What Is Tribulation In The Bible

What Is Tribulation In The Bible?

Tribulation is a concept that is found in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. It is often used to refer to a period of trial or intense suffering, usually experienced under difficult or oppressive conditions. This can refer to physical suffering such as disease, poverty and war, but also encompasses mental, moral and spiritual suffering caused by various forms of injustice.

The concept of tribulation appears first in the Old Testament, where it refers to events such as the Israelites’ captivity in Egypt or the Babylonian exile. In the New Testament, the term is used differently, to refer to the suffering that will come upon all mankind before the return of Jesus Christ at the end of time. This concept is seen in passages such as, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.” Matt.24: 21.

According to the Bible, tribulation can be understood as a period of testing, during which God allows man to experience difficult experiences in order to grow in holiness and faith. In this sense, tribulation acts as a tool for discipline and a means of learning to trust God and rely on His strength. It is important to note that God does not mean for tribulation to be a permanent state of existence and that His ultimate purpose is to bring an end to all suffering.

Modern theologians have also explored the concept of tribulation from a different perspective. Many have argued that tribulation is a natural consequence of the fallen state of mankind and can be seen as a manifestation of the human struggle with evil and suffering. For example, theologian Thomas Oden suggests that tribulation can be seen as a symbol of human mortality and that “real human life requires struggle.” Oden further adds that tribulation has a redemptive value, as it leads to a “radical reordering” of the individual’s understanding of the world.

Proponents of the idea of “apostolic succession” believe that tribulation is a necessary part of the process of entering the Kingdom of God. This view states that tribulation acts as a “purification” of the individual and is intended to help bring him or her closer to God. In this way, tribulation is seen as a necessary step towards holiness and a means of drawing nearer to God.

In the end, while the Bible’s concept of tribulation can often be viewed as a period of suffering, theologians agree that it ultimately has a redemptive purpose. Tribulation helps us learn to trust and rely on God, acts as a tool for discipline and can lead to a “radical reordering” of our understanding of the world. By embracing and learning from tribulation, we can approach the Kingdom of God with greater knowledge, understanding, and holiness.

Divine Judgment

The Bible often speaks of tribulation as a time of divine judgment or punishment for those who have not followed the commands of God. This can be seen in passages such as Isaiah 24:19-20, where the prophet speaks of a divine instrument of judgment that will “come down like a scourge upon the inhabitants of the earth.” In this sense, tribulation serves as a warning to those who have gone astray, as God’s justice can be ruthless and punishing.

In addition, theologians such as Michael S. Heiser have proposed that tribulation can be understood as a “divine testing.” In this view, the purpose of tribulation is to test the faith and trust of those who endure it. Heiser writes that “divine punishment is designed to teach people to live according to God’s standards.” Thus, God allows tribulation to serve as a means of judgment and correction for those who have failed to live up to his expectations.

It is also important to note that, while tribulation can often be seen as a time of punishment, it is also a necessary part of the process of redemption and the return of Christ. As such, some theologians propose that tribulation has a positive purpose and can help lead individuals to greater understanding of God’s love and grace.


Tribulation can also be seen as a period of oppression that can be inflicted by either man or Satan. This is a recurring theme in the Bible, with many of the prophets warning of a time when God’s people would be oppressed by an enemy power. This was particularly true of the Israelites under the rule of the Babylonians and other foreign empires, as can be seen in passages such as Ezekiel 9:4-5, which speaks of a time when the Israelites will “scatter and wander among the nations.”

Many modern theologians also view tribulation as a form of human oppression, particularly in the form of spiritual oppression. This is particularly true of religious persecution and the systematic marginalization of minority faiths by authoritarian regimes. It is believed that, in these cases, tribulation can be seen as a tool of the enemy, intended to keep the people of God oppressed and away from following the Word of God.

At the same time, it is important to note that tribulation can also be a form of divine instruction and discipline. In this view, God allows trials and hardships to befall his people in order to correct them and bring them closer to Him. This discipline is often depicted as a form of love from God, as it leads the individual closer to a restored relationship with Him.

Physical Pain and Suffering

In its most basic form, tribulation is often seen as a period of physical hardship or suffering. This is particularly true in times of war and famine, when the people of God may experience sickness, injury or death due to the circumstances in which they find themselves. This physical suffering can be seen in various biblical passages, such as in the Lamentations of Jeremiah, which speaks of “roads full of tears” and “hearts without courage.”

At the same time, it is important to note that physical suffering is not the only form of tribulation. The Bible goes on to speak of mental, moral, and spiritual suffering as well, which can often be even more difficult and damaging. In addition, it can be argued that physical pain and suffering can often be a means of teaching and discipline, leading to a deeper understanding of God’s love.

Overall, tribulation is a concept found in the Bible that speaks to a period of hardship and suffering, typically experienced under oppressive circumstances. It is often seen as a tool of divine judgment and instruction and can lead to a “radical reordering” of our understanding of the world. While tribulation can be seen as a difficult time, it ultimately has a positive purpose, as it brings us closer to God and leads us to a deeper knowledge and understanding of His love and grace.

Societal Struggles

In addition to spiritual and physical suffering, tribulation can also encompass difficulties encountered in everyday life. This can include struggles such as poverty, discrimination, and other forms of social injustice, which can lead to feelings of despair and hopelessness. In the Bible, this type of tribulation is often seen in passages such as Amos 5:11-12, which speaks of a time when “justice is far from us and equity cannot reach us.”

Modern theologians often view these societal struggles as a part of the tribulations that one must endure in order to enter the Kingdom of God. This can be seen in the writing of David L. Edwards, who suggests that “societal struggle” helps to refine the soul and transform one’s outlook on life and death. Edwards further adds that this struggle is a necessary part of the journey towards holiness and is essential for the honing of faith.

At the same time, it is important to remember that tribulation should not be understood merely as a test or a period of suffering. Rather, it should be seen as an opportunity for growth, as it can lead to a restored relationship with God and a greater understanding of His will and love. Through tribulation, we can learn to see the world differently, to find hope and purpose in our suffering, and to love God and our neighbor more deeply.

Growth in Humility and Selflessness

Finally, tribulation can also be seen as an opportunity for growth and a means of developing humility and selflessness. In the Bible, this is seen in passages such as 2 Cor.1:3-4, where Paul speaks of his experience with tribulation and how it led him to “trust not in himself but in God who raises the dead.” By embracing trials and tribulation, one becomes more aware of their own weaknesses, which can lead to greater humility and selflessness.

Modern theologians have also argued that tribulation can lead to growth in character and a deeper understanding of the human condition. For example, Philip Yancey suggests that tribulation can lead to increased empathy and compassion, as it is often through our own suffering that we come to understand and appreciate the suffering of others. In this way, tribulation can lead to a deeper appreciation of human life and its fragility.

Overall, tribulation can certainly be a difficult experience, but it can also lead to growth and transformation. Through tribulation, we can learn to trust in God, rely on His strength and love, and find hope and purpose in our suffering. Through enduring tribulation, we can come to understand God’s will for our lives and develop humility, compassion, and selflessness.

Hilda Scott is an avid explorer of the Bible and inteprator of its gospel. She is passionate about researching and uncovering the mysteries that lie in this sacred book. She hopes to use her knowledge and expertise to bring faith and God closer to people all around the world.

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