In Revelation 3:10, God promised the church in Philadelphia, “I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.”

While the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 were historical churches in Asia Minor, Christ’s words to each of these churches were intended not only for them but for all other Christians as well. We know this because following Christ’s specific instructions to each church, Christ says, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Notice the plural term “the churches.” I believe Christ’s words have relevance to every church throughout history.

Notice also the definite article (“the”) before the word “hour” in Revelation 3:10 (“the hour of trial”). Definite articles, in the Greek language, can indicate specificity. As related to Revelation 3:10, the definite article seems to point to a specific time period, not just any “hour of testing.” Contextually, it appears that it is a reference to the future tribulation period, which will be a seven‑year “hour of trial.” This period is described in detail in Revelation 6–18. It is from this period of trial that the church is to be kept.

This verse reveals that church saints will be kept from the actual time period of testing, not just the testing itself. As noted previously in the book, the Greek preposition ek, translated “from” in this verse (“I will keep you from the hour of trial”), carries the idea of separation from something. This means that believers will be kept from the hour of testing in the sense that they will be completely separated from it by being raptured before the period even begins.

Renald Showers, in his helpful book Maranatha: Our Lord Come!, suggests that

“The language in Jesus’ reference to this future period of worldwide testing implied that it was well‑known to the church saints. It was well‑known because both Old and New Testament Scriptures, written years before Revelation, foretold this unique, future period of testing or Tribulation, which would take place prior to the coming of the Messiah to rule the world in the Messianic Age or Millennium (Isaiah 2:10‑21; Daniel 12:1; Zephaniah 1:14‑18; Matthew 24:4‑31).” 1

That Revelation 3:10 refers to a rapture before this future period of worldwide testing is implied in verse 11: “I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.” The phrase “I am coming soon” apparently refers to the imminence of the rapture, while the word “crown” refers to the rewards believers will receive at the judgment seat of Christ, which follows the rapture (1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 2:10).2

Posttribulationists rebut that the church will be “kept through” the tribulation period. In response, one should pay particular attention to the indiscriminate nature of the judgments of the tribulation period. “The character of the judgments that will fall is such that they will affect everyone—famine, pestilence, sword, earthquake, stars falling from heaven. The only way one could be kept from that day of wrath would be to be delivered beforehand.”3 As John F. Walvoord put it, “The promise was to be kept from ‘the hour’ of trial, not just the trials in the hour.”4

Notice also that this verse promises that only church saints will be kept out of this hour of trial coming upon the entire earth. Those who become believers during the hour of trial itself—what we might call tribulation saints—will suffer through the remainder of the tribulation. As Bible prophecy expert Arnold Fruchtenbaum put it in his book The Footsteps of the Messiah:

Throughout the Tribulation, saints are being killed on a massive scale (Rev. 6:9‑11; 11:7; 12:11; 13:7, 15; 14:13; 17:6; 18:24). If these saints are Church saints, they are not being kept safe and Revelation 3:10 is meaningless. Only if Church saints and Tribulation saints are kept distinct does the promise of Revelation 3:10 make any sense.5


No Old Testament passage on the tribulation period mentions the church (for example, Deuteronomy 4:29‑30; Jeremiah 30:4‑11; Daniel 8:24‑27; 12:1‑2). Likewise, no New Testament passage on the tribulation mentions the church (for example, Matthew 13:30, 39‑42, 48‑50; 24:15‑31; 1 Thessalonians 1:9‑10; 5:4‑9; 2 Thessalonians 2:1‑11). The church is not mentioned because the church won’t be present on earth in the tribulation period.

In keeping with this, the word “church(es)” is used 19 times in the first three chapters of Revelation. However, in the section dealing with the tribulation—chapters 6 through 18—not a single mention is made of the church. The church is then mentioned once again in Revelation 22:16, where John addresses the first‑century church. Why isn’t the church mentioned in Revelation 6–18? Because the church isn’t there!

Further, a pretribulational rapture best explains the massive apostasy that will engulf the world following the removal of “he who now restrains”—apparently the Holy Spirit who indwells the church (2 Thessalonians 2:3‑7). Because the Holy Spirit indwells all believers (John 14:16; 1 Corinthians 3:17), He will essentially be “removed” when the church is removed at the rapture, thus making possible the fast eruption of apostasy throughout the world. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is the “spirit of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15; John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). When He is removed from the earth at the rapture, untruth (or apostasy) will escalate dramatically.


Scripture promises that the church is not appointed to wrath (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:9, 10; 5:9). This means that the church cannot go through the “great day of wrath” in the tribulation period (Revelation 6:17; 14:10, 19; 15:1, 7; 16:1).

First Thessalonians 1:10 explicitly promises that Jesus “delivers us from the wrath to come.” The word “delivers” in the original Greek text means “to draw or snatch out to oneself, to rescue, to save, to preserve.” Greek scholar Marvin Vincent, author of Word Studies in the New Testament, says the verb means “to draw to oneself ” and “almost invariably” refers to deliverance from “some evil or danger or enemy.”6 Indeed, Bible scholar D. Edmond Hiebert notes that “the word deliver (rhuomai ) carries with it the idea of rescuing from something by a forcible act. The word puts an emphasis on the greatness of the peril from which deliverance is given by a mighty act of power.” 7 This clearly seems to be referring to the rapture of the church before the great peril of the tribulation period.

The “snatching up” in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 sounds amazingly like the description of the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:16‑17: “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (emphasis added). The phrase “caught up” here literally means “snatch up or take away.” And in both 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and 4:16‑17, it is Jesus who does the snatching. So, Jesus—our Savior and Deliverer—rescues us from the wrath to come.

The Greek preposition ek (“from”) is used in 1 Thessalonians 1:10 (“delivers us from the wrath to come”), just as it is used in Revelation 3:10. The term carries the idea of “separation from something.” Believers will be delivered from this wrath by being completely separated from it, and it will take place via “snatching” at the rapture.


Throughout Scripture, God protects His people before His judgments fall (see 2 Peter 2:5‑9). Here are some examples:

  • Enoch was transferred to heaven before the judgment of the flood.
  • Noah and his family were in the ark before the judgment of the flood.
  • Lot was taken out of Sodom before judgment was poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • The blood of the Paschal lamb sheltered the firstborn among the Hebrews in Egypt before judgment fell.
  • The spies were safely out of Jericho and Rahab was secured before judgment fell on Jericho.

So too will the church be secured safely—via the rapture—before judgment falls in the tribulation period. It seems to be God’s modus operandi to rescue His people before His judgment falls on unbelievers.

You can read more about what Ron Rhodes shares on this topic in his new book, Bible Prophecy Under Siege.


Excerpted from Ron Rhodes’ book new book, Bible Prophecy Under Siege (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2024), pages 194-198.

Ron Rhodes (ThD), president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries, is heard regularly on nationwide radio and is the author of The End Times in Chronological Order, Israel on High Alert, 40 Days Through Bible Prophecy, and more. He periodically teaches at Dallas Theological Seminary and several other seminaries.

1. Renald Showers, Maranatha: Our Lord Come! (Bellmawr, NJ: Friends of Israel, 1995), 214

2. Gerald Stanton, Kept from the Hour (Haysville, NC: Schoettle, 1991), 50.

3. John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishers, 1979), 12.

4. Walvoord, The Rapture Question, 12.

5. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Publishing, 2004), Logos Bible Software.

6. Marvin Vincent, cited in Showers, Maranatha: Our Lord Come!, 197.

7. D. Edmond Hiebert, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody, 1992), 75.