American Christian University

Revelation 3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

This word introduces a lovely promise that Jesus is about to make, but necessarily connects their perseverance to that promise as their reward for steadfastness in their faith.

Revelation 3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

To put the endurance of the faithful into perspective, let's read some passages of Scripture in this regard. Pay particular attention to the context that these passages have with the words of Revelation 3:10.

Isaiah 24:17 Terror and pit and snare await you, O people of the earth!

Daniel 12:10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

Zechariah 13:9 This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'

Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

Romans 1:8  First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.

I Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

I Peter 4:12  Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.

II Peter 2:9 If this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment.

Revelation 13:10 If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.

Revelation 14:12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.

Let us briefly look at the reasons why God may afflict a church, or for that matter, any believer. The doctrine of affliction is dealt with in more detail in our study of the Heidelberg Catechism, where eternal and temporal afflictions are discussed.

We may distinguish afflictions, or punishments, of the elect from those of the reprobate.  The first necessary understanding is that the elect are not punished to extract from them satisfaction for their sins. Had that been the case, it would indicate an imperfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  But since Christ's sacrifice was once and for all perfectly sufficient for all sins of the elect, past and present, we must rather see the afflictions of the elect as a cross that they have to bear, or loving discipline from the Father to refine the elect in the furnace of affliction. 

Isaiah 48:8 - 11 You have neither heard nor understood; from of old your ear has not been open. Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth. 9For my own name's sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as not to cut you off. 10See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. 11For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.

From these passages in Isaiah we see that God does not pour his wrath out indiscriminately, but applies it with mercy to the elect in sufficient measure to open their ears and their eyes, so that God may be glorified.  So, too, the church in Philadelphia was afflicted but she endured patiently, and will as a result be spared further affliction in the 'hour of trial.'

The bearing of a cross of the elect can be divided into four categories. 

Firstly, it has to do with the chastisements that God inflicts upon the elect for their sins, but not for the satisfaction of their sins, but according to his mercy, as a father corrects his children with gentleness and toleration.  Under the weight of sufficient affliction, believers are reminded and admonished of their impurity and their particular sins so that repentance may be stirred up; so that they may become more sensitive to the destruction of sin in their lives and flee to the merciful arms of the Father; so that they are brought back to the path of duty and holiness.

Although the specific sins of the saints are punished with specific afflictions, they are not recompense for sin but they are the effects of divine justice through which God designs that we and others should be made acquainted with the rectitude of His character.  We should, through our afflictions, become aware that God is greatly displeased with sin and that he will punish it with death, not only in this life, but also the life to come, unless we repent and return to Him.

Secondly, bearing one's cross deals with the proofs and trials that are part of faith, hope, patience, and the general sufferings of the corruption of this life.  These afflictions are brought upon the saints so that these virtues may be strengthened and confirmed in us.  Also, these afflictions are not always borne secretly, but publicly so that others may see our infirmities and that our endurance and perseverance should stand as a solid testimony of our faith in Christ our Savior, convicting the reprobate.

Thirdly, there is the cross of martyrdom, which brings a powerful testimony of the gospel and an unwavering faith to other believers and the world.  Martyrs of the faith confirm and seal with their blood the doctrine they professed, by which they declare that it is true; that they themselves experience in death the comfort which they promised to others in their teachings and that there remains another life and another judgment after this life.

Finally, it deals with the affliction of ransom, or the obedience of Christ, which is a satisfaction for our sins and includes the entire humiliation of Christ, from the very moment of his conception to his last agony upon the cross.

It is evident that sin is the cause of all affliction, both that poured out on the reprobate and the elect. And in both the justice of God is the moving cause of the suffering that ensues, both temporarily and eternally.  Which brings us to a brief discussion of the reasons why and in what manner God brings afflictions to bear on the elect, or on a whole congregation.  Since the sufferings of the seven churches are the topic under study here, we will not look at the reasons why God brings punishment to the reprobate. 

It is a sermon

Since the elect are not punished to satisfy the wrath of God, chastising them serves as an instrument leading them to a knowledge of their own faults, which will move them to repentance.  Their chastisements are testimonies of the truth of the gospel with that one goal, namely, to refine them to perfection.  As we see in Revelation 3:10, perseverance leads to prevention from more affliction, and the believer thanks and praises God for his afflictions, which he bears with patience and love for the Father.  It is the one, visible testimony that we are sons of God because God "punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

I Corinthians 11:32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.

Psalm 119:71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.

Hebrews 12:5 - 11 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, 6because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." 7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live? 10Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Learn to hate sin

One of God's characteristics is his hatred and intolerance for sin. For us to reflect God's image, we, too, must hate sin, but we cannot, of our own volition begin to hate sin, so we need to be made aware of the state that we are in, in this life, and begin to separate us from it, or set ourselves apart from it.  Bringing separation between us and the sinful world, necessarily means that we have to break with those things that are natural to our nature and with that which we were comfortable and even loved to do.  To effect this separation, we must learn to despise sin and our sinful nature, which is a henchman to Satan, and strive towards life, towards Christ. 

By chastising us, God exposes us to small measures of his wrath, which he wouldn't pour out on us in full measure, because that would eternally destroy us, but he delays his wrath sufficiently that we are not tested beyond what we can bear. 

John 15:18, 19  "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Ephesians 6:12, 13 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

I John 2:15  Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.


We are exercised in the practice of the gospel if we are tried. Our faith, hope, patience, prayer and obedience are strengthened and confirmed if we persevere under the loving discipline of the Father.  As we become stronger in the struggle against evil, our faith and hope are made manifest to ourselves and others.  When all goes well it is easy to glory in regard to our faith, but in adversity, the grace and beauty of virtue becomes apparent.

Romans 15:4 … everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

II Corinthians 1:4 - 6 Who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 6If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.

II Corinthians 4:8 - 10 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9Persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.

II Corinthians 6:10 Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

James 1:12  Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

I Peter 1:6, 7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

I Peter 5:10  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

It exposes faults

No saint is without fault, hence the chastisements by which God shows that he is displeased with the sins of the saints and will avenge them more severely, unless they repent, are various and different. 

Luke 12:47  That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin.

James 4:17 Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

As God, then, chastises a saint, he will search his conscience, and the word of God, to determine the cause of his affliction and he will not rest until he finds the source of his dilemma. And when he finds it, he will be saddened that he grieved the Holy Spirit with his sin, and repent, giving thanks to God having saved him from his evil paths.

Exhibits the glory of God

God's glory and justice is exhibited if he punishes and his children turns from their evil ways and repent, and delivers them from wickedness. God often brings his church and people into extreme danger that the deliverance which he effects may be the more glorious, as was the case with the oppression of the children of Israel in Egypt and their captivity in Babylon.  In these instances the deliverance that God wrought was truly glorious and gave evidence of his wisdom in discovering a way of escape where no creature could hope for it.

I Samuel 2:6 - 8 "The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. 7The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. 8He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. "For the foundations of the earth are the LORD'S; upon them he has set the world."

Conforms to Christ

When there is sin and wickedness among some saints, the body of Christ, the congregation, suffers and falls into disunity, breaking up the Body.  When we ought to reflect the image of our Head, and become more like him we should be swift in recognizing our infirmities and repent of our sins so that we may conform to Christ.

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…

Romans 15:5  May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 4:13 Until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

II Timothy 2:12, 13 If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us. 13If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

Bear witness

The saints, by their sufferings and death, bear witness to the truth of the doctrine of the gospel, because when they are faithfully endure every form of suffering, and even death itself, for the sake of their profession of Christianity, they give the most satisfactory testimony that they themselves are fully persuaded of its truth.  That they cannot be induced to renounced it and that it affords them real and solid consolation even in death itself and must therefore, necessarily be true.

I Samuel 12:20  "Do not be afraid," Samuel replied. "You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.

Philippians 1:20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

I Peter 4:12 - 14 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you, 13but rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

Shows judgment to come

The afflictions of the godly are evidences of a judgment to come and of eternal life. The truth and justice of God both require that it should at length go well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked.  This, however, is not fully the case in this life. Therefore, there must be another life after this in which God will render to every one according to his just deserts.

II Thessalonians 1:3 - 5 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 5All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

Romans 2:5  But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

I Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God.

Philippians 1:27  Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel 28without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved--and that by God.

So, when we are afflicted, it proves that we are sons of God and that He loves us and works us towards holiness and righteousness.  It also gives us great comfort when we suffer at the hand of God.  We can identify the following comforts that we enjoy:

Remission of sin

This is the most important comfort that we can possible receive because if we are not sure of the remission of our sins and our reconciliation with God, all other comforts become worthless. But if this comfort is well understood and grounded, all the others will naturally follow, for if God is our Father, we may rest assured that he will not only not send anything that will be an injury to us, but he will also defend us against all the evils of life.

Romans 8:31  What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?

I Samuel 17:45  David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid.

Psalms 46:1, 2, 7 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. 7The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalms 56:4 In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me.

Jeremiah 20:11 But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.

John 10:28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

I John 4:4  You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

The reason why this is such an important comfort to live by, is that where the cause is removed the effect is also removed, and when sin is removed, death is also removed, which means the remission of sins secures our eternal life.

Obeying God

Our perseverance indicates obedience to the will and providence of God both in adversity and prosperity, because God wills and directs all things.  The Christian obeys God not because he knows that it is futile resisting the will of God, but because the Christian loves God; and because God is our Father; and because God is deserving of our obedience to the extent that we ought to be willing to endure the greatest evils and wickedness for his sake; because the chastisements He sends our way are fatherly disciplines.

If we cling to this comfort, it quiets the mind inasmuch as it assures us that it is our heavenly Father's will that we should pass through dark times for the sake of his glory.

Job 1:21 And said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.

Job 13:14 Why do I put myself in jeopardy and take my life in my hands? 15Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face. 16Indeed, this will turn out for my deliverance, for no godless man would dare come before him.

The excellency of obedience

Obedience to God is a true virtue because of which the mind should not be cast down under the weight of the cross.  The temporal blessings that God confers upon us are great benefits, but obedience, faith, hope and perseverance, are far greater.

A good conscience

Only the godly can have a good conscience because of a knowledge that God is at peace with them by, and for the sake of Christ, the Mediator. Now, if God is favorable to us we cannot but enjoy tranquility of mind.  One should be aware of cause and effect when considering a good conscience. A good conscience is an effect and God's mercy is the cause, having sacrificed his son so that we may have that.  A good conscience cannot cause good fortune or prosperity and one who looks forward to temporal blessings because of a good conscience, has no good conscience at all, but is deceived by pride and a lack of knowledge.

A true good conscience belongs to someone who is content in the blessings that God provides even if the blessings are in the form of discipline.

Final causes

The final, or ultimate, causes of our comfort in affliction are, firstly, the glory of God, which is apparent in our deliverance. Secondly, our salvation, because when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. (I Cor 11:32). Thirdly, The conversion of others, together with the enlargement of the church. The apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus that others might be converted and confirmed in the faith.

Knowing what's eternal

It's better to be chastened by the Lord for a short while than to live in the greatest abundance and at the end of time be driven from God and be cast into everlasting destruction.

Imminent recompense

The hope for recompense is a huge comfort for the believer. This comfort manifests in this life already with greater blessings than non-believers because believers have peace with God and receive all other spiritual gifts. Temporal blessings, even though they are small in respect of righteous values, yet they are profitable and are enjoyed with joyous praise and glory to God.

Unbelievers may have a some measure of comfort in light afflictions but not in those that are grievous, because they think it is better to do without a reward that would require so much endurance, especially because they regard it as uncertain, small and transient.

Psalms 37:16 Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked.

Matthew 5:11, 12  "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Mark 10:29, 30 "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

Romans 5:3 - 5 Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4Perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Image of Christ

God desires that we should be conformed to the image of his Son. We, then, follow Christ in reproach and glory. Gratitude requires this because Christ died for our salvation.  Martyrs have suffered but they did not perish under their afflictions but were taken up to the bosom of Abraham, in the language of the parable.  We ought not to ask for ourselves a better lot than theirs because we are not better than they, but rather much worse.  They have suffered and God delivered them. 

Our comfort lies in reflecting the image of Christ and our afflictions are much lighter than those of the martyrs who persevered in the most grievous of afflictions while remaining obedient. So, our level of suffering, measured against the suffering of the martyrs, is much more bearable and can be considered a true blessing that God would not put us through that test.

I Peter 5:8 - 10 Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

The presence of God

Another powerful comfort in affliction is the knowledge that God is present with us, by his Spirit, strengthening and comforting us under the cross.  He does not permit us to be tempted above that which we are able to bear; and also, with every temptation, opens a way of escape and always proportions our afflictions to our strength that we may not be overcome.

Romans 8:23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Psalms 91:14 - 16 "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever."

John 14:17, 23 … The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 23Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."

Isaiah 49:15, 16 "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you. 16See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me."

Complete and final deliverance

Directly considering the first comfort, remission of sins, as the secondary cause for this comfort, it may be considered the crowning point of all the others.  The first is the chief comfort and foundation of all the others while this comfort is the perfection and consummation of all.  As there are degrees of punishment, there are also degrees of deliverance.  The first degree is in this life, where we have the beginning of eternal life.  The second is in temporal death, when the soul is carried to Abraham's bosom. The third will be in the resurrection of the dead and their glorification, when we shall be perfectly happy, both in body and soul.

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

The church in Philadelphia endured and suffered and persevered while acknowledging the comforts poured out on them by the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promises them in this letter that they will be protected against the hour of trial, "since" they endured. 

Joyfully enduring and persevering is a noble Christian character which baffles the world and is, at the same time, a source of great comfort for the Christian.

Revelation 3:10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

We do not know how Jesus will keep the church from the 'hour of trial' but the fact that they will be spared from this impending trial is certain.  Three features about this hour stand out.

First, is its brevity. Other times mentioned in the book of Revelation indicates much longer periods, such as 3½ days, 42 months, 1,000 years, and so on.  One hour points to a brief period of trauma.

Second, is its targets.  Although its scope is the whole inhabited world, it focuses on 'those who live on the earth,' namely, God's human enemies who murder the martyrs, worship the beast, and get drunk on the harlot's wine.

Revelation 6:10 They called out in a loud voice, "How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?"

Revelation 11:10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

Revelation 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

Revelation 17:2 With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.

Third, is its restraint.  Jesus will 'keep' his people from this hour of trail. Given Revelation's style of paradox and the fact that God promises to protect is church not from suffering but from apostasy, we should not assume that Jesus will keep believers from this trial by removing them from the scene or shielding them from pain.

John 17:15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

The church can take great comfort in these declarations of Scripture knowing that whatever the hour of trial would be, Christ's people know that no one can snatch us from the almighty hands of Jesus and his Father and that nothing can separate us from God's love.

It may be productive to mention briefly the different references to the world we find in this passage and elsewhere in Revelations.  There is the reference to the 'whole world' as the object of the hour of trial and then there is the purpose of the hour of trial, 'to test those who live on the earth.'

The former 'world' is translated from the Greek word Oikoumene meaning the land of the Greeks as opposed to the land of the barbarians; it can also be translated with the Roman empire and all its subjects; or it can be translated with the whole inhabited earth, the world; and finally, it can be translated with reference to the universe.

The latter 'earth' is translated with the Greek word Ge meaning arable land; or the earth as a standing place; or the earth as a whole, as opposed to the heavens, the inhabited earth, the abode of men and animals; or a country within fixed boundaries.

The Preterists interpret the meaning of Ge as the literal place of Jerusalem but Revelation's interchanging of Ge and Oikoumene, which points more to a universal place, lays waste to their claim that the prophecies of judgment in Revelation culminated in 70 AD.

It would be proper to interpret this passage that the church of Philadelphia kept the passion of Christ in their midst, or always before them, which He endured patiently and, reflecting the Savior's image, the church also endured patiently for the sake of Christ. It is their perseverance in Jesus' suffering on the cross as the expected Messiah that inflamed the Jews.

I Corinthians 1:22 - 24 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom. 23But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. 24But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Galatians 6:12  Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

The prophecy of an 'hour of trial' refers to a brief time of trauma that is still to come, but which will afflict everyone on earth. Jesus, however, promises protection to the church in that time of trial. 

Although it is our stated goal not to compare doctrines with one another regarding the meaning of the prophecies of Revelation, it may be useful to consider the Preterists' primary claims for believing that the Second Coming of Christ took place in 70AD. 

They claim three principle declarations of Scripture as proof that the Second Coming was imminent at the time, namely,

First, various passages declaring that the end is near, such as James 5:8 and Revelation 22:20 in which Jesus declares, "Yes, I am coming soon."

Second, Matthew 24:34 in which Jesus says the following, "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened." Similar declarations are found in Matthew 16:28, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32.

Third, Matthew 10:23 in which Jesus says, "When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes."

In a study that focuses on the comparison of different doctrines, it would be proper to address their interpretations in detail. In the scope of this study, however, it would be suffice to say that the references that the Second Coming "is near" or that Jesus would return "soon" are by design vague and use non-descriptive terms, because Jesus also said in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." So, I believe their "near" argument was not sufficient to prove that the Second Coming was imminent at the time Jesus spoke these words.

They refer to passages like Matthew 16:28, in which Jesus says, "… some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."  It clearly refers to Jesus' resurrection because at the time Jesus spoke these words, he was still in his old body, the temple that was about to be torn down and built up again in three days.  Only after the resurrection did he reveal his eternal, glorified body, similar to the body we will also have after the resurrection of the flesh. That was the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.  There is no evidence that it was the Second Coming because the Second Coming promises so much more; things which obviously did not come to pass.

Matthew 23's scope 'you will not finish … before the Son of Man comes' does not indicate the time the Son of Man comes, but rather indicates the magnitude of the task that is at hand. Jesus made it clear that nobody knows when he will return.  Why, may we ask, would Jesus compromise his own declaration in Matthew 24:36 and give rise to speculation when he may return?  Interpreted consistent with the teaching of Scripture, it rather indicates the huge task of spreading the gospel. If one prefers to look at it literally, it is evident that the task, in the 21st century, has not been completed yet, which still does not give rise to their interpretation.

From Matthew 10:5 onwards, Jesus teaches his disciples how to spread the gospel, and his instructions clearly have a scope lasting until the end of time. It is unlikely that verse 23 would have a scope different from the instructions that he gave them.