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Monday, May 9, 2016

The Church of Philadelphia - Left Behind to Persevere

What About Rev. 3:10? (Church of Philadelphia)

Excerpt from "Why Most Christians Believe in a Post-Tribulation Rapture" by C.W. Steinle

[Revelation 3:7-13 is Jesus’ letter to the Church at Philadelphia.  The pre-trib teachers claim that God is promising, in these verses, to take the Church out of the world just before the Great Tribulation.  The verse of particular interest is Verse Ten.

“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”-Revelation 3:10

The argument made by modern Futurists is that“kept from” actually means “taken out of.”  The underlying assumption made by pre-tribbers is that the Philadelphians, or a similar type of church, will be "taken out" of the world before the “hour of trial.”  The best way to test this theory is to examine the original Greek words; and then to ask the question, "Has St. John ever used these same Greek words meaning, "to take" and "to keep," in his other writings?"

Ares (should take).  This is the root word "to take" or "to lift."  (If reading the digital version click on the words to go directly to Strong’s for examples of usage).

Tereso (will keep).  This is the future tense of “to keep.” Tereso is the word John has used in the verse above.  In fact, he has used it twice in this one verse.  This word implies, the maintenance of, safety, or care.  The changes in prefixes and suffixes below only indicate tense and usage in the Greek.  Now look again at Revelation 3:10.

“Because you have kept (eteresa) My command to persevere, I also will keep (tereso) you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
You see that John is using the same root word in both instances.  The epsilon prefix on the first mention of "kept" merely puts it in the past tense, indicating that the Philadelphia Church had already kept His command to persevere.  What kind of Bible scholar would interpret the same word to mean two different things when it is used within the same verse?  Should the verse be interpreted, “Because you have "taken out" My command?”  Of course not!  Keep means "keep," and it does not mean "taken out."

Understanding what the text says (and does not say) should be enough to put this argument to rest.  But now let’s look at how John has used these words, "kept" and "taken," in his gospel.  In the seventeenth chapter of John, we find Jesus’ prayer to the Father.  Here John used this word for safekeeping - profoundly contrasting the idea of being "lifted out of trouble" with the promise of being "kept safe through trials."
“I do not pray that You should take (ares) them out of the world, but that You should keep (terese) them from the evil one.”- John 17:15 (Emphasis added).  John could have used these same two words with their two different meanings in Revelation 3:10, IF, he had desired to contradict Jesus' prayer for His Church, stated here in John 17.  But John did not mean to contradict Jesus.

Apples-to-Apples

Now in the same way, Jesus speaks to the Church of Philadelphia.  He promises to keep (persevere) them in the midst of their trial, just as they had kept His command to persevere.  Jesus is merely reciprocating their obedience "to keep" His command to persevere, with the promise of keeping the Philadelphia Church  in return.  He is not submitting the dissimilar promise of "taking them out" of harm’s way.  This is a simple apples-to-apples reward for the Philadelphians' own perseverance.

And again, in John Chapter 17, “keeping” the Apostles from the evil one did not mean "taking them out" of the world, but keeping them from being overcome by the evil one - that they would be kept safe from the evil one - even though they would still remain in the world to accomplish Christ's purpose. (The purpose for which he was sending them into the world in the first place.)  Christ was sent into the world, and was not taken out of the world until He had accomplished his death and resurrection.  Why would God remove His Church from the world (into which it was likewise sent) until such time as it had also accomplished its purpose?  Didn't Jesus clearly state that His followers (servants) would not be treated better than their Master?

Does the Philadelphian Church Typify the Last Days?

If further proof of Revelation 3:10’s failure to support the pre-tribulation theory is needed, we only have to consider the order in which these “types” of churches appear in Revelation; and how they are expected to emerge over history (by those who choose to extrapolate the seven church-types into the future).  The Laodicean Church is the type expected to exist at the end of the age, not the Philadelphian type.  If the Philadelphians were intended to be the recipients of “take out,” they should at least be home when the doorbell rings.

Why didn’t Jesus give the Laodicean Church an opportunity to escape the hour of trial, if they were the type of church that would exist in the last days?  So, once again, trying to force Revelation 3:10 to point to a pre-tribulation rapture is a miserable failure on all accounts.] - end excerpt.
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