SPECIAL TOPIC: THE GREAT TRIBULATION (from Rev. 7:14)
Rev. 7:14 "these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation" This is a present participle and is an allusion to the persecuted churches in John's day (cf. Rev. 1:9; 2:9,10,22). However, it is obvious that the historical allusions in the Revelation address the persecution of the saints in every age and also point to an end-time intensification of persecution (cf. Dan. 12:1). This is related to
1. the persecution of God's children (cf. Matt. 24:21-22; Mark 13:19; 2 Thess. 2:3ff; Rev. 2:10; Dan. 12:1)
2. God's coming wrath on unbelievers (cf. 2 Thess. 1:6-9; Rev. 3:10; 6:17; 8:2ff; 16:1ff)
These problems, to some degree, have been associated with every age. Christians have often suffered in Jesus' name (cf. Matt. 5:10-12; John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3; 1 Pet. 4:12-16). Both of these events are often called "the birth pangs" of the new age of righteousness (cf. Mark 13:8 and the apocryphal book of II Baruch, chapters 25-30, see Special Topic: Birth Pains).
The Greek term thlipsis (tribulation) in Revelation is always used of believers' suffering persecution at the hands of unbelievers (cf. Rev. 1:9; 2:9,10,22; 7:14). The Greek terms thumos (cf. Rev. 12:12; 14:8,10,19; 15:1,7; 16:1; 18:3; 19:15) and orgē (cf. Rev. 6:16,17; 11:18; 14:10; 16:19; 19:15) are always used of the Father's or the Son's wrath on rebellious, stubborn unbelievers.
As a theological aside, if the book of Revelation was written to encourage believers going through tribulations, why do some modern interpreters insist on a secret rapture to spare some future generation of believers persecution? Persecution was the lot of most of the Church's first leaders, and every generation of believers. Why then should one future group be spared? I think the church will go through the great end-time tribulation.
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