Tribulation of the Church

In Revelation, John saw countless followers of the “Lamb” exiting the “Great Tribulation” after persevering through it. This striking image is central to his vision of the “Innumerable Multitude,” the men from every nation and people who were redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Having “overcome,” John saw them standing triumphantly in worship and celebration before the “Lamb” and the “Throne” in the “Holy City, New Jerusalem.”

At the beginning of the Book of Revelation, John identified himself as the “fellow participant” with the churches “in THE tribulation and kingdom and endurance.” In his exile on the Isle of Patmos “for the Testimony of Jesus,” he shared in the same “tribulation” endured by the “Seven Assemblies of Asia.”

Storm approaching - Photo by Joshua Eckl on Unsplash
[Photo by Joshua Eckl on Unsplash]

The term “tribulation” occurs five times in 
Revelation. Each time it is applied to believers. Tribulation is what the saints experience. Likewise, it is applied to the trials and sufferings of the followers of Jesus elsewhere in the New Testament - (e.g., Matthew 13:21, John 16:33, Revelation 1:9, 2:9-10, 7:14).

In the Greek text of John’s description, one definite article or “the” modifies all three nouns - Tribulation, Kingdom, Endurance. Each term represents an aspect of the same reality.

Living faithfully “in Jesus” produces “tribulation.” The Greek term rendered “endurance” or hupomon√© occurs six more times in the Book and is always linked to believers suffering persecution. Persevering in trials is how the disciple of Jesus “overcomes” and inherits the promises - (Revelation 2:2-3, 2:19, 3:10, 13:10, 14:12-13).

FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH


The “Dragon” wages unrelenting war against the “saints,” not with nations or governments. The object of his anger is the Church composed of those who, like John of Patmos, have the “Testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 12:17, 13:7-10).

The “Lamb” who was slain to redeem his people now summons them “to be faithful even unto death,” not only in Smyrna, but all believers throughout the period between his death and resurrection and his return at the end of the age. His followers must remain steadfast in trials even when doing so means death. It is faithfulness in tribulation – “Unto death” – by which they will gain the “Crown of Life.”

Faithful saints endure the “Great Tribulation,” the period during which they are tried but also overcome the “Beast from the Sea” and the “Dragon” through their “Testimony” and willingness to die as martyrs. They “overcome” in the same manner as Jesus did and thereby qualify to reign with him “on my Father’s Throne” - (Revelation 3:21, 7:9-17).

In contrast, the hardened and impenitent “Inhabitants of the Earth” endure “wrath” rather than “tribulation,” the “Second Death” in the “Lake of Fire.” The term “wrath” refers to the punitive sentence of God on His enemies. Nowhere in the Book is “wrath” equated with “tribulation.”

Storm - Photo by Justin Leniger on Unsplash
[Storm - Photo by Justin Leniger on Unsplash]

Thus, the seven “
Assemblies of Asia” endure “tribulation” but do not undergo Divine “wrath,” which is reserved for the enemies of the “Lamb” and his people. Wrath and punishment will be meted out to those whose “names are not written in the Book of Life” at the “Great White Throne of judgment.”

Those who choose to follow Jesus “wherever he goes” will overcome Satan “by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because they love not their lives even unto death.” They remain faithful when bearing witness before kings and nations even at the cost of their own lives - (Revelation 12:11).



RELATED POSTS:
  • Who and When - (The Book of Revelation is addressed to seven first-century churches in the Roman province of Asia, and it deals with their real-life situations and trials)
  • Tribulation vs Wrath - (The terms tribulation and wrath are not synonymous in Paul’s letters or in the  Book of Revelation)
  • Faithful Until Death - (The Assembly of Smyrna remains faithful until death despite heavy persecution and temptation)

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