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"Then Is Finished The Mystery Of God"



Chapter 13

To the Angel in Philadelphia

Revelation 3:7-13

FROM the congregation in Sardis, the attention of the glorified Jesus Christ moves to the congregation in Philadelphia, a city lying thirty miles southeast of Sardis and about one hundred and thirty miles from the Isle of Patmos, where the apostle John received the special message for the Philadelphia congregation. Today the place is called Alaşehir (Reddish City, from the hills to its rear). Earthquakes occurred in that area, and the Philadelphia of John's day was the city rebuilt by the Roman emperor Tiberius Caesar after the earthquake of the year 17 C.E., and for a time it was called on Roman coins New Caesarea. As it lay in a wine-producing section, its chief false god was Bacchus or Dionysus, who corresponds with Nimrod "a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah," who was later bewailed by worshipers as Tammuz. (Genesis 10:8-10; Ezekiel 8: 13, 14) The ancient city of Philadelphia, the city of "Brotherly Affection," had a Jewish population besides a Christian congregation, but, according to the record, there was little brotherly affection for the Christian congregation on the part of the natural, circumcised Jews.

Near the end of the first century of our Common Era, what outlook was given to the Philadelphia congregation, not from man's standpoint, but from Christ's standpoint? This outlook was set forth in the message that the apostle John was told to send to the earthly overseer of the congregation, as follows:

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"And to the angel of the congregation in Philadelphia write: These are the things he says who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens so that no one will shut, and shuts so that no one opens. 'I know your deeds — look! I have set before you an opened door, which no one can shut  — that you have a little power, and you kept my word and did not prove false to my name. Look! I will give those from the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews, and yet they are not but are lying  — look! I will make them come and do obeisance before your feet and make them know I have loved you. Because you kept the word about my endurance, I will also keep you from the hour of test, which is to come upon the whole inhabited earth, to put a test upon those dwelling on the earth. I am coming quickly. Keep on holding fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.

"'The one that conquers — I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will by no means go out from it any more, and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from my God, and that new name of mine. Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations.'" — Revelation 3:7-13.

The glorious heavenly one sending this message to anointed Christians is deserving of confidence, for he is that one "who is holy, who is true." At a critical time when other Jews were going away from this "holy" one, Jesus Christ, because of a lack of faith, the Jewish apostle Peter said to him: "We I have believed and come to know that you are the Holy One of God." (John 6:69) Later, after the heavenly glorification of Jesus Christ and during a time of persecution, the entire Christian congregation in Jerusalem spoke -of him as holy when they prayed to Jehovah God, asking him to give them further privileges of preaching, "While you stretch out your hand for healing and while signs and portents occur

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through the name of your holy servant Jesus." (Acts 4:23-30) Because of his holiness he has been made God's high priest, one who "was suitable for us, loyal, guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners, and become higher than the heavens." — Hebrews 7:26.

The glorified Jesus Christ could not be holy and at the same time be untrue, be a liar like the unholy Devil. So in identifying himself to the Philadelphia congregation he speaks the truth as to who and what he is. There is good Bible basis for him to say that he is the One "who has the key of David, who opens so that no one will shut, and shuts so that no one opens." (Revelation 3:7) The David, here mentioned for the first time in this Revelation to John, is the one concerning whom the glorified Jesus is said to be "the root of David" and also "the root and the offspring of David." (Revelation 5:5; 22:16) It is the ancient David, king of Jerusalem, with whom Jehovah God made a covenant for an everlasting kingdom. (2 Samuel 7:4-29) Of this David, Jesus became a royal descendant by being born as a human to the virgin Mary of David's royal family. (Matthew 1: 1-25; Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-21; 3:21-31; Romans 1:1-4) By being faithful to God to a martyr's death, Jesus Christ proved to be the Permanent Heir of David for the everlasting kingdom. So he has the "key" that King David had and that David would entrust to a faithful servant.

Not amiss, then, did the glorified Jesus Christ quote from the words of Isaiah 22:22, in which Jehovah God refers to a trusted servant of the king of Jerusalem, namely, to Eliakim, saying: "I will put the key of the house of David upon his shoulder, and he must open without anyone's shutting, and he must shut without anyone's opening." Thus this servant with the key had a great responsibility toward the household of King David, combined with large powers and authority. The king delegated to him the authority to open and to shut. It is here to be noted that at the time of this Revelation to John the glorified

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key of DavidJesus Christ did not say that the "key of David" was in the hand of any bishop of the pagan city of Rome as an apostolic successor to the apostle Simon Peter, to whom the words of Matthew 16:18, 19 were said. No professed earthly representative of Christ, but the heavenly Jesus Christ himself holds onto the "key of David" with the powers symbolized by the "key" of opening and shutting firmly.

It was not the apostle Simon Peter nor any so-called apostolic successor of Peter in pagan Rome who set before the Philadelphia congregation "an opened door, which no one can shut." It was not even the apostle John, but was the glorified Jesus Christ, "the root and the offspring of David," who said to the overseer of the congregation in Philadelphia: "I know your deeds  — look! I have set before you an opened door, which no one can shut — that you have a little power, and you kept my word and did not prove false to my name." (Revelation 3:8) Likewise, it was not any Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922 C.E.) of Rome who set before the faithful remnant of anointed Christians in the postwar year of 1919 an "opened door, which no one can shut." In fact, the popes of Rome and of Vatican City have been unable to shut that "opened door," because this symbolic "door" was actually opened, not by them or any other mere man, but by the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

To what privileges and opportunities that "opened door" permitted entrance by the Philadelphia congregation back there in the first century we do not exact-

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ly know today. But evidently it was to more Christian activity as a symbolic golden lampstand, because, just before speaking about the "door," the glorified Jesus Christ says to the congregation overseer: "I know your deeds." He knew that the congregation was able to go through the "opened door" and undertake the newly opened privileges and opportunities, because, as he said to the Philadelphia overseer, "you have a little power." Political power? No, but possibly power of influence with the Philadelphian people, and certainly the power of Christian devotion, courage and ability to keep moving forward after all that they had already endured as faithful Christians.

After the end of World War I in 1918 and at the beginning of the postwar year of 1919 the faithful remnant of anointed followers of Jesus Christ had no political power, no "pull" with the politicians, the judges, the militarists and the clergy of Christendom. Because of their sincere endeavors to preach God's kingdom by Christ instead of directly taking part in the international bloodshed, they were a persecuted religious minority. They were, as Jesus Christ foretold in his prophecy on the "conclusion of the system of things," nothing but "objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name." (Matthew 24:3, 9) Their Bible literature, as published by the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, was under ban either in whole or in part in various lands. Many of them were held in military camps or in concentration camps and prisons. Even until March 25, 1919, the president and the secretary-treasurer and six other noted representatives of the Watch Tower Society were held in the Federal penitentiary of Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., on false wartime charges that were afterward thrown out of court. So no power of a worldly kind did they have.

The "little power" that the ancient Philadelphia congregation and its "angel" had when the "opened door" was given to them was the power to do as

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Jesus Christ said: "You kept my word and did not prove false to my name." They observed and adhered to the word of Christ, the teaching and the commands that he had given to them. They did not deny that they were Christians either by word or by the way that they lived; they did not prove false to his name by acting contrary to how a Christian should speak, think, do and preach. They could therefore be expected to keep doing this after they had entered in through the now "opened door."

"AN OPENED DOOR"

No less can be said for the tried and tested remnant of anointed Christians that survived the persecution and hard conditions of World War I. Although from March of 1918 on there had been a suspension of the circulating of the bound book The Finished Mystery and its magazine edition (the special Watch Tower edition of March 1, 1918), and the series of tracts known as Bible Students Monthly, the anointed remnant continued to publish their official semimonthly magazine The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, without a break. On Sunday night, April 13, 1919, they obeyed the command of the Lord Jesus Christ and celebrated the Lord's Supper in memorial of his death as the ransom sacrifice for all mankind. They tried to keep the word of Christ to the extent that they understood it. Whereas they denied the charges of the enemy that they were a religious sect following a human leader, they never did deny the name of Christ, disown him or willfully prove false to his name. They held fast to their hopes of being early united with him in his heavenly kingdom. As a result they had "a little power" as the postwar period opened.

Truly "an opened door" was set before the anointed remnant in 1919 by the glorified Jesus Christ, who has the "key of David." This opening came particularly with the significant event of Wednesday, March 26, 1919, in Brooklyn, New York, namely, the re-

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lease on bail from Federal detention of the Watch Tower Society's president and secretary-treasurer and the six other prominent representatives.* The privileges and opportunities of the postwar period were opened up to all the anointed remnant, and these privileges and opportunities have continued and increased to them for already a half century (1969, at this printing). With what "little power" the anointed remnant had in 1919, they undertook an immediate reorganizing of Jehovah's dedicated people for the work ahead for as long as it should last.

Concerning the "door" opened to him the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, Greece (about 55 C.E.): "A large door that leads to activity has been opened to me, but there are many opposers." (1 Corinthians 16:9) Later he wrote them: "A door was opened to me in the Lord, I got no relief in my spirit . . . and departed for Macedonia." (2 Corinthians 2:12, 13) The Lord Jesus Christ, "who has the key of David," was the one that opened that door for the apostle Paul, and likewise he, and no man on earth, was the one that opened the door that leads to activity for the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites in the spring of 1919 C.E. That "door" has proved to be one "which no one can shut," although there were many opposers to start with back in 1919. Russian communism, Italian Fascism, pope-directed Catholic Action, German Nazism, found it impossible to shut that door. Not even the militarism of World War II could shut that door. In 1939, the year of the outbreak of World War II, there were 71,509 witnesses of Jehovah reporting activity world wide. In 1945, after the war ended, there were 141,606 reporting witness work afield.

Today those who are actively associating with the anointed remnant have boosted the number of Jehovah's witnesses regularly preaching the Kingdom good news world wide to well over 1,225,000 early in


* See The Watch Tower, as of April 15, 1919, page 118, paragraph 2; also the book entitled "Light," Volume I, page 249, paragraph, 2.
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1969. This doubtless has something to do with fulfilling the promise that the Possessor of the "key of David" made to the ancient Philadelphia congregation: "Look! I will give those from the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews, and yet they are not but are lying — look! I will make them come and do obeisance before your feet and make them know I have loved you." — Revelation 3:9.

"THE SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN"

Evidently the ancient Philadelphia congregation and its "angel" or overseer had encounters with natural circumcised Jews of that day. They may have tried to win back those of the Philadelphia congregation who were Jews by birth, like Christ's twelve apostles, but who had become Christian believers and hence spiritual Jews, spiritual Israelites. Or they may have tried to persuade these Jewish Christian believers to retain or take up again certain things of the ancient Mosaic law, such as fleshly circumcision, keeping the weekly sabbath day, and so forth. In any case such Jewish unbelievers opposed or tried to corrupt the Philadelphia congregation. Because of their efforts against the congregation of spiritual Israelites, they proved themselves to be the "synagogue of Satan" although they claimed to be the synagogue of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and of Moses. Jews they were in a natural, fleshly sense, but not in a spiritual sense. So they were not worthy of being called real Jews, such as Christ's apostles were. They said they were Jews, but, said the Lord Jesus Christ, "they are not but are lying." He ought to know.

Just how he made those falsely professing Jews to come and do obeisance before the feet of the Philadelphia congregation, there is no historic record to show. Today, according to The World Almanac for 1969 (page 224), there are 13,537,000 Jewish people throughout the earth. According to what the glorified Jesus Christ with the "key of David" said to the

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Philadelphia congregation, it behooves such natural Jews to consider well how they deal with the anointed Christian remnant of spiritual Jews or Israelites. However, the main difficulty that the anointed remnant has is with those of Christendom who profess to be spiritual Jews, Jews "on the inside." (Romans 2:28, 29) Those opposing and persecuting the anointed remnant are principally such religionists who claim to be spiritual Jews, particularly their clergymen. Such opposers argue and proclaim that the anointed remnant are not spiritual Jews with circumcised hearts. No, say those religious opposers, but they themselves are the real spiritual Jews who are of the synagogue of the Most High God. Nevertheless, their conduct shows they are liars and of the "synagogue of Satan."

As far as being real Jews, spiritually, Jews "on the inside," the historical facts of this twentieth century are against the religionists of Christendom. They have seen and have had to admit that, as far as being real Christians, real spiritual Jews, is concerned, the anointed remnant of Jehovah's worshipers are the ones that have maintained true Christian integrity in the face of rabid opposition, persecution, dictatorships, militarism, nationalistic politics, materialism and criminal lawlessness. Rather than have the anointed remnant pay respects to them, they have had to bow down in acknowledgment to the anointed remnant of Jehovah's witnesses, unwillingly, of course, but necessarily because of the facts of the case. As concerns the anointed remnant who tremble at the written Word of Jehovah, it has been just as the prophecy of Isaiah 66:5 foretold:

"Hear the word of Jehovah, you men who are trembling at his word: 'Your brothers that are hating you, that are excluding you by reason of my name, said, "May Jehovah be glorified!" He must also appear with rejoicing on your part, and they are the ones that will be put to shame.'" — See also Isaiah 60:14.

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To what are they led by this coming and doing obeisance before the feet of the Philadelphia congregation and knowing that Jesus Christ has loved this congregation? If some of such ones become Christians and members of the congregation, this would mean a growth in number of members of the Philadelphia congregation. Certainly such a development has been true of the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites or Jews since 1919 C.E. The great majority of additional members have come from the various religious sects of Christendom.

Moreover, since the epochal year of 1935 C.E. more than a million persons have come out from Babylon the Great, the world empire of false Babylonish religion, and they have lined up with the anointed remnant in worshiping Jehovah as the only living and true God and in publishing abroad His name and his Messianic kingdom. This is uncontradictable proof that the glorified Jesus Christ loves the faithful anointed remnant; and the more than a million fellow worshipers who have been added since 1935 know that fact. They acknowledge the leadership taken by the anointed remnant in God's work and thus do obeisance to them, but do not depart from their worship of only Jehovah God.

"THE HOUR OF TEST"

For now more than half a century the anointed remnant have endured despite all the trialsome time that set in with the close of World War I on November 11, 1918. They have been kept from falling victim to the worsening world conditions and events that have tested Christian faith and integrity so much as to prove one either a hypocritical Christian or a true one. Very apparently they have endured, not in their own strength, but with help from above. This has been a fulfillment of what the Lord Jesus Christ said to the "angel" of the Philadelphia congregation: "Because you kept the word about my endurance, I will also keep you from the hour of test, which is

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to come upon the whole inhabited earth, to put a test upon those dwelling on the earth." — Revelation 3:10.

Since the close of the first world war in 1918, all persons dwelling on the earth, including the anointed remnant, have been put to this test. Pressures from human sources and from invisible demon sources have become terrific, in materialistic, faithless, rebellious, revolutionary, nationalistic directions. The test has been to determine before God whether one is a part of this system of things under Satan the Devil's invisible control or is in favor of God's Messianic kingdom and is seeking first its interests. The great temptation is for a person to yield to the worldly pressures and attractions and to become a part of this system of things. More than fifty years of twentieth-century history has proved that the anointed remnant have endured the test. In 1919, when Christendom went over to advocating and supporting the political League of Nations for world peace and security, the anointed remnant reaffirmed its own public stand for God's kingdom by Christ. They proceeded to preach God's kingdom as never before, as Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:14. Thus he has kept them from this "hour of test."

However, this worldwide test in this comparatively short time period like an "hour" is not over as yet. The faithful anointed remnant dare not become self-confident. Thus far they have been kept from falling victim to spiritual disaster under the continuing test, but the climax of the test is yet to come. Then the glorified Jesus Christ will come to make the final inspection and see whether the anointed remnant have endured to the end. This is why they need to pay heed to the warning given to the "angel" of the Philadelphia congregation: "I am coming quickly. Keep on holding fast what you have, that no one may lake your crown." — Revelation 3:11.

The anointed remnant has had the "word about my [Christ's] endurance." They have kept this word by observing it and trying to measure up to the ex-

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ample of endurance about which it tells, namely, Christ's endurance when he was on earth as a man under test of his obedience to God. They have not proved false to his name, but have confessed him as their Leader and as God's anointed King in spite of nationalism and totalitarian dictators who have claimed to be the nation's only leader, the Fuehrer, the Duce. They have entered in through the "opened door" set before them by the Christ, who has the "key of David." The Christian activity in behalf of God's Messianic kingdom to which this "door" has admitted them they have refused to give up regardless of all the worldly opposition and persecution. Now they must still keep holding fast this Kingdom service till Christ comes, quickly now indeed. They have a good record with God for their Christian endurance and service. They have rightful hopes of ruling as kings with Christ in heaven. These things they need to keep holding fast. Then nobody else will take one's crown.

There are only a limited number of royal crowns in the heavenly kingdom with Christ, only 144,000 of such crowns. Every heavenly crown must at last be worn by a faithful worthy Christian. It would be a disappointing experience for an anointed, spirit-begotten Christian who received from God the hope of a heavenly crown to fail under the earthly test and thus prove unworthy of the promised crown, so that the crown would have to be reserved for someone else who becomes called to the Kingdom and who proves faithful to the end. In order to encourage the Kingdom heirs to hold fast to what they have and to make sure their title to the heavenly crown, Jesus Christ sends the following message by means of God's spirit to all the congregations:

"The one that conquers — I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will by no means go out from it any more, and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of

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heaven from my God, and that new name of mine. Let the one who has an ear hear what the spirit says to the congregations." — Revelation 3:12, 13.

Notice that in this message to the "one that conquers" the Lord Jesus Christ uses the expression "my God" four times. He did not claim to be the "second person" in a triune God in which each of the three "persons" was coequal and coeternal. No, but he recognized his heavenly Father as being his God whom he himself worshiped, served and obeyed. He recognized the spiritual "temple" as belonging to his God. He is the one whom his God lays as the "foundation cornerstone" in that spiritual temple in which God its owner dwells by his spirit. (Ephesians 2:20-22) But his God uses Jesus Christ as a fellow builder of this spiritual temple, and so Jesus Christ can speak of himself as setting up each "pillar in the temple of my God."

PERMANENT POSITION IN GOD'S TEMPLE

For a Christian conqueror to be made a pillar in that temple means for him to be given a fixed position in that spiritual structure. That is why the deputy builder Jesus Christ says very positively concerning such a spiritual pillar, "he will by no means go out from it any more." Nothing like an earthquake such as would shake the area of ancient Philadelphia could remove such a spiritual pillar from his position in God's temple. Forever, amid all events and circumstances, he would have the blessed privilege of serving as a pillar to uphold the divine truth and the universal worship of the only living and true God. (1 Timothy 3:15, 16; 1 Peter 2:4-6) What a highly dignified service and precious closeness to God this signifies for conquerors!

In this promise to conquerors Jesus Christ testifies that his God has a personal name. The Son of God has a personal name, Jesus, with the title "Christ" attached. So, too, his God has a name of his own. Jesus knows that name of his God and will write it

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upon each one of his followers "that conquers." Jesus Christ when on earth read the inspired Hebrew Scriptures, and he knew that in those Hebrew Scriptures God's name occurs thousands of times. There it is spelled with four Hebrew alphabetic characters, corresponding to JHVH or YHWH. Jesus Christ knew how to pronounce that name correctly. Today it is pronounced Jehovah, or more recently Yahweh. This name the Lord Jesus Christ promises to write upon each Christian conqueror, doubtless on what would correspond with the forehead where the name written could be plainly seen by all beholders. Just as in ancient Bible times a slave branded in the forehead with his master's name was thereby understood to belong to the master whose name he bore, so the "name of my God" written by Jesus Christ upon the conqueror stamps that conqueror as belonging to Jehovah, the God of Jesus.

The conqueror becomes marked also with another honorable name of which not to be ashamed, for the Lord Jesus adds: "I will write upon him . . . the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from my God." Just as the old earthly Jerusalem was the seat of government, the capital city, of the united kingdom of Israel, so the "new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from my God" will be the capital city, the capital organization, of all of God's creation in heaven and on earth. Later in the visions of the Revelation the apostle John saw this symbolic city, New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God in order to rule all mankind and to bless them with a perfect government. (Revelation 21:2-4) In itself, the name Jerusalem means "Possession of Peace." When a Christian conqueror is marked with the name of the new Jerusalem by the One with the "key of David," it means that he belongs to that symbolic city, he is a part of it, he is a citizen of it. According to Philippians 3:20, his "citizenship exists in the heavens."

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He is a member of God's capital organization. What a high office! — Compare Psalm 87:5, 6.

The foremost one in God's capital organization is his Son Jesus Christ. Most properly, then, the Son adds to his promise to the "one that conquers" the closing words: "And I will write upon him . . . that new name of mine." (Revelation 3:12) Later Revelation 14:1-3 shows the 144,000 conquerors standing with the Lamb Jesus Christ on the heavenly Mount Zion and "having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads." There, though, it does not speak of his new name as being written on them. What his "new name" is, is not revealed, not even in Revelation 19:12, where it is said that "he has a name written that no one knows but he himself." It is kept secret from other creatures, like the name upon the "white pebble" that is to be given to the Christian conquerors: "... upon the pebble a new name written which no one knows except the one receiving it." (Revelation 2:17) Christ's "new name" in heaven would, of course, become known to his 144,000 disciples when he writes it upon them.

Christ's heavenly "new name" is, naturally, known to his God Jehovah, for God is the one that bestows it upon him. In due time Jesus Christ shares this "new name" with his 144,000 joint heirs by, as it were, writing it upon them. Their having his "new name" written upon them means that they are identified with him and belong to him in his new heavenly relationship with his God. No other creatures in heaven or on earth will be privileged to share in that very private, most intimate, new relationship of Jesus Christ with his God Jehovah. Thus written upon, the 144,000 Christian conquerors will bear the name of God the heavenly Father and the name of his Son Jesus Christ and the name of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem. In this way they will be highly honored in a threefold manner as a reward for being conquerors, who heeded what the spirit said to the congregations.



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