Q: Please explain what Christ means with the "open door" in Revelation 3:8. Is that door still open today, or has it been shut?


A: In Revelation 3:7-8, Christ tells the angel of the church in Philadelphia: “These things says He who is holy, He who is true, ‘He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens’: … ‘See I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it.'”

Whatever that open door is, it is still open for those who belong to the church in Philadelphia. “The church in Philadelphia” is mainly a reference here to faithful Christians who have developed in their lives a “Philadelphian spirit” or attitude — as applied to us today, it does not refer to a specific local church or particular organization. Those are simply Scripturally wrong who claim that they — as an organization — are THE remnant of the Philadelphia era. Christ makes clear that it is He who opens and shuts. To the church in Philadelphia, He specifically says, “I have set before YOU an open door, and NO ONE can shut it.”

What is this open door?

(1) At least four Scriptures explain that the term “open door” refers to the ability of the church in Philadelphia to preach the gospel in all the world as a witness to all nations, prior to Christ’s return. Acts 14:27 states, “He had opened the DOOR OF FAITH to the Gentiles.” 1 Corinthians 16:9 points out, “…a great and effective DOOR has opened to me” in Ephesus. 2 Corinthians 2:12 says, “…when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a DOOR was opened to me by the Lord…” Finally, Colossians 4:3 states, “…that God would open to us a DOOR for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ.”

These Scriptures show that the open door is associated with preaching Christ’s gospel of the Kingdom of God. However, the term “open door” is not limited to just preaching the gospel message to the world. There are other Scriptures that identify additional aspects of the “open door”:

(2) In the parable of the ten virgins, the five wise virgins, who were ready, went with Christ to the wedding, and, as Matthew 25:10 tells us, the open door was shut. When the foolish virgins, who were not ready, came and said, “Lord, Lord, open to us!”, Christ answered them, “I do not know you” (verses 11-12). Likewise, in Luke 13:25, we read that the time will come when the Master of the house (the church of God) will shut the door and won’t let those in who are standing outside, knocking.

The open door, then, is also associated with the ability of the five wise virgins to enter God’s Kingdom. The foolish virgins were unable to do so — for them, the door was shut. Christ told us to “enter” by the narrow gate which leads to life, and that only few will find it (Matthew 7:13-14). Only for the few, then, the spiritual Philadelphians, and for those who may still become spiritual Philadelphians, before Christ’s return, the door to the gate of eternal life is and remains to be open. For the overwhelming majority of mankind, it is closed at this point in time, and it has been closed since God placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, to guard or protect the way to the tree of life. (This door to eternal life WILL be opened later to mankind, after Christ’s return, during the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment. For more information, please read our free booklets, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?” And “God’s Commanded Holy Days.”)

We read in Revelation 3:20 that the church of the Laodiceans — those with a Laodicean attitude of spiritual blindness and self-righteousness (Revelation 3:16-18) — has shut the door. Christ is outside, standing in front of the door, knocking. Christ says, “IF anyone… opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me [at the Wedding Supper].” Christ, then, must give us an open door to let Him into our lives — to let Him live His life within us (Galatians 2:20). As long as we are and remain spiritual Philadelphians, Christ has given us that open door. Christ WILL live His life in us, and NO ONE can shut Him out. No one — except we ourselves can do it. If we shut Him out, Christ is not going to force us to keep the door open. He does not force us to go God’s Way of Life. As we continue to shut Christ more and more out of our lives, we cease to be spiritual Philadelphians and become lukewarm and self-righteous Laodiceans. It is the spiritual Laodiceans who have shut the door, while Christ stands outside — at the door of their hearts — knocking for a while to be received back into their lives. We are living at the very time when God IS knocking at the doors of many Laodiceans. If they don’t repent, refusing to let Christ become again center stage of their lives, it will be they who will be knocking at HIS door at the time of Christ’s return to enter the Wedding Supper. By then, the door will be shut for them. Unless the spiritual Laodiceans repent, open the door of their hearts and let Christ in, and become thereby spiritual Philadelphians, the door to eternal life remains shut for them.

(3) Christ identifies Himself many times as the “open door.” In John 10:1-9, Christ talks about Himself as the door to the sheep. He says that he who enters the sheepfold by the door (verse 2) is the true shepherd, and that everyone will be saved who enters through Christ. That is what the five virgins did, when they entered the wedding room through Jesus Christ, the open door, going in and finding pasture (compare John 10:7, 9).

We of ourselves have only a little strength (Revelation 3:8). Our strength of overcoming and living a Christian life must come through Jesus Christ, the open door to God the Father. Paul was confident that God would complete the good work in those in whom He had begun it (Philippians 1:6). Christ said that those who endure to the end WILL be saved. They are the VERY elect. They follow the Lamb wherever He goes, because they are the called, and the chosen, and the faithful ones (Revelation 14:4; 17:14).

The “open door” is associated with Christ Himself who has given Himself to the spiritual Philadelphians. Christ said that He gave the Morning Star to those in Thyatira. Those Christians can be described as spiritual Philadelphians, because they will rule in the world to come (Revelation 2:26-28). Christ later identified Himself as that very Morning Star (Revelation 22:16; 2 Peter 1:19). He, the Morning Star, gives Himself to His people. The same symbolism is used regarding the open door — Christ gives Himself, as an open door, to the spiritual Philadelphians.

Revelation 3:12 says that the true Philadelphians will be “pillars” in the temple of God, and that they will go out no more. It is given to them to go through the open door, Christ, into the temple of God, in order to be pillars there.

What does it mean, practically, that Christ, the open door to God the Father and to God’s Kingdom, has opened the doors of our hearts to let Him live in us?

When Peter and some of the other disciples went fishing, the resurrected Christ appeared to them and asked Peter, “Do you love Me more than these?” The Lamsa translation says, “Do you love Me more than these THINGS?” (John 21:15). The reference is to the fish that they had just caught.

When Peter confessed three times that he loved Christ, Jesus admonished him three times to “feed” and “tend” the lambs and sheep (verses 15-17). Peter’s love for Christ would be manifested and seen in his tending and feeding of Christ’s church — by looking after the sheep, by taking care of them, and by feeding them with the word in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). Christ said to Peter, “Follow Me” (verse 19). That is, follow My example of being a good shepherd of My sheep, who would even be willing, if necessary, to lay down his life for the sheep (verse 18).

Christ also said that the harvest was plentiful, but that the laborers were few, and that we should pray for laborers (Luke 10:2). We have today, potentially, a plentiful harvest as the result of the preaching of the gospel through Mr. Armstrong.

(4) God closed the door of the ark, after Noah and his family, as well as the selected animals, had entered the ship. Genesis 7:16 reads, in the Revised English Bible, “The Lord closed the door on him.” God did so, after righteous Noah and his family had entered the ark through the open door, which no one could shut for them. They entered the ark to be saved from destruction. This is interesting, as Revelation 3:10 points out that the church in Philadelphia — those who have a Philadelphian spirit — will be protected from the hour of trial or tribulation which shall come upon the whole world. The flood destroyed the whole world at the time of Noah, and Christ said that the Great Tribulation to come would destroy all of mankind, if Christ would not intervene at the very end (Matthew 24:21-22). The open door, that has been given to the Philadelphians, is also associated with physical protection from the Great Tribulation.

In conclusion, our preaching of the gospel to the world needs to continue and must not stop. God has given to the spiritual Philadelphians the open door of preaching His word, and NO ONE can shut this door. At the same time, we must strive to enter the narrow door that leads to eternal life, by letting Christ — the door to God the Father and to God’s Kingdom — live in our hearts. If we do, God promises us entrance into His Kingdom as born-again members of His Family (2 Peter 1:10-11), as well as physical protection from the Great Tribulation (Revelation 12:14).

©2024 Church of the Eternal God