Many Christians believe in the Pre-Trib Rapture Theory, when it comes to Eschatology, their beliefs about the end times. One Scripture that is consistently used to support this view is Revelation 3:10. I have been teaching through Revelation for a little while now and I don’t believe that Revelation 3:10 supports the Pre-Trib Rapture Theory, at all. Here are 9 reason why I believe this (point #8 may be the most important point):
1) This verse is wrote specifically and directly to the Church at Philadelphia, not the Church as a whole.
It would only apply conditionally to the Church as a whole, not directly, unconditionally or universally. The Pre-Trib Rapture people don’t apply the rest of what is written to this Church universally, unconditionally or directly, so why this portion?
2) There is no mention of the Church of the end times in this passage, just the Church at Philadelphia.
People who want to apply this verse directly to the “end times” Church can’t give a reason why. The reason definitely isn’t found in the passage itself. This is an inconsistency in hermeneutics.
3) There is also no mention of “Church ages” in these passages about the seven Churches, let alone about the Church of Philadelphia being representative of the Church right before the rapture.
There is absolutely no reason in the Scriptures to make the different letters to the Churches in Revelation 2-3 into “Church ages”…unless of course you START with Dispensationalism or the Pre-Trib Rapture theory and try to force it upon the Scriptures. This is called eisegesis. To properly interpret the Scriptures, we must perform exegesis. We must find out what the text ACTUALLY says, not try to make it say something that we already believe before we come to the text.
4) We know that in the end times that most people will let their love grow cold and that many people will actually depart from the faith (Matthew 24:12, 1 Timothy 4:1).
That’s the exact opposite of what we see concerning the Church at Philadelphia. Jesus had absolutely nothing bad to say about them. On the other hand, Jesus has plenty of “bad things” to say about the visible “Church” in the last days.
5) Most people who believe in the Pre-Trib rapture (NOT ALL) also believe that we can’t live holy in this life. So, how could this promise possibly be talking about them?
The condition to God “keeping them from the hour of trial” is that they are, “keeping His command to persevere”. How is sinning everyday “keeping God’s command to persevere” in any sense of the word? “Keeping God’s command to persevere” sounds more like holiness in this life, to me. Revelation 3:10 couldn’t possibly apply to “christians” who are living in sin every single day.
6) The phrase “the whole world” doesn’t always mean “ALL OF THE EARTH”.
Luke 2:1 is one example of this. It says, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.” Now, was Caesar Augustus the emperor over “ALL THE WORLD” in the sense that he was emperor over the people in North America, South America, ALL of Africa, ALL of Europe, ALL of Asia, Australia, etc.? No, of course not.
So, letting the Bible interpret the Bible tells us that this phrase “the whole world” doesn’t necessarily mean, LITERALLY “the whole world” or “all the inhabitants of the Earth.” That phrase CAN mean that, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that. There must be a limiting factor, in order for it to not literally mean “the whole world.”
The limiting factor in Luke 2:1 is that Caesar Augustus was not the emperor over the WHOLE WORLD. The limiting factor in Revelation 3:10 is that there wasn’t an “hour of trial” that came upon the “whole world” during the time or right after the time that John wrote this to the Church at Philadelphia. There was, however, a trial that came upon the whole Roman Empire, concerning the Christians.
This trial was under the Roman Emperor Trajan. It was pretty bad at first, but Trajan eventually toned it down. He did this after he received a letter from Pliny the Younger, who was the governor of Pontus and Bithynia. In his letter to Trajan concerning the Christians, Pliny said that Christians were law abiding citizens who worshiped Christ, loved each other and did no wrong.
Trajan was basically saying that Christians weren’t worthy of being hunted down and put to death. So Trajan backed off and said that Christians could stop being hunted down. This is why I believe that “the whole world” in this verse means the same that it means in Luke 2:1 – the whole Roman Empire.
7) When it says, “to test those who dwell on the earth”, it doesn’t necessarily mean ALL people who dwell on the Earth, in every place.
Although the Greek word translated as “earth” can literally mean all of the people who dwell on the Earth or the whole Earth, it can also mean, “portions or regions of the earth, region, country” according to the BDAG Greek Lexicon. Once again, I think that there must be some kind of limiting factor, in the context of the passage, in order to say that it’s not referring to ALL THE INHABITANTS OF THE EARTH. And once again, I say that there was no such “test” upon the whole Earth around the time that the Apostle John wrote to the Church at Philadelphia. See point #6 for more on that.
8) This may be the most important point! The Greek word translated as “keep” in the phrase, “keep you from the hour of trial” DOESN’T MEAN to “take out of” or “remove from” the hour of trial.
The Greek Word being used, is the same word being used in the phrase “kept His Word” in verse 8. The Greek word translated as “keep” is tehreo, τηρέω. It means, “to retain in custody, keep watch over, guard.” Also, it means, “keep, observe, fulfill, pay attention to.”
If we translated it or interpreted “keep” as “remove from”, would that make any sense? If we did, Revelation 3:8 would read like this: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it] for you have a little strength, have removed My word, and have not denied My name.” Why would God open a door that no one can shut, to a people that “removed” His word?
And wouldn’t have have something bad/negative to say to people who “removed” His word? Of course not. In reference to the phrase “kept His word”, it is obviously synonymous to “obeying God’s Word”, not “removing” His Word.
Yet in the context of Revelation 3:10, it has anything to do with what the believers in Philadelphia are doing or will do. In this context, it is referring to something that God is going to do for the Church at Philadelphia, in response to what they have done for God – namely “keeping His command to persevere.” God is going to “keep watch over them”, “retain them in His custody”, “guard them”, “observe them” and “pay close attention to them” as the “hour of trial” comes upon them and the rest of the Christians in the Roman Empire.
In other words, He is going to give the believers at Philadelphia special attention during this time. He is going to give them special protection during this time. He is going to give them extra strength to persevere during this time, so they don’t fall away. He is going to do all of this because they are “keeping His command to persevere.”
And God doesn’t even promise such things to every believer who goes through tribulation/difficulty, even if they are just like the Church at Philadelphia. He does, however, promise this to the people of the Church at Philadelphia. Yet, as I already said, the Greek word tehreo, never means that God takes someone completely out of a situation, in order to protect them. In fact, there is no precedence for such a thing in all of Scripture – that God MUST take someone OUT of a situation, in order to protect them.
When God brought the flood upon all the world during Noah’s time, did He have to remove Noah and his family from the Earth in order to bring His wrath? Of course not! God is able to protect someone from His wrath, in the midst of it being poured out around them. He is God and we must not limit Him to say that He must take us out of the world, in order to protect us from His wrath.
When He brought down the 10 plagues upon the Egyptians, did He have to remove the Israelites FIRST? Of course not! He was able to protect them from His wrath, while it was being poured out all around them. And this is exactly what will happen in the end times.
Towards the end, before Christ returns, God will pour out His wrath upon the inhabitants of the Earth. He will especially do this to those who have taken the mark of the beast and He will do this while many of His Saints are still here. Now, could God choose to take His people out of the world before He brings His wrath upon it? Sure He could! YET, EVEN IF He were to do that, this verse is not a proof text for such a position.
9) The direct source of the “hour of trial” in this verse is NOT God, but the enemy
The source of this trial that was about to come upon the Church at Philadelphia and the rest of the Christians in the Roman Empire, is persecution via Emperor Trajan. It has nothing to do with the “wrath of God”, etc. It has more to do with the “wrath of Satan” upon Christians. Now God must allow such suffering and persecution, but He is NOT the direct source of it. Job is one example of God allowing suffering to come upon one of His people, via Satan’s wicked plans.
So, IN SUMMARY, this verse ABSOLUTELY does NOT promote the Pre-Trib Rapture, in any way, shape or form. And I think that these 9 points are sufficient enough to prove that. These videos may be helpful to you, as well: