.λ.). In a similar sense, the apostles in their discourses to the Jews have vindicated the holiness, and, accordingly, the true Messiahship and Sonship of God of the Crucified.[1408]

ὁ ἔχων τὴν κλεῖν Δαυἱδ, κ.τ.λ. Incorrect is the conjecture τ. κλεῖν Τάφεθ (Τώφεθ), made by Wolf, in consideration of Revelation 1:18.[1409] Without any ground, N. de Lyra explains[1410] the key of David, by appealing to Luke 11:52; Luke 24:32, as “the power to open the understanding of the Scriptures,” and, accordingly, the words ὁ ἀνοίγων, κ.τ.λ.: “No one can hinder those from understanding the Scriptures whom he wishes to instruct, nor can any one understand them unless he unlock them.” So on Revelation 3:9. In like manner is the explanation of Alcasar solved, concerning the cross of Christ as “the instrument of omnipotence.” With entire correctness is “the key of David,” and the succeeding description of its management, interpreted by almost all expositors in general, of the Lord’s own supreme power[1411] in the kingdom of God. The expression contains an allusion to Isaiah 22:22,[1412] but also[1413] a significant modification of that passage, since the Lord here appears as the one who has not the key of the house of David,[1414] but the “key of David.” Consequently the Lord is represented not as a second Eliakim, as his antitype, which is also in itself inapposite, but he appears in a series with King David himself, as heir of his royal house and kingdom.[1415] The key of David belongs to one who, as David himself, has a peculiar right, and is Lord[1416] in his royal house,—not in the temple,[1417]—and accordingly in the entire kingdom of David. But this is applicable to Christ as the new David[1418] unconditionally, because the ancient David, with his theocratic kingdom, was only a prophetic type of the Lord and his eternal kingdom. Just as in Acts 2:29 sqq., Acts 13:22 sqq., Acts 13:33 sqq., this is here applied to unbelieving Jews.

Ὁ ἈΝΑΊΓΩΝ, Κ.Τ.Λ. The construction in the second member is Hebraic,[1419] as the participle makes a transition to the finite tense,[1420] without on that account requiring a Ὃς to be supplied before ΚΛΕΊΕΙ.[1421] The entire thought of Ὁ ἈΝΟΊΓΩΝ

depends upon the predicate Ὁ ἜΧΩΝ Τ. ΚΛΕῖΝ Τ. Δ., and is an explanation thereof. But the idea is defined too narrowly, on the one hand, by those who, by a comparison of Matthew 16:19, regard the power of Christ here as being that to forgive sins, and thus to receive into the kingdom of heaven,[1422] and, on the other, by those who derive from Revelation 3:8 (ΘΎΡΑΥ ἈΝΕῼΓΜ.) a limitation to Revelation 3:7, and thence infer that Christ opens the opportunity for entrance into his kingdom;[1423] while, on the contrary, Revelation 3:8 makes prominent only a special point of what in Revelation 3:7 is said far more generally, and applied on the other side (ΚΑῚ ΚΛΕΊΕΙ, Κ.Τ.Λ.). Not once is the distinction of the earthly and heavenly kingdoms to be marked, but the latter is to be regarded in its indivisible completeness, as Christ the Lord and King of the realm admits therein or excludes therefrom.[1424] The supreme power of Christ, belonging to him as the true Messiah, is declared of him entirely in connection with all preceding predicates, and the succeeding epistles.[1425] As an essential part thereto, there belongs especially the irrevocable and inevitable twofold decision in the final judgment. [See Note XXXVII., p 183.]

[1399] Cf. Ebrard.

[1400] Cf. also Züll.

[1401] Isaiah 6.

[1402] Cf. also De Wette, Stern, etc.

[1403] A comparison may here be made with Revelation 6:10, where, however, this energetic expression of holiness in judicial righteousness is explicitly marked.

[1404] Cf., on the other hand, Meyer on John 7:28; Trench, Synonyms of the N. T., Cambr., 1854, § 8.

[1405] Cf. Isaiah 65:16, LXX.

[1406] Cf. Ew. ii.

[1407] Cf. Revelation 19:11.

[1408] Acts 3:14; Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30; Acts 7:52; Acts 13:35. Cf. John 13:19Revelation 3:7-13. The message to Philadelphia.

The Church in Philadelphia. 7–13

7. he that is holy, he that is true] The same epithets are combined in Revelation 6:10, where apparently they belong rather to the Father than the Son. In Mark 1:24, John 6:69 (according to the true reading), Christ is called “the Holy One of God,” and God’s “Holy Servant” (according to the probable rendering) in Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30 : also “the faithful and true” in this book, inf. Revelation 3:14 and Revelation 19:11. “The Holy One” is used absolutely as a name of God in Job 6:10; Isaiah 40:25; Habakkuk 3:3, and perhaps Hosea 11:9, besides the phrase so frequent in Isaiah, and used by several other prophets, “the Holy One of Israel:” and we have “the true God,” as opposed to idols, in 2 Chronicles 15:3; Psalm 31:5, (6); Jeremiah 10:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 John 5:20, and, without such opposition being specially marked, in Isaiah 65:16; John 17:3. Here the sense seems to be “He Who is the Holy One of God,” as opposed to those in Revelation 3:9, who say that they are of the Holy people and are not.

he that hath the key of David] From Isaiah 22:22. There the meaning is, that Eliakim shall be made ruler of the house of David, i.e. chief minister of the kingdom (2 Kings 18:18 &c.), and that his will shall be final in all business of the kingdom. Here then in like manner Christ is described as Chief Minister in the Kingdom of God. But the promise in the next verse suggests that the image is not used in this general sense only: Christ says that He has the power of admitting to, or excluding from His Church, the power which He delegates (St Matthew 16:19) to the rulers in His Church, but which none, not even they, can really exercise in opposition to His will.

Revelation 3:7. Κλεῖν) Hence the plural κλεῖς, ch. Revelation 1:18.—καὶ κλείει) The article ὅς is contained in ὁ ἀνοίγων, and is to be understood from thence.

Verses 7-13. - The epistle to the Church at Philadelphia. The circuit continues in the same direction. Philadelphia lies about thirty miles south-east of Sardis, on the road to Laodicea. It is said to owe its name to Attalus Philadelphus, King of Pergamum, B.C. 159-138. But it is by no means certain that he was the founder. A trustworthy tradition as to its Egyptian origin points to Ptolemy Philadelphus, who had estates in Asia Minor (Theocr., 17:88). Lying at the western edge of a district whose highly volcanic character earned it the name of Phrygia Catacecaumene, Philadelphia was constantly suffering from earthquakes (cf. ver. 12). It was destroyed along with Sardis in the catastrophe of A.D. (Tac., 'Ann.,' 2:47). But the advantages of its position, commanding the way to the pass between the Hermus valley and the Maeander valley, and the richness of its vine produce (Virgil, 'Georg.,' 2:98), seem to have induced the inhabitants to cling to the site. The coins of Philadelphia often have the head either of Bacchus or a Bacchante on one side; and it is a known fact that volcanic soil is specially favourable to vine growing. Yet in Roman times it was not equal to Ephesus or even Laodicea; and for law courts its citizens had to go to Sardis. Nevertheless, it has outlived all these three, and still continues on the same site, and perhaps within the same walls, as of old. At the close of the fourteenth century it was the last Byzantine city to surrender to the Turks, and, when it did succumb, made better terms than any of the others. To this day it retains the privilege of free Christian worship, with the use of bells for service, and processions in public - a thing allowed by the Turks in no other inland city of Asia Minor. It has a bishop and a dozen churches, and it is said that about a third of its fifteen thousand inhabitants are Christian. Its modern Turkish name is Allah Shehr, "the city of God," or, as others write and render it, Ala Shehr, "the striped city." In any case the coincidence with "the name of the city of my God" (ver. 12) is purely accidental. (For an eloquent account of Philadelphia, see Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall,' Revelation 64.) It is doubtful whether there are any local allusions in the epistle; but some have fancied that "thou hast a little power" (ver. 8) and "a pillar in the temple" (ver. 12) are such (see notes in each place). The name of "Little Athens," which Philadelphia sometimes bore, on account of its numerous temples and festivals (Acts 17:16, 22), shows that the little Christian community would have to contend with a specially vigorous form of heathenism. It had also to contend with a colony of hostile Jews, which was no doubt largely augmented after the destruction of Jerusalem, when fugitive Jews came to "worship before the feet" of the Philadelphian Church (ver. 9). Hence the epistle of Ignatius to the Philadelphians treats of Judaism as one of their chief dangers (c. 6, 8, 9.). There were men among them who questioned the authority of Gospels and Epistles, and admitted only the Old Testament Scriptures (τὰ ἀρχεῖα) as binding. Some had tried to lead even Ignatius himself astray (7.). Altogether his epistle gives a less happy picture of the Philadelphians than that which we have here, where (as in the epistle to the Church at Smyrna) the Philadelphian Church receives unmixed praise. Whether the large proportion of Old Testament language and imagery which is found in this epistle has any connexion with the Jewish colony in Philadelphia is uncertain. Perhaps most of the Christians had been originally Jews. Verse 7. - He that is holy, he that is true. It is doubtful which of these two clauses should precede: authorities are somewhat evenly balanced. Christ, the Speaker, here claims to be "the Holy One" (ἁ ἅγιος), and therefore God (Revelation 6:10; comp. Revelation 4:8; John 17:11). In the Old Testament "the Holy One" is a frequent name of God, especially in Isaiah 1:4; Isaiah 5:19, 24; Isaiah 10:7, 20; Isaiah 12:6, etc.; Job 6:10; Jeremiah 50:29; Jeremiah 51:5; Ezekiel 39:7; Hosea 11:9; Habakkuk 3:3, etc. The word does not occur in Homer or Hesiod, nor in the Greek tragedians, but is very frequent in the LXX. and the New Testament. Its radical meaning is separation. The two epithets "holy" and "true" must not be merged in one as "the truly holy." The "True One" has a very distinct meaning of its own. Note that the adjective used is ἀληθινός, not ἀληθής. 'Αληθής, verax, is "true" as opposed to "lying;" ἀληθινός, verus, is "true" as opposed to "spurious," "unreal," "imperfect." Christ is "the True One" as opposed to the false gods of the heathen; they are spurious gods. Both adjectives, and especially ἀληθινός, are characteristic of St. John. The latter serves to bind together Gospel, Epistle, and Apocalypse. It occurs nine times in the Gospel, four times in the First Epistle, and ten times in the Apocalypse; twenty-three times in all; in the rest of the New Testament only five times. It is the word used of "the true Light" (John 1:9; 1 John 2:8 ); "the true Bread" (John 6:32), and "the true Vine" (John 15:1). Applied to God, we find it in John 7:29; John 17:3; 1 John 5:20. He that hath the key of David. Observe that none of these titles come from the opening vision in Revelation 1, although by no means all the material there found (Revelation 1:13-16) has been already used. The source of the present appellation is obviously Isaiah 22:20-22; but it is worth noting that Isaiah 22:20 has much that is parallel to the unused material in Revelation 1:18; so that the opening vision would seem to direct us, as this passage certainly does, to Eliakim as a type of Christ. As Trench observes, Isaiah foretells the promotion of Eliakim "with an emphasis and fulness" which would surprise us if we did not see in it not merely the description of "a revolution in the royal palace" of Judah, but "the type of something immeasurably greater." Shebna, whose name shows him to have been a foreigner, had misused his dignity and power as steward or controller of the royal house - an office analogous to that held by Joseph under Pharaoh and by our prime minister. For this he was degraded to the inferior office of royal scribe or secretary (Isaiah 36:3; Isaiah 37:2), while Eliakim was made "mayor of the palace" in his room. The παστοφόριον of the LXX. and praepositus templi of the Vulgate would lead us to suppose that Eliakim's office was sacerdotal; but this is certainly a mistake. Luther's Hofmeister is much nearer the mark. A key would not be an appropriate symbol of a priestly office. In possessing "the key of the house of David," Eliakim had control over the house of David. Therefore in this passage Christ claims the control of that of which the house of David was a type. He is Regent in the kingdom of God. He that openeth, and none shall shut, and shutteth, and none openeth. The various readings here are numerous, but not of much moment: "shall shut" is much better attested than "shutteth" in the first half "The keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 16:19) are not to be confounded with "the key of knowledge" (Luke 11:52). They belong to Christ, but have been committed to his Church, but not unreservedly. "He still retains the highest administration in his own hands" (Trench): and if the Church errs in binding or loosing, he cancels the judgment. The Church may open where Christ will shut, and shut where Christ will open. He alone openeth so that none shall strut, and shutteth so that none can open. Revelation 3:7Philadelphia

Seventy-five miles southeast of Sardis. The second city in Lydia. The adjacent region was celebrated as a wine-growing district, and its coins bore the head of Bacchus and the figure of a Bacchante. The population included Jews, Jewish Christians, and converts from heathenism. It suffered from frequent earthquakes. Of all the seven churches it had the longest duration of prosperity as a Christian city. It still exists as a Turkish town under the name of Allah Shehr, City of God. The situation is picturesque, the town being built on four or five hills, and well supplied with trees, and the climate is healthful. One of the mosques is believed by the native Christians to have been the gathering-place of the church addressed in Revelation. "One solitary pillar of high antiquity has been often noticed as reminding beholders of the words in Revelation 3:12 : 'Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God.'"

He that is holy (ὁ ἅγιος)

See on Acts 26:10. Christ is called holy, Acts 2:27; Acts 13:35; Hebrews 7:26; in all which passages the word, however, is ὅσιος, which is holy by sanction, applied to one who diligently observes all the sanctities of religion. It is appropriate to Christ, therefore, as being the one in whom these eternal sanctities are grounded and reside. Ἅγιος, the word used here, refers rather to separation from evil.

He that is true (ὁ ἀληθινὸς)

See on John 1:9. Αληθινὸς is not merely, genuine as contrasted with the absolutely false, but as contrasted with that which is only subordinately or typically true. It expresses the perfect realization of an idea as contrasted with its partial realization. Thus, Moses gave bread, but the Father giveth the true bread (τὸν ἄρτον τὸν ἀληθινόν). Israel was a vine of God's planting (Psalm 80:8), Christ is the true (ἡ ἀληθινὴ) vine (John 15:1). The word is so characteristic of John that, while found only once in the Synoptic Gospels, once in a Pauline Epistle, and four times in the Epistle to the Hebrews, it occurs nine times in the fourth Gospel, four times in John's First Epistle, and ten times in Revelation, and in every instance in these three latter books in its own distinctive signification.

The key of David

See on Revelation 1:18, and compare Isaiah 22:22. David is the type of Christ, the supreme ruler of the kingdom of heaven. See Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23; Ezekiel 37:24. The house of David is the typical designation of the kingdom of Jesus Christ (Psalm 122:5). The holding of the keys, the symbols of power, thus belongs to Christ as Lord of the kingdom and Church of God. See on Matthew 16:19 : He admits and excludes at His pleasure.

No man shutteth (οὐδεὶς κλείει)

Read κλείσει shall shut So Rev.

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