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#4.2 THE END-TIME TRIBULATION ON THE CHURCH

This bible study uses a Unicode Greek font and is printable.

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Related Greek Word Studies
601 || ἀποκαλύπτω || apokalupto || to reveal.
602 || ἀποκάλυψις || apokalupsis || revelation.
2347 || θλῖψις || thlipsis || tribulation.
3952 || παρουσία || parousia || coming.

Introduction 4.2

In the next two sections we need to acknowledge a difficulty, and it is that of separating "the church" and "the Jews". The reason is obvious: the church is made up of Jews and Gentiles together (See #7), and so the promises of tribulation upon Jews who believe in Jesus, also apply to the church. Bearing this in mind, some of the scriptures may be equally applicable to both, and we should not be too rigid in trying to apply them only to either the Jews, or the church, to the exclusion of the other. This bible study gives scriptural proof that the end-time church will go through tribulation.

#4.21 The promises of tribulation on the church

MATTHEW 24:21 (Jesus)
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

MARK 13:19 (Jesus)
19 For in those days shall be tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of creation which God created to this time, neither shall be.

JOHN 16:33 (Jesus)
33 These things have I spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

ACTS 14:22
22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

REVELATION 2:8-10 (Jesus)
8 And to the angel of the church at Smyrna write; These things says the first and the last, who was dead, and is alive;
9 I know your works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but you are rich) and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.
10 Fear none of those things which you shall suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried; and you shall have tribulation ten days: you be faithful to death, and I will give you a crown of life.

REVELATION 3:1-2 (Jesus)
1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things says he who has the seven spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know your works, that you have a name that you live, and are dead.
2 Be watchful, and strengthen those who remain, who are ready to die: for I have not found your works perfect before God.

Note: Throughout history, beginning with Cain killing Abel (Genesis 4:8), and following through the Old Testament prophets (Hebrews 11:36-40), God's people have always suffered tribulation at the hands of the wicked.
Jesus himself suffered great tribulation when he died on the cross (Matthew 26:67-68; 27:26-56; Mark 14:65; 15:15-41; Luke 22:63-65; 23:26-49; John 19:16-30), and he also promised tribulation to his followers (John 15:20; 16:63). An example is the suffering that he promised to Paul the apostle (Acts 9:16), which was later fulfilled (2 Corinthians 1:5-6; 4:10-11; 7:4-5; 11:23-25; Galatians 6:17; Colossians 1:24), and persecution has come upon followers of Jesus throughout the centuries since the days of the apostles, even to the present day. God uses tribulation to test the faith of his people (Job 23:10; 1 Peter 1:7; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10): it produces patience and perfects us (Romans 5:3; 12:12; James 1:2-4), it purifies us (Daniel 11:35; 12:10; Revelation 7:14), and is a necessary part of taking up our crosses and following Jesus (Matthew 10:38; Luke 14:27). It is through this perfecting and purifying that the Lamb's wife makes herself ready (Revelation 19:7), which is after Babylon the great is destroyed (Revelation 18:1-8), after the earth mourns its destruction (Revelation 18:9-19), and just before Jesus comes again at the end of this pre-millennial age (Revelation 19:11-21).
God has not changed (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17), and Jesus has not changed (Hebrews 13:8), so why do people now teach that the church will be raptured without going through any great tribulation? Such teaching is totally inconsistent with what God has done in the past, and what he has promised to do in the future:

(John 15:20) "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;"
(John 16:33) "In the world you shall have tribulation;"
(Acts 14:22) "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."
(2 Timothy 3:12) "all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
(Revelation 2:10) "you shall have tribulation ten days: be faithful to death,"

This last scripture was written to the church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:8); a Gentile church in Asia, and so confirms that Gentiles will also go through tribulation.

#4.22 The end-time tribulation on the church

REVELATION 6:9-11 (John)
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, do you not judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?
11 And white robes were given to every one of them; and it was said to them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow-servants also and their brethren that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

REVELATION 7:9-10, 13-14 (John)
9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the lamb.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying to me, Who are these who are arrayed in white robes? and where did they come from?
14 And I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, these are those who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.

REVELATION 12:10-11 (John)
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives to the death.

REVELATION 12:17
17 And the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

REVELATION 13:4, 7 (John)
4 And they worshipped the dragon who gave power to the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like the beast? who is able to make war with him?
7 And it was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all tribes, and tongues, and nations.

REVELATION 13:15 (John)
15 And he had power to give life to the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.

REVELATION 14:13 (John)
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on: Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works will follow them.

REVELATION 16:4-6 (John)
4 And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
5 And I heard the angel of the waters say, You are righteous, O Lord, who is, and was, and shall be, because you have judged thus.
6 For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.

REVELATION 17:5-6 (John)
5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.
6 And I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.

REVELATION 20:4
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given to them: and I saw the souls of those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshipped the beast, nor his image, nor received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Note 1: When Jesus came to earth the first time, in human flesh, his physical body was taken by wicked men and crucified (See #4.21 Note), and he submitted himself to it voluntarily (Matthew 26:39; 26:53; Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42; John 10:11; 10:17-18). If we consider the fact that the church is now the body body of Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; 1:24), and that Jesus has not changed (Hebrews 13:8), what will he now allow to happen to his body when it is persecuted in the last days? Will he allow it to be raptured out of the way before any trouble starts? or will he allow it to be put to death, as he did before? Those who have taken up their crosses and followed Jesus will be able to see the truth of this, because "the wise shall understand." (Daniel 12:10), but for the unwise virgins it will be too late (Matthew 25:10-12). The scriptures show that the church will be persecuted almost completely to death:

(Revelation 2:10) "you shall have tribulation ten days: be faithful to death,"
(Revelation 6:9) "I saw under the altar the souls of those who were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:"
(Revelation 6:11) "until their fellow-servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."
(Revelation 12:11) "and they loved not their lives to the death."
(Revelation 13:15) "as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed."
(Revelation 14:13) "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on:"
(Revelation 16:6) "they have shed the blood of saints and prophets,"
(Revelation 17:6) "I saw the woman drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus:"
(Revelation 20:4) "I saw the souls of those who were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God,".

These scriptures apply to the very last days, evidenced by those which indicate the presence of "the beast", and the end-time plagues (Revelation 6:9-11; 13:7; 16:4-6; 20:4).
When Saul was persecuting the church, and Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus, Jesus said, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Acts 9:4), because he considered persecution against the church, which is his body, to be against him. In the same way we can explain the scripture, "Behold he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and those also who pierced him:" (Revelation 1:7). Those who pierced him could not refer to his first incarnation, because those people are dead, and will not rise until the end of the millennium (Revelation 20:5), but rather it refers to those people who will still be alive on the earth when Jesus returns, who have crucified the church, and put it to death. This evidence all shows that the church will not be raptured either before, or during the tribulation, but will go through great tribulation during the last days, and we need to be prepared for it.

Note 2: Jesus had a special message to each of the churches of the last days, that they must be overcomers:

(Revelation 2:7) "To him who overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
(Revelation 2:11) "He who overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death."
(Revelation 2:17) "To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except he who receives it."
(Revelation 2:26-28) "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works to the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers; even as I received of My Father.
And I will give him the morning star."
(Revelation 3:5) "He who overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels."
(Revelation 3:12) "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God: and I will write upon him My new name."
(Revelation 3:21) "To him who overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne."

All of these promises are made to "Him who overcomes", but how do they overcome? Jesus said, "even as I also overcame," (Revelation 3:21), so how did Jesus overcome? He overcame the world by resisting the demons temptations (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13), and said that he had (John 16:33), but to overcome the devil completely he had to overcome the devil's greatest challenge, "all that a man has he will give for his life." (Job 2:4). This he did by submitting himself to death on the cross, and allowing himself to be crucified (Hebrews 2:14), and this is what he expects his church to do also. A pre-tribulation rapture is not how to overcome, it is by being faithful to death (Revelation 2:10). White raiment was also to be given to overcomers (Revelation 3:5), and we see this being done to those who had been persecuted to death under the fifth seal:

(Revelation 6:9-11) "I saw under the altar the souls of those who were slain for the word of God, ... And white robes were given to every one of them,"

Specifically in the last days, Jesus promised tribulation to the Gentile church at Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-10), showing that tribulation would come on Gentile believers as well as Jews. This is confirmed by the persecutions under the fifth seal (Revelation 6:9-11), where believers are killed for the word of God, even before tribulation starts on the Jews as a nation (Revelation 7:1-3). Further proof, and very conclusive, is the evidence of "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and people, and tongues, ... who came out of great tribulation," (Revelation 7:9, 14), which was how they obtained their white robes. This was seen, "After this" (Revelation 7:9); referring to the sealing of the 144,000 Israelites (Revelation 7:1-8), so the evidence is therefore overwhelming, that Gentiles as well as Jews will go through great tribulation, and it refutes the false teaching about a pre-tribulation rapture.

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