Question: Hello, I'm in the process of studying the book of Revelations and I have stumbled upon something which I cannot find the answer. In chapter 2, verse 10, it reads, "Do not be afraid for what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life." My question is the following. What is the significance of the ten days? The Bible references other numbers, such as the number 7, and gives a definition for the number, but I cannot figure out what the number ten in this text signifies. Can you please give me your comment on the ten days? Or, give me references I can look into? Thanks so much,
Response: I understand the seven churches of Revelation, in addition to being actual churches, also to represent prophetically the seven eras of the history of the church, from the time of John's writing to the beginning of the Tribulation. Smyrna (second on the list) represents the post-apostolic era, that is, shortly after the time of writing through the reign of Constantine (and the "legitimizing" of Christianity as a state sponsored "religion": i.e., 82-442 A.D.). The "ten days" are the ten periods of intense persecution (sponsored by various Roman emperors) that the Church had to undergo during these three plus centuries:
177 Marcus Aurelius (cf. the famous martyrdoms at Lyon)
211 Septimus Severus
235 Maximus Thrax
The precise historical match for some of these can be argued (most lists begin with Nero's persecution, but for reasons explained in part 2A of the Coming Tribulation series, I believe that the era of Smyrna did not begin until 82 A.D.). The key point is that during this era there were 10 major episodes of intense persecution which tested and tried the Church during of that time. We live in the last of the seven eras: luke-warm Laodicea.
As far as further resources are concerned, I would recommend J.F. Walvoord's "The Revelation of Jesus Christ"; R.H. Mounce's "The Book of Revelation" (NICNT series); H.B. Swete's "The Apocalypse of St. John" [hard to get]; and Alan F. Johnson's "Revelation" in vol. 12 of the Expositors Bible Commentary.
Please also see the following links:
The Martyrdom of the 144,000
The Martyrdom of Peter and Paul
The Harvest of the Martyrs: Revelation 14:14-16
Martyrdom is the basis for the most exceptional eternal rewards (in CT 6)
Hope this is of help,
Yours in Christ,