The Rapture in Revelation 3:10 -- By: Jeffrey L. Townsend

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 137:547 (Jul 1980)
Article: The Rapture in Revelation 3:10
Author: Jeffrey L. Townsend

The Rapture in Revelation 3:10

Jeffrey L. Townsend

[Jeffrey L. Townsend, Pastor, Believers Bible Church, Corsicana, Texas]

Equally sincere and devout students of the prophetic Scriptures hold differing views on the time of the rapture of the church in relation to the tribulation. This is due in large measure to the fact that no verse of Scripture specifically states that relationship. But Revelation 3:10 comes close: “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 upon the earth.” Consequently, as Gundry has stated, “Probably the most debated verse in the whole discussion about the time of the Church’s rapture is Revelation 3:10.”1

In Revelation 3:10 the church at Philadelphia is promised protection from the hour of testing. The great pretribulational / posttribulational debate over this verse concerns the nature of the protection promised. Pretribulationists maintain that the church is here promised preservation outside the hour of testing by means of the rapture (external preservation). Posttribulationists, on the other hand, argue that the church is preserved in the hour of testing (internal preservation). The solution to the problem of the nature of the protection promised the church is bound up in the phrase, σε τηρήσω ἐκ τῆς ὥρας τοῦ πειρασμοῦ (“I will keep you from the hour of testing”).

The Meaning of “Keep From”

Although τηρέω is often translated “keep,” a better rendering in Revelation 3:10 would be “preserve” or “protect” since great

trials are in view in the hour of testing.2 Whatever the promise involves, its great fruit will be the genuine preservation and protection of the church during the hour of testing.

This presents an immediate problem for posttribulationism since it holds that the church will be preserved on earth during the hour of testing. Yet verses such as Revelation 6:9–10; 7:9, 13, 14; 13:15; You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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