And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things said he that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David…
We are not to suppose that these good souls in Philadelphia lived angelic lives of unbroken holiness because Jesus Christ has nothing but praise for them. Rather we are to learn the great thought that, in all our poor, stained service, He recognises the central motive and main drift, and, accepting these, is glad when He can commend.
I. THE THING KEPT. This expression, "the word of My patience," refers, not to individual commandments to patience, but to the entire gospel message to men. What does the New Testament mean by "patience"? Not merely endurance, although, of course, that is included, but endurance of such a sort as will secure persistence in work, in spite of all the opposition and sufferings which may come in the way. The man who will reach his hand through the smoke of hell to lay hold of plain duty is the patient man of the New Testament.
II. THE KEEPERS OF THIS WORD. The metaphor represents to us the action of one who, possessing some valuable thing, puts it into some safe place, takes great care of it, and watches tenderly and jealously over it So "thou hast kept the word of My patience." There are two ways by which Christians are to do that; the one is by inwardly cherishing the word, and the other by outwardly obeying it. Let me say a word about each of these two things. I am afraid that the plain practical duty of reading their Bibles is getting to be a much neglected duty amongst professing Christian people. I do not know how you are to keep the word of Christ's patience in your hearts and minds if you do not read them. There never was, and there never will be, vigorous Christian life unless there be an honest and habitual study of God's word. The trees whose roots are laved and branches freshened by that river have leaves that never wither, and all their blossoms set. But the word is kept by continual obedience in action as well as by inward treasuring. Obviously the inward must precede the outward. Unless we can say with the Psalmist, "Thy word have I hid in my heart," we shall not be able to say with him, "I have not laid thy righteousness within my heart."
III. CHRIST KEEPING THE KEEPERS OF HIS WORD. There is a beautiful reciprocity. Christ will do for us as we have done with His word. Christ still does in heaven what lie did upon earth. Christ in heaven is as near each trembling heart and feeble foot, to defend and to uphold, as was Christ upon earth. He does not promise to keep us at a distance from temptation, so as that we shall not have to face it, but from means, as any that can look at the original will see, that He will "save us out of it," we having previously been in it, so as that "the hour of temptation" shall not be the hour of failing. The lustre of earthly brightnesses will have no glory by reason of the glory that excelleth, and, when set by the side of heavenly gifts, will show black against their radiance, as would electric light between the eye and the sun.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;
WEB: "To the angel of the assembly in Philadelphia write: "He who is holy, he who is true, he who has the key of David, he who opens and no one can shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says these things: