This question is based on the promise of Christ to the Philadelphia congregation recorded in Revelation 3. We won’t argue the point as to whether the church being addressed is a subset of the body of believers over time, or the specific church in Asia Minor. Either way there is value in the admonition or correction the Lord provides toward his body.
You Have Kept, I Will Keep
Revelation 3:10 – Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.
Let’s address this by recognizing the elements of Christ’s promise:
- You have kept my word about patient endurance
- In turn, I will keep you from the hour of trial
- There is an hour of trial coming upon the whole world to test them
Christ is surely reminded of his warning to his disciples regarding their treatment in the world. How they would be handed over to death and hated for his name’s sake. In all this tribulation they are encouraged to endure patiently. In this patient endurance they will secure their salvation (Matthew 10:16-22; Luke 21:16-19).
In Revelation 3, he is simply clarifying the basis for his promise; you have done your part to endure patiently, I will do my part and ensure your salvation. Though you have little strength, you have kept my word and have not denied my name (vs 8). The reward for such endurance and faithfulness is the promised inheritance (Hebrews 10:35-36; 2 Timothy 2:10-13).
This reward for endurance is consistent with the gospel message, by which those who are called into Christ and remain faithful are granted reconciliation with God and exemption from his wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:5-10).
To see the similarities between Christ’s promise here and that of 2 Peter 2,
An Hour of Trial is Coming
Revelation 3:10 also states that there is an hour of trial coming upon the whole world to test them. The motivation for this is clear:
Isaiah 2:12 – For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up—and it shall be brought low;
For the nations of the world, the arrival of the King of Kings to the earth brings to a climax the wrath of Almighty God. The nations of the world have been deceived, and it is this spirit of deception which directs the nations to gather around Jerusalem for war, to a place called Har-Magedon (Revelation 16:12-16). Again mankind will be the willing pawn in a war between the gods. However, Christ will show that the will of God is not undone by the deceit of devils. The Light of the World has returned to the place from which he ascended millennia before (Acts 1:11). It is his purpose to lead the world into obedience and into his Father’s kingdom in the age to come (1 Corinthians 15:20-26). To do that he must first complete the correction brought upon the world through the wrath of God. To rule the nations he must first strike them down with the sword of his truth (Revelation 19:15); to repay each one according to his deeds (Revelation 22:12). The arrival of the King of Kings to earth to do battle signals the climax of that wrath (Revelation 14:1, 6-11; 16:16-18; 19:11-21).
Like King Belshazzar, who feasted and drank and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone in defiance of the army approaching Babylon, so the disobedient and ungodly continue to do today. God weighed him and found him wanting. He will do the same for the world. The same pride which doomed Belshazzar will doom the world as well (Daniel 5).
Isaiah 2:17 – And the haughtiness of man shall be humbled, and the lofty pride of men shall be brought low, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
The Lord will share His Glory
Yet our Lord and Savior has called many to be the firstfruits of salvation and to share in his glory on that day (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). They need only hold fast and endure until the end (Matthew 24:13).
11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
There appears to be a clear correlation between Christ’s promise to keep his faithful church at Philadelphia from the hour of trial and the promise of the gospel to exempt those faithful to Christ from God’s wrath upon a disobedient and prideful world. In a related article (CQ-9), I address the limitations associated with one’s exemption from all wrath. Exemption from God’s wrath is coexistent with our reconciliation to God obtained through belief in Christ. However, this promise of exemption from wrath only applies to God’s wrath, not the wrath of the world or those given charge over it. As a result, this makes one’s presupposition about the Day of the Lord a vital one.
To discover more about the plans Christ has for his body of believers and their exemption from God’s wrath, read my recent book . . .
The Rapture Question – An Unfiltered View
The gospel message is consistent in its proclamation about the need to endure tribulation in this world, that we might obtain a crown of glory in the next. This is exactly the process that our elder brother, Jesus Christ, exemplified for us; the cross before the crown (Romans 2:6-8; 5:3-5; James 1:1-4). The idea of suffering as a means to develop the mature character of Christ is exemplified through both testaments; the testing of one’s faith. God, in his goodness and righteousness, is always willing to reward such loyalty and patient endurance.
James 1: 12 – Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.
At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.
- God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does
(Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
- God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel(1) 1:9-13)
- God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity
- A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
- Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
- All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
- The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
- God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death
(Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:14-21; 5:24; 6:40; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6, 14-15)
- We adhere to the belief that the authorship of the Fourth Gospel has been misrepresented. Typically this authorship is attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips, Edward Reaugh Smith, and Tobias Skinner who have shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. Due to this, I will refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.