We begin by analyzing verse 6 in Revelation 3, which advises those that read the following verses to pay close attention to what was said to the churches. Being that the churches are mentioned, this calls for the reader to use a double application, spiritual to the church and doctrinal to the Tribulation (given that these events are prophetic and take place during the Tribulation), to analyze the verses after. To learn more about double application, watch ‘Double Prophecy’ on the Real Bible Believers Revelation playlist.
Revelation 3:6-7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. 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;
In Verse 7, God tells John to write a letter to the angel (representative) of the church in Philadelphia, meaning that the things God tells John to write are also relevant for those in that specific church. The verse goes on to describe the characteristics of a ‘he’ which we know as Jesus Christ. The verse then states that he (Jesus), holds the key of David which has the ability to open and close doors that no other person can keep open and vice versa. To know what the key of David is, we have to use double application when referencing the book of Isaiah. Simply speaking, when we hear the phrase ‘key of David’ we get the idea that it will be involving something Jewish since David was king over Israel.
Isaiah 22:20-22 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: And I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open.
Jesus was known as the Messiah; we look at Isaiah 22 to know the characteristics of the Messiah. Notice that verse 22 mentions a key of the house of David, which further proves that the ‘he’ in Revelation 3 is Jesus and that he holds the key of David.
In both Revelation 3 and Isaiah 22, there is a mention of doors that can be opened and closed by this key. Now, having a door means that it has to be part of a building or specifically a house, (mentions of a house in Isaiah 22) specifically David’s house in verse 22. This means that the key of David is for gaining access (or lack thereof) to the inside of David’s house.
Returning to Revelation 3, we can now piece together that the key of David (access to David’s house) has been given to those being represented by the angel of the church of Philadelphia. Doctrinally speaking, the Tribulation saints in the locality of the Philadelphia region have been given access to the house of God specifically through the house of David (for their faithfulness), which will be ruling during the Millennium (the promise of David’s established and endless kingdom). This is the doctrinal application to the house of David.
The significance of this open door is that it has allowed these saints to be co-rulers with Christ over the nation of Israel. The verse goes on to detail the strength of the Tribulation saints and what they have accomplished despite of it, kept the commandments and have not denied Christ during their sufferings. Spiritually speaking, Christians have just enough God-given strength to overcome their hardships despite feeling that their strength is insufficient. God can also keep doors open that the adversary wants to close and vice versa.
The time period of the Church of Philadelphia has two probable timelines:
Larkin’s timeline begins with the First Great Awakening revival and the first Christian missionaries (Moravian missionaries, c. 1700s) after the era of the Roman Catholic Church and ends in the 1900s when there is an increase in dead ministries. Ruckman’s timeline begins when Martin Luther’s time period officially begins and when the Protestant Church came out from under the Roman Catholic Church. Although the works (evangelism) of the Protestant Church in this timeline were dead, there was still an increase in believers, and more so with the completion of the King James Bible.
Finney and Peter Cartwright