90) The Closed Church

Philadelphia was established in 189 BC by King Eumenes II of Pergamon I[who] named the city for…his brother, who would be his successor, Attalus II (159–138 BC), whose loyalty earned him the nickname, “Philadelphos”, literally meaning “one who loves his brother”.

Philadelphia was included in the kingdom of Pergamum that Attalus III Philometer bequeathed to his Roman allies when he died in 133 BC, assigned to the administrative district of Sardis. As noted above in the section on Sardis, the Jewish population was influential in Sardis and there was a synagogue of Hellenizing Jews in Philadelphia.

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 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. 

The locality was subject to constant earthquakes. The frequent experiences of fleeing their homes and the city because of falling debris must have been foremost in their desire for security, which Jesus Christ assures them are in his hands, while Philadelphia’s “open door” can be nothing other than the opportunity to preach and teach the true, the biblical gospel.

I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” (I Corinthians 16:8-9)

I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord” (II Corinthians 2:12)

“praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ. (Colossians 4:3)

In contrast to the Christians at Sardis, this church, although in the same district, kept the word of God and did not deny the name of YHVH’s Savior. This identification as “The People of the Book” segregated them from the pagans while incurring the same opposition from the non-Messianic synagogue as experienced by Yeshua, Steven, James, Paul, etc.

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Philadelphia was called the “little Athens” in the 6th century AD because of its festivals and temples. This indicates that the city wasn’t entirely converted to Christianity, and also the reverse – that the Church at Philadelphia hadn’t absorbed paganism.

“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

As described previously, any close companion / co-ruler with Christ, will experience trials and tribulations. The church at Philadelphia apparently had their fair share in the early days, so its faith was not put the test as happened with other churches which had it much easier.  A reasonable definition of “The hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world” limits it to a shorter period of time than a “day / era”, and locates it within the parameters of the account it is referenced, i.e., the Roman world.

Attila the Hun is a likely candidate for this event, known at the time as the The Scourge of God. For whatever reason, Atilla did not invade Asia Minor.

map-452-huns

In 439 CE Attila brokered the Treaty of Margus with Rome.

The annual payment of 700 pounds of gold, or about $19M in today’s dollars, bought the promise not to attack Roman towns. With a tenuous treaty in place, Roman legions guarding the border were pulled to fight in Sicily against the Vandals. With unguarded territory before them, Attila and his brother saw an opportunity to return to their raiding ways. They invented outrage and declared the treaty invalid.

Over the next ten years, the Huns invaded territory which today encompasses Hungary, Greece, Spain, and Italy. Attila sent captured riches back to his homeland and drafted soldiers into his own army while often burning the overrun towns and killing their civilian occupants.

In 441 CE, they launched their Danube campaign…a full-scale invasion that ravaged cities and towns in the trading province of Illyricum. D`espite the fact the legions were not there, these cities were well fortified and well defended. But…Attila ensured that the Huns mastered siege technology and were able to attack and capture fortified cities by means of textbook Roman military tactics…

Attila…brought his army within twenty miles of Constantinople…attacked and pillaged forts and cities, lacerating almost all of the territory surrounding the capital…he negotiated peace and an annual payment of 1400 pounds of gold, which is equivalent to $40M in today’s dollars…

In 446, Attila again manufactures outrage with the Romans, breaks the treaty, and begins to capture forts along the frontier. He invaded the Roman region of Moesia, in the present-day Balkans. In the process, he destroyed more than 70 cities, took survivors as slaves, and sent the loot back to his stronghold at the city of Buda, which is thought to be modern-day Budapest. He was considered invincible and “having bled the East to his heart’s content, Attila turned to the West…the Balkans in 446 and Italy in 452.

Could “not denying the name of YHVH’s Savior” and “keeping the word of my patience” be as simple as “remembering the law of Moses”?

In July 2017, Israeli historian Yoram Meital stumbled upon a handwritten 1028 CE biblical codex that was lying abandoned on a dusty shelf in a Cairo synagogue.Wrapped in simple white paper of the sort one finds on tables in cheap eateries, at 616 pages, the Zechariah Ben ‘Anan Manuscript is one of the era’s most complete and preserved examples of the “Writings,” the third and concluding section of the Hebrew Bible. It had been lost to scholars for almost 40 years.

Could “the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie” be manifested as Islam?

despite the manifest differences in how they practise their religions, Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God.

The founder of Islam, Muhammad, saw himself as the last in a line of prophets that reached back through Jesus to Moses, beyond him to Abraham and as far back as Noah. According to the Quran, God (known as Allah) revealed to Muhammad:

the Book with the truth [the Quran], confirming what was before it, and [before He sent down the Quran] He sent down the Torah of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus… as a guidance for the people.

[Philadelphia] was taken by the Seljuk Turks in 1074 and 1093–94 but rapidly recovered in 1098, during the First Crusade,  by Byzantine Emperor Alexios I. While all the other cities of Asia Minor surrendered to the Ottomans, Philadelphia remained a free city until 1390, when after a prolonged resistance, the Byzantine emperor Manuel II assisted Sultan Bayezid I in subjugating Philadelphia to Turkish rule. Twelve years later it was captured by Timur, who built a wall with the corpses of his prisoners.

It looks like God lifted his protection, from which we must logically conclude that this church no longer kept the word of his patience and/or denied his name.

During the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922) the retreating Greek army carried out a scorched-earth policy while it was retreating from Anatolia during the final phase of the war, which included what once was known as The City of Brotherly Love.

Could it be that the Orthodox Greeks themselves closed this door?

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

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