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In the letter to the Church of Philadelphia in Revelation 3, John writes concerning the synagogue of Satan and those who claim to be Jews, but are not.

Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan *who say that they are Jews and are not*, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Revelation 3:9 ESV

What group was it that claimed to be Jews and were not? What was it about them that made them the synagogue of Satan?

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3 Answers 3

I would guess that the reference to the synagogue of Satan is not to some local synagogue of Satanists that were pretending to be Jews, but instead to all those everywhere who claimed to be Jews but were not really, spiritually, Jews. Consider Jesus' words in John 8:

They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. ... You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. John 8:39,40,44

In other words: "your actions show you aren't Abraham's children (i.e. you aren't Jews); you're children of Satan."

And then, also consider this passage, which divides everyone into two groups: children of God and children of the devil:

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:10

Also, consider Galatians 3:7-10:

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith."

Finally, Romans 9:6-8:

... not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.

So we see that the true sons of Abraham, the true Jews, are those who are "of faith". Thus, I would conclude that the passage you quoted is simply referring to Jews who rejected Jesus as Messiah.

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Kevin, welcome to this site and thank you for this answer; I hope you'll stay to ask and answer more questions. If you haven't already taken the tour and looked at our help pages, that would be a good thing to do, as well as browsing through the other existing questions and answers. –  James T Dec 11 '13 at 20:40
I have to vote your answer down because Abraham was not a Jew. It is important to realize that the descendents of Esau, that is all the Arabs (including Herod) claimed Abraham as a father. The Muslims rightfully claim Abraham as a father as well. –  gideon marx Dec 12 '13 at 13:50
@gideonmarx Whether you want to call Abraham a Jew or not is beside the point. The point is that looking at these Scriptures, we see an understanding of what it means to be a son of Abraham, one whose reckoning is according to his spiritual offspring, rather than his physical offspring. That means some who are Jews according to the flesh are not Jews according to the spirit, because they are not sons of Abraham. That would explain Rev 3:9. (Note that if you are not a son of Abraham, then you are certainly not a Jew.) –  Kevin Dec 12 '13 at 20:08
Anyone can convert to Judaism and is then reconed a Jew. The question was about those who say they are Jews and are not. Abraham is not mentioned. Work to find the simplest answer. Occam's razor. The result is amazing. –  gideon marx Dec 13 '13 at 12:16

This link-[Yeah Click Me] is a profound narrative discussion specifically on your topic in question it is a repost of a writing by theologian and preacher John D. Keyser edited for this website's reposting convenience but it does not delineate far from the original and points out that the reference 'those of the synagogue of Satan' refers primarily to the Sadducees, Pharisees, and those who- yes- were jewish but saw no authenticity in Christ's messiaship or or refused to see him as good. In that time it could be said that those were 'false jews' did not even see the good of Christ regardless of honoring his messiaship or there were those who to fell as bad Christians, but the link's explanation is much more thorough and better worded than mine. Hope that helps.

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"but it does not delineate far from the original..." perhaps you didn't read this part of it: "The Roman Catholic Church has inherited all the doctrines of the Synagogue of Satan mentioned in the book of Revelation and is, therefore, the SYNAGOGUE OF SATAN in today's world — along with all her "daughter" churches that expound similar doctrines." - I don't exactly see that in "the original" - do you? –  bruised reed Sep 19 at 9:14

well I agree with the above answers but I would also like to make a additional answer as food for thought.

The Orthodox European Jews also fit the description being that they claim to be Jews but they reject Jesus as the messiah entirely and actually teach against him while being the owners of Jerusalem (the holy land) the place where Jesus Christ should be being proclaimed.

“I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

revelations 2:9

Being that The orthodox "Jews" are anti (against) Jesus Christ and teach against him and say Christians are wrong about him being the messiah, I believe that they apply to this scripture in question.

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