Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Rev 3:10 bombshell?

The PreWrath Resource Institute has published a pamphlet touted to be the primary tool of “Operation Expose the Truth”. There appears to be some sort urgency to wrest the pretribulational support away from Rev 3:10. The booklet isn’t available to read on their website. You either have to buy a download or wait for one of your prewrath friends to slip you a copy from the bulk purchases they are encouraged to buy and distribute.

One of the surprises is that Dr David G Winfrey, a former pretribulationist who had argued for Rev 3:10 as support, has now done a Rosenthal and changed his mind. I was a posttribber once and now I’m not. C’est la vie!

Please note that I’m not attacking prewrath; I’m responding to the pamphlet. If you’re going to regularly critique another system – expect an occasional response.

I’d anticipated that Dr Cooper was going to adopt Bob Gundry’s tactic in “The Church and the Tribulation (pp 53-61)” and argue that Rev 3:10 meant preservation within the “tribulation”. I was wrong.

The 28 page pamphlet (two of which are bibliography) spends about 17 pages covering what pretribulationists have said about Rev 3:10 in the past. It’s not a word-dense document and can be read in a quick sitting. The inference is that, whereas pretribbers had at one time confidently pointed to the verse as a proof text, they’re not so sure now.

According to Dr Cooper it gets worse when on page 18 he cites John Niemelä who “concludes that the verse has nothing to do with the traditional definition of a pretrib rapture at all.” Dr Niemelä told a colleague (Tim): “I no longer believe that
Revelation 3:10b is a Rapture passage, but it still has relevance to the Rapture.” Note that it is germane to the issue to read his conclusion. I encourage people to read Dr Niemelä’s paper for themselves: Part 1 & Part 2

What follows on the next few pages of the pamphlet is a discussion of Dr Niemelä’s arguments regarding the Greek punctuation of Rev 3:9-10. Dr Niemelä contends that the expression in Rev 3:10a “because you have kept my command to persevere” belongs to v 9. The rest of v 10 then stands on its own. In other words it would read thus:

9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie-- indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you because you have kept My command to persevere. 10 I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Rev 3:9-10

I have no qualifications to make any judgment on the grammar and pretrib doesn’t need that argument for support anyway. But the real surprise comes on page 26 where Dr Cooper agrees with Dr Niemelä’s punctuation theory. Of course, Dr Cooper hastens to add that Rev 3:10 is not a proof text for pretrib but immediately asserts that it’s a rapture verse for prewrath! No explanation forthcoming. Frankly, I was surprised at the anticlimax.

The prewrath view is that the hour of testing isn’t the full seven year period. It’s the Day of the Lord which follows after the great tribulation. To arrive at this position proponents must insist that the 4th seal (one quarter of the population killed) and Matthew 24:21-22 (the worst time there ever was or ever will be) don’t qualify as a period of testing or God's wrath. Accordingly, the real testing occurs after the “shortened” great tribulation (the DotL), which must, somehow, be a worse time than the worst time.

I’ve never taken Rev 3:10 as an absolute proof for pretrib; however I do think it strongly supports it. But what I’ve read in this PRI pamphlet has done the opposite of what it was designed to do – if anything it has reinforced the pretribulational position on Rev 3:10 for me.

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