Tribulation And Great Tribulation


A Preterist on a discussion board today offered the following verse as evidence that the tribulation had happened in John’s time at Patmos:

I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (Rev. 1:9)

Now, of course he is incorrect and it is fallacious to base such a world view on one verse, however, what was John referring to when he spoke of ‘the tribulation’ he partook of?

Thank you for your insight.


First, a small correction. The word “the” doesn’t appear before tribulation in Rev. 1:9. Some of the modern translations have added it. The verse properly reads, “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation … “.

In John 16:33 Jesus said, “In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Both passages use the same Greek word, which means suffering, trouble, or distress. John was certainly experiencing tribulation in that sense. The authorities had tried everything to shut him up, even attempting to kill him. Finally they exiled him to Patmos, a prison island off the coast of Turkey.

When Jesus coined the phrase “Great Tribulation” in Matt. 24:21 he was speaking of a time that would begin with the Abomination of Desolation and end with the 2nd Coming. He said it would be worse than anything man ever has or ever will experience, something that no one would survive unless He put a stop to it. These details distinguish the 3.5 year long Great Tribulation from the general sense of tribulation that believers, including John, have experienced through out the last 1900 years.