When pretrib promoters are asked for a single verse proving a pretrib rapture, they invariably bring up Rev. 3:10 with a "I gotcha" look on their face. This verse says "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."
The Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible states: "This [Rev. 3:10] is the most specific guarantee from our Lord Himself that Christian believers will not go into that seven-year Tribulation period He is about to unveil (Rev. 6-18)."
Thomas Ice, in an article titled "Kept From The Hour," writes: "I believe that Revelation 3:10 is a verse teaching that the church is promised exemption from the seven-year tribulation period, thus supporting the pretrib rapture."
Hal Lindsey's 1999 book (the cover of which says "Hal Lindsey...Vanished Into Thin Air...The Hope of Every Believer") has this comment about Rev. 3:10 on p. 231: "The promise of being kept from the hour...[does] fit into the pattern of a pre-Tribulation Rapture scenario."
This escaptist interpretation of Rev. 3:10 (which was never a part of any official Christian theology or organized church before 1830) can be traced, unhindered, all the way back to a 19th century British group called the Irvingites who admitted they had been influenced by young Margaret Macdonald of Scotland. In Dec. 1831 one Irvingite writer identified as "Fidus" included the following in an article in his group's journal "The Morning Watch" (pp. 260f):
He said that after "Philadelphia" is "caught up, that which withholdeth shall have been removed; all, on pain of death, shall be obliged to receive the mark of the beast...." "...that, being translated, we may in the pavilion of God escape the desolation of the wicked one and that universal hour of trial....that as the church of Philadelphia, in preserving the word of patience, refuses to let it go; so her being preserved from the hour of trial is not her being enabled to bear it, but her being exempt from undergoing it...."
He added that the saints are "caught up...under the second woe (Rev. 11:13)...translated before the supremacy of the man of sin...." "Thou may be translated on the morrow...."
(Note the "pretribness" - a word I coined - as well as imminence in Edward Irving's group, the first group to publicly teach what even John Darby admitted later on was then a "new" view that had never been known before!)
Was Darby correct? Let's see how the greatest Greek NT scholars of the past had interpreted Rev. 3:10.
John Wycliffe: "Wherefore let us pray to God that he keep us in the hour of temptation, which is coming upon all the world, Rev. iii."
Matthew Henry: "Those who keep the gospel in a time of peace shall be kept by Christ in an hour of temptation [Rev.3:10]."
Albert Barnes: "...he will keep them in the future trials that shall come upon the world [Rev. 3:10]."
R. C. Trench: "...the Philadelphian church...to be kept in temptation, not to be exempted from temptation...."
J. H. Thayer: "To keep [Rev. 3:10]:...by guarding, to cause one to escape in safety out of."
H. B. Swete: "The promise [of Rev. 3:10], as Bede says, is 'not indeed of your being immune from adversity, but of not being overcome by it.' "
Theodor Zahn: "...He will preserve...at the time of the great temptation [Rev. 3:10]..."
A. T. Robertson: "In Rev. 3:10...we seem to have the picture of general temptation with the preservation of the saints."
R. C. H. Lenski: "...it [Philadelphia] shall be kept untouched and unharmed by the impending dangers [Rev. 3:10]."
(Google "Famous Rapture Watchers" to see the sources and pages for the above quotes.)
I would now like to quote a modern Bible scholar who reflects in his superb writings the deep Greek New Testament scholarship of the past. He writes:
"To the angel in the church of Philadelphia, the Lord acknowledges this congregation as being faithful to the name of Jesus...[and] He tells them that they will not be victimized by the 'hour of trial' [Rev. 3:10] that is going to come on the whole world for testing."
The same scholar adds: "That 'great testing' is to include all who live on earth, and all who endure (Gr. bastazo, bearing under hardships) for His name's sake will be kept (Gr. sozo, safe, well) from the 'hour of trial,' which will be testing men's faith in Jesus Christ." He points out that true believers will not be "removed (or snatched) from earth up to heaven" before the same end time trial but "will be guarded (tereo, kept from) during the trial itself!"
The well-known modern scholar I allude to is my good friend Joe Ortiz. And I have been quoting his excellent and timely book Why Christians Will Suffer "Great Tribulation" (pp. 87, 153).
The next time you hear persons claiming that Revelation 3:10 is proof of a pretribulation rapture, feel free to share the information in this paper with them. Hopefully they will thank you even before the "hour of trial" arrives!