“I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus…” (Revelation 1:9, ESV)
Last week, I wrote about thlipsis, the trial, struggle, opposition, and tribulation we face because of our faith in Christ and our citizenship in heaven. Jesus told the church in Smyrna that he understood their tribulation, their thlipsis, and encouraged them to remain faithful even to the point of death. If they did, he said he would give them “the crown of life.”
All that was in chapter 2. The first time thlipsis appears in the book of Revelation is actually in chapter 1, verse 9, when John, the author of the book, says to the readers that he is their “brother and partner in the tribulation (thlipsis) and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus.”
This is a description of the Christian life: tribulation, kingdom, and patient endurance. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation (thlipsis). But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We belong to a different kingdom. We live a different life. Being a Christian is nothing less than a new way of being human. That new life brings us into conflict with the kingdom of this world. And thus, as Christians, we will face tribulation. Our calling is one of suffering and prayer, of waiting and worship, of hope and patient endurance. We endure on behalf of the world, and through our perseverance and faith in the face of tribulation, we bear witness to the reality of the gospel.
As John would go on to write in Revelation 12:10-12:
“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!”