You Will Have Tribulation Ten Days

21 Mar
Ten Days

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According to Revelation 2:10, Jesus said the church at Smyrna would have tribulation for ten days. Many things have been written about what this might mean. Some conclude it points to 10 seasons of Roman emperors,[1] but this doesn’t seem correct to me, since at least in the case of Domitian, there is no evidence in history that he persecuted Christians. Moreover, Jesus’ ten days probably have little to do with the number of men, otherwise he might have been clearer. Why leave such a thing up to speculation?

On the other hand, some scholars seek to carve out of history a ten year period, a day for a year, where persecution against Christians was particularly severe. Yet, this, too, is largely speculative. Who is to say which period was more intense than another? Moreover, if the ten days weren’t fulfilled during the lives of the first century believers at Smyrna, what good would its reference do them be, and why would the Lord make light of their personal suffering by saying there would be a more intense persecution later? This certainly couldn’t encourage believers in the first century, nor has God ever made light of his children’s suffering elsewhere in Scripture.

Nevertheless, there are two specific 10 day periods that stand out in the word of God. They are the Jewish holy days of Leviticus 23, and they seem to have prophetic implications for mankind, especially believers. The first ten seem to point more to the trouble of Jesus, while the second ten seems to have more to do with the trouble of his disciples. Consider the seventh day Sabbath rest, which points to our rest in Jesus’ works and suffering, and Passover which points to Jesus’ crucifixion, and the Feast of Firstfruits, which pointed to Jesus’ resurrection and the Feast of Weeks, pointing to the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost etc. The spring holy days were fulfilled in roughly the three and one-half year ministry of the Lord, but their effects are still felt today.

If taken just as they are written in Leviticus 23, there is a natural division between the spring and fall festivals. There were 10 days to be fulfilled in the spring,[2] and, at the time of John’s writing of the Apocalypse, there were 10 days yet to be fulfilled, which occur in the fall.[3] I believe the Lord pointed to these second “ten days,” which were days in the wilderness (Feast of Tabernacles), and days of want (the Day of Atonement), and the Great Day of the feast when all things would become subject to the Father etc. There are ten days in all, and the Lord seems to point out that at least some of them have to do with the tribulation of the believer. Nevertheless, Jesus tells his people to be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10), which seems to indicate that at least some of them would die as a result of this persecution, but he also promises the faithful they would receive the “crown of life”.


[1] Nero (54-66 AD); Domitian (96 AD); Trajan (117 AD); Marcus Aurelius (180 AD); Severas (211 AD); Maximinius (238 AD); Decius (251 AD); Valerian (260 AD); Aurelian (275 AD); and Diocletian (305 AD).

[2] The 10 days are: the Sabbath, which occurs weekly, was fulfilled in the works of Christ—we are to rest in him, our Sabbath. Then comes the Passover when Jesus was crucified, plus the seven Days of Unleavened Bread, and finally Pentecost—10 days in all.

[3] Feast of Trumpets, which occurs on the first day of the seventh month; then comes the Day of Atonement on the 10th day, then the Feast of Tabernacles, a seven day feast, from the 15th to the 21st day, and finally the tenth day is the Last Great Day, which falls on the 22nd immediately after the Feast of Tabernacles.


Posted by on March 21, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation


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2 responses to “You Will Have Tribulation Ten Days

  1. Eddie

    March 22, 2019 at 08:16

    Greetings Patricia, and thank you for reading and for your comment. Lord bless you.

    We agree that the persecution that Jesus mentioned in Revelation 2:10 was eminent. I mentioned that it was **speculative** to say it was in our future (as some futurist try to argue) or sometime between the first century and today (as historicists try to argue). These are the points of view argued in many of our commentaries, and my point is **they** are speculative.

    Concerning John being a companion in tribulation, this is true, and persecution of the saints occurred throughout the 40 year period between Christ’s resurrection and the destruction of Jerusalem. On the other hand, Jesus promised believers that he you keep them from the Great Tribulation. This period describes the wrath of God upon the nation of the Jews 66-70 AD. There would have been no reason for a believer to go through that tribulation period, because that was the Judgment of God upon the wicked. The Lord separates his people from the wicked, according to Jesus’ Gospel.

    Concerning Peter’s martyrdom, I have both Peter and Paul being killed during the Nero persecution at about 64 -65 AD. So, Peter wrote both his epistles cir. 61-63 AD. Nero’s persecution was local and occurred before Rome’s war with the Jews. There would be no reason for him to continue the persecution after the war broke out. But, we agree that the persecution Jesus mentioned was eminent. I have it sometime after Paul went to Rome and before war broke out between Rome and Jerusalem. To get more exact than that would, in my opinion, be guessing.

    Concerning the **ten day** period, as I claimed in my study above, I do not hold to a specific 10 year period. There was persecution throughout the 40 year period between Pentecost and 70 AD. There were three major ones, begun by the Jews. The one Jesus mentioned was the third, which began with the stoning of James, his half-brother (after the flesh).

    Lord bless you, Patricia.

  2. Patricia Watkins

    March 22, 2019 at 02:39

    Hi Eddie,

    You have said above that to attempt to pinpoint a particular period of ten days, or a possible ten-year period in history, is largely speculative. But I know from your previous post about the “Wise as Serpents but Harmless as Doves” that you realize that this persecution period for some in the Smyrna church was ABOUT TO occur as John was writing. “Do not fear what you are ABOUT TO SUFFER. Lo, the devil is ABOUT TO throw some of you into prison, and ye shall have tribulation ten days…” This was an imminent persecution period to those of the church of Smyrna – scheduled to arrive soon on the calendar in their days.

    Concerning the times of persecutions for the saints, you also questioned, “…who is to say which period was more intense than another?” Well, John’s introductory remarks in Rev. 1:9 spoke of his being a “companion in tribulation” with the brethren at that time, but later in Rev. 2:22 in John’s letter to Thyatira, he mentions a future “GREAT tribulation” of even more severity to punish those who were following the same error of the doctrines of Balaam (Rev. 2:20) that those in the church of Pergamos were practicing (Rev. 2:14).

    In II Peter 2:13, written just before Peter’s martyrdom around AD 67, that punishment of “great tribulation” for those practicing the doctrine of Balaam was ABOUT TO BE received by its followers; a soon-to-occur judgment in those days. So scripture itself puts a difference between episodes of “tribulation” and “great tribulation”.

    Paul may have said in II Cor. 1:8 (written around AD 57) that the tribulations he experienced in Asia caused him to despair even of life, but Peter mentions even greater suffering for the saints in I Peter 4:12 – a “FIERY TRIAL which IS taking place”. This was written around AD 65, so the predicted “war with the saints” waged by the Sea Beast for forty-two months was then underway as Peter was writing. Peter must have been writing about the then-current persecution of Christians under Nero, started just after the AD 64 fire at Rome. It was a time when God allowed this persecution period to “wear out the saints” and to “overcome them”. Intentionally, to maximize the number of saints who would be able to participate in the AD 70 resurrection

    As for the Smyrna saints, their ten-day / ten-year tribulation period would break out sometime after Paul’s tribulations in Asia around AD 57, run throughout the period of Nero’s heavy persecution for forty-two months of “war with the saints” after AD 64, and continue probably until AD 70, when as martyred saints, they would “receive the crown of life” in the resurrection.

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