Monday, September 28, 2009

Revelation 3:10

Before I took a much needed blogging break, I was asked to deal with the passages that are listed in the Grace Brethren Statement of Faith concerning the Rapture of the Church. I had made a comment to the effect that these are valid passages to use, even though they may not be the only or even strongest ones. (As an aside, I am in favor of a revision of the Statement of Faith if the revision strengthens or adds to what is already there in order to communicate more clearly to our present generation, but not if it reduces the content or intent of the Statement of Faith.) Those who raised questions about my statement were suggesting that one could not infer a Pre-Tribulational Rapture view from these verses.

What I am trying to do in this article is to demonstrate what one may know from a few exegetical observations of Revelation 3:10 and how such knowledge applies to the Statement of Faith. By no means am I attempting to be exhaustive in this brief article.


- The Philadelphia church is recognized as a solidarity, as are the other churches of Revelation 2-3. The "you" of verse 10 is singular.

- The statement "have kept the word of My perseverance" is a beautiful statement of the eternal security of the believer. The church had kept/preserved/guarded/protected this word, a description of her continuance in faith. The word she believed was concerning Christ's perseverance in keeping His own. Both the "perseverance of the saints" and the "perseverance of the Savior" are here, and you do not have one without the other.

- The promise of Christ to "keep" the Philadelphia church cannot be separated from the church's faith, she having "kept" the truth of His perseverance.

- The promise that the church will be kept "from" this time of trial does not mean kept "through" the time of trial. See John A. Sproule, "In Defense of Pre-Tribulationism" (BMH Books, 1980).

- The verse predicts a specific time of testing that was yet future to the Philadelphia church. The definite article with the word "hour" indicates that this is not trial or testing as a generalization or principle, but rather a specific, coming time of trial.

- The predicted time of trial is said to be global, upon the "whole world". No global trial like this happened during the first century experience of the Philadelphia church. The statement does not compare to the one in Revelation 2:10 concerning the church at Smyrna where the language indicates something localized and limited. Any attempts to fit this verse into an "already" model of fulfillment fail before the term "whole world". There is no history to substantiate that there has been any such time of trial like this since Jesus gave this prediction to John. Localized experiences of trial (Roman persecution, AD 70, some unknown persecution upon Philadelphia, etc.) cannot qualify as fulfillment of Jesus' prediction in this verse. Therefore, Jesus' intent of this statement to John could not have been been limited in scope of application of the promise or the prediction merely to the Philadelphia church. The fulfillment is not "already" but "not yet".

- The description of predicted future global events in Revelation chapter 6 and beyond does match the description of the global trial predicted by Christ in Revelation 3:10. Context would determine for the reader that the events of chapter 6 are what Jesus intended by His prediction in 3:10.


- It is therefore valid to conclude that those who read and believe the Book of Revelation, and meet the condition of faith described in Revelation 3:10, may also appropriate the promise of Revelation 3:10.

- It is therefore also valid for the Grace Brethren Statement of Faith to use this verse in the manner it has.