Perhaps the church at Philadelphia considered itself weak. Perhaps its members complained that they had little power. Perhaps they thought that the other churches were much stronger than their church.
That was not Christ’s opinion about them. He knew that the Christians in Philadelphia were obeying God’s word, the Bible. He also saw that they remained loyal to him. They themselves had little power, so they depended on God’s strength (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Because they were trusting God so completely, Christ would give them a wonderful opportunity to declare his message. The ‘open door’ is a word-picture for such an opportunity.
It seems that the first Christians used that word-picture often. Paul used it twice, in 1 Corinthians 16:9 and 2 Corinthians 2:12. He knew that God sent him to particular places in order to declare God’s message. Paul could not go wherever he wanted to go (Acts 16:6-10). He had to depend on God to direct him to the right place.
The first Christians understood, therefore, that a successful opportunity to declare God’s message was a gift from God. They called it ‘an open door’. It was not something that they could achieve by their own efforts. However, they could pray, and then they could allow God to guide them. If they served God loyally, he would direct them.
Christ was giving such an opportunity to Philadelphia’s Christians. So the opportunity came from God, and not from people. Human effort did not create that opportunity, and human effort would not be able to stop it. Philadelphia’s Christians should loyally declare God’s good news while the opportunity lasted. They should be grateful to God for what he would do among them.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.