UNDERSTANDING THE KINGDOM OF GOD
January 13, 2002
CHAPTER THREE: THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA (City of Brotherly Love)
It is very difficult to find information about this city which is located on the road between Sardis and Laodicea. Of the seven cities that Jesus addressed, Philadelphia was the youngest city.
It had been founded and named after King Attalus II Philadelphus (159-138 B.C.) of Pergamos, who had the town built during his reign. It was situated on the lower slopes of Tmolus, on the southern side of the valley of the Ain-e-ghiul Sou river. Its elevation is 952 feet above the sea.
The king built the city as a "missionary center" to spread the Greek culture and language into the backward highlands of Lydia, which meant that the idols worshiped by the people in Pergamos were also set up for the local people living in the region. Earthquakes are very common in this area, and when the big earthquake hit in A.D.17, the city of Philadelphia was totally destroyed together with Sardis and ten other cities in the region.
Philadelphia was rebuilt with the generous help of Emperor Tiberius and in honor of this the name of the city was changed to Neocaesarea. Many of the town people were afraid to move back into the city and remained living in the country side. When the Roman emperor Vespasian reigned, the name of the city was changed to Flavia (A.D.69-79), but the old name of Philadelphia persisted through all attempts at change.
The city remained a Roman town until 1392 A.D., when it fell into the hands of the Turks. The city has been destroyed several times by earth quakes since the first century.
The city is now called "Ala-Sheher" (City of God).
People living in Philadelphia made their living through business, trade and commerce. It was not a rich city.
Verse 7: Jesus is greeting them with the exhortation that he is in charge of all things. No one can open or shut unless God has given permission. This was also a prophecy spoken by the prophet Isaiah some 700 years before Christ - Isaiah 22:22
Verse 8: Jesus did not rebuke this group of believers; instead he told them that he knew that they had little strength, but that they used what they had.
Jesus always used what people had - Mark 6:31-44
The believer in Christ is secure in God - John 10:1-15; 25-30
There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God - Romans 8:26-39
God has not given us a spirit of fear - 2 Timothy 1:1-7
Have faith in God - Mark 11:12-14; 20-26; Jeremiah 17:5-8
Verse 9: There were Cabalistic Jews in Philadelphia and Jesus pointed this out. But Jesus stated that the most hard core people in Judaism were to be broken and come and confess their sins before the church and worship Jesus. We can not project this prophecy from the city of Philadelphia to our time or some time in the future. The text does not support this thinking. It was something that was going to happen in Philadelphia, no other place. Isaiah 28:14-18
Verse 10: Jesus will keep those believers in Christ, who have kept His Word, from temptation. Luke 21:10-19; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17
Verse 11: Do not lose your crown - 2 Timothy 4:1-9
God is looking for overcomers -- men and women who are faithful
in all things.
Do you have an ear with which to hear? To be continued . . . .
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