(A Favored Church.)
2. COMMENDATION--I know thy works: behold I have set before thee an OPEN DOOR, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept My word, and hast not denied My name.
3. THE PROMISE--Behold, I will make them of the Synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of My Patience, I also will keep thee from the HOUR OF TRIBULATION, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy CROWN. Him that overcometh will I make a PILLAR in the Temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the NAME of My God, and the name of the CITY of My God, which is NEW JERUSALEM, which cometh down out of Heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My NEW NAME. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the Churches."
There is no question about the meaning of the word Philadelphia. It means "Brotherly Love," and well describes the charity and brotherly fellowship that dissipated the bitter personal animosities that characterized the theological disputants of the "Sardis Period," and made possible the evangelistic and missionary labors of the past 150 years. Three things are said of this Church:
1. It had a "little strength." It was like a person coming back to life who was still very weak. It was the "dead" Sardis Church "revived," and Revivals have been characteristic of the Philadelphia Period. These Revivals began with George Whitefield in A. D. 1739, followed by John Wesley, Charles G. Finney and D. L. Moody.
2. It had set before it an "open door," that no "man" could shut. Note that this promise was made by Him, who "hath the 'Key of David,' He that 'openeth' and no man shutteth; and 'shutteth' and no man openeth." In 1793 William Carey sailed for India, where he found an "open door," and since then the Lord has opened the door into China, Japan, Korea, India, Africa and the isles of the sea, until there is not a country in the world where the missionary cannot go.
3. It was to be kept from the "Hour of Temptation" (TRIBULATION), that shall come upon ALL THE WORLD, and as there has never as yet been a WORLDWIDE Tribulation, this "Hour of Tribulation" must still be future and refers doubtless to the "Great Tribulation" that is to come upon the "whole world," just before the return of the Lord to set up His Millennial Kingdom, and as the promise is that the "Philadelphia Church" shall not pass through the Tribulation, is not this additional proof that the Church shall be "caught out" before the Tribulation?
The Philadelphia Period covers the time between A. D. 1750 and A. D. 1900. We must not forget that the characteristics of all these Periods continue on in the Church down to the end. This is true of the Evangelistic and Missionary movements of the "Philadelphia Period," but they are now more mechanical and based on business methods, and there is less spiritual power, and this will continue until Christ returns.