Disciples and Tribulation

The New Testament exhorts the followers of Jesus to expect tribulation because of their faith. While it may not be an everyday experience, neither is tribulation for the sake of the Kingdom unexpected. The chief cause of trials and persecution in the life of the disciple is his faithful witness of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. This understanding is especially prominent in the Book of Revelation.

In Chapter 7, for example, John saw countless followers of the “Lamb” from every nation exiting the “Great Tribulation” after persevering through it.

Tornado Alley - Photo by Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash
[Photo by Nikolas Noonan on Unsplash]

This striking image is central to his vision of the “
Innumerable Multitude” composed of men purchased from every nation by the blood of the “Lamb.” Since they have “overcome” in every trial and tribulation, these overcoming saints stand before the “Lamb” and the “Throne” in worship and celebration.

At the beginning of the Book, John identified himself as the “fellow participant” with the Seven Assemblies of Asia “in the tribulation and Kingdom and Endurance in Jesus.” In his exile on the Isle of Patmos “for the testimony of Jesus,” he participated in the same “Tribulation” endured by the Asian congregations.

The term “tribulation” occurs five times in Revelation, and each time it is applied to believers, not the unrepentant “Inhabitants of the Earth.” Tribulation is what the followers of the “Lamb” experience. Elsewhere in the New Testament, the word is applied likewise to disciples of Jesus - (Matthew 13:21, John 16:33, Revelation 1:9, 2:9-10, 7:14).

In the Greek text of John’s declaration, one definite article or “the” modifies all three nouns - Tribulation, Kingdom, Endurance. Each term represents an aspect of the same reality. It is THE tribulation; namely, the same one out of which John saw the “Innumerable Multitude” exiting and standing before the Lord.

To live faithfully “in Jesus” results in “tribulation” for his Kingdom, and suffering for him is what it means to reign with Christ.

The Greek term rendered “endurance” or hupomon√© occurs six more times in the Book. It is always linked to believers who persevere in persecution, and perseverance is how they “overcome” and inherit the promises - (Revelation 2:2-3, 2:19, 3:10, 13:10, 14:12-13).

In Chapter 12, the “Dragon” wages unrelenting war against the “saints,” and the object of his fury is the church, the Assembly of God composed of “those who have the Testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 12:17, 13:7-10).

FAITHFUL UNTIL DEATH


The “Lamb” who redeemed his people summons his “saints…to be faithful even unto death,” not only in the city of Smyrna but all believers throughout the period between his death and return. They must remain steadfast in trials, even when doing so means death.

Overcoming saints endure the “Great Tribulation,” the period during which the followers of the “Lamb” are tried to the max. However, they overcome the “Beast” and the “Dragon” through their faithful “testimony.” Afterward, they will find themselves “standing before the Throne and the Lamb” in high festival - (Revelation 7:9-17).

Storm Farm - Photo by Kacper Staszczyk on Unsplash
[Photo by Kacper Staszczyk on Unsplash]

In contrast, the unrepentant “
Inhabitants of the Earth” will undergo God’s “Wrath,” namely, the “Second Death” in the “Lake of Fire.” In the Book, “wrath” refers to the judicial punishment of God’s enemies, and nowhere does it equate “wrath” with “tribulation.”

Those who choose to follow Jesus “wherever he goes” overcome Satan “By the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and because they love not their lives even unto death.” They remain faithful in their testimony even at the cost of their well-being, wealth, security, and lives - (Revelation 12:11).



RELATED POSTS:
  • Cost of Discipleship - (To become a disciple one must be willing to follow the same path that Jesus did even if doing so leads to suffering and death)
  • The Cruciform Path - (To follow the Lamb wherever he goes means walking the same path that Jesus did and living a cruciform life of service for others)


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