Biblegems # 66
Question: Does Revelation 3:10 refer to the rapture of the Church before the Great Tribulation?
Rev. 3:10 reads, Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.
This verse has been called “the watershed in the debate over the timing of the rapture.”1 I have underlined the portions that are key to its interpretation.
Rev. 3:10 is addressed to the Church of Philadelphia. The promise given is specifically to the church of Philadelphia. However, the promise makes no sense unless the Philadelphian church is seen as a type of the future Church at the time of this predicted “hour of trial” because those of John’s day would not live long enough to see that period.
The promise is conditional: “Since” you have patiently endured, then (implied) I will keep you from the hour of global trial. Those who have endured are the Philadelphian Christians. No such promise is given to the other churches in Revelation 5. In other words, not all Christians will be ‘kept from the hour of trial,’ but only that remnant that has “patiently endured.”
The word “endurance” (Gk. hupomonais) means standing firm through trouble and adversity. So the idea is that standing firm through trouble and adversity now will result in God’s keeping you from “the hour of trial” in the future.
The “hour of trial” clearly refers to a specific period of time in the future. It will be world-wide, therefore the principal of divine protection promised to the Philadelphian church would apply to the church universal at the time of this world-wide “trial.” The “hour” actually describes the beginning of the Great Tribulation, which according to Daniel 12, begins 31/2 years into the reign of the antichrist.
The word “trial” (Gk. Peirasmoun) means “testing,” which aptly describes the Tribulation, but not the Day of the Lord’s Wrath, where testing is replaced by judgment. The two events should not be confused as one.
So the expectation of the Church as it approaches the time of the Great Tribulation, based on the cause and effect promise given to the church of Philadelphia, is that some believers, those who “patiently endure” the period just prior to the Tribulation (i.e., the first 31/2 years of the antichrist’s 7 year reign), will be kept from that “hour of trial.” They will be “kept” by God from experiencing that last 31/2 years known as the Great Tribulation.
This is not the Rapture, because it does not include the whole Church, but represents God’s protection of a remnant within His Church. Remember Jesus’ warning to those believers who are alive during the Tribulation to hide in the mountains when the antichrist sets up his image in the temple at Jerusalem (Matt. 24:15-21). Those who have been anticipating this terrible climax of human history and flee into hiding when they see the antichrist set himself up as a god may be among those whom God keeps “from the hour of trial.” They have been watching, enduring and preparing for that very day.
1 Rosenthal, Marvin. The Pre-Wrath Rapture Of The Church, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tenn. 1990, pg. 238