Rapture Passages – Revelation

10Apr11

It is now time to turn our attention to the passages most closely associated with the rapture and do our best to determine the true context of the passages in question. Each passage will be dealt with in different posts for ease of resource so the reader can find the passage in question more readily.

First a quick reminder about the pre-tribulation rapture theory.

  • It is a novel concept in Church history dating back no earlier than the 1830’s
  • Leading Left behind theologians readily admit there is no single verse or passage that argues for a pre-tribulation rapture
  • It is a presupposition for Dispensationalist and is necessary for their system to operate
  • It is needed because of the severe separation of Israel and the Church in Dispensational hermeneutics

Let’s begin our journey in the book most favored by Left Behind advocated, the Book of Revelation. One would assume a book that is apparently exclusively about the Rapture, Tribulation, Second Coming and Millennium would have a distinct and obvious representation of the rapture. But alas, just like the Antichrist’s mysterious absence from the book, the concept of the Rapture is missing as well.

One would think that such a pivotal, significant and ultimately important event, an event that is actually the catalyst for everything else that supposedly is to happen in the future eschatologically, would find itself center stage, as it were, in the subject’s most important work.

Rev. 4:1-2 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” [2] At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.

There it is.

Did you miss it?

Let me repeat it…

Rev. 4:1-2 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” [2] At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.

There it is. The totality of teaching on an event some monumental, so earth shattering, so significantly important that volumes of works have been published defending it. “Come up here…” That is the total extent of discussion of the Rapture found in the book of Revelation.

It is argued by Dispensationalist that John is “representative” of the Church and that he hears a trumpet (like in other assumed Rapture passages) and goes “up.” to see the things that will happen “after” this.It is also argued that the word “Church” is never used again after this point as a result of the Church not being there any longer.

That is the argument?

I literally should not have to respond to such a horrible excuse for exegesis, but since the view is so overwhelmingly popular that a response is deemed necessary.

First off, no where does the book or anywhere else is in Scripture argue that John is in any way representative of the Church as a whole. Should this concept be more readily explained in a book that it is supposedly the central catalyst event? Billions should be raptured, but only John is “translated” in order to see what was “soon to take place.” Note the immediacy found in just chapter one of Revelation.

Rev 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near…

7Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.

19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.

The sense of immediacy is more than evident. There was an urgency to immediately write down the things that he saw and send them quickly to the seven Churches. Which leads to this question. Why would it be important for the seven Churches to receive this urgent message if they weren’t going to be around after Chapter 4, verse 1?

Not only that, but if these events described were for events over 2,000 years in the future, why would there be an urgency to send it to those actual, literal first century Churches? There should be no urgency at all for them as this would even impact their children or grandchildren…and so on!

The reason is that John was going to be writing about things that would impact them, and were already impacting them in the midst of tribulation. They were being persecuted by both the Jews and Rome. John joins with them and even declares that he was a “partner” in this tribulation!

9 I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.

So, we know that John was writing about current events and that the  current seven churches in question were partners in this tribulation. He was writing to them BECAUSE they would be involved with the events that were going to be described!

But what do we make of the trumpet? Clearly there are other passages that declare a trumpet sound would denote the Resurrection and herald the coming of Jesus. therefore this symbolism must remain true in this passage as well. Note the passage below that most would agree is clearly picturing the “Rapture” or resurrection.

1 Thess 4:16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.

This verse clearly discusses the Resurrection and a trumpet is present. But is this what Revelation 4:1 is picturing?

Rev. 4:1-2 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet,

No! John DOES NOT hear a trumpet. In fact, he doesn’t even necessarily here a voice like a trumpet. Here mentions that he hears a voice that he previously said sounded like a trumpet speaking to him!

Rev 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

He was simply stating that the voice he heard previously that sounded like a trumpet was speaking to him again. And the first time when he clearly states that the voice sounded like a trumpet was wasn’t “raptured.” The blowing of a trumpet is mentioned hundreds of times in Scripture and in only one or two cases is it related to the Resurrection or Second Coming of Christ, yet the Left Behind Theologians wants his reader to assume rapture when he hears that a trumpet is blown. And considering that in this case there is no trumpet to being with the argument is failing over and over!

Now what are we to do with the argument that the term “church” is not used after Revelation 4:1 and that this argument proves that the Church is no longer on earth during this tribulational time period. First, remember what has been discussed already.

  • John is commanded to write this letter to seven churches because they would be partners in the tribulation with John
  • There was an immediacy to the events that were coming with words like soon, near and presently
  • These churches would not have needed this warning if they were not to take part in these soon coming events

So, how do we deal with the idea the Church is not mentioned again. First the term Church is also not used in Mark, Luke, John, 2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John and Jude. Should we conclude these New Testament books are not about or for the Church? Foolishness indeed!

But when one reads the New Testament one discovers that the term is actually rarely used to describe the people of God, but rather the term “saint” is the most used as well as other similar terms. After Revelation 4:1 the following words are used quite often…

  • Saints
  • Servants
  • Brothers
  • Redeemed
  • Priests
  • Blessed
  • Martyrs
  • Chosen
  • Called
  • Faithful
  • Elders
  • Bride

Many of the above terms are more common than Church and all have New testament support as names or titles for the Church and it’s members.

So, in every case, the argument for Revelation 4 fails miserably. And that from a book which should contain such an important doctrine! One must seriously rethink their positing when the book relied on the most for support of their particular view ignores the event that is the most significant to it’s position!

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2 Responses to “Rapture Passages – Revelation”

  1. I thought they used this passage too…
    Revelation 11:12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.

    • 2 low5point

      I have never seen a Dispensationalist argue that the two witnesses represented the Church. There may be some out there, but I haven’t read any. Plus, this would clearly be mid-trib 🙂


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