Revelation 3:10  


There are four issues to resolve in coming to an understanding of this verse.
A. What is the correct translation.
B. What is the hour of trial.
C. Who are the earth dwellers.
D. What does KEPT OUT FROM mean.

I have no theological reason to change the traditional translation of Revelation 3:10. I have no eschatological imperative that needs to alter what is there. However, I believe that there is a linguistic basis for making a change. The examination of any change in translation should not be colored by one’s preconceived definition of the term, “the hour of testing.” The suggested new translation must be grammatically viable apart from the meaning one places upon that term.

The translation in the NASB is:

Rev. 3:8 ‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.

Rev. 3:9 ‘Behold, I will cause {those} of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie —behold, I will make them to come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you.

Rev. 3:10 ‘Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that {hour} which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.

Many interpreters focus on the use of EK TEREO and demonstrate that it CAN be used to indicate a removal from the dangers while being WITHIN a specific time of crisis. A good case is made for this, but it is not conclusive.
Others demonstrate that EK TEREO is used to express a removal out from a specific time of crisis by preventing any ENTRANCE into that time. This too is inconclusive.
The use of EK can indeed indicate either idea of removal.

I have previously concluded in view of the inconclusiveness of the evidence that too much is made of Rev. 3:10. It cannot be used as a “proof text” for pretrib, prewrath or posttrib. Thus, I suggest that Rev 3:10 NOT be used as a “proof text” for either view, but that the solution be found elsewhere - with Rev. 3:10 being called upon for support rather than proof.

Now, while that inconclusiveness concerning EK
remains, I have been challenged to reexamine the traditional translation and consider a change on a grammatical basis. The new translation would change a punctuation mark and change the impact of some key words.

Rev. 3:8-10
"I know your deeds.
Behold, I HAVE put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
‘Behold, I WILL cause {those} of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie —

behold, I WILL
make them to come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you because you have kept the word of My perseverance.
keep you from the hour of testing, that {hour} which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth."

Without having any eschatological reason to change the translation, I have examined it and agree that it is more consistent with the Greek.
As can be seen, this translation removes the CONDITIONAL factor for being kept out from the hour of testing. This raises the question as to whether a "conditional" promise can EVEN be made to the church, let alone the FAITHFUL of the church that they will be delivered THROUGH or OUT FROM this specific hour of testing.

The validity of this translation adjustment is confirmed by the following analysis.
1. The contraction KAGO (and I, I also):
The word KAGO is a contraction of two words.
KAI, which means and, also or even; and EGO, which is the pronoun I.
The word KAGO indicates the fourth entry in a series of actions, which are indicated by the indicative mood of the respective verbs.

2. The conjunction HOTI (because), which sometimes functions
as the conjunction THAT:
The most natural place for BECAUSE (hoti) is AFTER the clause it describes (although it can at times occur first).
Here BECAUSE occurs two times.
Verse 8 - action and THEN the because.
Verse 10 - action and THEN the because
But the English translations do not preserve that.
(The difference between here and verses 3:16 and 17, where the action FOLLOWS "because",
is because there, it is prefaced by SO THEN (houtos).

The message to the church at Philadelphia starts with a simple statement of divine knowledge.

I know your deeds.

Then the body of the message revolves around FOUR ACTIONS,
all of which relate back to I KNOW YOUR DEEDS.

(ACTION ONE, past)
Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one
can shut BECAUSE you have a little power,
and have kept My word,
and have not denied My name.

(ACTION TWO, future)
Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who
say they are Jews, and are not, but lie -- (natural pause)

(ACTION THREE, future)
Behold, I will make them to come
and to bow down at your feet
and to know that I have loved you
BECAUSE you have kept the word of My perseverance.
(This is perfectly correlated with John 14:21-24, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him . . .”)

(ACTION FOUR, future)
AND I (kago) I will keep you from the hour of testing which is about to come upon the whole world to test those who dwell
upon the earth.

1. The use of kago (and I, I also) indicates the next in a line of actions all indicated by the indicative mood of the verb.
2. To connect "I also," with the preceding causal clause is not consistent with the content. ALSO indicates SIMILARITY of action to what has preceded. However, there is no natural connection between "You have kept (obeyed)" and "I will keep you from." So, the ALSO idea is out of place. If the intent were to express the action that happens BECAUSE of the preceding statement, the KAI would not be necessary at all.
It would simply read, “because you have kept . . . I will keep.” To add ALSO (kai), is out of place and confusing.
3. At the same time, let it be said, that the translation, “I also” CAN be referring to the next of the actions in line. However, in English, it is not as smooth as “and I.”
4. The important issue is to recognize that whether one renders it AND I or I ALSO, it must naturally refer to the next of the actions in line, and not be the result of the causal clause.
5. What this does: it takes the CONDITIONAL factor out of the passage and leaves the simple promise of being kept from the time of testing.

Notice the translation with emphasis on the orderly arrangement.
Rev. 3:8-10 ‘I know your deeds.
BEHOLD, I HAVE PUT before you an open door which no one can shut, BECAUSE you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.
‘BEHOLD, I WILL CAUSE {those} of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews, and are not, but lie —
BEHOLD, I WILL MAKE them to come and bow down at your feet, and to know that I have loved you BECAUSE you have kept the word of My perseverance.
AND I WILL KEEP you from the hour of testing, that {hour} which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.

It does not help us identify that time of testing nor the mechanics of being kept, but it certainly makes it a blanket statement that has no CONDITIONAL factor of "faithfulness" associated with it.
Some may not like the removal of that conditional factor, but it appears to me that an honest and NORMAL reading of the text requires that the BECAUSE clause goes with the actions mentioned before it and not after it.

To identify what the HOUR OF TRIAL is, we need to examine the very clear statement that describes the recipients of that hour.
It says in Rev. 3:10 that the hour of trial is coming to test those who "dwell on the earth." This phrase is used 11 times in the book of Revelation, and each time it refers to the unbelievers and those who are part of the beast's kingdom. 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10 (2x), 13:8, 13:12, 13:14 (2x), 17:2, 17:8

The phrase is used by John to identify the wicked and the beast-followers. These are the ones seen as the killers the martyred saints in the fifth seal; these are the ones who follow after the beast and take his mark; these are the ones who engage in immorality with the great harlot.

The fact that John uses this same phrase in Rev. 3:10 strongly indicates that he is not talking about this "hour of trial" as coming upon believers, but upon unbelievers - that is the purpose of the hour.
There is a natural distinction between the believers of the church as represented by the Philadelphia church, and those who dwell on the earth.
Thus, the normal understanding of the passage is that there will be a group of believers who will be delivered from a time of trial that will come upon a different group of people called the earth dwellers.

We know that the church will remain on the earth into the 70th week and indeed, into the second half of the week, as a fully functional representative of God to the earth dwellers. During the time of the tribulation, which begins at the midpoint of the week, the church will come under the persecution oppression of the beast, and many will be martyred and forced into secrecy. There is no promise of deliverance from the persecution pressure of the tribulation.
Yes, the church will be delivered from those persecutions, when Jesus returns at the Day of the Lord, which is represented by the 6th seal at Revelation 6:12-17. But this deliverance FROM THE BEAST is not the promise that is presented at Rev. 3:10.

Furthermore, the time of persecution from the beast, which is called the tribulation, is not a time of trial for the unbelievers. The tribulation is a time of trial and testing for believers, but the HOUR OF TRIAL is NOT something that is coming upon believers, but very clearly, upon the unbelieving EARTH DWELLERS. The hour of trial then, is a time for unbelievers to face the issues of Messiah worship vs. beast worship. And the things that challenge them are the many judgments that come from God’s wrath after the rapture of the church.

Jesus taught about this time of wrath that would come upon the earth dwellers. Luke 21:26, shows us the unbelievers are all upset about "the things which are coming upon the inhabited world."
This is a pretty good synonym for "earth dwellers."

And at Luke 21:34-36 Jesus warns BELIEVERS about the possibility of the Day of the Lord coming upon them like a trap (just like Paul warns later at 1 Thes. 5). And then Jesus says, "for it (The day of the Lord) will come upon all those who dwell upon the face of the earth."
Here we find those "earth dwellers" again. And to confirm this understanding, Jesus stated at verse 35, “for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth.”
We have here, a clear distinction between two groups.
In verse 36, we have the believers who "stand before the Son of Man,"
(whether in confidence or in shame - 1 John 2:28) and at verse 35 we have those who are left behind - “all those who dwell on the face of all the earth;” the earth dwellers.
Revelation 3:10 EASILY points back to this.

Even the 6th seal shows us the EARTH DWELLERS (without
calling them that) worried about what is going to
happen as Jesus comes back.

Support is also found from the Old Testament at Zephaniah 1:14-18, where it is stated that Yahweh “will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth,” (v. 18).

And finally, Isaiah 13:6-13 describes the reaction and the character of the recipients of the Day of the Lord judgments.
(6)“Wail, for the day of the LORD is near! It will
come as destruction from the Almighty.(7)Therefore all
hands will fall limp, And every man’s heart will
melt.(8)And they will be terrified, Pains and anguish
will take hold of {them}; They will writhe like a
woman in labor, They will look at one another in
astonishment, Their faces aflame.(9)Behold, the day of
the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning
anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will
exterminate its sinners from it.(10)For the stars of
heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth
their light; The sun will be dark when it rises, And
the moon will not shed its light.
(11)Thus I will punish the world for its evil, And the
wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to
the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness
of the ruthless.(12)I will make mortal man scarcer
than pure gold, And mankind than the gold of
Ophir.(13)Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble,
And the earth will be shaken from its place At the
fury of the LORD of hosts In the day of His burning anger.”

I believe this distinction is clear enough so that I can conclude that the HOUR OF TRIAL is a time JUST FOR the earth dwellers. That is, it is TRIAL for unbelievers and not believers. The CHURCH will be gone and anyone who becomes a believer after the rapture will not be touched DIRECTLY by the Day-of-the-Lord judgments.
The promise at Revelation 3:10 tells me that believers of the church will be KEPT OUT FROM the time of trial and judgment that is designed for the unbelievers who remain on the earth after the rapture.

The hour of trial is FOR the earth dwellers in contrast to believers who are rescued out from it. It is not a period of time that is a SHARED time of trial, but one that is specifically for the unbeliever and not the church. The issue of distinction between earth dwellers and believers relates to the church only. People who become believers after the rapture are not in view. Obviously, they will come under a different Divine game plan and cannot claim the deliverance promises in the Christian letters or at Revelation 3:10.

We have four clearly defined periods of time that could be in view for the hour of trial.
1. The ENTIRE 70th week, which is seven years in duration.
2. The first half of the week, which is 3 1/2 years in duration.
3. The tribulation which begins at the midpoint of the week and is interrupted and ended by the Lord’s return at some unknown day and hour at least 6 months before the end of the 70th week.
4. The Day of the Lord, which begins at the return of the Lord and includes the trumpet and bowl judgments.

To determine which of these four best fits as identification for the hour of trial, we must keep in mind two factors.
First, the hour of trial is upon the earth dwellers, and not upon believers.
Second, it is a time of TRIAL; a time of testing, and judgment.

Is the tribulation, which begins at the midpoint of the 70th week, a time of trial for unbelievers? When we look at the TRIALS that God brought upon Pharaoh, we see that they were judgmental in nature and designed to get Pharaoh to respond in a positive way toward God. God brought judgment to convince Pharaoh to humble himself before Him (Exodus 9:30, 10:3).
During the time of the tribulation, when the beast is promoting his agenda, there is no TRIAL or TESTING or JUDGMENT for UNBELIEVERS. It is simply a choice to accept beast worship instead of Messiah worship. And the beast makes it very easy to choose by providing economic security for those who embrace him.
The tribulation is a time of TRIAL and TESTING for believers, as they will be facing great persecution for resisting beast worship, but the HOUR OF TRIAL is for UNBELIEVERS and not believers, and therefore, cannot be referring to the tribulation. In actuality, there is no deliverance for believers from the persecution activity of the tribulation. Those who resist will either be killed or be ON THE RUN during the whole time. What kind of a promise can be given to them that they will be delivered out from this time of TRIAL, if being faithful means being killed? No, there is no promise to believers of being KEPT out from or away from the TRIAL of the tribulation. Deliverance from the crisis while within the tribulation will occur either through death or rapture - and in either case, it is not dependent on faithfulness. Now, ENDURANCE during the time of the tribulation is an entirely different issue.

On the other hand, the Day of the Lord judgments are FOR the earth dwellers; FOR UNBELIEVERS. It is not for the church. At 1 Thessalonians 1:10, the church is promised deliverance out from “the wrath which is coming” by the return of Jesus from heaven. We must keep in mind, that the tribulation is NOT a time of God’s wrath. The tribulation is a time of man’s wrath and Satan’s wrath expressed toward Christians and anyone else who refuses to embrace beast worship. The wrath of God is not in view until AFTER the church is removed at the 6th seal-return of Jesus. It is at this time that the earth dwellers cry out, “hide us from . . . the WRATH of the Lamb; for the great day of THEIR WRATH has come,” (Revelation 6:16-17).

The first half of the week is characterized by the world-peace that will be established by the conquering activity of the rider on the first horse. Seal #2 refers to a specific person who takes THE PEACE from the earth. That means that there was some kind of specific peace in place in order for it to be removed.
Thus seal #1 refers to activity by a specific person that seems to dominate world politics and power by going out to conquer. He needs to “conquer” because the world at that time is characterized by all kinds of wars, especially in and around Palestine.
It seems most natural for this conquering to be what brings about the end to all the warfare and establishes a significant peace. THE peace that will then be removed later by the person of the 2nd seal.
The person of the first seal is the world ruler who establishes a peace treaty between the Muslims and Jews so that there will be peace between them for the agreed amount of time of 7 years.
It is for them a 7-year peace experiment.
However, 3 1/2 years into that treaty the same person, having become empowered by Satan, will break that treaty and demand that everyone worship him and Satan. This is based on Daniel 9:27, 2 Thessalonians 2 and Revelation 13.
There is no indication that this time of peace, represented by the first seal, is a time of any significant trial, testing or judgment on either believers or unbelievers. It will instead, be a time of religious tolerance and political unity for the Middle East, and probably for the whole world.
It is for this reason, that the first half of the week will not qualify as the HOUR OF TRIAL of Revelation 3:10.

It is also for this reason that the ENTIRE week can not be the HOUR OF TRIAL. Since the entire week and the 2nd half are two clearly distinct points of focus, the issue would be deliverance from the 2nd half rather than the whole. The point is, that there is no need for deliverance from the first half since it is not a time of trial.

Can the word, TRIAL be used for unbelievers?
This is answered by two factors.
(1) It is clearly stated that this time of TRIAL is for the EARTH DWELLERS and not the believers of the church at Philadelphia.
(2) The word group for the Greek PEIRASMOS can be used for unbelievers.
The word group is from the verb PEIRADZO and means not only to tempt, but it also means to put someone on trial or THROUGH a trial to see what kind of person they are - or they will turn out to be.
This need not be limited to God dealing with the believer.
It is used for the believers of Ephesus who PUT TO THE TEST to check out the quality of those who claimed to be apostles - who turned out to be false. This is certainly a TRIAL or examination on unbelievers (or maybe simply believers teaching false doctrine). Rev. 2:2

1. James tells us that God cannot be tempted (peiradzo) and that
He does not tempt (peiradzo) anyone.
Now, although we understand what James means - -
a. God does not tempt anyone to commit sin
b. God cannot be tempted to commit sin.

YET we need to recognize that the word group is used with God both as the subject and as the object.
a. In the New Testament:
     1. Heb. 3:9, when your fathers TEMPTED me (put to the test).
         Also at Ex.17:2, 7; Num. 14:22; Isaiah 7:12;
         Psalm 77:41, 56 in the LXX.
     2. And at Acts 15:10, the Jerusalem church leaders were testing (PEIRADZO) God to see if it was really true that He had abolished the Mosaic rituals for the church.

b. In the Old Testament: God put to the test (PEIRADZO) His people to see if they would be true. Judges 2:22; Heb. 11:17
Deut. 7:19 tells us that God did to Pharaoh - - GREAT TRIALS.
This word in the Hebrew is the noun MASSAH which comes from
the verb NASAH. The verb, NASAH is translated by PEIRADZO in the LXX at Ex. 17:7 in reference to Israel putting God to the test.
The noun also occurs there and is translated by the Greek, PEIRASMOS.
AND here at Deut. 7:19, the noun TRIALS which God did to
Pharaoh is translated by the Greek noun PEIRASMOS in the LXX.
Furthermore, Moses says that God is going to do the SAME THING to the Canaanites - ie, give them great trials.
And as a result, many become believers: Rahab, the Gibeonites.

The PEIRADZO word group has a variety of uses, and it is not advisable to suggest that the word cannot be used for unbelievers at Revelation 3:10.
Especially since the hour of trial mentioned there is specifically for the earth dwellers; a group that is separate from believers - ie, those who dwell on the earth vs. the "representative" YOU in the passage for the church.

The same kind of distinction is made at 1Thes. 5 where we see that the Day of the Lord is going to come suddenly upon the unbelievers. And we are told that the believer (whether he is awake or asleep) will not go through those judgments.

At Luke 21:25-28, Jesus clearly indicates that at His second coming, the judgment was to come upon the world , while the believers were told to "look up because their redemption approaches?"

Concerning the promises to the 7 churches. Some of those promises apply equally to all believers of all ages, but some are limited to the specific church mentioned.
FIRST of all, in general, the overcomer promises apply to all
believers and refers to a STATUS reward, with overcomer
referring to one who has indeed overcome the evil one by his
INITIAL trust in Jesus as Savior (1 John 5:5; Rev. 12:11; 21:7).

Then the specific promises apply to wherever the shoe fits.
1. Rev. 2:5 is historical and not eschatological. The removal of
the lamp stand has to do with discipline on the church and its
role as a light bearer. The phrase, "or else I am coming to you,"
refers to the visitation of the Lord for discipline and not His
physical return.

2. Rev. 2:10 is historical and not eschatological. Although we
may not be able to specifically identify what is going on with the
prison and the tribulation for 10 days, it is obviously an historical
time of persecution that applies only to Smyrna. However, the
promise, "be faithful unto death and I will give you a crown of life," is a promise that is universally applicable to all believers who
remain faithful under martyr-producing persecution.

3. Rev. 2:16 is historical and not eschatological. In fact, there is
nothing eschatological in that letter. The phrase, "I am coming"
refers to the visitation of the Lord in DISCIPLINE and not His
physical return - the context does not allow for that, just like at
verse 5.

4. Rev. 2:18-29 (Thyatira): There is nothing eschatological here.
The promise of judgment is historical and does not refer to THE
tribulation. There is no significance to say that these Jezebelites
are going into THE great tribulation because they don't repent - -
when ALL THE CHURCH is going into THE great tribulation ANYWAY.
The only eschatological focus is at verse 25, "hold fast what you
have until I come," which communicates the oft repeated
exhortation to watchfulness and expectation given to all of us.

5. Rev. 3:3 is the first REAL eschatological reference in the
churches, and echoes 1Thes. 5:1-8.
The church at Sardis is warned that if they do not WAKE UP
Jesus will come to them like a thief.
That means they will be unprepared through lack of fellowship -
BUT not unprepared through lack of salvation. He says at verse 1
that they are alive (spiritual life) but they are dead. They are functionally “dead” or neutralized, which refers to their failure
to be in fellowship with God and function as a light bearer.

It is also a valid promise (or threat) to the entire church for if any of us are not prepared, we will be caught off guard and He will come like a thief to us - and we will be ashamed before Him (1 John 2:28) - but we will still be raptured. This reflects the teaching of Paul at 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, and equally applies to ALL believers of all the churches of all generations. For everyone, the possibility ever existed, and exists (were the covenant ever to get signed) for them to be caught off guard. Although this is specifically written to Sardis, the promise OR THREAT, if you please, applies equally to all.

We find a very similar warning from Jesus at Luke 21:34-36,
“Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

And Paul at 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6,
“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day (the day of the Lord as per verse 2) should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.”
The idea here is that the day SHOULD NOT CATCH US LIKE A THIEF, but it can if we are not prepared and on guard.
Being caught off guard does not mean that the believer will enter into "that day" (the day of the Lord), but that the believer will face the Lord in shame and embarrassment as at 1John 2:28.

6. Rev. 3:7-13 (Philadelphia): Operating on the corrected, and
what I believe to be the BETTER translation, all the CONDITIONAL factors are historical. That is, they apply in general to all the churches and all believers who find themselves in operation "if-the-shoe-fits" all throughout history. This letter, as well as the others, is NOT to a specific type or category of believer, but instead, indicates that there will be different quality of congregations in existence throughout history and of course, at the end time. Some local churches will be more consistently faithful than others, and will have a greater impact within their respective societies. All believers share equally in the UNIVERSAL promises, however, it is only individuals who will reap the benefits of the “if-the-shoe-fits” promises.
The promise in view at Revelation 3:10 is a UNIVERSAL promise, that is made - absolutely - and says that the church (as a universal entity) and all believers who are part of the church will be delivered (kept out from) the SPECIFIC hour of trial that is designed to come upon the earth dwellers. This hour of trial is NOT for the church, but for the earth dwellers. The tribulation is NOT a test for the earth dwellers. All they have to do is follow the beast and they will be living in peace and security. Everywhere, the tribulation is described as a time of persecution upon faithful Israel and/or the church depending on context - not upon the unbeliever.
This is exactly the very same promise we have received elsewhere.
That is, we will not be here during the Day-of-the-Lord judgments.
The promise at verse 11 is eschatological and speaks of loss of reward for unfaithfulness - but NOT loss of deliverance from the hour of trial.
Compare other promises made to the church universally, concerning the second coming of Jesus: Phil. 3:20-21, Col. 3:4, 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, 1 Thes. 4:13-18, 1 Thes. 5:4, 2 Thes. 1:4-10, Hebrews 9:28, 1 John 3:1-2

7. Rev. 3:14-22 (Laodicea): there is nothing eschatological here.
It is all dealing with faithless believers in general who need to
get back into fellowship with God (open the door) and if they do
not, then they will continue to receive punitive discipline from God
until they die or until the rapture, according to all that the bible
teaches elsewhere on the subject of divine discipline.

In these 7 letters there is no SPECIFIC reference to the church going through the tribulation or being delivered from the tribulation.
The FACT of the tribulation is an ASSUMED concept based on the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. Everyone knew that the church would be here during THE tribulation. The real issue is deliverance from the judgment of God that was to come at the return of Jesus, which would bring judgment, wrath, and TRIAL upon the earth dwellers after the church is removed.
Is there TRIAL or TESTING upon the unbelievers during this time?
There most certainly is. The gospel is being proclaimed as the
alternative to beast worship, and it is the magnitude of the Day-of-the-Lord judgments that TEST and CHALLENGE the unbelievers to choose God (fear God and give Him glory, and worship, Rev. 14:7; 16:9) instead of the beast (of course, for those who have already taken the mark, there is no reprieve).

The next issue is whether the Greek communicates a removal BEFORE the hour of trial begins or a deliverance from the “trial” while living within the hour.
There are good arguments on both sides concerning the significance of EK TEREO (kept from), however, the issue is not really going to be resolved by these two words. Instead, it will be these two words PLUS the term “earth dwellers” and the meaning of TRIAL.
1. The significance of KEPT OUT FROM.
The discussion as to whether the prepositional phrase, KEPT OUT FROM, refers to being kept from ENTRANCE into or kept from harm WHILE WITHIN has good arguments on both sides. However, that discussion is an issue ONLY if the HOUR OF TRIAL refers to the tribulation. I have demonstrated that the HOUR OF TRIAL does not refer to the tribulation, but instead, refers to the Day of the Lord which starts after Jesus returns at the 6th seal, interrupts and ends the tribulation, and raptures the church out from the earth. In addition, the corrected translation, which has the believers “kept from” as a statement of fact rather than based on a condition of faithfulness, supports the REMOVAL option.

However, for completion in this study, it will be helpful to produce the arguments for the two sides. The primary reason for this is to demonstrate that the meaning of KEPT OUT FROM in the context of Revelation 3:10 is inconclusive without a clear definition of what the HOUR OF TRIAL is. Since the HOUR OF TRIAL refers to the Day of the Lord and not the tribulation, the meaning of KEPT OUT FROM clearly refers to removal out from the earth in order to prevent an entrance into that hour.

2. The best argument in support of KEPT OUT FROM referring to a protection while within is provided by Robert Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, pages 55-58:

Our first major question concerns the exact force of the Greek preposition EK, translated "from."
Essentially, EK, a preposition of motion concerning thought or physical direction, means out from within. EK does not denote a stationary position outside its object, as some have mistakenly supposed in thinking that the EK of Revelation 3:10 refers to a position already taken outside the earthly sphere of tribulation. Other prepositions- EKTOS, HEXO, HEXOTHEN, ANAEU, and CHORIS -would have properly denoted a place apart from the hour of testing. But EK was used in this sense only in exceptional cases in classical Greek, "chiefly in early writers." The basic idea of emergence from within is illustrated by usages in other verses of similar expression. The large host of tribulational saints will be "the ones who come out of the great tribulation" (Rev. 7:14).

"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation"

(2 Pet. 2:9 AV). The primary sense of emergence in EK would
therefore seem to thwart a pretribulational interpretation of the verse, for emergence from within could only mean that the Church had been within the hour of testing.
To defend the position that EK may signify complete immunity, H. Alford and J. Moffatt are quoted to the effect that the grammar "permits" such an interpretation. But there should be candor enough to admit that the grammar equally permits the posttribulational interpretation since it is the latter position which Alford and Moffatt themselves adopt. Alford is also cited as writing that it is hard to distinguish between TEREIN EK (keep out from) and TEREIN APO (keep away from) in John 17:15 and James 1:27. Buttman-Thayer are added for the view that EK and APO often denote the same relation. Significantly, however, APO (away from) does not deny the thought of emergence, but only does not affirm it.
Therefore, we are more accurate to say that apo often includes the meaning of emission in EK (in fact, APO has usurped the place and meaning of EK in modern Greek) than that EK loses its primary sense of emergence in approaching APO.

Abbott's doubt that in the LXX and in John EK always implies previous existence within, "though it does commonly," has become yet another appeal to authority. But Abbott is not to be followed here:

First, if EK ever occurs without the thought of emergence, it does so very exceptionally. This fact incapacitates Revelation 3:10 as a proof-text for pretribulattontsm.

Second, the citation by Thiessen of Abbott's opinion comes through A. T. Robertson." But Robertson gives that opinion disapprovingly. And what Robertson himself writes, when quoted more fully, damages the pretribulational position:

"Abbott doubts if in the LXX and John EK always implies previous existence in the evils from which one is delivered when used with SODZO and TEREO. Certainly in John 17 EK occurs rather frequently, but TERESES EK TOU PONEROU (17:15) may still imply that the evil once had power over them (cf. Jesus' prayer for Peter). Certainly in John 12:27, SOSON ME EK TES HORAS TAUTES, Jesus had already entered into the hour.

Cf. DUNAMENON SODZEIN EK THANATOU (Heb. 5:7) where EK may accentuate the power of God (DUNAMENON), though he had not yet entered into death. In Rev. 3:10 TERESO EK TES HORAS TOU PEIRASMOU, we seem to have the picture of general temptation with the preservation of the saints. The word means 'out of,' 'from within,' not like APO or PARA. . . In the N.T. EK is still ahead of APO."

Third, Abbott's opinion that EK does not need to imply previous existence within the object when used with TEREO (the word for "keep" in Rev. 3:10) in the LXX and in John is totally meaningless. The two words never appear together in the LXX! And their only other partnership in Johannine literature comes in John 17:15, where preservation rather than evacuation is in view.

Fourth, although EK does not always imply the actual experience of the evil out of which one is delivered (John 12:27; 2 Cor. 1:10; 1 Thess. 1:10), it does imply the immediate and dangerous presence of the evil.

Fifth, the preposition EK appears in John's writings approximately 336 times, far more often than in the writings of any other NT author. There is not a single instance where the primary thought of emergence, or origin, cannot fit, indeed, does not best fit the thought of the context. Surely the invariability of meaning in such a high number of occurrences establishes the Johannine usage.

Sixth, if we imagine that EK denotes exit, but say that the Church will be caught out right after the beginning of the seventieth week, we render the word TEREO (keep or guard) practically meaningless and sacrifice the dispensational stand that the Church can have no part in an Israelitish period such as the seventieth week. It would be sheer sophistry to say that the Church will be removed immediately upon entrance into the hour, for then the keeping will last only for an instant and the promise becomes devoid of real meaning.

It is sometimes asked why DIA (through) or EN (in) does not appear if the last generation of the Church will indeed be present on earth during the hour of testing. The answer lies in a matter of emphasis. EN would have placed all the emphasis on presence within. DIA would have distributed the emphasis between entrance, presence within, and emergence. As it is, EK lays all the emphasis on emergence, in this verse on the final, victorious outcome of the keeping-guarding. The same emphasis crops up in Revelation 7:14, where the saints come "out of the great tribulation." The elder might have said that they had come "through" the great tribulation. But, though not denying the notion which the preposition "through" would have conveyed, he stresses the thought of emergence. On the other hand, we may ask why APO (away from, without a necessary implication of previous presence within) does not appear in Revelation 3:10 and thus at least permit a pretribulational interpretation. Or, why was not a preposition used which would have required the interpretation of previous removal - EKTOS, HEXO, HEXOTHEN, ANEU, and CHORIS?

In seeking to harmonize the meaning of EK with pretribulationism, appeal is made to a quotation from MM: "The clause in the early manuscript [cited by MM] reads, 'has removed it [the donkey] from my reach.'

The donkey was placed out of the reach of the person spoken of. God promises to guard this Church out of the reach of the great tribulation." But does God promise that? The citation from MM states removal;
whereas Revelation 3:10 states keeping, or protection. In the phrases "out of the reach of the great tribulation" we have an unwarranted interpolation of the words "reach of," which are expressed in the
secular manuscript (EK MESOU-MM; cf. 2 Thess. 2:7), but not in Revelation 3:10. The fact that the donkey was removed out of reach shows that it had been within reach and proves that even here EK denotes emergence from within the sphere of the preposition's object.

3. For the position that KEPT OUT FROM refers to preventing an ENTRANCE INTO, I make the following observations.


Prepositions are TRANSITION words developed in order to facilitate the connection between ideas. That is, they are AIDES to connect the ideas of two nouns or phrases. The REAL issue is what the meaning of those IDEAS are, and then see how the preposition makes the connection.
From Dana and Mantey, page 98,
"A very important fact to remember in studying prepositions is
that each one . . . may be used to express one or several either
kindred or diversified ideas. The best way to determine the
meanings of a preposition is to study it in its various contexts
and note its various uses. . .
Each preposition originally had, very likely, one meaning. We
cannot know definitely what that was, but we have ventured a
guess for each preposition and term it the root meaning.
Additional meanings were accumulated in succeeding years,
most of them kindred to the root meaning, but some not. These
we call RESULTANT meanings. They are by far the more numerous.
. . .Then there is a special, rare use of prepositions whose
meanings we term REMOTE, because they are remote from the root idea and because they are seldom used."


Gundry’s discussion concerning this is quite compelling on the surface.
However, there are some opposing factors that merit consideration.
While it is true that the preposition, EK, USUALLY means a removal from a place that the subject is WITHIN, Gundry’s dismissal of Abbott’s observation is not convincing.
Gundry writes:
“Third, Abbott's opinion that EK does not need to imply previous existence within the object when used with Tereo (the word for ‘keep’ in Rev. 3:10) in the LXX and in John is totally meaningless. The two words never appear together in the LXX! And their only other partnership in Johannine literature comes in John 17:15, where preservation rather than evacuation is in view.”

It is recognized that almost all the uses of EK indicate previous existence within something. However, there are examples of EK that quite certainly go outside that norm and indicate a keeping from ENTRANCE INTO.

Notice at Acts 15:29,
“. . .out from which things, if you keep yourselves, you will do well.”
Clearly, this is not a removal or separation from WITHIN, but a
complete staying away from.
It is also interesting to note here, that although we find no other examples of EK with TEREO, as Gundry rightly pointed out, we do have here the word, diaTEREO. This word can easily be translated as KEEP AWAY FROM, and would clearly communicate a NO-ENTRANCE idea.

John 12:27 provides a bit more controversy.
“What shall I say? Father, save me OUT FROM this hour?”

Some suggest that he was already IN THE HOUR. However, I suggest that the “hour” refers to the actual death that he was to face, and he was certainly not IN that hour at the time of his prayer. When we compare this with Hebrews 5:7, we see that it is in fact, the actual death in view.
“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.”
The preposition here, is EK (out from), and since he was not WITHIN that death at the time of his prayers and supplications, His desire is to be delivered away from it. That is, he did not want to HAVE TO experience the death that was coming upon him. At the same time, it must be noted that the actual deliverance that came was a removal FROM WITHIN, for that deliverance did not occur until after he had experienced both spiritual and physical death. But I believe that the intent of his prayer was to avoid the experience altogether, IF POSSIBLE, although he was totally adjusted to doing the will of the Father.

I Thessalonians is very clear.
“And to wait for His son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us AWAY FROM the wrath to come.”

This refers to a removal from the earth BEFORE the wrath comes. In fact, this is exactly the same promise as is stated at Revelation 3:10.

Concerning the grammatical PERMISSIVENESS that Gundry references, that permissibility leaves the discussion at a draw.
Gundry writes:
“To defend the position that EK may signify complete immunity, H. Alford and J. Moffatt are quoted to the effect that the grammar ‘permits’ such an interpretation. But there should be candor enough to admit that the grammar equally permits the posttribulational interpretation since it is the latter position which Alford and Moffatt themselves adopt.”

So then, since both positions are grammatically POSSIBLE, other things must be considered to resolve the issue.

Gundry further writes:
“Fourth, although EK does not always imply the actual experience of the evil out of which one is delivered (John 12:27; 2 Cor. 1:10; 1 Thess. 1:10), it does imply the immediate and dangerous presence of the evil.”

This concession is just the point. “Immediate and dangerous presence” does not mean participation IN. And if John 12:27, 2 Cor. 1:10, and Hebrews 5:7 are not obvious examples, 1 Thessalonians and Acts 15:29 certainly are.

Concerning John 17:15, I suggest that the use of TEREO EK can go either direction. Jesus requests that the Father keep them out from the evil (one). This can be understood as either “keep away from” (either the evil ONE, or evil in general), or as protection while confronting, or in the midst of the evil. In either case, the prayer is a desire of the Lord’s that is not universally and unconditionally answered by the Father. For all through the centuries, many believers have been touched by the influence of evil in general, as well as by a personal harassment from Satan and demons. Thus the warnings and exhortations such as at Ephesians 6:10-17 and 1 Peter 5:8.
At John 17:15, the sentence, “I’m not asking that you take them OUT FROM the world,” clearly indicates a location within the world. The meaning of the preposition, EK, here, is governed primarily by the verb, TAKE (airo), which indicates removal from the world. However, in the next clause, the verb that governs the preposition is TEREO, which means to keep or guard, and indicates some kind of PREVENTION. At Acts 15:29, the issue of keeping AWAY FROM various things is expressed by a form of TEREO. The verb is DIATEREO with EK, and indicates abstaining from something, rather than protection while participating in them. A similar idea is seen at I John 5:21, where we see the command, “keep yourselves from idols.” Here, the proposition is APO, but the verb is still TEREO. The command clearly involves keeping AWAY FROM idols. It is the verb PLUS the preposition that determines this - not the verb by itself or the preposition by itself. Incidentally, the two prepositions, EK and APO, are often times used in the same manner. The choice between EK or APO is not necessarily conclusive in determining the intended meaning. Both can mean a removal away from or a removal from within. Scribes have often interchanged these two prepositions as can be seen by the observations from Robertson (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, page 596).
“The indifference of the scribes as to which they used is shown in the MS variations between EK and APO as in Mat. 7:4; 17:9; Mk. 16:3.”

At John 17:15, Jesus certainly recognizes that the believer is IN THE WORLD and is AROUND the evil. However, I suggest that his desire and prayer is for a PREVENTION of influence. It is difficult to compare this verse with Revelation 3:10 since, here, the idea is protection from contact with an INFLUENCE, ie, evil. At Revelation 3:10, the idea is protection or KEEPING AWAY from a segment of time. That protection involves a removal from the earth before that segment of time begins, so that there is not even an entrance into that time period. The issue at Revelation 3:10 is NOT removal in itself, but protection from. Removal is simply the MEANS by which that protection is accomplished. At John 17:15, it is the same issue of PROTECTION that is in view, and not removal. The view of Jesus is NOT that the believer GETS INTO EVIL and then needs protection, but rather that THROUGH using God’s word (verse 17), the believer will STAY AWAY FROM the evil.

Is the analysis of this prepositional phrase conclusive? Perhaps not all by itself. But considered along with the other factors it leaves me quite convinced that the promise is made to believers IN GENERAL or UNIVERSALLY, and refers to a deliverance from the earth BEFORE the hour of trial arrives. And that hour of trial is specifically for the earth dwellers (unbelievers).


Questions and comments are always welcome

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