Read Revelation 3:7-13
The Philadelphian Church Age, spanning from 1750 to 1906, was a period marked by a spirit of brotherly kindness, significant spiritual awakenings, and transformative revelations within Christianity. In this article, we will delve into the key attributes, historical events, and prominent figures that defined this age, drawing from these verses.
Verse 7: Philadelphia — The Age of Brotherly Kindness
Rev. 3:7 “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.”
The name “Philadelphia” is derived from the Greek term for “brotherly kindness,” and this characterization aptly describes the spirit of this Church Age. Believers during this era were known for their genuine concern for the spiritual well-being of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The age of Philadelphia fostered an environment where Christian love and unity flourished, paving the way for remarkable developments in the history of the faith.
One of the defining aspects of this age was its emphasis on missionary evangelism. This mission-oriented spirit was ignited by the Moravian Brethren in 1732, who originated from Moravia, Czech Republic. Among the notable figures associated with this missionary fervor was Christian David, the founder of the Moravian Brethren, who sought refuge with Count Zinzendorf in Saxony after facing persecution in Moravia.
John Wesley and the Revival of Christian Zeal
John Wesley, one of the most influential figures of the Philadelphian Church Age, played a pivotal role in reshaping Christianity. Born as the fifteenth of nineteen children in an Anglican family in England, Wesley was a witness to a society that still struggled with vices such as gambling, smoking, and drinking. His journey of faith was significantly influenced by a Moravian Brother he encountered, and his missionary zeal led him to venture to Georgia, USA, with the aim of evangelizing the American Indian population. However, his mission did not go as planned, and he famously remarked, “I went to America to convert Indians; but oh, who shall convert me?”
Wesley’s conversion was a pivotal moment, and he came to understand the importance of Sanctification in the Christian walk. Sanctification, as revealed to him, meant setting oneself apart for the Lord and could only be achieved through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It entailed feeding one’s spirit, resisting the desires of the flesh, eradicating sin, and renewing the mind, as described in Romans 12:2. This message of sanctification became a cornerstone of Wesley’s ministry and had a profound impact during this age.
The Great Revival in England and Open-Air Meetings
The Philadelphian Church Age witnessed a great revival in England. At that time, preaching in the open air was not widely accepted, and ministers were typically limited to church sanctuaries. However, the closed doors of the churches did not deter the enthusiastic evangelists of this era. Both John Wesley and George Whitefield began to conduct open-air meetings, drawing large crowds and leading many individuals to salvation.
“The Key of David” and Religious Freedom
In this age, the concept of “The Key of David” held great significance. During the sanctification process, it was understood that Christ, like David of old, could secure victory in every spiritual battle. The age of Philadelphia was marked by numerous wars and revolts across Europe, as people sought religious freedom. The power of the Catholic Church began to wane as people desired a more personal and direct connection with God.
Verse 8: Baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ
Rev. 3:8 “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.”
One of the distinguishing features of the Philadelphian Church Age was its willingness to baptize in the name of Jesus Christ. This revelation, previously concealed by the Roman Catholic Church, became a prominent practice among believers during this time. Figures like Robert Edward McAlister played a crucial role in promoting baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and this practice found biblical support in verses such as Acts 2:38, Acts 8:16, Acts 10:48, Acts 2:38, Acts 4:10-12, and Acts 19:3-6.
Verse 9: The Synagogue of Satan
Rev. 3:9 “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.”
The reference to the “synagogue of Satan” underscores the existence of false churches that claimed to be Christian but were not. In the Philadelphian Church Age, these false churches were still present and thriving, despite their adversarial nature. One significant development was the founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church by Ellen G. White on May 21, 1863. The issue of the Mosaic Law was also highlighted, with the recognition that the Law was given specifically to Israel and not to the Gentiles, as seen in Exodus 19:3-8 and Deuteronomy 5:1-3.
Verse 10: The Promise of Preservation
Rev. 3:10 “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
This verse contains a promise of preservation from the “hour of temptation,” commonly understood as a reference to the Great Tribulation. The Philadelphian Church Age, characterized by its fervent commitment to truth and sanctification, was assured of divine protection during this challenging period.
Verse 11: Holding Fast to the Crown
Rev. 3:11 “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”
The exhortation in verse 11 underscores the importance of holding fast to the revelations and truth that believers have received. The “crown” symbolizes the rewards that await those who remain faithful. The faithful of the Philadelphian Church Age were encouraged to stand firm on the revelations they had received, as their crowns were at stake.
Verse 12: Pillars in the Temple of God
Rev. 3:12 “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.”
The promise of becoming a “pillar in the temple of my God” conveyed the idea of believers becoming integral components of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem, often symbolized as the Bride, is a central concept in Christian eschatology. The reference to pillars made of precious stones emphasizes the sanctification process and the significance of standing firm on the received revelations.
Verse 13: Let Him Hear What the Spirit Says
Rev. 3:13 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
The final verse of the Philadelphian Church Age calls for attentiveness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is a reminder that the wisdom and teachings of this age should not be disregarded but heeded by those with spiritual ears.
In conclusion, the Philadelphian Church Age was characterized by brotherly kindness, missionary zeal, sanctification, revelations, and the restoration of biblical practices. Prominent figures like John Wesley and the emphasis on baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ played essential roles in shaping this age. The enduring legacy of the Philadelphian Church Age continues to influence contemporary Christianity and reminds believers of the importance of unity, sanctification, and holding fast to the truth in the face of adversity.
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