What is a Faithful Church? – Part 2 :: By Steven Pace

Message to Philadelphia

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this: ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie–I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.

“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:7-13). (NASB 95)

Exhortations from Patmos

The Apostle John was exiled to the island of Patmos during the cruel reign of Domitian.

John’s crime was that he proclaimed and shared the saving message of the Lord Jesus (Revelation 1:9). On Patmos, John received a prophetic revelation concerning not only the future but also seven letters to seven churches that existed in that time in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey). These letters are filled with correction and encouragement not only for the believers in those days but also today.

In Jesus’ letter to the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13), the Lord describes four criteria that identify a faithful church. In these two posts, we are exploring each of these criteria as described in verse 8, where the Lord commends the church.

We have already seen in part 1 that a faithful church seizes the opportunities presented by the Lord, relying not on their own strength but on the Lord’s. [1]

Upholding His Word

Continuing, Jesus indicates that the church in Philadelphia had been faithful in obeying the His Word. It is one thing to hear, read, or know God’s Word, but doing it is altogether different.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22 NKJV). The Lord desires us to not only cherish His Word in our hearts but allow it to guide our daily lives. It is worth noting that a special blessing is promised in Revelation 1:3 to those who read, hear, and obey His Word.

“This blessed book of God marks out all my path. As long as I seek to walk in obedience, I will never be found in circumstances where this Book cannot guide me.” [2]

To have a faithful church, we must have a church that endeavors to obey the Lord’s Word. Will you commit to this today?

Upholding His Name

Finally, Jesus provides the last criteria that we will consider. The church in Philadelphia had not only been faithful in obeying the Lord’s Word but also faithful in not denying His name. The late Henry Morris observes how the third and fourth criteria correlate.

“When a church begins to deal loosely with the word of Christ, it will sooner or later deny the name of Christ. The name of a person stands for his character, his position, his work–all that he is and does. The concept of the name of Christ is, therefore, vital.” [3]

In other words, the Philadelphians identified with the Lord and were willing to suffer any consequences. They maintained a faithful witness even amid any potential difficulties. Wiersbe writes that “they were true to God’s Word and unafraid to bear His name.” [4]

So, what defines a faithful church? It is one that seizes the ministry opportunities given by the Lord, relying solely on His strength, remaining obedient to His Word, and unyielding in proclaiming His name.

Does this describe you?


Dr. Steven F. Pace

Senior Pastor
Decatur Bible Church



[1] What is a Faithful Church – Part 1. https://www.raptureready.com/2023/08/09/what-is-a-faithful-church-part-1-by-steven-pace/

[2] H.A. Ironside, Revelation Commentary.

[3] Herny M. Morris. The Revelation Record, pg. 72.

[4] Warren Wiersbe. The Bible Exposition Commentary, NT Volume II, Ephesians-Revelation.