I find it no coincidence that the only two Churches of which our Lord had nothing indicting to say, both found themselves in the midst of the purging fires of persecution! Twenty-eight miles south-east of Sardis lay the city of Philadelphia. Its natural geography served well to illustrate the robustness of the Church residing in this city as one of bearing up under trial. Philadelphia lay on the edge of a great plain which was nick-named the “Burnt Land” on account of the frequent volcanic activity in the area. Yet, what one would deem to be a curse, another would deem a blessing, since because of this activity, Philadelphia was one of the most fertile areas in the world bringing to it great prosperity, not least through its world-famous wines, produced from the grapes which grew on this plain. Again, this serves as an analogy to illustrate the irony of persecution, that what one would deem surely to result in the obliteration of Christianity via the volcanic fires of persecution, proves only to be conducive to the fertile ground upon which the Church flourishes, exporting its fruits the world over!!!
In this teaching, we explore the goodness and sovereignty of God, in light of persecution. Here was a Church in Philadelphia having little strength, who had kept Jesus’ word and had not denied His name!! Our Lord’s exhortation to this faithful Church was to hold fast what they had until His coming.