Verse 11:"I come quickly; hold fast what you have that no one take your crown."
This word is both a consolation as well as a warning. It is a warning, yet at the same time it consoles. The Lord has promised what He can promise. The believers have done what they can do. Now the danger is drawing back and losing the Lord’s promise because of drawing back. This drawing back may be caused by the weariness and disappointment of prolonged days in the battlefield. Hence, a warning becomes necessary. It causes the believers to be aware of the danger ahead. A consolation is also necessary. It gives the believers encouragement from the Lord and enables them to continue on.
"I come quickly." This word tells us the way the saints will escape the trial of the great and dreadful day. The apostle presented the rapture of the believers and the "parousia" of the Lord Jesus as the way to escape the storm and waves of the enemy (2 Thes. 2:1).
Behold how the Lord encourages and comforts His believers: "I come quickly!" He seems to be saying, "Go on! The time will not be long! You should patiently stand by Me and bear your cross. Soon you will receive My glory. I come quickly!" All around Philadelphia was sin. Jezebel, Sardis, and Laodicea were on her left and right. The world was pressing upon her from without. Under such circumstances it requires special strength to follow the Lord closely. Under such an atmosphere man tends to ask, "Is it possible to exalt Christ and to obey the truth?" The Lord said these words as an answer to such questions. He knows the danger of the battlefield. He knows their sufferings. He knows that in the world they have exhausted themselves in heart and body for His sake. He knows how they have suffered hunger, coldness, pain, misunderstandings, and oppositions for His sake. Their toil, weariness, self-denial, poverty, sleeplessness, and heartaches are all noticed by Him. He knows what it is like to live in the battlefield. For these reasons, He is comforting them, encouraging them, exhorting them, telling them that the time is short, that it is now the last five minutes, that He will come quickly, and that everything will be over. As a crowd by the seashore cheers a rescue boat that is at work in a rough sea, assuring it that with a little more strength rest will come, in the same way the Lord is encouraging His people.
Since the time the Lord spoke this word, many years have passed. Are the believers doubting His promise? If they doubt it, they do not understand the language of love. This is the tone of love. In His heart, His coming is always one that comes "quickly." He wants His believers to think in their heart that His coming is quick. Those who know love will understand the tone here. The days of grace and of endurance are becoming fewer and fewer, and the presence of Christ and His glory are faintly visible already. Formerly the delay was reckoned by centuries; now it should be reckoned by years. Soon the yearly reckoning will become the monthly reckoning, and the monthly reckoning will become the daily reckoning, and the daily reckoning will become the hourly reckoning. The voice of "I come quickly" is coming closer and closer every day. The hearts of the believers should be happier day after day. The day of our rapture is drawing closer every day. How we wish that it were today! How wonderful that would be! Brothers, the things of the world are quickly passing away! What do the present sufferings matter? The glory is before us! It is already now the fourth hour. In a few minutes, the morning star will arise. Endure the sufferings a little longer, for this is the last mile. Henceforth, the legs will no longer be sore! Oh, what a thought this is!
The Lord is here reminding us to think of Him. He is not speaking to His people about the hour of His coming. He only wants them to understand that His coming is quick. He is the One who will come quickly. What we want is not just the understanding of prophecies. It is helpful to study prophecies, but we have to draw near to the Lord, see the Lord, and be with the Lord. It is because we love Him that we desire to see Him. It is not heaven and its glory that is attracting us, but the excellent Lord Himself who is attracting us to long after Himself and His presence. Oh, how our heart rejoices when we think of the time when we will sit with Him, be like Him, hear Him, behold Him, touch Him, and belong to Him forever. In reading Revelation, our heart should never remain in Revelation. The goal of this book is to reveal Him through its writing (1:1). After He has brought His servants through all the prophecies, He will say, "I Jesus" (22:16). It is not the many things that will happen in the future that will cause our hearts to rejoice. We can only be at rest in Him. He causes us to remember Him in all circumstances.
This word of soon return is most comforting to His saints! But how many will be comforted? A difference in spirituality causes us to have different attitudes toward the Lord’s second coming. The believers’ attitude towards the Lord’s coming is an indicator of their level of spirituality. How many among today’s believers are comforted by the Lord’s coming? The unbelieving sinners will be afraid of His coming (Rev. 6:15-16). The mocking ones will think that the Lord will not come (2 Pet. 3:3-4). But what a pity that many among the believers will think that the Lord "delays" (Matt. 24:48). Some will be "put to shame" (1 John 2:28) at the Lord’s coming. But those who have no barrier with the Lord have their heart turned to heaven already. They are completely lost in the Lord already. Hence, although they realize that the Lord’s coming will leave some worldly ones on earth to suffer and that He will come to judge the believers, they are not afraid. On the contrary they "await" (1 Thes. 1:10), "have loved" (2 Tim. 4:8), and are "awaiting the blessed hope" (Titus 2:13) of the Lord’s descent. These words speak of the believers’ spiritual condition. Those who truly love the Lord will not "be troubled" (John 14:1) by the Lord’s soon coming (14:3), but those who love the world will be confused and will suffer at heart when they think of the Lord’s coming. The apostle told us that the Lord’s coming and His rapture are something with which the believers may "comfort one another" (1 Thes. 4:18). Oh, what a consolation! His coming will terminate everything we have in the world and will begin everything we will have in heaven. Oh, glorious moment! The believers in Sardis will become more sorrowful at the Lord’s soon coming because they are similar to the worldly ones in too many things. However, you Philadelphians should hear the Lord’s encouraging and comforting word to you.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 05: The Christian (3), Chapter 3, by Watchman Nee)