|By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©1996|
|Bible Prophecy Questions Answered by Leading Christian Scholars.|
Dr. John Ankerberg: The Greek text literally reads, "Because thou hast kept the word of the patience of me." First, "the word" in this phrase probably refers to a message, a word that was preached to them. What kind of message? It was a message or word about the patience of Christ. So when Jesus said, "Because thou hast kept the word of the patience of me," it’s possible that He was complimenting them on following His example while suffering and being persecuted. Is there proof that this kind of message to follow Christ’s example while suffering was preached to Christians by the apostles? Sure there is. For example, in Hebrews 12:1-3 Christians were taught this very thing. The text says, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." So it’s possible that this phrase, "the word of the patience of me," meant that the Philadelphia Church had obeyed the specific message to follow Jesus’ example while suffering.
The second possible meaning for the phrase, "Because you kept the word of the patience of me," could be that these folks were being complimented because of the fact that they were faithfully and continuing holding to the message that Jesus was coming back, that He would soon return. Why this view? It’s because the Greek word for patience, hupomone, when it is directed toward God, has the meaning of "to expect to wait." So, these Christians were steadfastly expecting and waiting for Jesus to come back.
Arndt and Gingrich, the authors of the standard Greek Lexicon, agree that the word for patience, hupomone, sometimes meant "patient expectation," and in fact, they state that this is its exact meaning when the Apostle John used it in Revelation 1:9 and is its probable meaning here in Revelation 3:10.
Let’s throw a little bit more light on this. Dr. Renald Showers in his book Maranatha: Our Lord Come! talks about this patient expectation. He writes,
If this is the intended meaning, the word translated patience refers, not to Christ’s own endurance of testing but to the church saints enduring expectation of Christ’s return. It also would mean that the basis of Christ’s promise in Revelation 3:10 is the fact that the Philadelphia church saints steadfastly held the belief that Christ would return from heaven and could return at any moment. As a result, they persistently waited for His coming. The implication may be that they held tenaciously to this belief and expectancy in spite of all the ridicule, opposition and persecution heaped on them by the unsaved world because of that belief.
One thing in favor of this view is Christ’s exclamation in the very next verse, Revelation 3:11, "Behold, I come quickly. Hold that fast which thou hast." (p. 210)
Now, both views concerning this phrase "because thou hast kept the word of my patience," involve the church saints passing a test. The first view involves their successfully having passed the test of obedience in following Christ’s example while suffering. The second view involves their having passed the test of faith in continuing to believe a divine message, namely that Christ would return. And when you think of it, both of these views blend together. If someone believes the Gospel, they will believe in the imminent return of Jesus Christ. And as a result, they will live like Christ wants them to. If they don’t believe the Gospel and they won’t believe that Christ is coming back, and they certainly won’t live like Christ.