TRIBULATION, THE GREAT (Heb. tsar, narrow, Gr. thlipsis, pressure). The Hebrew word for “tribulation” has a large variety of meanings in the OT, but it usually refers to trouble of a general sort (
The Great Tribulation is a definite period of suffering sent from God on the earth to accomplish several purposes. According to premillennial eschatology, it precedes the millennial reign of Christ. Postmillennial theology places it at the end of the thousand-year reign of Christ. Amillennial theology places it just before the new heavens and the new earth are brought in. This period of suffering will be unlike any other period in the past or future (
TRIBULATION (צַר, H7639, צָרָה, H7650, straits, distress, affliction; θλίβω, G2567, to press together, to oppress; θλι̂ψις, G2568, pressure, oppression, tribulation). Generally, tribulation in the Bible is affliction of one person by another. Clarity requires distinction of the source and object.
God may afflict His people for their unfaithfulness. Should Israel sin like the nations it drove out of Canaan, it too would be driven out and scattered among the nations. To Israel God says, “When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice” (
The unbelieving world, on the other hand, may oppress God’s people on account of their faithful testimony. Anyone who has no root in himself immediately falls away (
The “great tribulation.”
On the identity of the people of God in the great tribulation and the time of the rapture theologians differ. Posttribulationists see the Church continuing on earth to the end of the tribulation when the rapture occurs. Midtribulationalists look for the Church to survive the first half of the tribulation when the rapture takes place. Pretribulationalists anticipate the rapture prior to the tribulation so that the people of God on earth are members of the restored Jewish nation.
E. B. Pollard, ISBE (1939) V, 3010, 3011; L. Duff-Forbes, BDT (1960), 530; H. Schlier, TDNT (1965) III, 139-148.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
(tsar, tsar, "staid," "narrow," "pent up"; compare
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