Tribulation and Kingdom

When writing to the Assemblies of Asia, John identified himself as a “fellow participant” with them in “the Tribulation and Kingdom and Endurance in Jesus.” He was banished to the Isle of Patmos because of his “testimony” for Jesus. Like those seven congregations, he endured “Tribulation” for the sake of the “Kingdom” and his witness on behalf of the exalted Sovereign over all things, Jesus Christ.

His opening statement is remarkable for how John combines “tribulation,” “kingdom,” and “endurance” into one declarative statement that highlights what it means to be “in Jesus.” The Kingdom does not come without trials and the need to persevere through them:

Runner on mountain - Photo by Brian Erickson on Unsplash
[Photo by Brian Erickson on Unsplash]

  • 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” - (Revelation 1:9).

The Greek term translated as “fellow participant” or sugkoinōnos means joint participation. It is related to the Greek word used for “fellowship” elsewhere in the New Testament. John thus aligns himself with the sufferings of the “Seven Assemblies of Asia.”

In the Greek clause, the single definite article or “the” modifies all three nouns. It is THE TribulationKingdomEndurance. All three are grammatically linked. To be “in Jesus” is to know tribulation, kingdom, and endurance.

The subject of the “Kingdom” was introduced when Jesus was identified as the one who “made us a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.” Already he reigns over the “Kings of the Earth,” and already his saints participate in that rule (“He made us,” past tense) – (Revelation 1:5-6).

The English term “tribulation” translates the Greek noun thlipsis. The original sense was a “pressing together,” and derivative meanings included “pressure, distress, affliction.” Like the other three nouns, it is definite, the article or “the” indicates a known and specific “tribulation.”

It is THE tribulation, the same one called “the Great Tribulation” in Chapter 7 of Revelation.

Tribulation is something the congregation at Smyrna had experienced already, and it was about to endure even 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.”

The saints of Smyrna did not receive any criticism from Jesus in his letter to them. They remained faithful through every trial and “tribulation,” yet they were facing renewed persecution. Rather than promise them deliverance from further “tribulation,” Jesus exhorted them to endure faithfully through additional trials and thus they would receive the “crown of life.”

Later, John saw an “Innumerable Multitude” of men redeemed by the “Lamb.” They were coming out of the “Great Tribulation” and standing before the “Lamb.” Each one was wearing a priestly robe and “rendering divine service day and night” before the “Throne.” Like the congregation in Smyrna, they had faithfully endured and come through the “Tribulation” - (Revelation 7:9-17).


To be “in Jesus” also means “endurance.” This rendering represents the Greek noun hupomoné, meaning, “steadfastness, endurance, perseverance.”  It occurs seven times in the Book of Revelation. It is always applied to saints who “endure” persecution - (Revelation 1:9, 2:2-3, 2:19, 13:10, 14:12).

Faithful perseverance, even when it results in martyrdom, is the very definition of “endurance.” It is what characterizes the “overcoming” believer:

  • (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.

[Photo by Kyle McLeod on Unsplash]
[Photo by Kyle McLeod on Unsplash]

The call 
to endure “tribulation” is threaded throughout the Book since it goes to the heart of its message. Overcoming saints participate with Jesus in his reign in the here and now, but they do so as “priests,” mediating his light to the world by bearing faithful testimony and sacrificing their lives when called on to do so. This is what it means to be “in Jesus.”

Thus, faithful disciples who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes” do not escape tribulation and hardship. Instead, they “overcome” the Devil and endure whatever comes their way for the sake of the Kingdom and their “testimony of Jesus.”

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  • Greetings from the Throne - (The greetings from the Throne highlight key themes of the Book, especially the past victory and the present reign of Jesus)
  • Jesus, the Faithful Witness - (In the greetings sent to the Seven Assemblies, Jesus is called the Faithful Witness because of his self-sacrificial death – Revelation 1:5)
  • Patmos - (John was exiled to Patmos because of his testimony – A fellow participant in the Tribulation and Perseverance in Jesus - Revelation 1:9)



Silence in Heaven

Sorrow Not