It is the belief of some that Believers will not have to go through the period of the Great Tribulation based on the following promise found in the Letters of the Seven Churches.
“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” Rev. 3:10
From the above passage, it is taught that when the church is told that they will be kept from the Hour of Trial, it means that they will be kept from the Great Tribulation. However, in this verse, the Great Tribulation is never mentioned. Instead, we read of the Hour of Trial that will test the Inhabitants of the Earth, which is a term that always refers to the unrepentant among mankind.
Based on the above, we know that the Hour of Trial will be a period when the unrepentant on earth will be tested and God’s people will be kept. In Revelation Chapter 11, we read a description of the Hour of Testing when two prophets will preach in Jerusalem and call down plagues in order to warn the Inhabitants of the Earth of the Wrath of God to come.
And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” They are “the two olive trees” and the two lampstands, and “they stand before the Lord of the earth.” If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
The ministry of the Two Witnesses will include the power to shut up the heavens, to turn the waters into blood, and to strike the earth with plagues as often as they want. The plagues of the Two Witnesses will not strike the Inhabitants of the Earth themselves, but will harm the world around them in order to test those who live on earth. Rather than being humbled by the above judgments, the Inhabitants of the Earth will attack Jerusalem and kill the Two Witnesses.
Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. Their bodies will lie in the public square of the great city—which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt—where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days some from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth. Rev. 11:7-10
The above events are also described in the Revelation as the beginning of the Hour of God’s Judgment.
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Rev. 14:6-7
In the above verses, the reference to the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water corresponds with how the Two Witnesses will be given power over the heavens, the earth, and the sea, and to call down plagues as often as they want. The mention of the Gospel being proclaimed to every nation on earth is also reference to the Two Witnesses whose words will be carried to everyone on earth due to the great plagues that they call down. The Revelation refers to this period as the beginning of the Hour of God’s judgment, or the Hour of God’s Trial. During this time, the Inhabitants of the Earth will be tested, and God’s people will be kept. When the Inhabitants of the Earth respond to the test of God by refusing to repent, and by killing the Two Witnesses, the Wrath of God will be poured out as described in the ensuing events of the Revelation.
Kept to Eternal Life
In the above verse, when we are told that Believers will be kept from or through the Hour of Trial, it is not a promise that Believers will not suffer persecution during these events but that their faith, which leads to eternal life, will remain. In the Scriptures, to be kept refers to a persons eternal salvation, and is not a promise that a person will not suffer martyrdom for their faith. This can be seen in the Lord’s prayer for the disciples who were, also, told that they would be protected from the evil one.
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. John. 17:15
In these verses, the phrase protect them from (eteresas SEC 5083) comes from the same word in the original as the phrase keep you from (eteresas SEC 5083) that is used in our original verse. When Jesus used these words to pray for the Apostles, He was not praying that they would escape martyrdom, as, indeed, many of them were killed for their faith, but that their faith would not be stolen by the evil one. Accordingly, the prayer of Christ is not that we would be taken out of this world to avoid persecution or death, but that our faith would not fail to eternal life, which is described as being kept or protected. This point is further emphasized in another set of Scripture where Jesus told His disciples that some of them would be put to death, but not a hair of their head would perish.
You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life. Luke. 21:16-19
These Scriptures make it clear that when the Lord speaks of being kept, protected, or not perishing, the context is a person’s eternal life and is not a guarantee that an individual will not be killed for their faith in this world.
NOTE: The above description of events also corresponds with how the word “from”, which is used in the original verse, could also be translated as “through”, which would make the passage read:
“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you through the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.”
The above conclusion is corroborated by the authors of the NIV Study Bible who use the phrase keep you from the hour of trial, in their translation of this verse, but who also include the following footnote: *3:10 “Keep you from”. The Greek for this phrase can mean either “keep you from undergoing” or “keep you through” the hour of trial. (Zondervan NIV Fully Revised 2002; pg. 1970 footnote)
*The numbers in parenthesis are from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, which lists all the words found in the Scriptures and their original definitions.
 The following verses also use the phrase the Inhabitants of the Earth to describe the unrepentant among mankind. Rev. 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10, 13:8, 13:12, 13:14, 17:2, 17:8