Revelation 2:10: Warning of Coming Tribulation

Updated: Mar 17, 2020

Verse 10:[1] (Matt. 10:22) Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: (Matt. 24:13) be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee (Jam. 1:12; Rev. 3:11) a crown of life.

[Fear nothing, etc.] Even if greater things threaten. For I am He whom I said myself to be, Revelation 2:8 (Grotius).

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer; thou art like to suffer yet sharper things than thou hast suffered, the persecutions are but begun; but pluck up a good courage, fear not your enemies, Matthew 10:28.

[He is about to cast, etc., μέλλει βαλεῖν ἐξ ὑμῶν, etc.] The Devil (as the principal cause, Ephesians 6:12 [Gomar, Durham], through his ministers [Piscator], enemies of the Gospel, Jews and Gentiles [Gomar], Pagan Magistrates [Grotius, Durham], and soldiers [Durham]; whom the Devil instigated, Ephesians 2:2 [Grotius], out of hatred for Christ and the salvation of man [Pareus]: He imputes this to the Devil, partly for the consolation of the pious, who have such an enemy, partly to magnify the sin of persecution [Durham]) is about to cast (or, is about to give over [Castalio], or, will throw [Ethiopic, similarly Beza, Piscator, Montanus]) of you (understand, some [Erasmus, Beza, Piscator, Pagnine, Grotius, Camerarius]: Concerning which expression we spoke on Matthew 23:34[2] [Grotius]: That here ministers are principally treated, these things teach: 1. the evident change here of number from the singular to the plural; 2. that this testing of the Church is most grievous; 3. that the preservation of some of them especially serves for the consolation of the Church, according to Isaiah 30:20, 21 [Durham]) into prison (by which synecdochically He indicates tortures, banishments, martyrdoms [Pareus, similarly Durham]), that ye may be tried (Erasmus, etc.), that is, that ye may be vexed and tested with various torments (Menochius, Tirinus), or, that ye may be tested (Beza, Piscator), so that, more than before (Grotius), trial might be made of your constancy (Grotius, similarly Piscator, Pareus) in the faith (Piscator, Gomar). See James 1:2 (Grotius). The sense: That which is to happen so that ye may be tested. For this was not the intention of the Devil, but of God (Piscator). Darts foreseen are less wounding. Therefore, thou shalt see that the more grevious persecutions were nearly all formerly predicted to the Churches. Now, this is to be referred, either, 1. to the times of Marcus Aurelius, Verus,[3] and Antoninus[4] (certain interpreters in Grotius, Hammond). At that time the persecution in Asia was most grievous (Hammond), Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History 4:15 (Hammond, Ribera, Menochius), which assailed the Church of Smyrna, and fell upon Polycarp (Hammond). Or, 2. unto its particular times, but the history of which, as many other things, comes not down to us.

Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison; you shall be cast into prison, by Jews and pagans, who are the devil’s instruments, and execute his malice against you; which should both encourage you, that your fight is with the common enemy of mankind, and teach you to pity and pray for your persecutors, who are but the devil’s instruments, whose hearts he hath filled with malice against you. That ye may be tried; that your faith, love, patience, obedience, may be tried.

[And ye shall have tribulation] Not just any θλίψιν/tribulation,[5] but that, namely, of the captivity of many. A manuscript explains this more clearly, where it is, ἕξητε θλίψιν,[6] that is, so that ye might have difficulties (Grotius).

[Ten days] Here He has respect to those Ten persecutions of the Roman Emperors (certain interpreters in Cotterius, similarly More, Cocceius). But ten persecutions are one thing, a persecution of ten days is another. That persecution He says was revived ten times. This one act of persecution was not interrupted (Cotterius). Ten days consist of two hundred and forty hours. Now, if you make them years from 85 AD, about which time the second persecution under Domitian occurred, and the banishment of the Apostle John to Patmos, unto 325 AD, at which time Licinius was removed by Constantine [and the tenth persecution finished], the years are precisely two hundred and forty (Louis Cappel). [The rest of the interpreters otherwise.] The ten days are here understood, either, 1. indefinitely (certain interpreters in Gomar), so that a certain and definite number is in the place of an uncertain and indefinite number (Drusius). Now, it designates, either, 1. many days (certain interpreters in Gomar, thus Ribera, Cotterius, Menochius), or a long time: for ten is a number of multitude, for it is the greatest of all numbers (Cotterius), and units end in Ten (Drusius). Thus ten times is in the place of often, Genesis 31:7, 41; 2 Samuel 19:43; Job 19:3 (Ribera). Or, 2. few days (Gomar, Hammond, Pareus), as in Genesis 24:55; Amos 5:3; 6:9 (Gomar). Which is more suited to the scope, that is, consolation, as in 1 Corinthians 10:13 (Gomar, similarly Pareus); 2 Corinthians 4:17; etc. (Pareus). Or, 2. definitely, either of a certain time (some interpreters in Gomar), and that, either, 1. of the ten years of the Emperor Trajan (other interpreters in Gomar, Piscator, Junius), namely, from the tenth year of the Emperor Trajan unto Hadrian (Piscator out of Junius), which space was precisely ten years,[7] which were here set down, in which space this persecution lasted (Junius). Days for years is agreeable to the Prophetic style, as in Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:5, 6; Daniel 9:24 (Gomar), and often in this book (Junius). But in the Prophets days are also Days, not Years, as some dream. [Which, whether it be rightly spoken, see the Synopsis on Daniel.] Manifest is what I say out of Daniel, who, while he had predicted that the matter was going to last two thousand and three hundred years, Daniel 8:14, he says that this vision was true, Daniel 8:26, that is, to be understood simply, not figuratively, as a comparison with Daniel 2:45 shows. Thos that think otherwise bring nothing which would be to purpose. For the word ἑβδομάδος/hebdomad is general, and is able to be taken as much of years, as of Days and other things: now, how it is to be taken, the matter of each passage ought to teach us. But in Numbers 14:33, the name of days is given not to years, but the delay in desert places is drawn through as many years as the days those explorers had ill-spent in exploring the land. In Ezekiel 4:6, the Prophet is commanded to lie on his side for forty days, so that he might understand the patience of God, who had endured for forty years the worst manners of the people (Grotius). Or, 2. properly (Grotius, similarly Cluverus). For it is a consolation on account of the brevity of the time (Grotius). The simple and literal sense is to be retained, unless clear reason urges otherwise (Cluverus). Those Christians of Smyrna were freed from prison after ten days, with the Magistrates having learned better things concerning their life, either on account of other letters received from Rome (Grotius), or because they stood immovable (Cluverus). Ten days is a short time, Numbers 11:19, yet sufficient for making trial, Daniel 1:12 (Grotius).

And ye shall have tribulation ten days: interpreters are divided about these ten days, what space of time is meant by them; some think the whole time of the ten persecutions, but they lasted above two hundred years; others will have them the ten years of Trajan’s persecution, from the year 99 to 109. Others observe, that in ten days are two hundred and forty hours, which make up the number of years from 85, when the second persecution began, (under which John at this time was,) to 325, when all the persecutions ceased. But to let these fancies go: it is either a certain number put for an uncertain; or, it signifies many days; as in Genesis 31:41, Thou hast changed my wages ten times, that is, many times; so 2 Samuel 19:43; Job 19:3. Or else it signifies a little time, as in Genesis 24:55; Amos 5:3; 6:9. If we understand this epistle as only concerning the church of Smyrna at that time, it may signify a small time. If we understand it prophetically, describing the state of all churches, till the pagan persecution ceased, (which was more than two hundred and forty years,) ten days signifies a long time.

[Be thou faithful (that is, constant in the faith [Pareus, similarly Piscator]), in keeping promises [Piscator], in the due and promised confession of Christ [Gomar]: Stand firm [Grotius]: Fall not from piety and truth [Menochius]) unto death] Which denotes, either, 1. the terminus of life (Gomar), unto the end of life (Grotius): or, 2. the mode of that terminus, namely, enduring death for Christ (Gomar), that is, prepared even to pour out one’s life for Christ (Pareus, similarly Piscator). Which same admonition is in Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13 (Grotius).

[I will give to thee the crown of life] That is, As the crown of thy combat thou shalt receive eternal life (Menochius, similarly Piscator). I will give to thee the honor of Kings in that eternal life. The same expression in James 1:12, in which place see what things are said, and in Psalm 21:3 and Isaiah 62:3 (Grotius).

Be thou faithful unto death, hold fast to thy profession of faith and holiness to the end of thy life here, and I will give thee a crown of life, and I will give thee eternal life and salvation, which shall be a great reward. It is called a crown of righteousness, 2 Timothy 4:8.

[1] Greek: μηδὲν φοβοῦ ἃ μέλλεις πάσχειν· ἰδού, μέλλει βαλεῖν ἐξ ὑμῶν ὁ διάβολος εἰς φυλακήν, ἵνα πειρασθῆτε· καὶ ἕξετε θλίψιν ἡμερῶν δέκα. γίνου πιστὸς ἄχρι θανάτου, καὶ δώσω σοι τὸν στέφανον τῆς ζωῆς.

[2] Matthew 23:34: “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and of them (ἐξ αὐτῶν, with some to be supplied) ye shall kill and crucify; and of them (ἐξ αὐτῶν, with some to be supplied) shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city…”

[3] Marcus Aurelius reigned jointly with Lucius Verus from 161 to 180.

[4] Antonius Pious reigned from 138 to 161.

[5] Revelation 2:10b: “…and ye shall have tribulation (θλίψιν) ten days…”

[6] Codex Alexandrinus.

[7] Emperor Trajan reigned from 98 to 117. Emperor Hadrian reigned from 117 to 138.

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