Revelation 3:10 and the Rapture Debate

July 27, 2013

Although interpreters today extensively debate whether Revelation 3:10 is a promise of the Rapture, I believe that a straightforward reading of the text in its context provides a clear answer:

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Jesus’ Messages to the Seven Churches

 The glorified Jesus commanded the apostle John to write letters to seven churches in Asia Minor: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea (Rev. 2-3). He directed John to write to “the angel of the church” in each city, which refers not to angelic beings but to the pastor of the each church (Rev. 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14).

Although it was addressed to a specific church, each letter was also for all the other churches in John’s day because it included the following statement: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). Furthermore, each letter is also for all churches of all time because saith is a present tense verb that communicates what the Spirit continues to this day to say to every church.

The Message to the Church in Philadelphia

The sixth letter begins by pointing the pastor of the church in Philadelphia to the unique authority of the glorified Jesus (Rev. 3:7). It then communicates Jesus’ knowledge of their deeds (Rev. 3:8a) and His directives to them to behold two realities, one concerning the present (Rev. 3:8b) and one concerning the future (Rev. 3:9).

A key promise (Rev. 3:10), a key declaration (Rev. 3:11a), and a key directive (Rev. 3:11b) comprise the teaching that pertains most directly to Rapture debate. The letter ends with a glorious promise to those who overcome (Rev. 3:12) and a command to everyone who has an ear to hear the Spirit’s message to all the churches (Rev. 3:13).

The Teaching of Revelation 3:10

Revelation 3:10 informs the pastor about what Jesus will do for him because he has persevered in keeping Jesus’ word:

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Jesus promised to keep him “from the hour of temptation,” a reference to a specific time that He explained would “come upon all the world.” The promise is one of exemption from that time when the entire world would experience that temptation.

Jesus also explained that this time would be a period when the entire world of people “that dwell upon the earth” would be tried. Here Jesus declared that all those who would suffer during that period would do so in a specific physical location (“upon the earth”).

The natural reading of all these statements points to a promise that exempts the pastor from that time of temptation because he would no longer be physically located among “all the world” of people “that dwell upon the earth” at that time!

Jesus was thus not saying that He would protect the pastor on the earth during that time while the rest of the world that also dwells on the earth would go through the hour of temptation. Instead, Jesus promised to keep him from that time that would try everyone in the world who then dwells upon the earth!

The Flow Thought from Revelation 3:10 to Revelation 3:11-13

Right after the statements in Revelation 3:10, Jesus said, “Behold, I come quickly” (Rev. 3:11a). The flow of thought communicates that the pastor was to look for His coming quickly to keep him from the time of temptation that the entire world of people that dwell on the earth will experience in that hour of temptation.

As he awaits Jesus’ return, the pastor would have to hold fast to what he had so that no man would take his crown (Rev. 3:11b). In the flow of thought, Jesus’ statements emphasize the importance of the pastor’s holding fast to his confidently looking for Jesus to come quickly to keep him from the time of temptation that will come on the entire world of people that dwell on the earth at that time.

Jesus’ subsequent promise to the pastor that he who overcomes would be a pillar in the temple of His God and never go out from it again (Rev. 3:12) fits perfectly in the above explanation of the flow of thought from Revelation 3:10 to Revelation 3:11. At the very time that all those who are on the earth go through the time of temptation, the ones who overcome will be with Jesus in the temple of His God!

They will be there because Jesus will have raptured them out of the earth to be with Him forever! Revelation 3:10 is clear teaching to all the churches of all time about the coming Rapture of the Church!

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev. 3:11).

Rajesh

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