Kept from the Hour

OVERVIEW – The “hour of trial” will come upon the whole habitable earth. Overcoming saints will not experience this final “trial” – Revelation 3:10

Stopwatch - Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash
Jesus promised to “
keep” the faithful saints of the church in the city of Philadelphia “from the hour of trial” that was going to come upon the “inhabitants of the earth.” A comparison with similar passages demonstrates that the “hour of trial” refers to the final time of judgment when those whose names “are not written in the Lamb’s book of life” will experience the “second death,” the “lake of fire that burns with brimstone.” Because of their perseverance in sufferings and persecution, “overcoming” saints are exempt from that horrific fate. - [Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash].
  • (Revelation 3:10), “Because you have kept my word of perseverance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole habitable earth, to try those who dwell upon the earth. I am coming soon; hold fast what you have.
The Greek rendered “trial” is peirasmos, which means “trial” or “test,” not “tribulation” or “wrath.” The related verb is used in the same sentence. It also means “try, put to the test” (peirazō). The same verb was used when commending the “angel” at Ephesus for his success at “trying” or “examining” false apostles - (Revelation 2:2).

The “hour of trial.” Whether “hour” refers to a literal 60-minute period or is figurative, it suggests a short span of time. Elsewhere in Revelation, “hour” refers to a final time of judgment:
  • The “hour” of the unexpected arrival of Jesus to judge those who are unprepared - (Revelation 3:3, “I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you”).
  • (Revelation 9:14-15) - Four angels were “prepared for the hour and day and month and year,” to kill a third of mankind.
  • The same “hour” in which God resurrected the “two witnesses,” a great earthquake destroyed a tenth of “Babylon” in anticipation of the final judgment - (Revelation 11:11-19).
  • The “hour” of the final judgment of God on the wicked - (Revelation 14:7, “the hour of his judgment has come”).
  • Likewise, in Revelation 14:15, an angel declared - “the hour to reap is come; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.”
  • (Revelation 17:12) - Ten kings allied with the beast “received authority as kings for one hour,” indicating a short and final moment.
  • (Revelation 18:10) - The judgment of “great Babylon” arrived “in one hour.”
  • (Revelation 18:17-19) - Babylon was laid waste “in one hour.”
Thus, the “hour of trial” from which the saints at Philadelphia were exempt is the hour of final judgment and punishment.

Jesus promised both rewards and the avoidance of judgment to Christians who “overcome.” The overcomer would “eat of the tree of life in the paradise of God”, receive the “crown of life,” receive the “hidden manna,” inherit “authority over the nations,” be arrayed “in white garments,” be confessed before his Father, become a pillar in God’s Temple, receive a new name, and “take his seat” with Christ on his Throne. The overcomer would not “be injured by the second death” or have his name “blotted out of the book of life” - (Revelation 2:7-11, 2:26, 3:5, 3:21).

This understanding of the “hour of trial” is in line with the inexorable movement of the visions of John toward the final judgment of all God’s enemies at the “Great White Throne of judgment,” as well as the receipt of life by the faithful in “New Jerusalem.” After the final battle of the book:
  • All the dead, the great and the small, stand before the Throne; and books were opened, and another book was opened, the book of life; and the dead were judged out of the things written in the books, according to their works.” Death, Hades and “anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the Lake of Fire, the Second Death” - (Revelation 20:11-15).
The churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia were the only two that were not criticized or corrected by Jesus. Both were praised for faithfulness under pressure, and both endured slander from the Jews of the “synagogue of Satan.”

But instead of escape or exemption from “tribulation,” even more tribulation was promised to the ever-faithful church at Smyrna.  Why the incongruity? Why was the church at Philadelphia instead promised exemption from the “hour of trial” for its faithfulness, while Smyrna was promised more suffering?
The only plausible answer is that, in Revelation,” the “hour of trial” and “tribulation” are NOT synonymous.
In the vision of the “innumerable multitude,” John saw a multitude of men and women who were “coming out of the tribulation” to stand victorious before the “Lamb” in “New Jerusalem.” They did not escape from tribulation and suffering in this life, but they also did not undergo the “second death” or find themselves in the “lake of fire” - (Revelation 7:9-17).

The many promises to “overcoming” saints found in the letters to the churches of Asia are applicable to all faithful believers between the enthronement of Jesus and his return at the end of the age. Every persevering Christian who “follows the Lamb wherever he goes” will find his or her name “written in the Lamb’s book of life,” and thus be exempt from the coming “hour of trial” that will “try” all the “inhabitants of the earth.”


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