Theology Of Trials In The New Testament

As we live for Christ, we will experience troubles because we are trying to be God’s people in a perverse world. Some people say that troubles are the result of sin or lack of faith, but the Bible teaches that they may be a part of God’s plan for believers. Our problems can help us look upward and forward, instead of inward; they can build strong character; and they can provide us with opportunities to comfort others who are also struggling. Your troubles may be an indication that you are taking a stand for Christ.

Suffering is not always the result of sin. John 9:2-3, “His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life'” (NIV).
Strengthen Us God provides hope and love in suffering. Romans 5:3-5, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (NIV).
Conform Us trust in God’s sovereign purpose for our lives. Romans 8:28-29, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family” (NRSV).
Equip Us Suffering enables us to comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows” (NIV).
Reward us: outweighs our suffering. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal” (NRSV).
Confirm us: that we are living for Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:5, “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering” (NRSV).
Trials help Train us to be more fruitful. Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (NIV).
Problems help  Mature us James 1:2-4, “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (NRSV).
Bless Us – we share in the suffering of Christ. 1 Peter 4:12-14, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you” (NIV).


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Bruce B. Barton et al., Life Application Bible Commentary – 1 & 2 Thessalonians, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1999), WORD search CROSS e-book, Under: “Theology of Trials in the New Testament”.
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What is the Great Tribulation?

The Tribulation is a future time period when the Lord will accomplish at least two aspects of His plan: 1) He will complete His discipline of the nation Israel (Daniel 9:24), and 2) He will judge the unbelieving, godless inhabitants of the earth (Revelation 6 – 18). The length of the Tribulation is seven years. This is determined by an understanding of the seventy weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24-27.

The church, made up of all who have trusted in the person and work of the Lord Jesus to save them from being punished for sin, will not be present during the tribulation. The church will be removed from the earth in an event known as the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:13-181 Corinthians 15:51-53). The church is saved from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Throughout Scripture, the tribulation is referred to by other names such as the Day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:1213:6-9Joel 1:152:1-313:141 Thessalonians 5:2); trouble or tribulation (Deuteronomy 4:30Zephaniah 1:1); the great tribulation, which refers to the more intense second half of the seven-year period (Matthew 24:21); time or day of trouble (Daniel 12:1Zephaniah 1:15); time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).

The Great Tribulation is the last half of the Tribulation period, three and one-half years in length. It is distinguished from the Tribulation period because the Beast, or Antichrist, will be revealed, and the wrath of God will greatly intensify during this time. Thus, it is important at this point to emphasize that the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation are not synonymous terms. Within eschatology (the study of future things), the Tribulation refers to the full seven-year period while the “Great Tribulation” refers to the second half of the Tribulation.

It is Christ Himself who used the phrase “Great Tribulation” with reference to the last half of the Tribulation. In Matthew 24:21, Jesus says, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall.” In this verse Jesus is referring to the event of Matthew 24:15, which describes the revealing of the abomination of desolation, the man also known as the Antichrist. Also, Jesus in Matthew 24:29-30 states, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.” In this passage, Jesus defines the Great Tribulation (v.21) as beginning with the revealing of the abomination of desolation (v.15) and ending with Christ’s second coming (v.30).

Other passages that refer to the Great Tribulation are Daniel 12:1b, which says, “And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time.” It seems that Jesus was quoting this verse when He spoke the words recorded in Matthew 24:21. Also referring to the Great Tribulation is Jeremiah 30:7, “Alas! for that day is great, There is none like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s distress, But he will be saved from it.” The phrase “Jacob’s distress” refers to the nation of Israel, which will experience persecution and natural disasters such as have never before been seen.

Considering the information Christ gave us in Matthew 24:15-30, it is easy to conclude that the beginning of the Great Tribulation has much to do with the abomination of desolation, an action of the Antichrist. In Daniel 9:26-27, we find that this man will make a “covenant” (a peace pact) with the world for seven years (one “week”; again, see the article on the Tribulation). Halfway through the seven-year period—”in the middle of the week”—we are told this man will break the covenant he made, stopping sacrifice and grain offering, which specifically refers to his actions in the rebuilt temple of the future. Revelation 13:1-10 gives even more detail concerning the Beast’s actions, and just as important, it also verifies the length of time he will be in power. Revelation 13:5 says he will be in power for 42 months, which is three and one-half years, the length of the Great Tribulation.

Revelation offers us the most information about the Great Tribulation. From Revelation 13 when the Beast is revealed until Christ returns in Revelation 19, we are given a picture of God’s wrath on the earth because of unbelief and rebellion (Revelation 16-18). It is also a picture of how God disciplines and at the same time protects His people Israel (Revelation 14:1-5) until He keeps His promise to Israel by establishing an earthly kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6).


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Introduction to 2 Thessalonians

If you’ve played “telephone,” you know the routine. A message is whispered down the line, person to person; eventually, the last person in line reveals what he or she heard. Usually what the last person reports differs radically from what had been sent by the first person, the message having been distorted in the continued process of listening and repeating.

Communication can be tricky, and what is heard and repeated is not always what was said in the first place.

Evidently, that’s what happened in Thessalonica. Paul had written his warm and personal first letter to teach, encourage, and strengthen the believers there. Perhaps the most powerful message of Paul’s letter was his teaching about the Second Coming. Paul wanted to comfort those who had lost loved ones and to give all of them hope. Jesus would soon return, and they should be ready.

Like the game of “telephone,” however, many of the Thessalonians heard the wrong message. Or they may have received false information from outsiders who, because of ignorance or selfish motives, had twisted the truth. Thinking Paul was stating that Jesus would come at any minute, they stopped working and started watching. The increased persecution of the church made this interpretation of Paul’s words more plausible. Surely this is the Day of the Lord, many must have thought.

The Thessalonian believers thought they had entered the Great Tribulation period, and ever since that time people who have gone through persecutions and tribulations have believed that they were in the Great Tribulation period. For example, during World War II at the time of the blitz in Britain, some of the British ministers who were conservative in their faith came to the conclusion that they had entered the Great Tribulation and that the church was going to go through it.

Commentator, author and radio host Dr. J Vernon McGee tells this story:

“A good friend of mine, a preacher from England, believes that the church will go through the Tribulation. In fact, he believes the church is in it right now. He is living in California now, and one day we were having lunch together with a mutual friend who was a layman, who had bought us big T-bone steaks. The subject of the church and the Tribulation came up, and he insisted that the church was in the Great Tribulation. To confirm his argument he said, “McGee, if you had been in Great Britain during the blitz, and night after night had gone down into the subways with your people, the members of your church, and practically every night one person would have a nervous breakdown because of the strain, and would have to be taken the next day to the country, you would share my belief.” I said to him, “If I had been in Great Britain, and in the blitz as you were, I am convinced that I would have thought as you did, Boy, this is the Great Tribulation! But after the war was over if I had come to the United States and was having lunch with a couple of friends and was eating a T-bone steak, I think I would pinch myself and ask myself, Is this really the Great Tribulation period? If this is the Tribulation, let’s have more of it since it will mean more T-bone steaks.” He looked at me and said in that British disdainful voice, “McGee, you are being ridiculous!” So I told him that I didn’t think I was being ridiculous; I thought he was being ridiculous.”

The description of the Tribulation in the Bible is much worse than anything that happened during World War II. This period has been so clearly identified by Christ that there is no reason for getting panicked or misled.  Christ said that there is coming tribulation which will lead to “…such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt. 24:21). Nothing like it has taken place before, and nothing like it will ever take place afterward.

While 1 Thessalonians emphasized the return of Christ for His church in what we call the “Rapture,” 2 Thessalonians emphasizes the return of Christ to the earth the second time, when He returns in judgment and sets up His Kingdom here upon this earth. This is called the Day of the Lord.  You see, at the Rapture, the emphasis is not upon His coming to earth, because He doesn’t come to the earth. He makes it clear that “we shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air” (see 1Thess. 4:17). “Caught up” is the Greek word harpazo, meaning “to snatch away.” We shall be snatched away or raptured to meet Christ in the air. However, the Day of the Lord is when He returns to the earth to set up His Kingdom. In the time gap between these two events will be the Great Tribulation period.

Upon learning of this miscommunication and misunderstanding, Paul wrote quickly, instructing further about the Second Coming and the Day of the Lord.

As you read 2 Thessalonians, think of how the first-century believers in that Greek city must have received Paul’s message and how they probably changed their behavior. And consider what you should do to be ready for Christ’s return—it’s closer now than ever before!


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Bruce B. Barton et al., Life Application Bible Commentary – 1 & 2 Thessalonians, (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1999), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2 Thessalonians”.
J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1983), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2 THESSALONIANS”.


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“What is the day of the Lord?”

1  Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,
2  for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
3  While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not esc
ape. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 (NIV)

What is the day of the Lord?

The phrase “day of the Lord” usually identifies events that take place at the end of history. One key to understanding these phrases is to note that they always identify a span of time during which God personally intervenes in history, directly or indirectly, to accomplish some specific aspect of His plan.

Most people associate the day of the Lord with a period of time or a special day that will occur when God’s will and purpose for His world and for mankind will be fulfilled. Some scholars believe that the day of the Lord will be a longer period of time than a single day—a period of time when Christ will reign throughout the world before He cleanses heaven and earth in preparation for the eternal state of all mankind. Other scholars believe the day of the Lord will be an instantaneous event when Christ returns to earth to redeem His faithful believers and send unbelievers to eternal damnation.

The phrase “the day of the Lord” is used often in the Old Testament (e.g. Isaiah 2:1213:69Ezekiel 13:530:3Joel 1:152:1,11,313:14Amos 5:18,20Obadiah 15Zephaniah 1:7,14Zechariah 14:1Malachi. 4:5) and several times in the New Testament (e.g. Acts 2:201 Corinthians 5:52 Corinthians 1:141 Thessalonians 5:22 Thessalonians 2:22 Peter 3:10). It is also alluded to in other passages (Revelation 6:1716:14). It is also alluded to in other passages (Revelation 6:1716:14).

The Old Testament passages dealing with the day of the Lord often convey a sense of imminence, nearness, and expectation: “Wail, for the day of the Lord is near!” (Isaiah 13:6); “For the day is near, even the day of the Lord is near” (Ezekiel 30:3); “Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand” (Joel 2:1); “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14); “Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near” (Zephaniah 1:7). This is because the Old Testament passages referring to the day of the Lord often speak of both a near and a far fulfillment, as does much of Old Testament prophecy. Some Old Testament passages that refer to the day of the Lord describe historical judgments that have already been fulfilled in some sense (Isaiah 13:6-22Ezekiel 30:2-19Joel 1:153:14Amos 5:18-20Zephaniah 1:14-18), while others refers to divine judgments that will take place toward the end of the age (Joel 2:30-32Zechariah 14:1Malachi 4:15).

The New Testament calls it a day of “wrath,” a day of “visitation,” and the “great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14) and refers to a still future fulfillment when God’s wrath is poured out on unbelieving Israel (Isaiah 22Jeremiah 30:1-17Joel 1-2Amos 5Zephaniah 1) and on the unbelieving world (Ezekiel 38–39Zechariah 14). The Scriptures indicate that “the day of the Lord” will come quickly, like a thief in the night (Zephaniah 1:14-152 Thessalonians 2:2), and therefore Christians must be watchful and ready for the coming of Christ at any moment.

Besides being a time of judgment, it will also be a time of salvation as God will deliver the remnant of Israel, fulfilling His promise that “all of Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26), forgiving their sins and restoring His chosen people to the land He promised to Abraham (Isaiah 10:27Jeremiah 30:19-3140Micah 4Zechariah 13). The final outcome of the day of the Lord will be that “the arrogance of man will be brought low and the pride of men humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:17). The ultimate or final fulfillment of the prophecies concerning the day of the Lord will come at the end of history when God, with wondrous power, will punish evil and fulfill all His promises.

Special thanks for the above and other great questions answered see

Each of the above scriptures has a link for you to click on and read, but I’m also going to include some of the above scripture’s here so that you can see that The Day of the Lord is not a time that any person would want to experience.  The prophet Joel’s message primarily covers the Day of the Lord, but notice that God encourages us that He is gracious, loving and to turn to Him, to repent and live for Him.  Even in the terrible warnings of what is to come God’s grace and love still towers above it.

Isaiah 13:6-13

6Wail, for the day of the Lord is near;
    it will come like destruction from the Almighty.[a]
Because of this, all hands will go limp,
    every heart will melt with fear.
Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them;
    they will writhe like a woman in labor.
They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame.

See, the day of the Lord is coming
    —a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
    and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;   and the earth will shake from its place at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
    in the day of his burning anger.

The End Has Come –  Ezekiel 7

10‘See, the day! See, it comes!
Doom has burst forth,     

 11 Violence has arisen,[b]     a rod to punish the wicked.
None of the people will be left,
none of their wealth, nothing of value.
12 The time has come! The day has arrived!    for my wrath is on the whole crowd.
13 …. Because of their sins, not one of them will preserve their life.

17 Every hand will go limp; every leg will be wet with urine.
18 They will be clothed with terror.
Every face will be covered with shame,
19 “‘They will throw their silver into the streets…   Their silver and gold will not be able to deliver them  in the day of the Lord’s wrath.

Joel –

Ch 1 – Wake up, you drunkards, and weep!
    Wail, all you drinkers

Mourn like a virgin in sackcloth
    grieving for the betrothed of her youth.

Alas for that day!     For the day of the Lord is near;
    it will come like destruction from the Almighty.[c]

16 Has not the food been cut off & joy and gladness 

Despair, you farmers,  wail, grieve because the harvest of the fields are destroyed.

Ch 2 – Let all who live in the land tremble,   for the day of the Lord is coming.
It is close at hand—    a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness.

the sun and moon are darkened,  and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful.  Who can endure it?

Notice that even in these terrible warnings from God,  He gives us a chance to respond to His love and grace.

“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love…

 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;

Please acknowledge God’s grace and compassion now and His abounding love in Jesus Christ.  Call on the name of the Lord and be saved before it’s too late.



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