Tribulation, Kingdom, Endurance

SYNOPSIS – Exiled on Patmos, John is a “fellow-participant” in the tribulation, kingdom, and endurance - “In Jesus” – Revelation 1:9

Lighthouse storm - Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash
At the start of his first vision, John identified himself as a “
fellow-participant” with the seven churches of Asia in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus.” The Apostle was banished to the island of Patmos because of his testimony for Jesus. Like several of the congregations on the mainland, he endured “tribulation” for the sake of the “kingdom” of God. - [Lighthouse - Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash].

What makes his opening statement remarkable is how he combines “tribulation,” “kingdom,” and “endurance” into one declaration that characterizes what it means to be “in Jesus.” Additionally, his statement presents key themes that are expanded in the book of Revelation:
  • (Revelation 1:9) – “I, John, your brother and fellow-participant with you in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus, was on the isle that is called Patmos for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.”
Fellow participant” or sugkoinōnos denotes joint participation. It is related to the Greek word rendered “fellowship” elsewhere in the New Testament. By using it, John aligned himself with the sufferings of the seven churches - (1 Corinthians 9:23, Romans 11:17, Philippians 1:7).

In the Greek clause, a single definite article or “the” modifies all three nouns – THE TribulationKingdomEndurance – Thus, all three are grammatically linked.  To be “in Jesus” is to experience tribulationkingdom, AND endurance.

The subject of the “kingdom” was introduced at the start of the book by Jesus himself:
  • He is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earthTo him that loves us and loosed us from our sins by his blood; and he made us a kingdom, priests unto his God and Father” – (Revelation 1:5-6).
Jesus reigns over the “kings of the earth” in the present tense, and he constituted the redeemed into a “kingdom of priests” that participates in his rule in the past - (“He made us”). His exaltation and our participation in this “priestly kingdom” are based on his past Death and Resurrection. In this regard, the seven churches of Asia are part of a much larger body of redeemed saints.

This understanding is confirmed in the vision of the Heavenly Throne when the “slain Lamb” was declared “worthy” to take and open the “sealed scroll”:
  • They sing a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for you were slain and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and made them unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they are reigning upon earth’.” – (Revelation 5:9-10).
Tribulation” translates the Greek noun thlipsis – Originally, a “pressing together” – Hence, the sense “pressure, distress, affliction.” It was something that the church at Smyrna had experienced already and was about to endure once more:
  • (Revelation 2:9-10) – “I know your tribulation and poverty, and the blasphemy of them that say they are Jews and are not but are a synagogue of Satan. Fear not the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful unto death and I will give thee the crown of life.
Unlike several of the other churches, Smyrna had received NO criticism or correction. The congregation had remained faithful through “tribulation” yet faced renewed persecution. Rather than promise to deliver the church from further “tribulation,” Jesus exhorted them to endure faithfully through it, and thus, receive the “crown of life.”

Later, John saw an innumerable multitude of men and women redeemed by the “Lamb” from every nation. This group was exiting “the great tribulation” to stand before him and the Throne of God.  Each redeemed “saint” was wearing a priestly robe and “rendering divine service day and night” before in the “Tabernacle.” Like the congregation in Smyrna, they had faithfully endured the “tribulation” - (Revelation 7:9-17).

To be “in Jesus” also means “endurance.” The Greek noun hupomoné means “steadfastness, endurance, perseverance.”  It occurs seven times in the book, as follows:
  • (Revelation 1:9) – “I John, your brother and partaker with you in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance which are in Jesus.”
  • (Revelation 2:2-3) – “I know your works and toil and endurance, and that you cannot bear evil men, and tried them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and found them false; And you have endurance and did bear for my name’s sake, and have not grown weary.”
  • (Revelation 2:19) – “I know your works, and love and faith and ministry and endurance, and that your last works are more than the first.”
  • (Revelation 3:10) – “Because you kept the word of my endurance, I also will keep you from the hour of trial, which is to come upon the whole habitable earth.
  • (Revelation 13:10) – “If any man is for captivity, into captivity he goes: if any man is to be killed with the sword, with the sword must he be killed. Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints.”
  • (Revelation 14:12) – “Here is the patience of the endurance, they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
The passage from the thirteenth chapter described the “saints” who were persecuted by the “beast from the sea” - (“It was given to the Beast to make war with the saints and to overcome them”). Faithful endurance, even when it results in violent and unjust death, is the very definition of “endurance” and “faithfulness” - It is what characterizes the true saint who “overcomes” the “Dragon”– (Here is the endurance and the faith of the saints”):
  • (Revelation 12:11) – “And they overcame the Dragon by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and because they loved not their life even unto death.
Thus, the call to endure “tribulation” is threaded throughout the book of Revelation and goes to the very heart of its visions. Overcoming saints participate with Jesus in his reign over the earth in the here-and-now but do so as “priests,” mediating his light to the world by bearing faithful testimony and sacrificing their lives when called on to so. This is what it means to be “in Jesus.”




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