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Recently the church I attend has been studying the Apostle Peter’s first letter to various churches in Asia (what is now Turkey). Peter warns the elect of God that they will face trials and tribulations because of their Christian faith (chapter 4). Before Revelation was written, Christians were being persecuted because they refused to acknowledge Caesar as God.

The Apostle John also wrote about persecution, and Revelation gives various commendations and warnings to seven named churches.

The main question has to do with how different denominations view the seven churches. Do they see themselves as being the modern-day churches to which the warnings are given?

One aspect of my question has to do with Revelation 2:10, addressed to the church in Smyrna:

Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Various denominations interpret “ten days” differently. Here is an extract from an article I read:

Considering the historical context, the symbolic view suggests that the ten days of tribulation refer to ten persecutions that began with Emperor Nero and ended with Diocletian in the third century. Some scholars exclude Nero and count from Domitian to Julian. The symbolic view sees the churches as representing eras of history, with the church of Smyrna representing an era when these persecutions took place. An alternative symbolic view sees the ten days of tribulation as ten years under Diocletian... From the early church to modern times in places like China, the devil has launched attacks on anyone who remains faithful to Christ (Revelation 12:17). From a spiritual perspective, this explains the constant shift in our culture away from Christian values and the increasing animosity toward biblical Christianity.
Got Questions: "What are the ten days of tribulation in Revelation 2:10?"

NOTE: Diocletian ruled between 303 and 313, then the persecution ended under Constantine.

Are the ten days a literal period of time, to be viewed in the light of past history, or are these ten days symbolic of Christian persecution that is even now ongoing?

This first question is directed to Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I do not expect JW’s to know about LDS views, or vice-versa. I simply want to compare their interpretations of who/what the seven churches are today, taking into account the specific warning to Smyrna of a time of persecution that would last for “ten days”.

Is the number literal, symbolic, or spiritual? Or have those events described in the opening chapters of Revelation taken place in past history? After all, many different Christian denominations exist today in those named locations. If the persecution is still to happen, then which churches claim the prophecies apply only to them?

There is no right or wrong answer. This is a denominational survey and will be extended later to include other denominations.

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    I don't believe the LDS have any specific teachings on what the ten days represent, not that I could find. As I'm unsure of a Jehovah's Witness teaching on the matter I'm not providing this as an answer.
    – depperm
    Jul 11, 2023 at 12:10
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    @User14 - I will look at the link you provided, but surely "the church" in Smyrna passed away into the anals of history centuries ago? Do you see Smyrna as a literal church that has continued to exist and will face persecution in the future, say during the Great Tribulation?
    – Lesley
    Jul 11, 2023 at 16:17
  • @depperm - Perhaps the LDS have a view on who or what the seven churches are? Are they literal churches that still exist or are they symbolic of something else?
    – Lesley
    Jul 11, 2023 at 16:19
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    @Lesley perhaps you should edit to ask who the churches in revelation represent according to JWs. You focused on the ten days here.
    – Kris
    Jul 11, 2023 at 23:03
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    I originally didn't want to say anything, but I don't see why LDS and JW appear in the same question. They don't really have any connection that I am aware of, apart from both being christian denominations. Experts on LDS won't be experts on JW and vice-versa, the answers are basically bound to either be one for LDS and one for JW, or what could be two answers simply concatenated to be one.
    – kutschkem
    Jul 12, 2023 at 9:31

2 Answers 2

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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints viewpoint:

  • Seven churches:

The first three chapters of the book of Revelation were specifically addressed to seven branches of the Church in Asia Minor (see Revelation 1:4, 11; 2–3). It is unclear why these particular churches were singled out. While other branches of the Church had been established in Asia (such as at Pisidian Antioch), these seven may represent the Church as a whole (the number seven being symbolic of completeness). Historical sources indicate that John lived at Ephesus near the close of the first century, so he would have had close connections with the seven churches before his exile to Patmos, and he would have visited them as he ministered in Asia Minor. They may also have been among only a few branches that were still faithful and had not succumbed to apostasy and persecution.

...

A fulfillment of the Lord’s words can be seen in the life of Polycarp, a bishop of the church in Smyrna, who lived from A.D. 69 to 155. Polycarp was a disciple of John and one of the last surviving Church leaders who had personally heard the teachings of an Apostle and eyewitness of Jesus Christ.1

  • Overarching take away:

One truth we will find in Revelation 2–3 is that because Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ know each of us, They can acknowledge our good works and warn us of needed changes.2

...

With all the strength of my soul I testify that our Heavenly Father loves each one of us. He hears the prayers of humble hearts; He hears our cries for help. … His Son, our Savior and Redeemer, speaks to each of us today: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” [ Revelation 3:20 ].

Will we listen for that knock? Will we hear that voice? Will we open that door to the Lord, that we may receive the help He is so ready to provide? I pray that we will.3

1 To whom was Revelation written and why?

2 Seminary: New Testament: Teacher Manual

3 Mrs. Patton—the Story Continues, Oct '07 Pres Thomas S Monson

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Based on this article in the Jehovah’s Witness publication ‘Revelation – Its Grand Climax at Hand’ the number ten symbolises earthly completeness or entirety. Revelation 2:10 is not taken as being a literal ten days, but is a symbolic period of time starting at the end of the 19th century and is still ongoing.

Paragraph 7 suggests that Jehovah’s Witnesses see themselves as God’s own people and they are the modern-day church of Smyrna and have been singled out for persecution since 1879. This was during the life-time of Charles Russell who died in 1916 and was followed by Joseph Rutherford.

The persecution that they received at the instigation of some of Christendom’s leaders came to a head in 1918 and was comparable to what the Christians in Smyrna received from the Jewish community there.

13 Truly, the Christian Witnesses of Jehovah are suffering physical persecution and other testings for a symbolic ten days. Like the Christians back in Smyrna, they have not been afraid; nor do any of us need to be afraid as troubles worsen here on earth. We are prepared to endure under sufferings and take even ‘the plundering of our belongings’ joyfully. (Hebrews 10:32-34) By studying God’s Word and making it our very own, we will be equipped to stand solid in the faith. Be assured that Jehovah can and will guard you in your integrity. “Throw all your anxiety upon him, because he cares for you.”—1 Peter 5:6-11.

Whilst it is true that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been the victims of persecution, they are not unique. It is also true that Catholics and Protestants alike have been falsely accused, thrown into prison, tortured and killed because they refuse to deny Christ Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

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  • This is good right up till the last paragraph. I find off putting when when the answerer feels compelled to insert their opinion on the accuracy of the beliefs and teachings of the denomination that were asked for in the question.
    – Kris
    Jul 15, 2023 at 17:21
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    @User14 - The last paragraph is a statement of fact, and is not a personal opinion. Or would you deny that even today hundreds of thousands of Christians who are not Jehovah's Witnesses are being persecuted and killed because they refuse to deny Christ Jesus? I'm only sorry you didn't answer the question yourself since you provided the link to that article.
    – Lesley
    Jul 16, 2023 at 7:07
  • Ok Instead of opinion I should have said insert a statement that expresses an opposing pov that was not asked for in the question.
    – Kris
    Jul 16, 2023 at 13:25
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    The unique part of jw persecution experience is elucidated in your answer: “The persecution that they received at the instigation of some of Christendom’s leaders came to a head in 1918 and was comparable to what the Christians in Smyrna received from the Jewish community there.
    – Kris
    Jul 17, 2023 at 12:56
  • @User14 - Thank you for your comment.
    – Lesley
    Jul 17, 2023 at 13:22

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