By: Nelson Walters
Author of : Are We Ready For Jesus? How to Prepare for His Return (May 2015)
Because you have kept the word of my perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Rev. 3: 10 NASB)
One of our brothers who is reading through this website had a question about this particular verse and what it says about the timing of the rapture. I decided to write a post on it so I could share my thoughts on what it says and what it doesn’t say about that topic.
The timing of the rapture is a very controversial issue. Unlike some other aspects of prophecy, it is more than a question of just interpreting scripture correctly. It is much more than just an issue of being right or wrong. What is at stake is one of the most central questions in all of Christianity. Unfortunately because it is controversial, it is avoided. It’s called an “academic” question. It is far from academic.
The concept of having to face the Tribulation fills most Christians with fear. If those who believe the rapture will come before the Tribulation are correct, the Church can relax. If they’re correct, those who believe the rapture comes after the Tribulation are needlessly scaring the Church.
If those in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture “camp” are incorrect and believers face the Antichrist, however, tens or hundreds of millions will enter the greatest challenge the Church has ever experienced completely unprepared. Potentially they may face falling away from the faith during the great apostasy because of this lack of preparation.
The question of rapture timing is not an idle question, so we need to understand this issue. We must not avoid the question, but need to research and understand it so we can inform the Church. Everything is at stake.
A single post cannot answer this thorny issue. The purpose of this post is to address this single question. We are not going to settle the timing of the rapture in this post. If you wish to learn more about the timing of the rapture, let me recommend these books:
Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord by Alan Kurschner
The Last Shofar! by Joseph Leonard and Donald Zoller
What Does Revelation 3:10 Really Say?
Many of those who trust a Pre-Tribulation timing of the rapture point to this verse as one of the best proofs of that position. It appears to say that God will keep certain Christians ( in the Philadelphia Church) from having to face the Tribulation, but is that what it really says?
The words on this page are an English translation of the original verse that was written in Greek. Two of those Greek words hold the key to understanding .
Keep is the Greek word téreó meaning “to guard” or to “keep watch over.” It does not mean “to remove from”. The verse says that members of this church will be guarded from the trial or will be guarded in the midst of the trial. It does not say they will be removed from the trial.
Trial is the Greek word peirasmos meaning trial, test, or temptation. It does not say tribulation. This is the same word Jesus used in the Lord’s Prayer when he said, “Lead us not into temptation.” The most clear meaning of this verse in my opinion, is that God will guard the believers during their temptation during the “great falling away” which occurs after the midpoint of the Tribulation. (see MIDPOINT OF THE TRIBULATION: EARTH’S PERSPECTIVE)
Even in an extreme translation where the meaning of téreó (to guard) is ignored, the trial or test described could easily also mean the Wrath of God which occurs after the Great Tribulation. (see my new book for a proof of this fact.)
In all cases this verse does not prove a Pre-Tribulation rapture despite the fact I have heard hundreds of teachers claim that it does. If anything, this verse tends to support a position where believers will face the “great falling away” and the Tribulation. I would not go far enough to say it is a proof text of that position, but it favors it.
As a final suggestion, carefully examine all evidence, for and against, a Pre-Tribulation rapture. I would not just rely on the advice of others but read a lot of opinions and decide for yourself.