Does Revelation 3:10 provide a good case for pre-tribulationism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
When I was on my journey of eschatology, one passage that came up often was Revelation 3:10. Let’s look at the passage as a whole. It’s the letter to the church in Philadelphia.
“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. 8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. 9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. 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 on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. 13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Well, this seems like a good argument doesn’t it? The hour of temptation is coming to the whole Earth. That would be the Great Tribulation wouldn’t it? It fits.
Unfortunately, you have a host of assumptions going into it. First off, this hour of temptation must fit the Great Tribulation. It could be, but that needs to be argued for. Second, you have to have it that keep means to be raptured out. The second one is the most problematic one.
Keep is better understood as guard. The church would be protected from the hour that was coming. That doesn’t mean delivered from it, but that they would be protected in it. This could be a parallel to what the Israelite experienced during the plagues of Egypt. They were there for all the plagues, but they were exempted from them.
Not only that, if you want to be a literalist, then you already have a problem because the church in Philadephia is likely no longer there, at least in the same way. The idea that that specific church would be kept fits better then with a Preterist interpretation.
In the end, while this could be possible, I don’t find it persuasive. I find a Preterist interpretation fits much better and is consistent with what we see on how God deals with His people. There are too many assumptions for the pre-trib view that just don’t work well.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)