Homilies on the Book of the Revelation (Apocalypse) Part VII

New Martyrs Isaac and Joseph of Georgia

New Martyrs Isaac and Joseph of Georgia

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

By Archimandrite Athanasios Mitilinaios

Vol. 1, Chapter 20

Revelation 3:7-8

The Sixth Epistle to the Bishop of Philadelphia--Introduction--About Missions

The Sixth Epistle (Letter) is directed to the angel or bishop of the Church of Philadelphia, which was located southeast of Sardis. Attalos II, the Pheladelphos who was the king of Pergamos, established the city of Philadelphia. During the reign of Tiberius the city was renamed Neocaesaria and during the reign of Vespasian it took on the name of Flavia-Neoceasaria. This epistle has two common points with the epistle of Smyrna. The first is that there is no fault found in this bishop, nothing negative whatsoever, no reproof. It is an epistle of praise.

The second common element is the accusation of the Jews, who were called "a synagogue of Satan" in the epistle to the bishop of Smyrna because of their hatred for the Christians. "These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts and no one opens." This is the introduction of the epistle my friends and it corresponds perfectly to the present state and conditions found in the Church of Philadelphia.

Let us try to offer a quick analysis of these introductory lines. "These things says the holy and true," the Holy One and the True One. These are Divine attributes, which are used for the Person of Christ. "Holy" was a name attributed only to God in the Old Testament. Therefore, the "Holy One" is only Yahweh; consequently, Jesus Christ Who is called the Holy One in the New Testament and is Yahweh, is the Lord. Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament. If we could only comprehend this! If only those heretical Jehovah Witnesses would ever comprehend that the Jehovah as they call Him--the Jehovah of the Old Testament--is Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, they reduce Him to a creation of God with their blasphemies. The Holy and True or the True One, is a Divine title referring to God.

Here the True One does not mean the one who says true things, the one who speaks the truth. It refers to the True God, the genuine and authentic God, the only True God. From this once more we see that Christ is truly God. Again, Jehovah Witnesses will ask where does it say that Christ is God? Where is it written? It is written all over the Holy Scriptures. However, you need spiritual lenses, spiritual eyes to interpret. If you are blind, you cannot interpret. The prophet Isaiah says, "So that he who blesses himself in the land shall bless himself by the God of truth, and he who takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of truth (65:16). Therefore, the True God is Yahweh.

Moreover, since Jesus Christ is called "the Holy and the True," it is more than clear that the Yahweh of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ. Furthermore, as an ancient commentator writes on this point of the book of the Revelation, "He is the Holy and the True not from metousia, not from communion or participation, but God the Logos/Word is Holy and True in His essence." This is nothing like say, a piece of iron that becomes magnetic due to its contact with the magnetic field of a magnet. No, this is not the case with Christ because Christ is truly God. To the word True we could also add the trait trustworthiness. Christ is trustworthy in His promises, and this becomes obvious from the statements that will follow. So, Christ in His Divine Nature is Holy and True. In His human nature, Christ is the One Who has the key of David. So in the phrase, "these things says the Holy and the True, he who has the key of David," we see both natures of Christ--the divine and the human...

"..Please remember what the Archangel Gabriel said to our Most Holy Theotokos, "You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son, a descendent of David" (cf. Luke 1:31-32), the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father, David--all this is according to the human nature. So He will open and no one will be able to shut. I repeat, once He opens, no one will be able to close; once He closes, no one will be able to open. All of this is of great importance because it has much to do with the content of the epistle.

So, the entire meaning of the verse: I am the Holy and True God, and having taken on flesh, having become man, I have complete authority over human history. Can you imagine all this depth, all this theology in these few words of the introductory line of this epistle? If you have been paying attention, every one of these epistles opens with some tremendous theological position and if we could add together and analyze all six or seven introductory phrases of these epistles thus far, we would have a most amazing theological presentation of the God-human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now we come to the main content of the epistle: "I know your deeds, I know your works." This sentence is repeated in every epistle (letter). It shows the omniscient Lord, the One Who knows it all, the One Who has all the knowledge, the One Who does not lack any psychological, scientific, or nuclear knowledge. He knows it all! He is God Almighty, the One Who sees it all--the things that are done in secret and the things that are done in dark places or in the open. The Lord knows all private or public works, whether done in dark places or in the open. Nothing escapes the eye of the Lord. If we could only comprehend this! We should become conscious of the fact that Christ knows everything. And if things seem to be falling apart around us--even for a relatively long period--let us not lose heart. Christ knows it all.

I have mentioned this to you before but I will repeat it to you again; picture the image of the Lord sleeping inside the boat, the small boat that was traveling on Lake Gennesaret. So, the Lord is sleeping. Huge waves caused by strong winds are threatening the existence of the small boat. The disciples become afraid. The Lord is sleeping; they are forced to wake Him up. "Lord, we are perishing, we are drowning" (cf. Matt, 8:25). Where was the Lord? Did He not know the weather conditions on the lake were changing? Did He not know that the little boat was in trouble? The Lord was sleeping. It seems that He is not answering. It seems that He is somehow absent. Nevertheless, the Lord is ever present and He knows it all. "I know your works. See I have set before you and open door and no one can shut it" (3:8).

And here we have it. Since the main topic of this epistle has to do with the opening of a door, this explains why the Lord said, "I am He who has the key of David, He who opens and none can shut and when I shut no one can open," as recorded by the prophet Isaiah. It is as if to say, go search the Old Testament prophets and you will see. Do not fear. "Behold I have set before you an open door, which no one can shut." What is this open door? [Please note that the Greek grammar in this verse suggests that this door is opened permanently or constantly. Therefore, this door is always open.] So, what is the door that is set before the bishop of Philadelphia which no one can shut since the Lord is holding it open? It is the incessant missionary effort, continuous and unhindered missionary work; this is the open door.

(To be continued)



The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--St. John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George