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What is the tribulation?

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:9-13

Tribulation and persecution are the same things. Jesus spoke of a tribulation that will happen to the generation standing before him. The whole of the Matthew 24 speaks of near-coming events within the generation of those listening.

Persecution began after the events of Pentecost. The apostles were arrested. Stephen was stoned. Paul beaten and whipped with 39 lashes FIVE TIMES! John in Revelation 1:9 said he experienced tribulation as he lived out his sentence locked away on a remote island.

The persecution was so bad in Jerusalem believers ran to other parts of the world.

Jesus lumps a number of other events into that idea of tribulation, describing not just as persecution but as a “tumultuous time.”

People will reject their faith. Church members will betray one another and hate each other. False prophets will spread a false message. Wickedness. The love of others will grow cold.

As we read the letters from the apostles to the churches (Romans to Revelation) we see if all coming true. Their letters speak against heresies. They chastise sinners in the church who justify their actions.

Emperor Nero ruled from 54 to 68 AD. He lit Christians on fire and turned the murder of them into stadium events.

Jesus would want his friends and followers to know of a coming tribulation in just a few years. What good would it do to tell them of some future generation (ours?) and the suffering that they would suffer 2,000 years from then?

His audience had their own problems coming soon.