Tribulation of the Church

In Revelation, faithful saints undergo tribulation, but the unrepentant inhabitants of the earth receive wrath, the Second Death

Lighthouse surf - Photo by Matthew Rumph on Unsplash
In chapter 7, John sees 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” comprised of men purchased from every nation by the lifeblood of Jesus. Having “overcome,” they now stand triumphantly before the “Lamb” and the “throne” in “New Jerusalem.” - [Photo by Matthew Rumph on Unsplash].

At the beginning of the book, John identifies himself as a “fellow participant” with the churches of Asia “in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance.” In his exile on Patmos “for the testimony of Jesus,” he participates in the same “tribulation” endured by the “seven churches.”

TRIBULATION


The term occurs five times in the book of Revelation. Each time it is used in relation to believers. In other words, “tribulation” is what churches experience. And elsewhere in the New Testament, the word is applied to what disciples of Jesus experience for his sake - (Matthew 13:21, John 16:33, Revelation 1:9, 2:9-10, 7:14).

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

To live faithfully “in Jesus” results in “tribulation” for his kingdom. And to suffer for him is what it means to reign with Christ. The Greek term rendered “endurance” or hupomon√© occurs six more times in the book, and it is always linked to believers who persevere in persecution - (Revelation 2:2-3, 2:19, 3:10, 13:10, 14:12-13).


And perseverance is how believers “overcome” and inherit the promises found at the end of each of the letters to the “seven churches.”

In Revelation, the “Dragon” and his vassals wage war against the “saints,” not with nations or governments. The target of Satan’s attacks is the church – “those who have the testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 12:17, 13:7-10).

FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH


The “Lamb” who was slain to redeem his people now summons his “saints…to be faithful even unto death.” They must remain steadfast in trials, even when doing so means violent death. It is faithfulness in tribulation that results in their receipt of the “crown of life.”

And faithful saints endure the “great tribulation,” the period during which the followers of the “Lamb” are tried but also overcome the “Beast from the sea” and the “Dragon” by their “testimony.” After doing so, they find themselves “standing before the Throne and the Lamb” in the New Creation - (Revelation 7:9-17).

In contrast to persevering saints, the unrepentant “inhabitants of the earth” undergo “wrath” - the “Second Death” in the “Lake of Fire.”

In Revelation, “wrath” refers to the punitive sentence of God on His enemies, and nowhere in the book is it equated with “tribulation.”

Thus, the “churches” endure “tribulation,” but they do not undergo the divine “wrath.” That is reserved for the enemies of the “Lamb” that afflict his people.

And those who would follow Jesus “wherever he goes” overcome the “Dragon by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because they love not their lives even unto death.” They remain faithful in their testimony even at the cost of their own life - (Revelation 12:11).



Comments

POPULAR POSTS

Exaltation of the Lamb

Sign of the End