Previous: Revelation 3:8

" Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie - indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you. " - Revelation 3:9

Jesus said these people were from the synagogue of Satan. This was surely not what the false Jews called themselves, but it was how the Lord saw them.

Jewish places of worship were called synagogues. The word synagoges means "bringing together," or "assembling." It is, therefore, very similar to ekklesia, "church," which means "assembly." Jesus undoubtedly chose this name for His followers (Matthew 16:18) because it was a familiar relationship, but with a slightly different identity. The Church would be an organism in which each person has a role to fulfill (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:1-16).

Say they are Jews - The same description of these opponents of the Gospel was used in Revelation 2:9 in reference to troublemakers in Smyrna. In that passage they were said to be guilty of blasphemy (Greek blasphemia, meaning "slander," or "speech injurious to another's good name."). As we noted before, it often meant saying false things about God Himself, but it could also mean spreading lies about other humans.

These enemies may actually have believed they were true Jews because of their heritage, their conversion to Judaism, or actual membership in a synagogue.

In the early days of evangelizing the Gentiles, Paul had confronted Peter about the problem of legalism.

But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? - Galatians 2:4.

The Greek word translated "to live as Jews" is the only occurrence in the Bible of Ioudaizo. Many commentators have used the expression "Judaizers" to describe the misguided attempt by those who would impose the law and customs of the Jews on Gentiles.

Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote a letter, "To the Philadelphians," a few decades later, mentioned Judaizing Gentiles there (chapter 6, verse 1),

Fortunately Peter and the other leaders in Jerusalem decided that circumcision, and a myriad of other Jewish rules, did not need to be observed by Christian Gentiles, except, "to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood." - Acts 15:20 (Read the entire chapter for the context.)

Jews who had rejected their Messiah were therefore clinging to a false religion. The same situation will prevail during the Tribulation Period, when so-called churches will depart from what the Bible teaches. True believers during that time will not be associated with such apostate organizations.

Paul had written:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. - Galatians 3:26-29

In Romans he explained that Jewish people who reject Jesus as their Messiah are temporarily blinded.

What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. 8 Just as it is written:
"God has given them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes that they should not see
And ears that they should not hear,
To this very day."
9 And David says:
"Let their table become a snare and a trap,
A stumbling block and a recompense to them.
10 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see,
And bow down their back always."
- Romans 11:7-10

And yet, Paul was very forceful in his insistence that Israel still has a future, as predicted in the Old Testament (Romans 11:11-36). This will be explained more fully in our future studies in Revelation.

"I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you."

This promise to the Philadelphians should not be taken as any sort of anti-Semitic sentiment. Jesus was Jewish, and He had been their Creator and their Messiah, whether or not they had accepted Him as such. Nearly all of the first Church members were Jewish. Even Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles was Jewish, and he was passionately devoted to their well-being (Romans 10).

However, those Jewish people who reject their Messiah will not experience the salvation God intended for them, and for all humanity, by the death of His Son.

If anything, Believers who were oppressed by these Judaizers should love them. Jesus had taught His followers to love their enemies (Matthew 5:44). Furthermore, they should not try to take revenge on others.

"Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. - Romans 12:19. (See verses17-21)

When the Lord does, finally and reluctantly, bring judgment on these enemies of the Gospel, they will be compelled to worship - not the Philadelphian Christians - but the Lord Himself.

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. - Philippians 2:10-11

The Judaizers will worship at the feet of the Philadelphians only in the sense that the true Believers will evidently be there also, and will witness the event.

Next: Revelation 3:9 - Cont.


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