In the last post, we learned that Jesus commanded the Philadelphian church to hold fast to what they had; otherwise, they might lose their crowns. However, He did not stop with that warning. He encouraged them by promising what would receive if instead, they conquered. This promise is contained in the one verse we will study:

“The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, 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 from my God out of heaven, and my own new name” (Revelation 3:12).1

First, He told the one who would conquer, “I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God.”

What does that mean?

It’s a little unclear, because in the New Jerusalem there will be no need for a temple: “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb (Revelation 21:22). So, the best answer to this question is that being a pillar is probably a metaphor about stability and permanence in God. The conquering one will never “go out” of that temple, Jesus said. The believer has a permanent place in God’s final kingdom, a secure, eternal place. It is difficult for us to imagine the concept of eternalness, because all that we know here on earth is impermanency. Cars, appliances, and devices all fail or become obsolete. All animals, plants, and people die. However, God will not die—He is alive forevermore—and He doesn’t change. There will be no alteration whatsoever of His character. There will be no new administration, government, or policy. Christians share in the eternal life He has provided. He lives forever. So will we.

Is there additional meaning to being a pillar in God’s temple? We can only speculate.

Second, Jesus told the Philadelphians that He will write on those who conquer “the name of my God” (verse 12).

What does that mean?

After the New Jerusalem descends from heaven, believers will, “…see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads” (Revelation 22:4). Having Jesus’ name on us speaks of being His people. In the Old Testament, the Lord promised Israel that He would put His name on them. He told Aaron and his sons to say to Israel: “‘The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.’ So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (Numbers 6:24–27, italics added).

In a similar but much more glorious way, Christians are co-heirs in Christ, if they share in Jesus’ sufferings: “The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Romans 8:16–17, italics added).

What does it mean to be a fellow heir with Jesus? Well, to help us understand, Christians are heirs with Abraham: “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29). This is significant. Abraham is heir of the world: “For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:13).

However, what does it mean, in fullness, to be an heir of the world? Again, we can only speculate, but it must be wonderful, glorious, and good.

Third, Jesus told the believers at Philadelphia that He would write on those who conquer “my own new name.”

What does that mean? (I know, I know. I’ve asked this question a lot.)

We do not know. He does not tell us. I suppose we could joke about getting a new name, but I’d rather not. This is holy, glorious business.

Our understanding about the kingdom of God to come is limited by the information the Lord gave us in Scripture. He has purposed it to be this way. We are to trust Him and the future He has in store for us. We are to look forward to that kingdom to come, to that new city, a city made without hands. Remember that the Lord told His people Israel that He was going to take them to the land He promised them. What was that land like? He encouraged them several times that it was a land “flowing with milk and honey,” a good, abundant place: “So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you” (Deuteronomy 8:6–10).

However, there would be adversaries there:

“Hear, O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’” (Deuteronomy 9:1–2).

Past that, not a lot of detail is provided. However, the Lord expected His people to believe that He was going to give them what He promised, if they would only obey Him.

What we see of the heavenly kingdom seems similar to the earthly Promised Land but eternal, heavenly, and much more glorious. It is difficult to imagine what it will be like. A river of life will be there. A tree for the healing of the nations. The Lord Himself will be its light, and there will be no need for the sun or moon. What does that river of life look like? How big will it be? How can one tree heal so many people? Why will healing be necessary? Again, what does it mean that we will inherit the earth? What does it mean that we will be part of a kingdom?

We do not know in detail. However, like Israel, the Lord expects us to believe that He will keep His promise, in spite of the scarcity of details.

Before we finish, let’s be reminded that it is the last days and has been since Jesus ascended. He told us more than once that He will come quickly and soon.

Let’s pray that we will conquer before His return and receive all that the Lord has for us in that eternal kingdom.

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.