Revelation 3:7-8

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things says he that is holy, he that is true, he that has the key of David, he that opens and no man shuts, and shuts and no man opens…Behold, I have set before you an open door, and no man can shut it.”


People have often questioned us concerning the “shut door question”. Why was there a “shut door” and did we then change it back to an “open door”. However, as the text above shows, the shut door and open door is very Biblical!

The closed and opened doors are part and parcel of the sanctuary message, and even though the full understanding did not happen all at once, these messages are an important part of the sanctuary truths.

In the above quoted text in Revelation 3:7-8 we see Christ, who holds the keys, shutting a door that no man can open, and opening a door which no man can shut. This happens during the Philadelphia period.

The seven letters to the churches in Revelation two and three, correlate closely with the events of church history.

The post reformation recognized the seven churches and the seven seals, as spanning the Christian Era. This interpretation was well established before 1844.

“The seven churches typify the church universal in its seven ages from Pentecost till the Day of the Lord.” Wrote Adam Burwell in 1835.

Adventists also believe, like hundreds of students of prophecy down through the centuries, that the seven churches of Revelation two and three represent the condition of the Christian church during various periods. The number seven indicates completeness, and is symbolic of the fact that the messages extend to the end of time. Revelation One, shows Christ walking in the midst of the golden candlesticks, which are the seven churches (1:20) with seven stars in his right hand (1:16) which are the messengers of the seven churches. (1:20) Thus is symbolized His relation to the churches. This symbolizes Christ’s work and care for the churches throughout the Christian era.

The fifth church’s message ends with a message about a coming judgment when Jesus promises the overcomers “shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

So now, in the sixth church, Philadelphia, we see a door being shut which no man can open, and a door being opened which no man can shut.

The question we must ask is, what does this door represent?

Where is it located?

Why is one door shut and another opened?

Some have tried to explain the open door as missionary opportunities. Unfortunately however, doors of missionary opportunity have a way of being closed by all sorts of people and circumstances, but the door, in Rev.3:7, NO ONE IS ABLE TO SHUT.

For identification of this open door, it would be wise to look in Revelation itself. Revelation 4:1 says:

“Lo, IN HEAVEN, an open door and a voice saying come up here and see what will take place.”

Yes, here we see that the open door is into the sanctuary in heaven.

Revelation 4 shows the beginning of Christ’s ministry in the heavenly sanctuary. In these chapters (Rev. 4 and 5) Christ is inaugurated as the “ONLY ONE WORTHY” to fulfil the tasks of salvation, for He is the Lamb slain. Indeed the whole book of Revelation is focused on the work Christ is doing in the heavenly temple during the entire Christian era until all things are restored and the temple is no longer needed once the plan of salvation is complete.

At Christ’s ascension to heaven the door to the holy place was opened for mankind. A new and living way had been opened to the fallen race. All sacrificial offerings terminated in the one great offering of the Son of God. And Jesus entered by His own blood into the heavenly sanctuary. We see Christ by the seven lamps before the throne. We see the golden vials of incense. We see Christ, the Lamb slain, declared worthy to take up the work of salvation in the HOLY PLACE!

Yet, in our introductory text, we see Christ, who has the keys of salvation, close a door and open another door during the Philadelphia period.

What does this signify?

We can look in Revelation 11 for our explanation.

Revelation chapter eleven first refers to the 1260 year period (the prophetic years oft repeated in both Daniel and Revelation as the time of the church’s oppressive dominion) It refers to the Old and New Testament (the two witnesses) who have testified in sack cloth for 1260 years and their ultimate humiliation during the French revolution, which tried to destroy faith in the Bible but their aim backfired marvelously in liberating the world from papal tyranny thus granting the Bible greater honor and distribution then was ever known before.

This brings us to the Philadelphia period, for indeed, during this period the Bible was widely distributed and read. (Rev. 10) reveals that the scroll of Daniel’s prophecies (sealed in Daniel 12) are now open for the 1260 years have come to an end (1798) At this time the prophecies were studied with great interest and insight. What these prophecies disclosed was sweet as honey as the people thought Christ was coming at the end of the prophetic time periods– 1844. However, these prophecies turned into bitterness, as the disappointment enveloped them, just as Rev. 10:10 predicated. They were told to prophecy AGAIN! (Rev. 10:10-11)


We must remember that chapter divisions were added later. The writer of Revelation tells in the very next verse, exactly what was to be the message of the disappointed believers in prophecy.

“A reed like a rod was given me, and the angel said, Rise, and measure the temple of the God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not” (11:1-2)

They were commanded to “measure the temple”.

They thought the sanctuary was this earth—

They thought the earth would be cleansed at the end of the time periods.

But no– they were NOT to measure the “courtyard” of the temple.

The “courtyard” where the altar of sacrifice stood represents the earth.

However, the inner holy places of the earthly sanctuary represented the great heavenly sanctuary.

What was to be measured?

The same three things that were to be cleansed in the day of atonement!

  • The altar,(Lev. 16:18)
  • The sanctuary (Lev. 16:16)
  • And the worshipers! (16:17)

AND THEN, in Revelation 11:19, WE SEE the temple of God being opened!

The time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants … THEN THE TEMPLE OF GOD was OPENED in heaven, and the ark of the His covenant was seen in His temple.


But wait a minute, this is centuries after Christ’s inauguration which we just read happened much earlier. The door in Rev. 4:1, to the sanctuary was opened at Christ’s ascension! Is there another door in the temple of God–in the sanctuary of God! Yes, this is another door. When the first door was opened in Rev. 4 we saw candles and incense, but now, near the end of earth’s history we hear the cry, “the time has come for you to judge, that you should give reward to the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.” THE TIME OF JUDGMENT is introduced and THEN the temple is opened and the ARK of the covenant is seen.

  • 4 we see the door of the holy place in the heavenly sanctuary opened.
    Christ begins the work in the Holy Place.
  • During the Philadelphia Church period in Rev. 3, in 1844, a door was closed that no man can open– that was when the work of Christ in the Holy Place ended.
  • The door to the Holy Place was closed, and the door to the Most HOLY place was opened.

The time of judgment is the time when Christ investigates to see who “honors the Son and the Father”. For those who have been quickened from spiritual death to walk in newness of spiritual life by the life giving power of Christ, will not come into condemnation in the judgment for they have passed from death to life.

The time announced to the fifth church begins in the sixth:

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life: but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Rev. 3:5)

So when the time comes for Christ to execute judgement, even though they may be in their graves, they who have done good will hear his voice and come forth in the resurrection of life! (See John 5:21-30)

Yes, Jesus continues in John 5:39 “I judge, and my judgment is just.”

The keys belong to Christ.

“These things says He that is holy, He that is true, He that has the key of David, He that opens and no man shuts and shuts and no man opens.” (Rev. 3:7)

He has the keys of hell and death (Rev. 1:18)

He will determine who is saved and who isn’t.

BUT the concept of these keys belonging to the church on earth is the Catholic rendition of these texts. They claim to have the keys of JUDGEMENT which only Christ has.

They have claimed those keys for themselves to the point where they say:

“The Priest has the power of the keys, or the power of delivering sinners from hell, of making them worthy of paradise and of changing them…and God Himself is obliged to abide by the judgment of his priests, and either not to pardon or to pardon, according as they refuse or give absolution.” (Dignity and Duties of the Priesthood, p.27 by De Liguori)

They have set up their counterfeit investigative judgment called the “inquisition” which has now been re-established under a different name.

But it is Christ who is our judge. He holds the keys of each individual’s eternal destiny. “Why do you judge one another,” Romans 14:10 asks, “We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ….Let us therefore not judge one another…everyone shall give account of himself to God! (Romans 14:12,13)

That judgment is now going on in heaven— in the heavenly sanctuary.

Yet, it is not Christ who condemns anyone, we condemn ourselves when we refuse to come to Christ, the source of life. “For this is the condemnation, that Light has come into the world and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that does evil hates the Light, and refuses the light, because they don’t want their evil revealed, but he that does truth comes to the light, that his deed may be shown to be wrought in God.” (John 3:18-21)

The Philadelphia period ran approximately from 1750 to 1850. It was an era of revivals– a time when keeping “God’s Word” was important.

It was during this time that the knowledge of the sanctuary in heaven– the temple of God — was brought forth. It was during this time that Christ opened the door and began His work in the Most Holy Place. “See I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.”

Yes, it was but a small group “with little strength” yet they “kept God’s word and did not deny His name.” Even though ridiculed and mocked they patiently endured. They saw that Christ was in the Most Holy Place, before the ark of the covenant.

Revelation 11:19 declared the judgment AND THE TEMPLE OF GOD WAS OPENED AND THE ARK of the covenant was seen. This is the ark with the ten commandments which has THE SABBATH, in the heart of them. The controversy in the Philadelphia church message, is between the “synagogue of Satan” and their lies and those who will be “pillars in the temple of God”.

“Seeing” the ark of the covenant, with Jesus before it, made it clear to our pioneers, that following Jesus means keeping the ten commandments placed under the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. With joy they embraced the Sabbath and surrendered their lives in service to HIM. Yet, what do we see in the general trend of Christianity after they rejected the sanctuary message? We see a turning against the ten commandments, and declaring they are a burdensome yoke that Christ had to nail to the cross. The commandments were declared a “burden” because it was revealed that they contained the call to REMEMBER 7th day Sabbath and keep it holy.

During the time of Philadelphia:

“What He (Christ) opened, no one can shut; and what He (Christ) shuts, no one can open. He knows our deeds, and has placed before us an open door that no one can shut.”

Yet the passage continues to say that those who have received the shut and the open door will be opposed by the “synagogue of Satan” who lie. Are these the ones who try to shut that heavenly door to the Most Holy with lies? Yet, those who overcome will be “pillars in the temple of God.” Again we see sanctuary imagery.

Those who advanced with Christ will be preserved in the time of trial ahead–

Without the truths brought forth then, the deceptions of Satan will sweep everyone into the false KINGDOM of Babylon and have everyone worshiping the dragon and the beast. That sounds like “the synagogue of Satan” to me — Yet they claim — like the Jews, to be the favored, beloved people of God.

Those who reject the sanctuary message– [that Christ is NOW IN THE MOST HOLY PLACE investigating each case personally] — those are the ones who will also give up the Sabbath which Christ asks His people to “Remember”, and think they are saved in their sins. They will renounce the SEVENTH-DAY when the crises comes and go with the easy religion ecumenical crowd in accepting Sunday, the child of the papacy and the sign which she even claims is the sign that she has authority over the Bible. They will not be found among those “saints, who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.” Rev. 14:12

Oct. 22, 1844. The door to the Holy Place was closed, and the door to the Most HOLY Place was opened.

Those who follow Christ into the Most Holy Place are those who receive His Spirit, while those who remain focused only on the ministry of the Holy Place, receive the deceptive spirit. (The message here in Revelation 3 to the Philadelphia church is clearly dealing with the battle between those “in the temple of my God” and those “in the synagogue of Satan”) We must accept the message given in the Philadelphia period if we would be kept “in the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Rev. 3:10)

Hold fast to this message and believe that Christ is coming quickly and let no man take your crown! (Rev. 3:11)

However we cannot stay in the Philadelphia period, We must go on to the Laodicean period, and follow the counsel there given. That is the counsel we must now follow– we cannot sit back and say, “We are rich and need nothing more.” We must apply ourselves of the provisions of the sanctuary. We must obtain that white raiment, so we will be clothed…(Rev. 3:18) “He that overcomes will be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. (Rev. 3:5) We must recognize our shameful nakedness, and “buy of Him” that white robe and those who do will NOT BE NAKED. We must recognize our blindness and buy of Him eyesalve that we may see. We must recognize our lack of the riches of heavenly grace and faith, and seek of Him the pure gold tried in fire. And above all we must open the door of our hearts and let HIM in!

This understanding has developed under some misunderstandings both originally and lately, so let’s briefly see the SDA Pioneers viewed this subject:

From EGW B1.1846-04-06.007

“In February, 1845, I had a vision of events commencing with the Midnight Cry. I saw a throne and on it sat the Father and the Son. And I saw the Father rise from the throne, and in a flaming Chariot go into the Holy of Holies, within the veil, and did sit. There I saw thrones that I had never seen before.”

This is in agreement with Daniel 7:9-10 who writes about this scene which takes place sometime AFTER THE 1260 (the same period depicted in Rev. 11) “I beheld till the thrones were set down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow,…His throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. …Thousand thousands ministered unto him. And ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.”

“Those who rose up when Jesus did, kept their eyes fixed on Him as He left the throne and led them out a little way. — Then He raised His right arm and we heard his lovely voice saying, “Wait here–I am going to my Father to receive the Kingdom; keep your garments spotless, and in a little while I will return from the wedding and receive you to myself.” And I saw a cloudy chariot, with wheels like flaming fire, and Angels were all around it as it came where Jesus was. He stepped into the chariot and was borne to the Holiest where the Father sat.

Again we see the parallel with Daniel 7:13-14

“Behold, the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom…”

There I beheld Jesus, as He was standing before the Father, a great High Priest. On the hem of His garment was a bell and pomegranate. Then Jesus shew me the difference between faith and feeling. And I saw those who rose up with Jesus send up their faith to Him in the Holiest, and pray–my Father give us thy Spirit. “Then Jesus would breathe upon them the Holy Ghost. In the breath was light, power, and much love, joy and peace.

The Holy Spirit which enables us to WALK in newness of LIFE with Christ and writes God’s law upon the heart, and empowers us to be witnesses for HIM.

Then I turned to look at the company who were still bowed before the throne; they did not know that Jesus had left it.–Satan appeared to be by the throne, trying to carry on the work of God; I saw them look up to the throne and pray, my Father give us thy Spirit; then Satan would breathe upon them an unholy influence; in it there was light and much power, but no sweet love, joy and peace. Satan’s object was to keep them deceived, and to draw back and deceive God’s children. I saw one after another leave the company who were praying to Jesus in the Holiest, and go and join those before the throne, and they at once received the unholy influence of Satan.”

The spirit of the new age movement, which isn’t really new, which places love and peace above obedience and God’s law. The movement that does not identify sin, or acknowledge any concrete moral authority, but only claims love and the spirit will guide all. This is the spirit that will be breathed on those who disregard the judgment message.

“EW 260.. they have so darkened their understanding that they can see no light in the third angel’s message, which shows the way into the most holy place. I saw that as the Jews crucified Jesus, so the nominal churches had crucified these messages, and therefore they have no knowledge of the way into the most holy, and they cannot be benefitted by the intercession of Jesus there. Like the Jews, who offered their useless sacrifices, they offer up their useless prayers to the apartment which Jesus has left; and Satan, pleased with the deception, assumes a religious character, and leads the minds of these professed Christians to himself, working with his power, his signs and lying wonders, to fasten them in his snare” —-

Now some scoff at these words, asking “Is Satan in heaven sitting on a throne?” The answer is, “of course not”, Rev. 12 tells us Satan was cast out of heaven. However, you will notice that Rev. 3 makes considerable mention of another “synagogue”. Yes, the Bible pictures Satan as having his own synagogue, this synagogue he sets up to try and eclipse God’s sanctuary. Sadly Rev. 3 describes the people who worship (and say they are God’s people) as someday coming and throwing themselves at the feet of those who recognized the “open door and shut door” and admitting it is these whom God loved. (Rev. 3:7-9)

The next door that will be shut is the door to the MOST HOLY in heaven. When Christ has finished the work of the investigative judgment and the sealing of all those found written in the book of life. He will stand up — the door of the MOST HOLY PLACE WILL BE SHUT.

Probation will be ended

Then, after the time of trouble, the cry will be sounded: “the Bridegroom is coming! He IS COMING!” Then we will go out to meet Christ who comes to deliver HIS PEOPLE, who have been driven from the face of society by those inspired by Satan to destroy them who abide by the commandments of God rather than the traditions and doctrines of men. He will deliver those who have washed their robes and made them white and clean through His blood. He will deliver those who would dare to keep the commandments of God when the “peacemakers of the world declared” that everyone must honor Sunday. He will deliver those who bought of Him the white robes, the eye salve and the gold tried in fire. He will deliver those who opened their hearts to Him and allowed Him into the sanctuary of their souls, to cleanse them and fellowship with them. He will deliver those who overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and will then invite them to sit with Him upon His throne in heaven. Amen.

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