Thursday, November 26, 2009

Revelation 3:10

I often hear that a face value reading of Matt 24:31 is the rapture. The cosmic signs in Joel are then associated with Rev 6 and this constitutes the “plain and simple” framework of the argument. Of course the OT regathering promises usually don’t get considered within that “simplicity”. I mention this again because I think a simple reading of Rev 3:10 is highly suggestive of a pretribulational rapture. The rapture is implied because it is the most probable means of keeping people out of a period of time.

Here is how a few translators saw fit to render the verse:

Rev 3:10 Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. NASB

Rev 3:10 Because you have kept my admonition to endure steadfastly, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is about to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. NET

Rev 3:10 Because you kept the Word of My patience, I also will keep you OUT of the hour of trial which is going to come on all the habitable world in order to try those dwelling on the earth. LITV (Literal Translation)

If you don’t maintain a pre-trib position, the plain and simple approach needs to be discarded in this case and you have to examine the verse for loopholes. A common approach is to look at the term tereo ek and argue that the promise in Rev 3:10 is to keep the church safe WTHIN the period of time, NOT to take it out of that time. John 17:15 - where the same tereo ek expression is used - is then appealed to.

John 17:15 I
do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them (tereo ek) from the evil one.

It’s then pointed out that the Lord isn’t praying for His disciples to be removed from the world but to be kept safe from the evil one within the world. Therefore, the same applies to Rev 3:10 and God isn’t promising a removal of the church from the period of testing. There are problems with this argument.

First, the fact that the Lord actually says that He isn’t asking His Father to remove His disciples from the world is significant – especially in light of John 14:2-3. The Lord’s request is redundant in the case of a post-trib yo-yo rapture. What’s the point of asking for something to not occur if it isn’t going to in the first place?

Second, in John 17:15b the ek reference is to the “evil (one)” and NOT the world. There is a distinction. God does not keep them safe within “evil” or the evil one (Satan) and He does not remove them from within (that has already been done) but keeps them out (tereo ek) of the evil.

Third, if protection is understood to be within, then how effective is it when considering the martyrdom of believers and the fact that they are conquered by the beast (Rev 13:7)? Are we then to conclude that the martyrs weren’t Philadelphians?

Recognizing the problem of martyrdom, some then claim that the promise of protection within relates to salvation and not physical safety. However, this doesn’t make sense considering that the same people hold that hupomonē (enduring, patience) is linked to enduring the Tribulation. It’s like saying; because you’ve remained faithful in the GT I’ll keep you faithful in the GT.

Finally, if John wanted to convey the idea of protection within a time, he would have used other words:

threw en = To keep in. This would be a promise of preservation in the Tribulation.

threw dia = to keep through. This would be a promise to keep us through the Tribulation.

airew ek = to take out, or swzw ek = to save out. This could mean that believers would go into the Tribulation and then be taken out of the Tribulation.

airew apo = to take from. This would mean that believers would go into the Tribulation and then be taken out of the Tribulation.

What is meant by hupomonē ? Is it necessary to conclude that Rev 3:10a is a stipulation to stand fast in The Tribulation to receive the promise of Rev 3:10b? We only need to do a word search to see how it is used in other NT passages. Renald Showers has done this in “Maranatha – Our Lord, come” p 209 and concludes that this means the patient expectation of Jesus Christ’s coming. See Rev 1:9 and F Hauck’s “Theological Dictionary of the New testament” Vol IV p 586, among others quoted by Dr Showers. In other words, as attested to by a word search, one doesn’t need to experience tribulation in Daniel’s 70th week to exhibit perseverance (hupomonē ). This should be the Christian status at all times. (Luke 21:19, Rom 5:3-4, James 1:4 etc)

But even allowing all of my conclusions, some will still argue against Rev 3:10 being pretribulational. The strategy would be to assert that the promise may well be to remove the Church from the time of testing, but the time of testing is the day of the Lord’s wrath which occurs AFTER the Abomination of Desolation.

Looking at Rev 3:10 again:

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

Note that the terms “day of the Lord” or God’s wrath/orge are absent from the verse. Where these concepts appear in Revelation is well defended by pretribulationists but this isn’t the point I want to make.

There are no hidden clauses in Rev 3:10. God doesn’t say, “I didn’t actually promise to exempt you from Satan’s or man’s wrath even though I’ve released it.” Only man’s presuppositions limit God’s promise. What we do see are the words peirasmos and peirazō for testing and test. That testing is located in the seal judgments. See Romans 13:3-5 and compare with Rev 6:8. A face value reading of the seal judgments shows that the world is being tested and in tribulation well before the 6th seal.

Also, consider the Two Witnesses of Rev 11:6. They tormented (basanizō) the whole world during their ministry. There is a strong relationship between the words testing, test and tormented:

pi-ras-mos From G3985; a putting to proof (by experiment [of good], experience [of evil], solicitation, discipline or provocation); by implication adversity: - temptation, X try.

pi-rad'-zo From G3984; to test (objectively), that is, endeavor, scrutinize, entice, discipline: - assay, examine, go about, prove, tempt (-er), try.

basanizō From G931; to torture: - pain, toil, torment, toss, vex.

So, considering all the above arguments, I believe a plain (minus presuppositions) reading of Rev 3:10 demonstrates that, because Christians have remained faithful (daily endurance), they will be removed from the period (the seven years) of testing which will come upon those who dwell on the earth.

Further reading:

The Grammar of Revelation 3:10



The Rapture in Revelation 3:10


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