Tribulation, Kingdom, Endurance

Exiled on Patmos, John is a “fellow-participant” in the tribulation, kingdom, and endurance that is in JesusRevelation 1:9

Lighthouse storm - Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash
At the start of his vision, John identified himself as the “
fellow-participant” with the churches in the tribulation and kingdom and endurance in Jesus.” He had been banished to the isle of Patmos for his “testimony” for Jesus. Like the “seven churches” on the Asian mainland, he had endured “tribulation” for the sake of the “kingdom” of God - [Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash].

His opening statement is remarkable for how he combines “tribulation,” “kingdom,” and “endurance” into one declaration that highlights what it means to be “in Jesus”:
  • (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 means joint participation. It is related to the Greek word rendered “fellowship” elsewhere in the New Testament. By using it, John has aligned himself with the sufferings of the “seven churches.” In the Greek clause, the single definite article or “the” modifies all three nouns, THE Tribulation, Kingdom, Endurance. Thus, all three terms are grammatically linked; to be “in Jesus” is to know tribulation, kingdom, and endurance.

Jesus introduced the subject of the “kingdom” at the start of the book by Jesus himself. He is the one who “made us a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.” Already he reigns over the “kings of the earth,” and his saints participate in that rule (“He made us,” past tense) – (Revelation 1:5-6).

Tribulation” translates the Greek noun thlipsis; originally, a “pressing together.” Hence, the sense of the term is “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.”
The saints at Smyrna had received NO criticism and remained faithful through “tribulation,” yet they were facing renewed persecution. Rather than promise them deliverance from further “tribulation,” Jesus exhorted them to endure faithfully through it to receive the “crown of life.”

Later, John saw an “innumerable multitude” of men redeemed by the “Lamb” coming out of the “great tribulation” to stand 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 the “tribulation” - (Revelation 7:9-17).

To be “in Jesus” also means “endurance,” representing the Greek noun hupomoné, which means “steadfastness, endurance, perseverance.”  It occurs seven times in the book, and always to refer to saints who “endure” tribulation and persecution - (Revelation 1:9, 2:2-3, 2:19, 3:10, 14:12):
  • (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.”
Faithful endurance, even when it results in martyrdom, is the very definition of “endurance” and “faithfulness”; it is what characterizes the “overcoming”:
  • (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.
The call to enduretribulation” is threaded throughout the book; it goes to the very 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 by sacrificing their lives when called to so. This is what it means to be “in Jesus.”

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