Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Revelation 3:8

‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Backsliders;   Decision;   Door;   Philadelphia;   Scofield Reference Index - Kingdom;   Thompson Chain Reference - Access to God;   Admission, Exclusion;   Door, Open;   Open Door;   Opportunity;   Prayer;   Words;   Words of Christ;   The Topic Concordance - Knowledge;   Love;   Obedience;   Trial;  
Dictionaries:
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Denial;   Philadelphia;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Revelation of John, the;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Keys of the Kingdom;   Letter Form and Function;   Persecution in the Bible;   Revelation, the Book of;   Works;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Asia;   Magi;   Philadelphia;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Brotherly Love;   Door;   Philadelphia ;   Self- Denial;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Door;   Word, the;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Sepharvaim;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Philadelphia;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Philadel'phia,;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Door;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Deny;   Door;   Name;   Persecution;   Revelation of John:;   Set;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for June 18;   Faith's Checkbook - Devotion for October 10;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

I have set before thee an open door - I have opened to thee a door to proclaim and diffuse my word; and, notwithstanding there are many adversaries to the spread of my Gospel, yet none of them shall be able to prevent it.

Thou hast a little strength - Very little political authority or influence; yet thou hast kept my word - hast kept the true doctrine; and hast not denied my name, by taking shelter in heathenism when Christianity was persecuted. The little strength may refer either to the smallness of the numbers, or to the littleness of their grace.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/revelation-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I know thy works - See the notes on Revelation 2:2.

Behold, I have set before thee an open door - Referring to his authority as stated in Revelation 3:7. The “open door” here evidently refers to the enjoyment of some privilege or honor; and, so far as the language is concerned, it may refer to any one of the following things - either:

(1)the ability to do good - represented as the “opening of the door.” Compare Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3.

(2)the privilege of access to the heavenly palace; that is, that they had an abundant opportunity of securing their salvation, the door being never closed against them by day or by night. Compare Revelation 21:25. Or.

(3)it may mean that they had before them an open way of egress from danger and persecution.

This latter Prof. Stuart supposes to be the true meaning; and argues this because it is immediately specified that those Jewish persecutors would be made to humble themselves, and that the church would but lightly experience the troubles which were coming upon the world around them. But the more natural interpretation of the phrase “an open door” is that it refers to access to a thing rather than egress from a thing; that we may come to what we desire to approach, rather than escape from what we dread. There is no objection, it seems to me, to the supposition that the language may be used here in the largest sense - as denoting that, in regard to the church at Philadelphia, there was no restraint. He had given them the most unlimited privileges. The temple of salvation was thrown open to them; the celestial city was accessible; the whole world was before them as a field of usefulness, and anywhere, and everywhere, they might do good, and at all times they might have access to the kingdom of God.

And no man can shut it - No one has the power of preventing this, for he who has control over all things concedes these privileges to you.

For then hast a little strength - This would imply that they had not great vigor, but still that, notwithstanding there were so many obstacles to their doing good, and so many temptations to evil, there still remained with them some degree of energy. They were not wholly dead; and as long as that was the case, the door was still open for them to do good. The words “little strength” may refer either to the smallness of the number - meaning that they were few; or it may refer to the spiritual life and energy of the church - meaning that, though feeble, their vital energy was not wholly gone. The more natural interpretation seems to be to refer it to the latter; and the sense is, that although they had not the highest degree of energy, or had not all that the Saviour desired they should have, they were not wholly dead. The Saviour saw among them the evidences of spiritual life; and in view of that he says he had set before them an open door, and there was abundant opportunity to employ all the energy and zeal which they had. It may be remarked that the same thing is true now; that wherever there is any vitality in a church, the Saviour will furnish ample opportunity that it may be employed in his service.

And hast not denied my name - When Christians were brought before pagan magistrates in times of persecution, they were required to renounce the name of Christ, and to disown him in a public manner. It is possible that, amidst the persecutions that raged in the early times, the members of the church at Philadelphia had been summoned to such a trial, and they had stood the trial firmly. It would seem from the following verse, that the efforts which had been made to induce them to renounce the name of Christ had been made by those who professed to be Jews, though they evinced the spirit of Satan. If so, then the attempt was probably to convince them that Jesus was not the Christ. This attempt would be made in all places where there were Jews.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/revelation-3.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

I know thy works (behold, I have set before thee a door opened, which none can shut), that thou hast a little power, and didst keep my word, and didst not deny my name.

A door opened ... Many see here a promise of opportunity; but, in the light of the preceding verse, it appears that the door of admission into the church, the messianic kingdom identified with the church, - this is the door meant. "It assures the church of how futile were such excommunications as the Jews were leveling against them."[40] Beckwith and Mounce concur in this interpretation. However, both of these with many current scholars, hold there is a difference between the church and the kingdom; but throughout this series of commentaries, the position has been maintained that the church and the kingdom are one institution, not two, and that the "everlasting kingdom" mentioned by Peter (2 Peter 1:11) is not a different kingdom, but the eternal phase of the present kingdom. There are many New Testament references regarding the "open door" of opportunity (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; Acts 14:27, etc.); but, with reference to all such doors, it is not necessarily true of them that "no man can shut." That promise pertains to the door of God's holy church.

Hast a little power ... The general weakness of the church at Philadelphia is stated here. Despite this, the congregations here and at Smyrna are the only two against which the Lord uttered no condemnation. A church does not have to be large to be true and to be approved by the Lord.

Didst keep my word ... didst not deny my name ... This means simply that the church there had been faithful to their trust; but by contrast with other congregations mentioned in these letters, it could indicate that the principal sins of those not approved were those of not keeping the Lord's word, and of denying his name. For further comments on "the name of the Lord," see under Revelation 2:3.

ENDNOTE:

[40] James Moffatt, op. cit., p. 366.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/revelation-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

I know thy works,.... Good works, of faith, love, and patience; and which lay much in preaching, professing, and maintaining the pure Gospel, and in acts of charity to one another; and which were done to some degree of perfection, and with great sincerity; since this church is not complained of, that her works were not perfect before God, as the former church is:

behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; or "which no man can shut", as read the Alexandrian copy, and others, the Complutensian edition, the Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions. This "open door" may design an uncommon opportunity of preaching the Gospel; and a very great freedom of mind in the preachers of it, and great attention in the hearers, whose hearts will be opened to observe, receive, and embrace it; and a very large gathering in of souls to Christ, and his churches; much and frequent preaching of the word with great success, which it will not be in the power of any creature to stop or hinder: now will the abundance of the sea, the forces of the Gentiles flow in, and the nation of the Jews shall be born at once,

For thou hast a little strength; which is not to be understood of inward spiritual strength, for of this the church in this period will have a great deal, as well as of courage and fortitude of mind, but outward power and authority: some great men, and princes of the earth, will come into the churches of Christ, even kings will come to the brightness of her rising; for now will all those prophesies have their accomplishment, which respect the secular grandeur of the church, with regard to its numbers, power, and riches; see Isaiah 49:18.

And hast kept my word; both the commands and ordinances of Christ in practice, and that in their primitive purity, as they were delivered by Christ and his apostles, particularly baptism and the Lord's supper; which have been, one or other of them, or both, most sadly corrupted in all the periods of the churches hitherto, excepting the apostolical one, but will now be restored to their pristine purity and glory; and also the doctrines of the Gospel, which will be kept, not in memory only, but in the heart and life; they will be publicly and openly preached, professed, and defended:

and hast not denied my name: Christ himself, his doctrine respecting his person, office, and grace, neither in words, nor in works, but both ways confessed and owned it.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/revelation-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

7 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.

(7) The note of praise is in this verse of promises, and (Revelation 3:9) to bring home again them that wander, in (Revelation 3:10) to preserve the godly and in (Revelation 3:11) to exhort.
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/revelation-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

I have setGreek, “given”: it is My gracious gift to thee.

open door — for evangelization; a door of spiritual usefulness. The opening of a door by Him to the Philadelphian Church accords with the previous assignation to Him of “the key of David.”

and — The three oldest manuscripts, A, B, C, and Origen read, “which no man can shut.”

for — “because.”

a little — This gives the idea that Christ says, He sets before Philadelphia an open door because she has some little strength; whereas the sense rather is, He does so because she has “but little strength”: being consciously weak herself, she is the fitter object for God‘s power to rest on [so Aquinas], that so the Lord Christ may have all the glory.

and hast keptand so, the littleness of thy strength becoming the source of Almighty power to thee, as leading thee to rest wholly on My great power, thou hast kept My word. Grotius makes “little strength” to mean that she had a Church small in numbers and external resources: “a little flock poor in worldly goods, and of small account in the eyes of men” [Trench]. So Alford. I prefer the view given above. The Greek verbs are in the aorist tense: “Thou didst keep … didst not deny My name”: alluding to some particular occasion when her faithfulness was put to the test.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/revelation-3.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

I have set (δεδωκαdedōka). Perfect active indicative of διδωμιdidōmi “I have given” (a gift of Christ, this open door). See Luke 12:51 for a like use of διδωμιdidōmi door opened (τυραν ηνεωιγμενηνthuran ēneōigmenēn). Perfect (triple reduplication) passive predicate participle of ανοιγωanoigō (Revelation 3:7) accusative feminine singular. The metaphor of the open door was a common one (John 10:7-9; Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:20; Revelation 4:1). Probably it means here a good opportunity for missionary effort in spite of the Jewish hostility.

Which (ηναυτηνhēn- αυτηνautēn). Pleonastic vernacular and Hebrew repetition of the personal pronoun ηνautēn (it) after the relative οτιhēn (which). Direct reference to the statement in Revelation 3:7.

That (οιδα σου τα εργαhoti). This conjunction resumes the construction of ιδουαυτηνoida sou ta erga (I know thy works) after the parenthesis (μικραν δυναμινidou- και ετηρησαςautēn Behold - shut).

A little power (καιmikran dunamin). Probably “little power,” little influence or weight in Philadelphia, the members probably from the lower classes (1 Corinthians 1:26.).

And didst keep (τηρεωkai etērēsas). “And yet (adversative use of ουκ ηρνησωkai) didst keep” (first aorist active indicative of αρνεομαιtēreō) my word in some crisis of trial. See John 17:6 for the phrase “keeping the word.”

Didst not deny (ouk ērnēsō). First aorist middle indicative second person singular of arneomai The issue was probably forced by the Jews (cf. Revelation 2:9), but they stood true.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/revelation-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

I have set ( δέδωκα )

Lit., I have given. For a similar phrase see Luke 12:51.

An open door ( θύραν ἀνεῳγμένην )

Rev., more literally, a door opened. This is variously explained. Some refer it to the entrance into the joy of the Lord; others to the initiation into the meaning of scripture; others again to the opportunity for the mission-work of the Church. In this last sense the phrase is often used by Paul. See 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3. Compare Acts 14:27. I have given is appropriate, since all opportunities of service are gifts of God. See on Revelation 2:7.

For thou hast ( ὅτι ἔχεις )

Some texts make behold-shut parenthetical, and render ὅτι thatdefining thy works, etc. So Rev.

A little strength ( μικρὰν δύναμιν )

This would mean, thou hast some power, though small. Many, however, omit the indefinite article in translating, and render thou hast little strength; i.e., thou art poor in numbers and worldly resources. So Alford, Trench, and Düsterdieck.

And ( καὶ )

John's single copula instead of a particle of logical connection. See on John 1:10; see on John 6:46; see on 1 John 1:5; see on John 8:20.

Hast kept my word ( ἐτήρησάς μου τὸν λόγον )

Rev., rendering the aorist more strictly, didst keep. For the phrase, see John 17:6, John 17:8.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/revelation-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

I have given before thee an opened door — To enter into the joy of thy Lord; and, meantime, to go on unhindered in every good work.

Thou hast a little strength — But little outward human strength; a little, poor, mean, despicable company. Yet thou hast kept my word - Both in judgment and practice.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/revelation-3.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

An open door; opportunities for promoting the cause of Christ. The image is in continuation of the metaphor expressed in the latter part of the Revelation 3:7.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/revelation-3.html. 1878.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE CHURCH’S HISTORY

‘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.’

Revelation 3:8

How would the angel of the Church of England have been bidden to write to us? Would he have written, as to Philadelphia, of an open door, and a little strength, the word kept, and the name confessed; or as to Sardis, ‘I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead’? All Church history is in those chapters of judgment; and how would our past and our present, how will our future bear that test?

I. The dark side of the story.—The candid and humble Churchman knows well how dark a side there would have to be in his picture if he were to tell the faithful truth about the Church of England. He would, I think, be prone to think of his Church with penitence and humility before he would dare to think of it with pride. He may not be greatly perturbed by her legislative impotence, although it is a scandal without excuse that a great national Church should be without a voice and without a means of expressing its corporate will. He may not be greatly disturbed by our parochialism, that deadly form of local paralysis, or by our diocesanism, which is only the same paralysis on a larger scale; he may be tolerant of our anomalies, our repugnance to reform, our all too normal alliance with the forces of reaction and inertia. Yet he will surely ask with shame, Where are the evidences of that prophetic insight which our Church ought to possess and use, the clear vision of social and spiritual needs, the hatred of wrong and the purifying fire of zeal?

II. A great inheritance.—And yet with all this, when the candid truth has been told about us as we are, we have a great inheritance, and that inheritance is neither dead nor impotent. When we are at work and alive, we have a gospel for the English people such as no other body can preach. Where you find a Church really living the characteristic life of our communion, knowing and loving its Bible and its Prayer Book, strong in intercession and united at the altar, there you have such a Christian power, so expressive of the best capacities of English religion, as no other body can afford. So much we may dare to say. And as we look backward to see how this inheritance has come to us, we can also see that we have been allotted a special and unique place in the Church’s story.

III. All religions bodies appeal to history.

(a) Be historical, says the Puritan; you can trace the degeneracy of the Church back to the earliest days of the second century. No sooner were the Apostles gone, and their generation passed away, than the Church began to make terms with the world. Institution after institution took shape which was not covered by the terms of the original covenant. The Church became secular, hierarchical, sacramental, mysterious; little by little corruption increased, and the mediæval Church, corrupt at the heart, is the logical outcome of that earliest Christianity which shifted from the anchorage of Apostolic custom. Be historical, therefore, and go back to the beginning. Cut away every form and institution which did not demonstrably exist in the Apostolic age; revert to the New Testament, and to that alone, and you will have a pure and a primitive Church once more.

(b) Be historical, says the Roman Catholic on the other side. The Church began with the commission to the fisherman; it has moved onward step by step, guided at all points, secured from error, guarded against vital corruption. It cannot need to look backward; whatever it adds to its creed must needs be only an explication of the original deposit, once for all committed to the saints. Trust the Church as it is, and submit, for it speaks with an infallible voice and lives with a life whose guarantees are wholly outside the order of nature.

Thus the appeal to history has issued on the one side in the subversion of the whole idea of the Church as a living society, and on the other side in that great disaster of forty years ago, the conciliar declaration of papal infallibility.

(c) But the Church of England has also its appeal to history. We do not reverence the past, neither are we its slaves. We believe in the teaching authority of the Church, but we are also conscious that in the New Testament there is a storehouse of principles by which the exercise of that authority can be and ought to be checked. We will not serve Geneva, because we are sure that our own life and order are both Catholic and Scriptural; neither will we serve Rome, for we know well that it is neither. And so to us, as to no other body, has been entrusted the treasure of such a Catholicism as can dare to protest when protest is needed, which can confront itself with the great dogmatic fathers of Christianity and know itself true to them, which can maintain and use the external beauty of worship without fearing any loss of spirituality; which can use, revere, and hold fast the sacraments without a touch of superstition. And in the ages to come, what need will there not be of such a positive, non-Roman, historical Catholicism as ours? Puritanism tends always to disintegrate; Ultramontanism is rotten at its foundations. Let us hold fast that which has been entrusted to us, for if we fail, who shall take the place that we are commissioned to fill?

IV. An open door.—We have before us a great open door; God has given us a little strength. Shall we go forward where the way is open? Shall we still hold fast the Word and confess the Name? The answer lies with you, with Churchmen one by one. Christ dawned in Britain seventeen hundred years ago; but He dawns still day by day, on each of us who know Him. Shall we let the brightness of His dawning

die away,

And fade into the light of common day?

That is our peril and the peril of our Church. If we let slip the freshness, the romance, the inspiration of the gospel, one by one; if it becomes to us an ordinary thing, a routine, a negligible commonplace, then, each by himself, we shall be doing our best to close the open door. If our Church is to fulfil her vocation she must fulfil it first in us, one by one. Therefore, as we look back on the story of that which has been, let us pray for the grace of vision, of daily inspiration.

—Rev. H. N. Bate.

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Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/revelation-3.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 8. An open door] A fair opportunity of doing thyself good; which those that go about to deprive thee of shall be sure to lose oleum et operam, their toil and tallow.

A little strength] A little grace well improved may do great matters, and set heaven open to a soul. The vine is the weakest of trees, but the most fruitful. Philadelphia with her little strength is discommended for nothing, she made all best use of it.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/revelation-3.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Revelation 3:8. Behold, I have set before thee an open door, St. Paul uses this symbol to signify the free exercise and propagation of the gospel; Acts 14:27. 1 Corinthians 16:9 but at the same time this shews, that the liberty here used, is in a more limited degree than when other symbols are employed; and therefore it is said here, that this angel has but a little strength. See Revelation 4:1; Revelation 19:11. Thus this expression coincides with the allegory, which was begun with the key of David. One Demetrius is named in the Apostolical Constitutions, as ordained by St. John bishop of Philadelphia; and in 3 John 1:12 one of that name is commended; but whether it be the same person is doubtful. And hast kept my word signifies "hast endured persecution for my sake, and kept the faith manfully." The word Λογος, in this book, has a peculiar reference to martyrdom. Vitringa and others give the following turn to this verse. "I know thy works, and, on that account, I, who have the keys of the kingdom of heaven, have taken care that a door for freely preaching the gospel should be opened before thee, and which I will take care that thy enemies shall not close upon thee, because thou hast but a little strength; notwithstanding which, thou hast kept my word," &c. See ch. Revelation 2:13.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/revelation-3.html. 1801-1803.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 3:8. With οἷδά σου τὰ ἔργα we are not to immediately combine the ὅτι μικρ. ἐχ. δυν. as though the latter words(1426) contain an explicit statement of the ἔργα;(1427) for, in a formal respect, it is impracticable to regard the entire clause ἰδού

ἀυτήν as a parenthesis; and, as to the subject, the point expressed in the assumed parenthesis belongs already also in the idea of τὰ ἔργα. But(1428) by the words οἷδά σου τὰ ἔργα, the Lord testifies chiefly, without any further determination, that every thing is known to him with which the church in its present life is engaged.(1429) To the church at Philadelphia this is a word of commendation and consolation. This results from the words of the Lord which immediately follow: ἰδού, δέδωκα, κ. τ. λ., in which the thought is expressed that the fidelity maintained by the church, notwithstanding its external helplessness, depends not only upon a gracious gift of the Lord, but also serves the purpose,—and that, too, again through his government,—that through the faithful church the Lord’s kingdom is increased. This sense depends chiefly upon the correct interpretation of the figurative expression δεδ. ἐν. σ. θύραν ἀνεῳγμένην, κ. τ. λ. The door is opened, viz., either in order that the church itself may enter,(1430) or in order that by means of the church others may enter.(1431) According to the former idea, N. de Lyra,(1432) etc., explain: “a door is opened for understanding the Scriptures.” Arethas: τὴν εἴσοδον πρὸς ἀπολαυσιν (“entrance to fruition”). Bengel: “Entrance into the joy of thy Lord, and meanwhile into unhindered progress in all good.” Eichh.: “Entrance to me lies open to thee;” in the shallow sense: “I desire well for thee.”(1433) Züllig: “Entrance into the temple.” Hengstenb.:(1434) “Entrance to the house of David, or the kingdom of God.” According to another mode of representation, it is explained by Andr., Rib., Alcas., C. a Lap., Stern, Grot., Calov., Vitr., Wolf, Ew., De Wette, Ebrard, etc., who think of the favorable and successful opportunity for the missionary activity of the church. A decision in favor of this explanation, and that, too, in reference, not to heathen,(1435) but to Jews who are to be won by the fidelity of the believing church, is made by the connection with Revelation 3:9. A special intimation of the connection of δέδωκα, διδῶ, and ποιήσω, lies even in the threefold ἰδού.(1436) A declaration concerning the entrance of’ the church into heavenly joy, of which alone, according to the first mode of statement, we can think, could scarcely be made at the very beginning of the epistle. The statement correctly understood stands, consequently, in close connection with the designation of the Lord, Revelation 3:7, ἔχων τ. κλεῖν δ., κ. τ. λ., and emphasizes a special point, corresponding to the further contents of the epistle, of the supreme power in reference to his kingdom, to be ascribed from Revelation 3:7, in unlimited universality, to the Lord; i.e., Christ expressly, and with visible results, attests his Davidic power of the keys in this, that he has opened a door before his faithful and steadfast church, through which a multitude of still unbelieving Jews are to enter. For the words ἰδού, ποιήσω αὐτοὺς ἵνα ἥξουσι, κ. τ. λ., Revelation 3:9, are in substance an exposition of ἰδού, δεδ. ἐν. σ. θύραν ἀνεῳγμένην, κ. τ. λ., as they state the actual, but yet future, consequence of an opportunity already given ( δέδωκα, perf.). That Christ can say of himself δεδωκα and ποιήσω, depends upon the fact that it is he who has the key of David.

ἐνώπιόν σου. To be distinguished from σοι(1437) only in mode of contemplation, but not(1438) in substance. The Hebraic coloring of the formula(1439) corresponds well with the statement in this passage, and the style of the Apoc. in general.

The demonstrative αὐτήν, brought in after the relative ἣν, is also Hebraistic.

ὅτι. Incorrectly, Vitr.: “Even though.” Rather is that which immediately precedes based upon on ὅτι μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν κα ἐτήρησας, κ. τ. λ. The “little strength,” viz., of the church, cannot be explained by the lack of miraculous gifts,(1440) but refers to the smallness. of the church,(1441) which must also be regarded in destitution when compared with the richer Jews.(1442) As now with the μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν, the καὶ ἐτήρησας is combined, these two members of the sentence externally united by the mere καὶ show themselves to have a definite inner relation: “and (yet) hast kept,” etc(1443) Concerning the subject itself, cf. Revelation 3:10; Revelation 2:3. The church, therefore, already had had opportunity, as the aor. forms ἐτήρησας and ἠρνήσω indicate, to confess the Lord’s name in opposition to unbelievers,—apparently Jews and heathen. Therefore, because ( ὅτι) the church has done this, although of insignificant outward power, the Lord has given it an “open door,” the meaning of which is stated in Revelation 3:9. [See Note XXXVIII., p. 183.] Thus the idea is advanced, that the faithful, steadfast confession of the church, indicated especially in τὰ ἔργα, is the cause whose effect and reward, through the Lord’s disposing ( δέδωκα, cf. διδῶ, ποιήσω, Revelation 3:9), is to be the conversion of a number of his enemies. Faithful confessing has itself opened the door, but of course only because the Lord had given believers power for testimony. Thus the clause ἰδού, δέδωκα, κ. τ. λ., stands upon the idea τὰ ἔργα, and the whole (Revelation 3:8) upon the designation of the Lord, Revelation 3:7.

NOTES BY THE AMERICAN EDITOR

XXXVIII. Revelation 3:8. ὅτι μικρὰν ἔχεις δύναμιν

Plumptre: “The words point to something in the past history of the church of Philadelphia and its ruler, the nature of which we can only infer from them and from their context. Some storm of persecution had burst upon him, probably at Smyrna, instigated by the Jews, or the Judaizing section of the church. They sought to shut the door which he had found open, and would have kept so. They were strong, and he was weak; numbers were against him, and one whose faith was less real and living might have yielded to the pressure. But he, though not winning, like Antipas, the martyr’s crown, had yet displayed the courage of the confessor. Like the faithful servant in the parable, he had thus been faithful in a very little (Matthew 25:23); and therefore, as the promise that follows shows, he was to be ‘made ruler over many things.’ ”

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/revelation-3.html. 1832.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I know thy works: it is very probable, that our Lord, by these ministers’ works, understands the works proper to them in their function, their labour in preaching and propagating the gospel, which Christ did not only know and observe, but also approve of, and promiseth them a liberty to go on, and success in their labours, under the notion of

an open door: see 1 Corinthians 16:9 2 Corinthians 2:12 Colossians 4:3.

And no man can shut it; so as it should not be in the power of adversaries to hinder his success.

For thou hast a little strength; both inward strength, and outward helps and advantages.

And hast kept my word; the doctrine of faith is by thee kept pure, as also my precepts for a holy life.

And hast not denied my name; and thou hast not been by any temptation prevailed upon to apostatize from the profession of the gospel.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/revelation-3.html. 1685.

Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

отворилдверь Это либо вход в Царство (см. ст. 7), либо возможность служить (ср. 1Кор. 16:9; 2Кор. 2:12; Кол. 4:3).

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MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mac/revelation-3.html.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

An open door; in allusion to the declaration of the preceding verse: "he that openeth, and no man shutteth." The words seem to mean full liberty in professing and preaching the gospel. Compare 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Family Bible New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/revelation-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

‘I know your works - (behold I have set before you an opened door which none can shut) - that you have a little power, and have kept my word, and did not deny my name.’

The reference to the opened door clearly refers back in some way to the previous reference to the key and demonstrates that Jesus also controls the opportunities of witness and service (1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3) which He has opened up for them. It is clear that the works of the Philadelphians include faithful witness. They are not a powerful church, but they are faithful. They have held on to and obeyed the teaching of Jesus and, unlike Peter, they have been true to Him and have not denied His name. Nothing in fact is actually said against them, except perhaps their need to experience more of the power of the Spirit.

The opened door and the reference to He Who opens and none shuts parallels the time of Hezekiah when, as Israel perished, Judah witnessed a revival characterised by the reopening of the doors of the Temple when they had previously been ‘closed’ (2 Chronicles 29:3). Compare also what is said about Eliakim, Hezekiah’s treasurer, who was the opener of doors for the people demonstrating a new attitude towards the people (see above on Revelation 3:7). Thus the opened door includes the thought of revival. Hezekiah’s time was the time of the open door. But eventually that door closed through the failure of the people. A warning to us all.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/revelation-3.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

2. Commendation3:8

The Philadelphia Christians had received an "open door" to opportunity for spiritual blessing, perhaps opportunity for evangelism (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3). This opportunity would continue because they had a little "power" (spiritual power) though they were evidently few. Since there is no article before "little" in the Greek text, it is possible to understand their "little strength" (NIV) as a reference to their small influence, evidently because of their small number. They had faithfully obeyed God"s Word, and they had maintained a faithful testimony for the Lord in the past, presumably by word and by deed. They also enjoyed the prospect of an open door into the messianic kingdom because they had been faithful. This may be the primary reference in view. [Note: See Thomas, Revelation 1-7, pp277-78; and Beasley-Murray, p100.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/revelation-3.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

Revelation 3:8. The contents of the Epistle begin in the usual manner, and then proceed, the first sentence being parenthetical, Behold, I have given before thee an open door, and no one can shut it. The translation of the original thus offered cannot be said to be idiomatic; but, when the inspired author has employed unidiomatic Greek for the purpose of giving expression to a particular thought which appeared to him important, it seems to be the duty of a translator to follow his example, and to endeavour as best he may to find utterance for the same thought in his own language. This is the case here. There can be no doubt that the verb ‘to give’ is a very important one in the writings of St. John, and not least so in these seven Epistles, in every one of which it has a place. In the words before us it is not used through any imperfect knowledge of the Greek tongue. It is deliberately chosen to bring out the fact that every advantage we possess, every privilege we enjoy, every victory we gain, is the gift of Him in whom we live. The Lord does not merely do certain things for His people: in the doing of them He bestows His ‘gifts.’ Nay, not only so, His giving is part of a chain that binds together the lowest and the highest in His kingdom. The Father gives the Son; the Son gives Himself: in giving Himself, the Son gives us all things: whatever we receive is part of one line of giving.—There is difficulty in determining the meaning of the ‘opened door.’ We may at once set aside the idea that it is a door of access to the understanding of Scripture. Is it then, as generally viewed, a door of opportunity for carrying on the mission work of the Church,—mission work which is then thought by some to have reference to the Gentiles, by others to the Jews? This idea is no doubt taken from such texts as 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; but the supposed analogy loses its force when we observe that no instance of it can be quoted from the writings of St. John. On the other hand, there can be no hesitation as to the meaning of the word ‘door’ in chap. Revelation 4:1, or in John 10:7; John 10:9. In these passages the ‘door’ is something that leads the persons before whom it is opened into the happiness referred to in the context. Still further, it is unfavourable to the idea of missionary work here—(1) That the thought of converting the world by the instrumentality of the Church is foreign to the Apocalypse; (2) That missionary results achieved in this world cannot be described in the language of Revelation 3:9. Jews and heathens, when converted, neither worship before the Church nor pay such homage to her as is there implied; they worship before Christ; He is the object of their homage; (3) That the Church is conceived of here in her royal as well as in her priestly capacity. This appears from mention of the ‘crown’ in Revelation 3:11, and from the fact that the verb translated ‘worship’ suggests the thought of homage to royalty; (4) Add what is said on the clause ‘and he shall in no wise go any more out’ in Revelation 3:12; (5) Lastly, notice the peculiar construction of the sentence, where the thrice, or rather the twice repeated ‘behold’ (for the third behold is merely the taking up again of the second, as ‘knowing’ in John 13:3 is the taking up again of the same word in Revelation 3:1) leads to the inference that Revelation 3:9 is simply a second picture, or fuller explanation of Revelation 3:8. But Revelation 3:9 certainly does not express any conversion of the Jews: and neither, therefore, is Revelation 3:8 the expression of means taken for the conversion of either them or the Gentiles.

The ‘opened door,’ then, is no other than that by which the faithful enter into the enjoyment of the heavenly glory, as well as that by which those spoken of in Revelation 3:9 enter, so far at least as to see them, in order to pay them homage while they sit upon their throne.—This door no one shall shut, that is, no one shall be able to prevent believers from entering on their reward. Their enemies may frown upon them, persecute them as they persecuted their Lord, but it will be in vain. The world shall be compelled to own them as it was compelled to own Him in part even here, and fully, however much to its shame, hereafter (comp. chap. Revelation 1:7).—The following words present in three particulars the ‘works’ referred to in the first clause of the verse.—(1) Thou hast a little power. The church at Philadelphia had not altogether failed.—(2) Didst keep my word, that is, my word for utterance (comp. John 17:6; John 17:8). She had preserved the Word of the Lord as a precious heritage.—(3) Didst not deny my name. She had stood firm when tempted to deny her Lord, openly confessing Him.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/revelation-3.html. 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

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[BIBLIOGRAPHY]

Virtutem, Greek: dunamin, strength.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/revelation-3.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

behold. App-133.

set = given.

strength App-172.1; Revelation 176:1.

hast kept = didst keep. Same word as "hold fast", Revelation 3:3.

word App-121.

hast not denied = didst not deny.

My name. In opposition to confessing (See Revelation 2:13) the name of the beast, Revelation 13:17; Revelation 14:9, Revelation 14:11, Revelation 14:12.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/revelation-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

I have set - `given;' my gracious gift to thee.

Open door - for spiritual usefulness. The opening of a door by Him to the Philadelphian church accords with His having "the key of David."

And. A B C, Origen, 'which no man can shut.'

For - `because.'

A little. This gives the idea that Christ sets before Philadelphia an open door, because she has some little strength: rather, He does so because she has 'but little strength:' consciously weak herself, she is the fitter object for God's power to rest on (Aquinas), that Christ may have all the glory (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

And hast kept - and so, the littleness of thy strength leading thee to rest wholly on My great power, thou didst keep my word. Grotius explains "little strength," that she had a church small in numbers and external resources: 'of small account in the eyes of men' (Trench). Aorist, 'Thou didst not deny my name,' on some particular occasion, when thy faithfulness was put to the test.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/revelation-3.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(8) I know thy works: behold, I have set (better, given) before thee an open door (better, a door opened).—A reference to the passages (Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:8-9; 2 Corinthians 2:12-13; Colossians 4:3) in which a similar expression is used reminds us that the open door was not simply a way of escape from difficulties, but an opening for preaching the gospel, an opportunity of doing good, as well as an abundant entrance into the kingdom.

For thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.—The tenses used point back to some epoch in the history of this Church when some heavy trial or persecution arose, which tested the sincerity, fidelity, or Christian love of the faithful. “The reward then of a little strength is a door opened” (Dr. Vaughan).

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/revelation-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
I know
1,15; 2:2
an open
7; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3
a little
Daniel 11:34; 2 Corinthians 12:8-10; Philippians 4:13
and hast kept
10; 22:7; John 14:21-24; 15:20; 17:6; 2 Timothy 4:7
and hast not
2:13; Proverbs 30:9; Matthew 26:70-72; Luke 12:9; Acts 3:13,14; 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 John 2:22,23; Jude 1:4
Reciprocal: Joshua 24:27 - deny;  Matthew 18:18 - GeneralJohn 10:3 - the porter;  John 10:14 - know;  Acts 14:27 - opened;  1 Corinthians 8:3 - is;  1 Timothy 1:19 - Holding;  2 Timothy 2:12 - if we deny;  2 Timothy 2:19 - Let;  2 Peter 2:1 - denying;  1 John 5:18 - keepeth;  Revelation 14:12 - the faith

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/revelation-3.html.

Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes on Revelation

The Church"s Little Strength, and the Lord"s Great Love.

Revelation 3:8.

It is Christ"s gracious character and tender heart that come out so strikingly in these words. How considerate and patient! How gentle and tender in His words and doings! How affectionate and loving towards those whom He might have blamed and condemned! Here is the love that passes knowledge—and here is what the apostle calls "the meekness and gentleness of Christ." He bears true witness of Himself when He says, "I am meek and lowly of heart." Who would be afraid to deal with such a Savior, or to betake themselves to Him in any circumstances of sin or grief, or emergency or peril?

Let us hear how the Old Testament prophets spoke of Him and announced His graciousness, as Messiah. He was to be "a hiding-place from the wind—a covert from the tempest—rivers of water in a dry place—the shadow of a great rock in a weary land" (Isaiah 32:2). He was to "feed His flock like a shepherd—to gather the lambs with His arm, to carry them in His bosom, to lead gently those that were with young" (Isaiah 40:11). He was not to "break the bruised reed, nor to quench the smoking flax" (Isaiah 43:3). He was to "open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison-house—to bring the blind by a way that they knew not" (Isaiah 42:7, Isaiah 42:16). He was to "bind up the broken-hearted, and to proclaim liberty to the captives" (Isaiah 46:1). He was to be "afflicted in all the affliction of His people, in His love and pity to redeem them, to bear them and carry them" (Isaiah 63:9); He was "to comfort them as one whom his mother comforts" (Isaiah 66:13).

Let us see how He unfolded this graciousness, this tenderness, in the days of His flesh. We learn this from His own acts and words; from His affability and accessibility everywhere, and to everybody; from His attractiveness and winningness—His perpetual beneficence to all. What tenderness in His tears over Jerusalem; in his dealing with the woman that was a sinner; in His acting to the widow of Nain and her son; in His weeping at the tomb of Lazarus; in His pity for the daughters of Jerusalem; in His loving the young man who came to Him; in His being moved with compassion for the multitudes; in His treatment of children, both infants and those farther grown—laying his hands on them, taking them in His arms, and saying, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven!" The Gospels are four portraits in different attitudes—but they all bring out the same tender love.

It is this tender love that He shows in heaven as well as on earth. It cheered John in Patmos; and it breathes through these seven epistles, and very beautifully in our text. What considerate kindness, patience, and gracious meekness are embodied in these words! There was something wrong in Philadelphia, but He touches on this very slightly and kindly. We might think there was unfaithfulness in such a way of dealing and speaking, but we know not what manner of spirit we are of. Harshness is not faithfulness—strong words are not convincing—still less melting or winning. Let us see here, two things—

I. Christ"s open door.The figure here is probably similar to those expressions in which Paul speaks of "a door being opened to him of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 2:12); of "a great and effectual door being opened" (1 Corinthians 16:9); of "God opening a door of utterance" (Colossians 4:3). In one aspect it as the door of service, and labor, and opportunity; in another, it is the door of success, and blessing, and power. It is the door both of service and success. It is an open door, not requiring even to be knocked at, but thrown wide open, that the Philadelphians might enter in at once, and without obstacle.

Christ, when He comes to men, finds a closed door; so He has to knock; but "before them" He sets an open door. It is right before them, immediately in front; for this seems the true point of the word. They have not to seek for it; it is not far off nor hidden, but just before them, thus open, by Christ Himself. He who has the key of David has unlocked it and thrown it wide open. Christ with His own hand has opened it, and with His own finger points to it, saying, "Go in!" Christ has thus two open doors—an open door for salvation, and an open door for service. Go in, He says to every loiterer on the outside; Go in and be saved. See there, just before you is the house of salvation. I have set it before you open, and no one can shut it (either man or devil.) Go in, He says also to each Christian—Go in and work. See, right before you is the door of service. I have set it open, and no man (or rather, "no one," whether man or devil) can shut it.

II. The Church"s little strength but true faithfulness.In tenderness and grace He now speaks to commend. "The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy." Three reasons are given for this consideration and love.

(1.) You have little strength.It was this Philadelphian feebleness that excited the compassion. Little strength! How tenderly He speaks! Little strength! Therefore you need an open door. You have no power to fight or struggle. Nothing but an open door will do for such little strength. The little strength and the open door suit each other well. He knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust. He pities our feebleness; and because we are "without strength," He interposes to help. The less of strength, the more of pity and of help. "To those who have no might He increases strength."

(2.) Yet have kept my word.In spite of feebleness, she had held fast God"s word. This may seem a small thing in the eyes of man; not so of God. He lays great stress upon our keeping His word. His word! How God honors it, and those who keep it, even in utter feebleness! Keep my word, however feeble you are, is Christ"s message. Let it not go. His "word," His "truth," His "promise," His "gospel"—these are to be kept!

(3.) And have not denied my name.This is the least that could be said of any one who had remained faithful at all. It is not, "You have confessed my name," but simply, "You have not denied it." He accepts the very least. How gracious and pitiful! Do not deny Him! Surely He can ask no less. Love is here condescending to its uttermost. What grace is here! And what encouragement to the feeble and the tried!

Yes! all this is wondrous, in its exhibition of the tenderness of Christ. How these words should cheer us amid conscious darkness and deep-felt poverty—or in times of spiritual declension!

Hard and sore is our daily struggle! He sees it and is not angry; but pities, and loves, and helps. He sees us trying to bear up, yet often sinning—fighting, yet often overcome—endeavoring to master our weariness, yet often overmastered by it—laboring, yet often despairing of success—and, as He sees us thus overwhelmed, He pities us most tenderly, and steps in to help. He opens the door—He keeps it open—He cheers us with words of love—He comforts us in our tribulation and supplies us with heavenly cordials in our day of need.

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Bonar, Horatius. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Light & Truth: Bible Thoughts and Themes on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bch/revelation-3.html.

Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation

ENCOURAGED AND COMMENDED.

Revelation 3:8. — "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, which no one can shut, because thou hast a little power, and hast kept My Word, and hast not denied My Name." The Church in Sardis walked hand in hand with the world, and so must share its doom (Revelation 3:3 with 1 Thessalonians 5:2). Not so with the assembly in Philadelphia. It walked apart from the world, and so its end is bright (v. 12). The public position of the former, with its abundant religious machinery and works on a large scale and duly chronicled, is in marked contrast with the latter, which has no worldly status, no ecclesiastical organisation, and no works which the world can either admire or publicly note. The works of Philadelphia do not attract the world's admiration nor draw down the world's éclat. This is enough for the faithful: "I know thy works." A Philadelphian, one who answers to that character, flourishes spiritually in the shade. It is there, and not under the patronage or smile of the world that his deepest moments of communion are spent with the Lord. "I know thy works," poor and feeble as they are at the best, is enough for cheer and strength till the day of recompense arrives.

But the weakness of Philadelphia need not hinder service and testimony, nor prevent them being of the truest character. To Jesus on earth, Whose only care was to do His Father's will at whatever cost, the porter opened and none could shut. So here Christ has the unchallenged right to use the key, all authority in Heaven and in earth being committed to Him (Matthew 28:18), He had set before the angel "an opened door." Service for Him and testimony to Him were to be the happy life work of the Church. They need not fear, for no created being can shut that opened door. "No man can shut it," reads the Authorised Version; "no one," or "none can shut," reads the Revised. What strength! In individuals or associations created might is powerless to hinder the service or crush the testimony of those called into personal association with Christ. Our only defence is our weakness. Do we realise it? We have a shut door in Acts 16:6-7, and an open door in 1 Corinthians 16:9.

Then after this gracious and abundant encouragement the Lord proceeds in one unbroken strain of commendation. Not a word of censure. The Church in Smyrna was in suffering, and the assembly in Philadelphia in weakness, and so neither is blamed; the only two of the seven exempted from reproof.

8. — "Thou hast a little power." Not exactly "strength," as in the Authorised Version. The Spirit wrought in resistless energy in the testimony and preaching in the commencement of Christianity, and had the Church continued its life of obedience and dependence the power of the Spirit would have remained in all its fulness.

The Lord has been pleased to make the plenitude of spiritual power dependent to a large extent on our individual and corporate faithfulness, but not so the presence of the Spirit in the Church; this latter is an ever-abiding fact pledged by the Word of the Lord Himself (John 14:16). There was not much to show, nor marked spiritual energy, but there was a little power. The Church in profession is a wreck, and it would be a virtual denial of the corruption and ruin to expect a Pauline or Petrine energy of the Spirit. God cannot work in mighty power in a condition of things which is to the denial of the Name of His Son, the holy, the true. The amount of power was small, but it was actively employed, not held as a mere passive possession. Activity in service and faithfulness to the Word and Name of Christ characterised the angel.

8. — The testimony of Christ was both of a positive and negative character. Thou "hast kept My Word"{*"Word," meaning the mind of the Lord as a whole; "words" details; and "commandments," expression of His authority (see John 14:1-31. "Words," in verse 23 should read "word;" "sayings" in verse 24, "words").} — positive, and "hast not denied My Name" — negative. The former involves thorough subjection of soul and conscience to the written Word. In order to "keep" the Word obedience to it must be prompt and unqualified. A slipshod reading of Scripture as a matter of duty, or even its study for intelligence and to equip one more thoroughly for ministerial service does not constitute one a doer of the Word. To keep Christ's Word at all costs may involve the forfeiture of social and civil distinction and the abandonment of position in the professing Church and in the world. To a true Philadelphian saint Christ's Word is that which separates him from all to Christ alone at whatever personal cost.

Surely, too, in a scene where almost every religious abomination is attached to the holy Name of the Lord it is a matter of no small moment to stand aloof, to reject every association, even if good and learned men uphold it, if it is to the dishonour of Christ. Elijah in his day, Paul in his, and Luther at a later era were distinguished witnesses for God. During those and other critical periods God had always a company of negative witnesses. It is morally invigorating to trace the steps, reckon up the opposing forces, and mark the brilliant career of men who bravely battled for God and truth; but let us not overlook, as did Elijah, the 7,000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:18). His testimony was the grander of the two without doubt, but theirs was also valued by Jehovah.

A name represents a person, and necessarily supposes his absence. The value of what a person is has its force in the name. In the Name of Christ prayer is all-prevailing (John 14:13-14); to it alone God would gather His saints (Matthew 18:20); in virtue of it our sins have been forgiven (1 John 2:12); and because of it God leads His pilgrim people in paths of righteousness (Psalms 23:3). It is no light matter therefore to be preserved from the denial of Christ in days of abounding iniquity. If we cannot have a bold, distinct, uncompromising testimony of an Elijah character, let us have at least a silent one, yet one that will not deny the Name of the blessed Lord.

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Scott, Walter. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Walter Scott's Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/sor/revelation-3.html.

E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

I know thy works is said in the sense of approval since everything said about this church is good. The open door is figurative and means the door of opportunity to advance the Gospel as it is expressed at 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3. No man can shut it. Man can hinder and persecute the disciples but he cannot actually prevent them from carrying out the Gospel life in the world. Hast a little strength. They are commended for being faithful even though their strength is not great, a condition which they cannot help. Kept my word means they had been true to the commandments in the word of God. Not denied my name means they were not ashamed to confess the name of Christ as explained at Revelation 3:5.

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Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". E.M. Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/znt/revelation-3.html. 1952.

Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation

Revelation 3:8

Revelation 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.

I know thy works, etc.

This is not only a testimony of Christ's omniscience, common to all the Churches, but also of Christ's approbation, peculiar to the Church of Smyrna, and this of Philadelphia. Thy works, both the Work of the Ministry in all their Administrations, and the Work of Grace, Faith, Love, Patience, and every good Work that was dine by any Minister or Member of this Church, according to the Will of God. Christ took notice thereof, owns it, acknowledgeth it, and approves of it; yea, and will Crown it with acceptance, and reward of Grace and Glory. See the Exposition upon Revelation 2:2; Revelation 2:9; Revelation 2:19.

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:2

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:9

See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:19

" Behold, I have set before thee an open door"

By an open door is meant an effectual and successful opportunity and season for the Preaching of the Gospel, and Administration of the Ordinances of God, both for the Edification of the whole Body there implanted, The Ministers of this Church had a door of utterance opened unto them to speak the mystery of Christ, { Colossians 4:3} and the Members and other Hearers had a door of entrance opened to them to receive the Gospel, not as the Word of Men, but as it is indeed the Word of God, { 1 Thessalonians 2:13} so that the Word of God had a free course, and was glorified { 2 Thessalonians 3:1} in which respect; it is said, that a great door and effectual was opened unto the Apostle. { 1 Corinthians 16:9}

" And no man can shut it"

None could hinder the Progress of the Gospel, nor the Liberty and Privileges of the Church, either to silence her Ministers, (for the Stars are in Christ's hand) nor Persecute her Members so as to disperse and scatter them; for Christ walked in the midst of the Golden Candlesticks. And therefore, none could remove this Candlestick out of its place, nor shut this door, which Christ had opened; which was an eminent proof of the power of the key of David, which Christ had, and here exercised in this Church of Philadelphia.

" For thou hast a little strength",

to wit, of Faith and Grace, which was manifested in two particulars; First, In keeping Christ's Word. Secondly, In not denying Christ's Name. See the Exposition upon Revelation 2:13. See KNOLLYS: Revelation 2:13

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Knollys, Hanserd. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Hanserd Knollys' Commentary on Revelation". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hkc/revelation-3.html.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Revelation 3:8. I know thy works. Behold I have given before thee an open door, and no one can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Here also we have three points of commendation: the works, the keeping of Christ's word with a little strength, and the not denying of his name. But the specializing of the works is entwined with a declaration going before, which establishes the connection with the predicates that were attributed to Christ in Revelation 3:7. We are not to inclose that declaration in brackets, although certainly as to the meaning the works are more nearly described in the words: thou hast a little strength, &c. If it is certain, that the opening and shutting in Revelation 3:7 refers to personal membership in the kingdom of God, then the opened door, which no one can shut, which serves to the Philadelphians themselves for an entrance into the kingdom of God, is spoken of in the same respect, and as a ground of consolation to them before the Jews, who would deny them any share in the kingdom of God; the Lord himself had received them into his kingdom, and no Jew could prevail to exclude them from it. By the open door is usually understood "a free scope for proclaiming the gospel, or for active exertions to bring men to the faith," with reference to 1 Corinthians 16:9, 2 Corinthians 2:12, where the opened door is the door of active operations. But here the door is more exactly determined by the connection with Revelation 3:7 as an entrance into the house of David or the kingdom of God. Then, the view in question is opposed by, "I have given," in contradistinction to, "I give," in Revelation 3:9. A space for active labour had still not been given to the angel at Philadelphia; otherwise his strength would not have been small. But the preterite does not suit with a prophetical view of the words. On the contrary argues the progression from the preterite to the future through the present, accompanied by the thrice-repeated Behold. By the little strength is meant not small official grace, but, as appears from Revelation 2:9, the weak beginnings and depressed circumstances of the church, which made it easy to match them on account of the wealth of their Jewish adversaries.

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Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/revelation-3.html.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

8.Set before thee an open door—Namely, of divine entrance into the heavenly Jerusalem.

No’ shut it—No persecutions can exclude them from entering to their crown, Revelation 3:11. Hast by my grace a little strength for entering the heavenly door. And in the use of that “gracious ability,” hast kept my word. Hast not, amid faithlessness and persecution, denied my name. The Christian name, perhaps; which, long since adopted at Antioch, has been well maintained in Philadelphia. We are obliged with Stuart, and against Hengstenberg, Alford, and others, to maintain the correctness of our translation, a little strength, making it a commendation, rather than, by omitting the article, to read, thou hast little strength, making it a depreciation. Christ gives them the reward of an open door because of three good points; namely: their spiritual energy, however little; their keeping his word; and their sustaining his name. The entire drift of the three clauses is the same, namely: rewardable traits for which the everlasting door shall be open to them. To find this meaning in the open door may be disappointing to those who desire to read into it a temporal and present benefit promised. But most certainly a true reading will find, that from this open door to the new Jerusalem of Revelation 3:12 there is one straight line of thought, promising Philadelphia triumph, preservation, and abundant entrance, all solely at the second advent.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/revelation-3.html. 1874-1909.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Revelation 3:8. as in the case of Smyrna implying unqualified approval. The reward of this steadfastness (8 c, 10) is threefold: (a) security in their relation to God (8 b), through the love of Christ for them (9); (b) ultimate triumph over their foes (9), and (c) deliverance in the final crisis (10). The open door, here as in Paul (for the ethnic use of the term on sepulchres cf. C. B. P., ii. 395) is usually taken to denote facilities for preaching and advancing the faith among outsiders, in which case the sense would be that the extension of the gospel depends upon, as it forms a high reward of, open confession and a decided stand for Christ. But in view of a passage written by Ignatius to this very church (ad Philad. 3, where Christ himself is termed , the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, ) and of Clem. Rom. xlviii. (where the gate of righteousness is described as open in Christ), the phrase is better connected with Christ himself, not with any good opening for Christian activity. He makes access to God through himself sure; despite trials and temptations (Revelation 3:8-10) his church’s standing is guaranteed by his authority (as in John 10:7; John 10:9, Christ ). here is the open heart of God for man; in Revelation 3:20, man’s open heart for God. Jesus, then, equipped with the O.T. attributes of divine authority, assures the church how futile are such excommunications as the Jews were levelling against them. The latter have nothing to do with the conditions of the kingdom. Faith in Jesus constitutes a relation to God which cannot either be impaired or rivalled. Only, the perseverance of the saints is needed; an assured position with God depends not merely on Christ’s will and power but on Christian loyalty as the coefficient of grace. The church at 2 Peter is not blamed for the slenderness of her equipment, which evidently is due to causes outside her control. She is praised for having made good use of the slight resources she possessed (cf.Mark 14:8). Otherwise, though less well, a full stop might be placed after , and taken as the reason for the promise , just as in Revelation 3:10 is followed by .— , pleonastic use of pron. after relative, a Semitic idiom with Greek affinities (Vit. ii. 138, Thumb 128, Blass § 50, 4) confined to Apoc. (exc. cit. fr. LXX, Acts 15:17) in N.T. In Enoch (xxxviii. 2, and passim) to deny the Lord of Spirits is the capital crime,’ as opposed to “believing in his name’.

[904]. Codex Porphyrianus (sæc. ix.), at St. Petersburg, collated by Tischendorf. Its text is deficient for chap. Revelation 2:13-16.

 

 

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Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/revelation-3.html. 1897-1910.

The Bible Study New Testament

8. I know what you do. Christ knows their living faith and their spiritual strength. I have opened a door. Symbolic of great opportunities (compare Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3).

 

 

 

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Revelation 3:8". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/revelation-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.