Here we have the promise of Christ, to keep the
Church from the severe testings of the Tribulation.
There are three basic views regarding the timing of
the Rapture. The first view is that it
will occur prior to the Tribulation, the second view
is that it will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation, and the third view
is that it will occur at the end of the Tribulation.
The argument for the first view is the more
supported in scripture, while the second view has very little support and is
more of an arbitrary view, while the third view disregards this promise of God
as well as being inconsistent with other predicted events.
But first things first.
The word for kept or keep, ‘tereo,’
is used twice in this passage. This means
to keep permanently.
In the first instance it refers to the one
spiritual thing that is permanent in every believers
life, which is salvation.
All believers are saved when they believe in Christ, however their spiritual growth is dependent on their
positive volition toward Bible doctrine.
And though many will advance in their spiritual lives, most will not
because of their disinterest, indifference, and so forth.
These flaws and failures of believers, we have been
studying in these last several letters to the churches, which address all believers
in our current dispensation.Showing the
many failures and flaws that Christians have within their spiritual lives, thus
the challenge to ‘overcome’ and succeed in ones spiritual life, rather than
Salvation is never lost to any believer in Christ,
never for any reason. It is permanent. And keeping it is not a choice, but the
result of the decision to believe in Christ.
Therefore, because believers possess something that
is permanent, namely salvation, then God will keep (permanently) them from the
hour of testing which is to come. The
testing is future from the Church (collectively for all of the Church).
Since these letters are addressed to the churches,
plural, which we have studied in every letter, and
since this entire book is prefaced on the end times, then the entire Church, or
group of believers in our dispensation is being addressed.
Yet to come, is a reference to something in the
future relative to the Church, therefore the Church of believers, in our
dispensation, must be fully selected and assembled, and known historically
before the time of ‘testing’ can come into existence. It is future relative to the entire church.
Keep from, ‘tereo ek,’ means permanently out from. The meaning of ‘ek’
is the key as to when and how the Church Age (our dispensation) believers will
fit in, to the plan for the Tribulation.
The word for from, ‘ek,’
means out from, exclusive from, away from, not a part of. It does not mean to coexist simultaneously
with, but means to be completely excluded from.
And what is the Church being kept from?
The hour of testing.It will not
participate whatsoever in the test, which we will get to in a moment.
If the Church was going to be a part of the testing
period, then ‘en’ and ‘dia’ would have been used to convey the idea that the
church would be ‘preserved in the midst of’ the test. But that phrase is not used.
The phrase ‘tereo en’ is
used three times in the New Testament and in all three it means to carry
through, or to coexist with, Acts 12:5; 1 Peter 1:4; Jude 21.
Whereas, ‘tereo ek,’ which we have here, means the opposite, or to be
excluded from. It is used in several
passages to convey the meaning of being ‘kept completely out of,’ John 17:15, Col
1:13, Acts 26:18, 1 John 5:19, and John uses the same phrase here.
The Church has received a promise from Christ, to
be kept out of the terrible time of testing which is to come. That time of testing cannot occur, until the
entire Church is formed, and then removed, such that they will not be a part of
that future time.
And there is another concept that needs to be
considered. And that is, if the Church
is to be kept from the Tribulation, then they could not be a part of the
Tribulation, simply because the Tribulation will see many people believing in Christ,
and martyred for their belief. That is
not being preserved from harm, Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9-14.
Next, the passages that speak of the Rapture, do not
speak of judgment, John 14:1-4; 1 Cor 15:51-54; 1 Thess 4:13-17.
Third, the Rapture and the Second Advent are two
very separate and distinct events. They
cannot happen simultaneously at the end of the Tribulation.
Fourth, the Church will return with Christ at the
Second Advent, therefore, they must already be with Him in heaven, in order to
be able to return with Him. These last
two items are detailed out in our study of Dispensations. You can find that study in the Special
Studies Library on the web site.
The ‘test,’ speaks of a very dramatic test at some
point in the future. It will be worldwide, ‘it shall come upon all of the world.’It
is future from the Church Age, and there is but one period remaining in history
of which the Bible speaks as a time of testing, it is for a definite and specific
period of time, ‘the hour,’ (it is not ongoing), it will show what the real
nature of people really is, ‘try them that dwell upon the world,’ this last
phrase is used in all of the Tribulation prophecies, Dan 9:25-27, Jer 30:7, Rev. 6:10; 8:13; 11:10; 13:8, 12, 14; 14:6; 17:2,
The hour of testing is the Tribulation, it is brief
when compared with history, and is referred to in Daniel’s ‘seventieth week’
prophecy and in Jeremiah’s ‘time of Jacobs trouble’
Unbelievers who live in the Tribulation will either
pass the test by repenting, Rev 6:9-11; 7:9-10,14; 14:4; 17:14, or fail it by
refusing to repent and are damned, Rev 6:15-17; 9:20; 16:11; 19:17-18.
The ‘test’ is the entire period of hardships that
will occur in the seven year period of the Tribulation.
The discipline which is referred to in the other
letters to the other churches, is contemporary with their existence, but this
is more than a disciplinary measure, it is a judgment. And the promise here is not only future but that
the church will be spared from it.