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Revelation 3:8

Adam Clarke
Bible 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.

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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The same Lord Jesus has the key of government and authority in and over the church. He opens a door of opportunity to his churches; he opens a door of utterance to his ministers; he opens a door of entrance, opens the heart. He shuts the door of heaven against the foolish, who sleep away their day of grace; and against the workers of iniquity, how vain and confident soever they may be. The church in Philadelphia is commended; yet with a gentle reproof. Although Christ accepts a little strength, yet believers must not rest satisfied in a little, but strive to grow in grace, to be strong in faith, giving glory to God. Christ can discover this his favour to his people, so that their enemies shall be forced to acknowledge it. This, by the grace of Christ, will soften their enemies, and make them desire to be admitted into communion with his people. Christ promises preserving grace in the most trying times, as the reward of past faithfulness; To him that hath shall be given. Those who keep the gospel in a time of peace, shall be kept by Christ in an hour of temptation; and the same Divine grace that has made them fruitful in times of peace, will make them faithful in times of persecution. Christ promises a glorious reward to the victorious believer. He shall be a monumental pillar in the temple of God; a monument of the free and powerful grace of God; a monument that shall never be defaced or removed. On this pillar shall be written the new name of Christ; by this will appear, under whom the believer fought the good fight, and came off victorious.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 9, 182

There are those here upon whom great light in warnings and reproofs has shone. Whenever reproofs are given, the enemy seeks to create in those reproved a desire for human sympathy. Therefore I would warn you to beware lest in appealing to the sympathy of others and going back over your past trials, you again err on the same points in seeking to build yourselves up. The Lord brings His erring children over the same ground again and again; but if they continually fail to heed the admonitions of His Spirit, if they fail to reform on every point where they have erred, He will finally leave them to their own weakness. 9T 182.1

I entreat you, brethren, to come to Christ and drink; drink freely of the water of salvation. Do not appeal to your own feelings. Do not think that sentimentalism is religion. Shake yourself from every human prop and lean heavily upon Christ. You need a new fitting up before you are prepared to engage in the work of saving souls. Your words, your actions, have an influence upon others, and you must meet that influence in the day of God. Jesus says: “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it.” Revelation 3:8. Light is shining from that door, and it is our privilege to receive it if we will. Let us direct our eyes within that open door and try to receive all that Christ is willing to bestow. 9T 182.2

Each one will have a close struggle to overcome sin in his own heart. This is at times a very painful and discouraging work; because, as we see the deformities in our character, we keep looking at them, when we should look to Jesus and put on the robe of His righteousness. Everyone who enters the pearly gates of the city of God will enter there as a conqueror, and his greatest conquest will have been the conquest of self. 9T 182.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, 467

Let us waste no time in deploring the scantiness of our visible resources, but let us make the best use of what we have. Though the outward appearance may be unpromising, energy and trust in God will develop resources. Let us send in our offerings with thanksgiving and with prayer that the Lord will bless the gifts and multiply them as He did the food given to the five thousand. If we use the very best facilities we have, the power of God will enable us to reach the multitudes that are starving for the bread of life. 6T 467.1

In this work of helping our brethren in Denmark and Norway, let us lift zealously and nobly, leaving the result with God. Let us have faith to believe that He will enlarge our offerings until they are sufficient to place His institutions on vantage ground. 6T 467.2

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 960

A true sense of repentance before God does not hold us in bondage, causing us to feel like persons in a funeral procession. We are to be cheerful, not sorrowful. But all the time we are to be sorry that after Christ had given His precious life for us, we gave so many years of our life to the powers of darkness. We are to feel sorrow of heart as we remember that after Christ had given His all for our redemption, we used in the service of the enemy some of the time and capabilities which the Lord entrusted to us as talents to use to His name's glory. We are to repent because we have not endeavored in every way possible to become acquainted with the precious truth, which enables us to exercise that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. 7BC 960.1

As we see souls out of Christ, we are to put ourselves in their place, and in their behalf feel repentance before God, resting not until we bring them to repentance. If we do everything we can for them, and yet they do not repent, the sin lies at their door; but we are still to feel sorrow of heart because of their condition, showing them how to repent, and trying to lead them step by step to Jesus Christ (Manuscript 92, 1901). 7BC 960.2

4. See EGW on ch. 19:7-9; Hebrews 2:14-18. 7BC 960.3

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Ellen G. White
This Day With God, 313.5

I am instructed to say to you, He has pardoned all your sins, and put upon you the white robe of His righteousness. All He requires of you now is to rest in His love. He has you in His keeping. You have fought the battles of the Lord Jesus Christ, you have kept the faith, and henceforth there is laid up for you a crown of life, to be your reward in that day when life and immortality shall be given to all who have kept the faith and have not denied the Saviour's name. TDG 313.5

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