Robert McLaughlin Bible Ministries
Florida Conference 2006. Part 1. The Church at Philadelphia.
Friday, April 28, 2006
The Book of Revelation is the textbook of world history from the time of John A.D. 96 to the end of time.
In Rev 2-3, we have letters written for the dispensation of the Church-age.
The Church-age is located between the two greatest prophecies in history, the First and Second Advents of Christ.
From AD 96 until the resurrection of the Church we have the dispensation of the Church, the dispensation of historical trends; there is no prophecy to be fulfilled in the Church-age.
Then comes the rapture of the Church, the next eschatological event to be fulfilled.
In Rev 19 we also have the coronation of Christ after the Second-Advent, as well as the incarceration of Satan, the capture of all fallen angels, demons, the Triumphal Procession after the coronation, the wedding supper of the Lamb, and the beginning of perfect environment on the earth for one thousand years.
In Rev 20, at the end of that one thousand years, Satan is released, there is a revolution, and then the one who created the earth, the Lord Jesus Christ, destroys it.
Some teach that the seven churches portray seven historical stages the church would go through.
Others teach that it refers to the seven different types of churches or seven different types of individual believers that live in every generation.
We have been looking at this study from the view that the seven churches portray seven different types of individual believers that live in every generation.
1. The Ephesus type believer who has some divine good production but has left their first love, REV 2:1-7.
2. The Smyrna type believer who is willing to accept suffering for blessing, REV 2:8-11.
3. The Pergamum believer is warned about compromising and becoming a stumbling block to others, REV 2:12-17.
4. The Thyatira type of believers tolerate false doctrine and false teaching even though they have love and faith and service and perseverance, REV 2:18-29.
5. The Sardis types need to “Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain,” REV 3:1-6.
6. The Philadelphia type who have kept with doctrine and have not denied the Lord’s name, REV 3:7-13.
7. The lukewarm Laodicean believer, REV 3:14-22.
He wanted his tombstone to read: “All things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.”
“Philadelphia” = brotherly love.
That name was formed from two Greek words:
phileo = “love”
adelphos = “brother”
Philadelphia was located 28 miles southeast of Sardis in Lydia, REV 3:1-6.
All of the other cities referred to in Rev 2-3 were older than Philadelphia.
It was a missionary city from the beginning, founded to promote a certain unity of spirit, customs, and loyalty within the realm.
In AD 17, the city of Philadelphia was completely destroyed by an unusually severe earthquake which also destroyed Sardis.
The people in Philadelphia were constantly having to flee the city in order to avoid being crushed by falling masonry from houses.
They had the finest vineyards and the finest wines of the Roman Empire.
After the earthquake, the city was rebuilt and given a new name.
First, it was a missionary city.
Secondly, its people lived always in dread of disaster, “the day of trial.”
Thirdly, many of its people went out of the city to dwell.
Fourthly, it took a new name from the Imperial god.
It displayed all the noble qualities of endurance, truth, and steadfastness which are attributed to it in the letter in Revelation.
Well now, nothing that the Lord does is an accident. That’s quite a spiritual principle, I’d say.
Perhaps the most obvious fact about the nature of the lives that these Philadelphia believers led in the first century AD has to do with the phenomenon of earthquakes.
While the word “earthquake” does not appear in the passage at all, it is a key that unlocks one’s understanding of the impact of what was written to the Philadelphia church.
Seismos = a commotion, i.e. (of the air) a gale,
(of the ground) an earthquake.
It means an earthquake or a tempest.
It refers once to the shaking of the sea, creating a “great tempest” which the Lord Jesus Christ quelled with a command.
Among the 14 times seismos is used, 3 refer to historical earthquakes:
1) the response of the Father to His Son’s crucifixion
2) the opening of the tomb to expose the Resurrection, MAT 28:2
3) the prying open of the Philippian jail to release Paul and Silas, ACT 16:26.
In each case the earthquake serves an evangelistic purpose.
1 Cor 15:13-14 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.