Kept from the Hour

In the third chapter of Revelation, Jesus promises to “keep” overcoming saints in the city of Philadelphia “from the hour of trial” that is coming upon the “whole habitable the earth.” A comparison with similar passages demonstrates that this ominous “hour” is nothing less than the time of judgment and condemnation for all those whose names “are not written in the Lamb’s book of life” when they will experience the “second death” in the “Lake of Fire.”

Because of their perseverance in persecution, the “overcoming” saints of Philadelphia will find themselves exempt from the condemnation of the wicked that will occur on that day:

  • (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. It means “trial” or “test,” NOT “tribulation” or “wrath.” The related verb is used in the same sentence, and likewise means to “try; to put to the test” (peirazō). The same verb is used when Jesus commends the “angel” of the church in Ephesus for “trying” false apostles - (Revelation 2:2).

Whether this “hour” is a literal 60-minute period or is used figuratively, it suggests a short span of time. Elsewhere in Revelation, the “hour” refers to a time of final judgment at the end of the age:

  • 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.
  • This is the same “hour” in which God resurrects the “Two Witnesses,” and a great earthquake destroys a tenth of “Babylon” in anticipation of the final judgment - (Revelation 11:11-19).
  • It is the “hour” of the 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 will be spared is the “hour” of final judgment and punishment upon the opponents of God and the “Lamb.”


In the letters to the “churches of Asia,” Jesus promises both rewards and escape from punishments to Christians who “overcome.” For example, they will “eat of the tree of life in the paradise of God”, receive the “crown of life” and the “hidden manna,” inherit “authority over the nations,” be arrayed “in white garments,” become “pillars” in God’s Temple, receive his “new name,” and “take their seats” with him on his Throne.

Additionally, the “overcoming” saints will not “be injured by the second death” or have their name “blotted out of the book of life.” This understanding of the “hour of trial” is in line with the inexorable movement of John’s visions that culminate in the final judgment 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 church of Smyrna is not criticized by Jesus. Instead, it is praised for its faithfulness in severe tribulation. But instead of exemption from further “tribulation,” even more tribulation is promised to this ever-faithful congregation.

So, why is the church of Philadelphia promised exemption from the “hour of trial” for its faithfulness, while Smyrna is promised even more “tribulation” for its faithfulness? The only plausible answer is that the “hour of trial” and “tribulation” are NOT identical. And the many promises to “overcoming” saints in the seven letters are applicable to all faithful believers throughout the period between the enthronement of Jesus and his arrival 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 he or she will be exempt from the coming “hour of trial” that will “try” all the “inhabitants of the earth.”

Life in New Jerusalem awaits the faithful, but the “second death” in the “Lake of Fire” will be the fate of all those who rebel against the “Lamb.”



Silence in Heaven

Sorrow Not