David Hocking: The Rapture in Revelation  


By David Hocking at the 2007 conference hosting by the Pre Trib Study Group

In Hockings attempt to show where the rapture occurs in the book of The Revelation, he comes to the table with some presuppositions that color his analysis and his results. The rapture does most certainly occur in the book of The Revelation, but not always in the places where he supposes.

Hocking: Our Lord Yeshua said in John 14:3: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COMEAGAIN, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." At our Lord's ascension into heaven, two men in white apparel said: "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven." The promise of the Second Coming of the Messiah, our blessed Lord Yeshua, is clearly established. The Apostle Paul had made this matter quite clear in his words to Titus, his "own so n after the common faith (Titus1:4)" when he wrote in Titus 2:13: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." In Philippians 3:20-21, Paul wrote: "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself." In Colossians 3:4 Paul wrote: "When Christ, Who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory."

The Apostle Peter wrote in I Peter 1:7: "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ." In II Peter 1:11 he wrote: "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

The Apostle John, the writer of the Book of Revelation, also wrote in I John 3:2-3: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure."

Review of the promise: David’s review of the promises is accurate, for the FACT of the second coming and the rapture doctrine is not in question.
However, the inclusion of Titus 2:13 poses a problem of inconsistency for the pretrib camp.
It is claimed by most pretribbers that the arrival of Jesus for the rapture is a PRIVATE or INVISIBLE arrival with no fan-fare or manifestation of VISIBLE glory.
But Titus
2:13 proclaims a visible manifestation of not only God’s glory, but the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ as well. But Titus 2:13 proclaims quite the opposite. In fact it agrees perfectly with Matthew 24:30-31, “And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and greet glory. And Hew will send forth His angels with a great trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one of the sky to the other.”
This has forced many into ascribing this promise to the descent of Jesus to the earth at Armageddon, which is totally inconsistent with the intent of Paul in giving us this promise at Titus 2:13.

Titus 2:13
Attendant with one’s consistent Christian character is the attitude of love And expectation expressed toward the future coming of the Lord.

“expectantly waiting for the joyous hope and appearance of the glory of the Great God and (the appearance) of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” (BFT)

1. Looking for: this is the verb, prosdechomai, as a present middle participle to describe the attitude of expectation toward Christ’s promised return. This same verb is translated at Jude 21 in the NASB, as “waiting
     A. It is described as loving His appearing at 2 Timothy 4:8.
     B. At 1 Corinthians 1:7, the word apekdechomai is used as at
3:20; Gal. 5:3; Rom. 8:23, 25; Heb. 9:28
     C. At 2 Peter 3:12-14, the word is prosdokao.

2. The blessed hope: the word blessed is the adjective, makarios, which means HAPPY or JOYOUS. The word HOPE is elpis which expresses confident
expectation. It is not an “I hope so” type of attitude, but rather a confidence expectation of what we KNOW will occur in God’s perfect timing (1 Timothy

3. AND (the) appearing: this noun is epiphaneia which means appearing or appearance. It occurs only 6 times and five in reference to the second coming.

     A. Here, the second coming of Jesus FOR the church is seen as an
     appearing of GLORY; glory of God (the Father) AND glory of Christ.
     This is perfectly consistent with what Jesus taught in the Olivet
     discourse when He said, “and they will see the Son of Man coming
     in the clouds of the sky with power and great glory” (Mat. 24:30).

     B. The phrase, “the appearance of His presence,” at 2
     Thessalonians 2:8, indicates that there is a visible manifestation
     of Christ that initiates judgment on the man of lawlessness.

     C. 1 Timothy 6:14.
     “that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach
     until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

     This is clear enough a reference to the
     coming of Jesus for the church.

     D. 2 Timothy 4:1  
     “I solemnly charge {you} in the presence of God
     and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living
     and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom.”

Here the appearing of Jesus is directly connected with His kingdom.
This is not because the kingdom begins AT His appearing, nor is it
because this is a reference to His physical descent at Armageddon.
But rather, it is because His kingdom is directly connected with
His arrival, for the arrival initiates the events of the day of the
Lord which culminate in the establishment of His kingdom.

     E. 2 Timothy 4:8  
     “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness,
     which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day;
     and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”
Here, His appearing is again a reference to Christ’s return for the
church, in connection with which, believers will be rewarded for their works. The attitude of LOVING refers to placing value on the CONFIDENT EXPECTATION of being with Him, as He has promised.
The expression of this attitude is evidenced through consistent Christian living.
This is the attitude and the WORKS that will be rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ, which will occur after the arrival of Jesus.
See Topic: Judgment seat of Christ

     F. The most important point is that there is no basis for making this
     word refer sometimes to the return of Jesus for the church, and
     sometimes to the physical descent of Jesus at Armageddon (what is
     traditionally called the second coming). Pentecost quotes Walvoord
     on page 157 of Things to Come, to summarize erroneously,

     “As used of the return of the Lord, two instances
     are found where it refers to the rapture of the church and two
     instances seem to refer to the second coming of Christ . . . it would
     seem sound exegesis to classify 1 Timothy 6:14 and 2 Timothy
     4:8 as referring to the rapture . . .
     In 2 Timothy 4:1 and Titus 2:13, however, there seems to be reference
     to His second coming.”

I am appalled that these men would interpret Titus 2:13 as a reference to the descent of Jesus at Armageddon rather than to the return of Jesus for the church. It is not “sound exegesis” to apply the use of this word in these places to anything other than the one and only second coming of Jesus which is the focus of all the apostolic writings.
The JOYOUS hope of the church is NOT the physical descent of Jesus at Armageddon, what is erroneously entitled as the second coming, but that hope is the return of Jesus in the clouds when the living believers will be resurrected and be given relief from the persecutions leveled against them.

4. The HAPPY EXPECTATION refers to a dual event, which
is the return of Jesus and the resurrection of believers that occurs at that time through the rapture.

Hocking: In our desire to be accurate about the details concerning the Second Coming of our blessed Lord, may God help us to rejoice in His promise, and be watching and waiting!

This is a noble desire and plea to God, but it does not guarantee such accuracy, and the failure to adhere CONSISTENTLY to a literal hermeneutic exposes the pretrib theory as defective.


David’s discussion of this issue is not questioned, and he provides an accurate examination of the facts and answers the question perfectly.

The Book of Revelation is primarily an unveiling of the majesty and glory of the Messiah of
Israel, our blessed Lord Yeshua.

This is an assumption. There is no direct statement to this effect, and in fact, the focus on the LAMB relates to the salvation that God provided through Him and made available to every tribe, language, people and nation.
The book begins with a focus on the Godhead and the promise of salvation to the church.
Verse 1:5, “to Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood.”
Verse 6, “and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever, Amen.”
This is all expressed DIRECTLY to the church, and the promise that is now mentioned at verse 7, is likewise an echo of the promise to the church made by Jesus and the other apostles.
”Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.”

The clouds: Mat. 24:30; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thes. 4:17
The visibility: Mat. 24:30; Acts 1:11; Titus 2:13; 2 Thes. 1:7
The mourning: Mat. 24:30; Luke 21:25-26; 1Thes. 5:3

Hocking: Certainly the event of His Second Coming is a powerful message of this book. Revelation 1:7 says: "Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so,  Amen." Most Bible teachers believe that this verse refers to His Second Coming at the end of the Tribulation (often called "The Revelation") which is described powerfully in chapter 19 of this book.

So, as should be obvious, the claim above is not consistent with the rest of Scriptural teaching on the subject of the 2nd coming. The promise that is stated here is then repeated again in the letters to the 7 churches.
2:25, “Hold fast what you have until I come.”
A consistent hermeneutic will take the reader right back to Revelation 1:7
Verse 3:3, “If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will com upon you.”
This echoes the teaching of Jesus at Matthew 24:36-44, which the apostles also taught (1 Thes. 5:2; 2 Pet.
No one knows the day or the hour for the Lord will come like a thief in the night, or unexpectedly.
However, for the believer who is AWAKE (1 Thes. 5:4-11), there will be no DANGER aspect to the arrival of Jesus, for the wakeful believer will be expecting Him, knowing the times and the season, just as Jesus taught. Mat. 24:32-34; Luke 21:29-32). They will know that He is near and will be looking for Him within the context of the “signs of the season” – the persecution at the hands of the antichrist.

Hocking: In Revelation 1:19we have an outline of the book given to us: "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter." This threefold outline includes the vision of our resurrected Lord in chapter 1 as "the things which thou hast seen";

the messages to the seven churches in chapters 2 and 3 as "the things which are" (meaning -existing in John's day); and from chapter 4, verse 1, to the end of the book - "the things which shall be hereafter." The word "hereafter" (Greek:meta tauta) or "after these things" (following the "things which thou hast seen" and the "things which are") is an important clue to the order of things in this book. We read in Revelation 4:1: "After this" (Greek: meta tauta) and at the end of the verse the word "hereafter"(Greek: meta tauta). It would appear, therefore, that the third part of the outline of the Book of Revelation begins with Revelation 4:1 and continues to the end of the book. These events follow the "things which are" or the messages to the seven churches existing in John's day.

The theory that Revelation 4:1 begins the section, “the things that will be hereafter,” is imaginative supposition that has no affinity with the literal method of interpretation. This will be discussed later.



"Because thou hast kept the word of My patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."

It is this one verse that gives the primary understanding of the pre-tribulational rapture of the Church. The debate over this verse between Pre-tribulationalists and Post-tribulationalists seems to center on whether it is a promise of immunity from the judgments of the Tribulation or a promise of removal from this awful period of time known as the "Day of the Lord." One thing is for sure - it is the promise of our Lord Himself - "I also will keep thee." A few things must be kept in mind concerning the meaning of this verse:

In actuality, the REAL issue revolves around the identification of THE TRIAL. It is an assumption that this period of time refers to the tribulation. It is no where identified as such and there is nothing in the context that requires it to be the tribulation.

The definite article in Greek appears in front of the word "hour" and the word "temptation."
It is not referring to any particular period of trial, but to a specific one that is obviously still in the future at the writing of the Book of Revelation. It speaks of "THE hour of THE temptation/trial."
2. The specific trial is global in impact, not a local situation.
John says concerning this coming trial: "which shall come upon ALL THE WORLD."
3. The purpose of this "temptation/trial" is to "try them that dwell upon the earth."
In the Book of Revelation these earth-dwellers appear to be non-believers, NOT believers! Consider Revelation
6:10; 11:10; 13:12, 14; 14:6; 17:8.

These observations are correct, but still do not specifically identify the hour of trial as the tribulation. It is true that the hour of trial comes upon the unbelievers only, but there is no proof here that the hour of trial is the tribulation. It is assumption that sees a pretrib rapture at Rev. 3:10.

1. The tribulation MUST be defined in Scripture as beginning at the midpoint of the 70th week.
Matthew 24:9-29
2. According to 2Thes. 1:6-10, Paul understood that the church would be on the earth and in the tribulation before Christ would return to rescue them and give them rest.
3. The tribulation is not a time of trial for the unbelievers the earth-dwellers. The day of wrath IS.
To identify what the HOUR OF TRIAL is, we need to examine the very clear statement that describes the recipients of that hour.
It says in Rev. 3:10 that the hour of trial is coming to test those who "dwell on the earth." This phrase is used 11 times in the book of Revelation, and each time it refers to the unbelievers and those who are part of the beast's kingdom. 3:10, 6:10, 8:13, 11:10 (2x), 13:8, 13:12, 13:14 (2x), 17:2, 17:8

The phrase is used by John to identify the wicked and the beast-followers. These are the ones seen as the killers the martyred saints in the fifth seal; these are the ones who follow after the beast and take his mark; these are the ones who engage in immorality with the great harlot.

The fact that John uses this same phrase in Rev. 3:10 strongly indicates that he is not talking about this "hour of trial" as coming upon believers, but upon unbelievers - that is the purpose of the hour.
There is a natural distinction between the believers of the church as represented by the Philadelphia church, and those who dwell on the earth.
Thus, the normal understanding of the passage is that there will be a group of believers who will be delivered from a time of trial that will come upon a different group of people called the earth dwellers.

We know that the church will remain on the earth into the 70th week and indeed, into the second half of the week, as a fully functional representative of God to the earth dwellers. During the time of the tribulation, which begins at the midpoint of the week, the church will come under the persecution oppression of the beast, and many will be martyred and forced into secrecy. There is no promise of deliverance from the persecution pressure of the tribulation.
Yes, the church will be delivered from those persecutions, when Jesus returns at the Day of the Lord, which is represented by the 6th seal at Revelation 6:12-17. But this deliverance FROM THE BEAST is not the promise that is presented at Rev. 3:10.

Furthermore, the time of persecution from the beast, which is called the tribulation, is not a time of trial for the unbelievers. The tribulation is a time of trial and testings for believers, but the HOUR OF TRIAL is NOT something that is coming upon believers, but very clearly, upon the unbelieving EARTH DWELLERS. The hour of trial then, is a time for unbelievers to face the issues of Messiah worship vs. beast worship. And the things that challenge them are the many judgments that come from God’s wrath after the rapture of the church.

Jesus taught about this time of wrath that would come upon the earth dwellers. Luke 21:26, shows us the unbelievers are all upset about "the things which are coming upon the inhabited world."
This is a pretty good synonym for "earth dwellers."

And at Luke
21:34-36 Jesus warns BELIEVERS about the possibility of the Day of the Lord coming upon them like a trap (just like Paul warns later at 1 Thes. 5). And then Jesus says, "for it (The day of the Lord)will come upon all those who dwell upon the face of the earth."
Here we find those "earth dwellers" again. And to confirm this understanding, Jesus stated at verse 35, “for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth.”
We have here, a clear distinction between two groups.
In verse 36, we have the believers who "stand before the Son of Man,"
(whether in confidence or in shame - 1 John
2:28) and at verse 35 we have
those who are left behind - “all those who dwell on the face of all the earth;” the earth dwellers.
3:10 EASILY points back to this.

Even the 6th seal shows us the EARTH DWELLERS (without
calling them that) worried about what is going to
happen as Jesus comes back.

The preposition following the word "keep" is ek whose primary root meaning is "out of" - teaches removal, not immunity.

David does not deal with this in detail, but I will.
The next issue is whether the Greek communicates a removal BEFORE the hour of trial begins or a deliverance from the “trial” while living within the hour.
There are good arguments on both sides concerning the significance of EK TEREO (kept from), however, the issue is not really going to be resolved by these two words. Instead, it will be these two words PLUS the term “earth dwellers” and the meaning of TRIAL.
1. The significance of KEPT OUT FROM.
The discussion as to whether the prepositional phrase, KEPT OUT FROM, refers to being kept from ENTRANCE into or kept from harm WHILE WITHIN has good arguments on both sides. However, that discussion is an issue ONLY if the HOUR OF TRIAL refers to the tribulation. I have demonstrated that the HOUR OF TRIAL does not refer to the tribulation, but instead, refers to the Day of the Lord which starts after Jesus returns at the 6th seal, interrupts and ends the tribulation, and raptures the church out from the earth. In addition, the corrected translation, which has the believers “kept from” as a statement of fact rather than based on a condition of faithfulness, supports the REMOVAL option.

However, for completion in this study, it will be helpful to produce the arguments for the two sides. The primary reason for this is to demonstrate that the meaning of KEPT OUT FROM in the context of Revelation 3:10 is inconclusive without a clear definition of what the HOUR OF TRIAL is. Since the HOUR OF TRIAL refers to the Day of the Lord and not the tribulation, the meaning of KEPT OUT FROM clearly refers to removal out from the earth in order to prevent an entrance into that hour.

2. The best argument in support of KEPT OUT FROM referring to a protection while within is provided by Robert Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, pages 55-58:

Our first major question concerns the exact force of the Greek preposition EK, translated "from."
Essentially, EK, a preposition of motion concerning thought or physical direction, means out from within. EK does not denote a stationary position outside its object, as some have mistakenly supposed in thinking that the EK of Revelation 3:10 refers to a position already taken outside the earthly sphere of tribulation. Other prepositions- EKTOS, HEXO, HEXOTHEN, ANAEU, and CHORIS -would have properly denoted a place apart from the hour of testing. But EK was used in this sense only in exceptional cases in classical Greek, "chiefly in early writers." The basic idea of emergence from within is illustrated by usages in other verses of similar expression. The large host of tribulational saints will be "the ones who come out of the great tribulation" (Rev. 7:14).

"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation"

(2 Pet. 2:9 AV). The primary sense of emergence in EK would
therefore seem to thwart a pretribulational interpretation of the verse, for emergence from within could only mean that the Church had been within the hour of testing.
To defend the position that EK may signify complete immunity, H. Alford and J. Moffatt are quoted to the effect that the grammar "permits" such an interpretation. But there should be candor enough to admit that the grammar equally permits the posttribulational interpretation since it is the latter position which Alford and Moffatt themselves adopt. Alford is also cited as writing that it is hard to distinguish between TEREIN EK (keep out from) and TEREIN APO (keep away from) in John 17:15 and James 1:27. Buttman-Thayer are added for the view that EK and APO often denote the same relation. Significantly, however, APO (away from) does not deny the thought of emergence, but only does not affirm it.
Therefore, we are more accurate to say that apo often includes the meaning of emission in EK (in fact, APO has usurped the place and meaning of EK in modern Greek) than that EK loses its primary sense of emergence in approaching APO.

Abbott's doubt that in the LXX and in John EK always implies previous existence within, "though it does commonly," has become yet another appeal to authority. But Abbott is not to be followed here:

First, if EK ever occurs without the thought of emergence, it does so very exceptionally. This fact incapacitates Revelation 3:10 as a proof-text for pretribulattontsm.

Second, the citation by Thiessen of Abbott's opinion comes through A. T. Robertson." But Robertson gives that opinion disapprovingly. And what Robertson himself writes, when quoted more fully, damages the pretribulational position:

"Abbott doubts if in the LXX and John EK always implies previous existence in the evils from which one is delivered when used with SODZO and TEREO. Certainly in John 17 EK occurs rather frequently, but TERESES EK TOU PONEROU (17:15) may still imply that the evil once had power over them (cf. Jesus' prayer for Peter). Certainly in John 12:27, SOSON ME EK TES HORAS TAUTES, Jesus had already entered into the hour.

Cf. DUNAMENON SODZEIN EK THANATOU (Heb. 5:7) where EK may accentuate the power of God (DUNAMENON), though he had not yet entered into death. In Rev. 3:10 TERESO EK TES HORAS TOU PEIRASMOU, we seem to have the picture of general temptation with the preservation of the saints. The word means 'out of,' 'from within,' not like APO or PARA. . . In the N.T. EK is still ahead of APO."

Third, Abbott's opinion that EK does not need to imply previous existence within the object when used with TEREO (the word for "keep" in Rev. 3:10) in the LXX and in John is totally meaningless. The two words never appear together in the LXX! And their only other partnership in Johannine literature comes in John 17:15, where preservation rather than evacuation is in view.

Fourth, although EK does not always imply the actual experience of the evil out of which one is delivered (John 12:27; 2 Cor. 1:10; 1 Thess. 1:10), it does imply the immediate and dangerous presence of the evil.

Fifth, the preposition EK appears in John's writings approximately 336 times, far more often than in the writings of any other NT author. There is not a single instance where the primary thought of emergence, or origin, cannot fit, indeed, does not best fit the thought of the context. Surely the invariability of meaning in such a high number of occurrences establishes the Johannine usage.

Sixth, if we imagine that EK denotes exit, but say that the Church will be caught out right after the beginning of the seventieth week, we render the word TEREO (keep or guard) practically meaningless and sacrifice the dispensational stand that the Church can have no part in an Israelitish period such as the seventieth week. It would be sheer sophistry to say that the Church will be removed immediately upon entrance into the hour, for then the keeping will last only for an instant and the promise becomes devoid of real meaning.

It is sometimes asked why DIA (through) or EN (in) does not appear if the last generation of the Church will indeed be present on earth during the hour of testing. The answer lies in a matter of emphasis. EN would have placed all the emphasis on presence within. DIA would have distributed the emphasis between entrance, presence within, and emergence. As it is, EK lays all the emphasis on emergence, in this verse on the final, victorious outcome of the keeping-guarding. The same emphasis crops up in Revelation 7:14, where the saints come "out of the great tribulation." The elder might have said that they had come "through" the great tribulation. But, though not denying the notion which the preposition "through" would have conveyed, he stresses the thought of emergence. On the other hand, we may ask why APO (away from, without a necessary implication of previous presence within) does not appear in Revelation 3:10 and thus at least permit a pretribulational interpretation. Or, why was not a preposition used which would have required the interpretation of previous removal - EKTOS, HEXO, HEXOTHEN, ANEU, and CHORIS?

In seeking to harmonize the meaning of EK with pretribulationism, appeal is made to a quotation from MM: "The clause in the early manuscript [cited by MM] reads, 'has removed it [the donkey] from my reach.'

The donkey was placed out of the reach of the person spoken of. God promises to guard this Church out of the reach of the great tribulation." But does God promise that? The citation from MM states removal;
whereas Revelation 3:10 states keeping, or protection. In the phrases "out of the reach of the great tribulation" we have an unwarranted interpolation of the words "reach of," which are expressed in the
secular manuscript (EK MESOU-MM; cf. 2 Thess. 2:7), but not in Revelation 3:10. The fact that the donkey was removed out of reach shows that it had been within reach and proves that even here EK denotes emergence from within the sphere of the preposition's object.

3. For the position that KEPT OUT FROM refers to preventing an ENTRANCE INTO, I make the following observations.


Prepositions are TRANSITION words developed in order to facilitate the connection between ideas. That is, they are AIDES to connect the ideas of two nouns or phrases. The REAL issue is what the meaning of those IDEAS are, and then see how the preposition makes the connection.
From Dana and Mantey, page 98,
"A very important fact to remember in studying prepositions is
that each one . . . may be used to express one or several either
kindred or diversified ideas. The best way to determine the
meanings of a preposition is to study it in its various contexts
and note its various uses. . .
Each proposition originally had, very likely, one meaning. We
cannot know definitely what that was, but we have ventured a
guess for each preposition and term it the root meaning.
Additional meanings were accumulated in succeeding years,
most of them kindred to the root meaning, but some not. These
we call RESULTANT meanings. They are by far the more numerous.
. . .Then there is a special, rare use of prepositions whose
meanings we term REMOTE, because they are remote from the root
idea and because they are seldom used."


Gundry’s discussion concerning this is quite compelling on the surface.
However, there are some opposing factors that merit consideration.
While it is true that the preposition, EK, USUALLY means a removal from a place that the subject is WITHIN, Gundry’s dismissal of Abbott’s observation is not convincing.
Gundry writes:
“Third, Abbott's opinion that EK does not need to imply previous existence within the object when used with Tereo (the word for ‘keep’ in Rev. 3:10) in the LXX and in John is totally meaningless. The two words never appear together in the LXX! And their only other partnership in Johannine literature comes in John 17:15, where preservation rather than evacuation is in view.”

It is recognized that almost all the uses of EK indicate previous existence within something. However, there are examples of EK that quite certainly go outside that norm and indicate a keeping from ENTRANCE INTO.

Notice at Acts 15:29,
“. . .out from which things, if you keep yourselves, you will do well.”
Clearly, this is not a removal or separation from WITHIN, but a
complete staying away from.
It is also interesting to note here, that although we find no other examples of EK with TEREO, as Gundry rightly pointed out, we do have here the word, diaTEREO. This word can easily be translated as KEEP AWAY FROM, and would clearly communicate a NO-ENTRANCE idea.

John 12:27 provides a bit more controversy.
“What shall I say? Father, save me OUT FROM this hour?”

Some suggest that he was already IN THE HOUR. However, I suggest that the “hour” refers to the actual death that he was to face, and he was certainly not IN that hour at the time of his prayer. When we compare this with Hebrews 5:7, we see that it is in fact, the actual death in view.
“In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety.”
The preposition here, is EK (out from), and since he was not WITHIN that death at the time of his prayers and supplications, His desire is to be delivered away from it. That is, he did not want to HAVE TO experience the death that was coming upon him. At the same time, it must be noted that the actual deliverance that came was a removal FROM WITHIN, for that deliverance did not occur until after he had experienced both spiritual and physical death. But I believe that the intent of his prayer was to avoid the experience altogether, IF POSSIBLE, although he was totally adjusted to doing the will of the Father.

I Thessalonians is very clear.
“And to wait for His son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us AWAY FROM the wrath to come.”

This refers to a removal from the earth BEFORE the wrath comes. In fact, this is exactly the same promise as is stated at Revelation 3:10.

Concerning the grammatical PERMISSIVENESS that Gundry references, that permissibility leaves the discussion at a draw.
Gundry writes:
“To defend the position that EK may signify complete immunity, H. Alford and J. Moffatt are quoted to the effect that the grammar ‘permits’ such an interpretation. But there should be candor enough to admit that the grammar equally permits the posttribulational interpretation since it is the latter position which Alford and Moffatt themselves adopt.”

So then, since both positions are grammatically POSSIBLE, other things must be considered to resolve the issue.

Gundry further writes:
“Fourth, although EK does not always imply the actual experience of the evil out of which one is delivered (John 12:27; 2 Cor. 1:10; 1 Thess. 1:10), it does imply the immediate and dangerous presence of the evil.”

This concession is just the point. “Immediate and dangerous presence” does not mean participation IN. And if John 12:27, 2 Cor. 1:10, and Hebrews 5:7 are not obvious examples, 1 Thessalonians and Acts 15:29 certainly are.

Concerning John 17:15, I suggest that the use of TEREO EK can go either direction. Jesus requests that the Father keep them out from the evil (one). This can be understood as either “keep away from” (either the evil ONE, or evil in general), or as protection while confronting, or in the midst of the evil. In either case, the prayer is a desire of the Lord’s that is not universally and unconditionally answered by the Father. For all through the centuries, many believers have been touched by the influence of evil in general, as well as by a personal harassment from Satan and demons. Thus the warnings and exhortations such as at Ephesians 6:10-17 and 1 Peter 5:8.
At John 17:15, the sentence, “I’m not asking that you take them OUT FROM the world,” clearly indicates a location within the world. The meaning of the preposition, EK, here, is governed primarily by the verb, TAKE (airo), which indicates removal from the world. However, in the next clause, the verb that governs the preposition is TEREO, which means to keep or guard, and indicates some kind of PREVENTION. At Acts 15:29, the issue of keeping AWAY FROM various things is expressed by a form of TEREO. The verb is DIATEREO with EK, and indicates abstaining from something, rather than protection while participating in them. A similar idea is seen at I John 5:21, where we see the command, “keep yourselves from idols.” Here, the proposition is APO, but the verb is still TEREO. The command clearly involves keeping AWAY FROM idols. It is the verb PLUS the preposition that determines this - not the verb by itself or the preposition by itself. Incidentally, the two prepositions, EK and APO, are often times used in the same manner. The choice between EK or APO is not necessarily conclusive in determining the intended meaning. Both can mean a removal away from or a removal from within. Scribes have often interchanged these two prepositions as can be seen by the observations from Robertson (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament, page 596).
“The indifference of the scribes as to which they used is shown in the MS variations between EK and APO as in Mat. 7:4; 17:9; Mk. 16:3.”

At John 17:15, Jesus certainly recognizes that the believer is IN THE WORLD and is AROUND the evil. However, I suggest that his desire and prayer is for a PREVENTION of influence. It is difficult to compare this verse with Revelation 3:10 since, here, the idea is protection from contact with an INFLUENCE, ie, evil. At Revelation 3:10, the idea is protection or KEEPING AWAY from a segment of time. That protection involves a removal from the earth before that segment of time begins, so that there is not even an entrance into that time period. The issue at Revelation 3:10 is NOT removal in itself, but protection from. Removal is simply the MEANS by which that protection is accomplished. At John 17:15, it is the same issue of PROTECTION that is in view, and not removal. The view of Jesus is NOT that the believer GETS INTO EVIL and then needs protection, but rather that THROUGH using God’s word (verse 17), the believer will STAY AWAY FROM the evil.

Is the analysis of this prepositional phrase conclusive? Perhaps not all by itself. But considered along with the other factors it leaves me quite convinced that the promise is made to believers IN GENERAL or UNIVERSALLY, and refers to a deliverance from the earth BEFORE the hour of trial, which is for the earth dwellers (unbelievers), arrives.

BUT the hour of trial is NOT the tribulation, but the period of time known as the Day-of-the-Lord wrath, which will begin at the 6th seal and embrace both the trumpet and bowl judgments. The tribulation is not a time of God’s wrath, but a time of Satan’s and man’s wrath expressed toward those who are Jews or who are believers in Jesus Christ. Rev. 12:13-17.


The words of IThessalonians 4:17 say: "Then we which are alive and remain." It appears from the words of I Thessalonians2:14-16 that the church in Thessalonica was composed primarily of Gentiles. I Thessalonians 4:17 implies that when the Lord comes, there will be Gentiles alive when it happens (Paul also uses the editorial "we" and includes himself!). But, in the Book of Revelation, it appears that the Gentile multitude of chapter 7 who are saved during the tribulation - do NOT survive the wrath of the dragon and his "beast." The false prophet also adds to this terror against the Gentile believers (Revelation 13:15) and causes as many as do not take the mark and worship the beast to be killed. Revelation 13:7says that this beast will "overcome" the believers, and comparing this with Revelation 11:7 (in the case of the two witnesses) it appears that to "overcome" them means to kill them. Revelation 20 then describes the martyrs of the tribulation being resurrected at the end of the tribulation (along with Old Testament saints - cf. Daniel 12:1-3,12-13). The "first resurrection" refers to believers being resurrected; it appears to be in two phases - one at the Rapture, and secondly, at the Revelation, or the end of the tribulation. The "second resurrection" refers to all unbelievers being resurrected to stand before the great white throne judgment to hear the verdict of the Lord Himself - this occurs 1000 years after the "first resurrection."

Revelation 7:9ff does NOT describe these saints as martyrs. It just says that they came out of the tribulation. This is in total agreement with 2Thes. 1:6-10, which records Paul’s belief that the church will be present during the tribulation and be rescued from it and given rest, “at the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.” And of course, that naturally agrees with what Jesus taught at Matthew 24:29-31.
Of course, the beast has authority to kill many, but he does not succeed in killing ALL. Jesus himself taught that in order to avoid all flesh being killed, the tribulation would be CUT SHORT from its expected duration. Mat. 24:22.
This is where a proper definition of the tribulation is crucial. It begins at the midpoint of the 70th week. It is cut short before the end of the week by the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of the sky (Mat. 24:29-31). This is portrayed by the 6th seal of Revelation 6:12-17.

Those raised at Rev. 20:4 are not from the tribulation, but are saints who were killed by the beast AFTER the rapture, and during the time that the trumpets and bowls are falling upon the earth.

Furthermore, there will be an abundant number of Gentile believers who survive the wrath of Satan after the rapture and who will go alive into the millennial kingdom of Jesus. Actually, this is only a problem for the post-trib rapture position, which seems to provide no time for such a multitude of Jews and Gentiles to come to faith in Christ after Armageddon – assuming that the rapture would occur at the time of Christ’s descent at Armageddon.



"After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, 'Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.'"

Revelation 4:2adds: "And immediately I was in the spirit." The definite article "the" is not in the Greek text. John simply says that he was "in spirit." The same thing is found in Revelation 1:10. By some means of spiritual transference, John was ushered into heaven where he could view the events that would transpire on the earth in the future. He also heard a voice like a "trumpet" talking with him; The words of IThessalonians 4:16 include "the trump of God."

The very fact of this detail would point to a possible Rapture that would precede the coming tribulation. John, both as an apostle and as a believer, would certainly picture such an event.

This is pure supposition that has no support from the literal method of interpretation.



It is claimed by many who hold to a pretrib rapture position, that John’s removal from the earth at Revelation 4:1 represents the rapture of the church at that time, and thus prior to the 7 seals and what follows.

Furthermore, they claim that since the word, “church” does not occur in chapters 4-18 of the book, that means that it is not present because it was raptured at Revelation 4:1.


1. The Theory explained: John Walvoord 

2. Comments by R.g. Wallace

3.    The Church and the Tribulation, by Robert H. Gundry, pages 77-80

4. Alan Kurschner from: http://www.prewrathrapture.com/

5. The Rev. Charles Cooper from http://



1. THE THEORY EXPLAINED by John Walvoord on page 103 of his commentary, THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST.

   “The invitation for John to ‘come up hither’ is so similar to that which the church anticipates at the rapture that many have connected the two expressions. It is clear from the context that this is not an explicit reference to the rapture of the church, as John was not actually translated; in fact he was still in his natural body on the island of Patmos. He was translated into scenes of heaven only temporarily. Though there is not authority for connecting the rapture with this expression, there does seem to be a typical representation of the order of events, namely, the church age first, then the rapture, then the church in heaven. Though the rapture is mentioned in letters to two of the churches (cf. 2:25; 3:11), the rapture as a doctrine is not a part of the prophetic foreview of the book of Revelation. This is in keeping with the fact that the book as a whole is not occupied primarily with God’s program for the church. Instead the primary objective is to portray the events leading up to and climaxing in the second coming of Christ and the prophetic kingdom and the eternal state which ultimately will follow.
   From a practical standpoint, however, the rapture may be viewed as having already occurred in the scheme of God before the events of chapter 4 and following chapters of Revelation unfold. The word church, so prominent in chapters 2 and 3, does not occur again until 22:16, though the church is undoubtedly in view as the wife of the Lamb in Revelation 19:7. She is not a participant in the scenes of the tribulation which form the major content of the book of Revelation. The familiar phrase, ‘what the Spirit saith unto the churches’ found in 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22 is significantly absent in 13:9.
   It seems that the church as the Body of Christ is out of the picture, and saints who come to know the Lord in this period are described as saved Israelites or saved Gentiles, never by terms which are characteristic of the church, the Body of Christ. Saints mentioned from this point on do not lose their racial background as is commonly done in referring to the church where Jew and Gentile are one in Christ. At the beginning of chapter 4, then, the church may be considered as in heaven and not related to events which will take place on the earth in preparation for Christ’s return in power and glory.”




The focus in Rev. 2-3 is on 7 local churches used to represent the experiential condition of Christianity throughout its history from 96 AD up to the return of Jesus at the Day of the Lord.
The word, “church” is not used to indicate the presence or absence of believers in Jesus during this time. Instead, “saint” is the primary word used to indicate believers.

The book does not make any direct statement about when the church is removed from the earth. Accordingly, we need to be very careful about claiming the church to be absent unless it is perfectly clear.
Without such a clear statement of removal then, we need to determine the occasion of her rapture through implication.
For example, this is what is used by the pretrib position concerning Revelation 4:1, where John is “taken” to heaven within his vision, to implicate the removal of the church from the earth. The problem with this implication is that it requires that we find significance for every other occasion when John is “transported” to and from heaven such as at verse 17:1-3. Here, John is carried “in the Spirit” into the wilderness, which is apparently back on earth. IF there is significance to John being transported into heaven “in the Spirit” at Rev. 4:1, there is equal significance to being transported into the wilderness at Rev. 17:3. What do the two have in common? It is the transfer of John to specific locations so that he can see in a geographical context, what is transpiring in the prophetic scenario. At Rev. 4:1ff, John is taken to heaven, because it is from that perspective that he can best comprehend the events that follow. And At Rev. 17:3, he is taken into the wilderness, because it is from here that he can best comprehend the EARLTHLY identification and activities of the great harlot.
Therefore, concerning the idea of an IMPLIED rapture in the book of Revelation, there is an “implication” which is less ambiguous.

Matthew 10:16-23 indicates that believers in Jesus (the church) will be present on the earth from 30 AD until Jesus returns to “deliver” them at His coming. During this time period and especially right up to the very end, there will be intensive persecution upon these believers and many will be killed. But whichever ones are still alive at His return, these will be physically rescued from the persecution or affliction they are undergoing.
This is the very same thing that Paul taught at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7.
“For it is only just for God to repay with affliction, those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted, along with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire.”
This anticipates the possibility of these believers being alive at the Day of the Lord return of Jesus “in power and great glory” at which time He will send forth His angels and gather His elect from the world (Mat. 24:29-31).
It is therefore, perfectly clear that the rapture occurs in connection with the visible and glorious return of Jesus as it is described both at Matthew 24:29-31 and Revelation 6:12-17.
Accordingly, the most logical place to put an “implied” rapture in the book of the Revelation is in connection with the 6th seal at Rev. 6:12 and not at Rev. 4:1.
And this of course, is exactly what we see at chapter seven. For if the rapture occurs at the time that The Son of Man appears in the clouds when the world sees Him and mourns and cries in anticipation of the wrath of God which is coming upon them (Rev. 6:15-17; Mat. 24:30), then the next thing we should see is -
1. The condition of the earth afterward.
2. And the raptured church in heaven.
Chapter 7 gives us this very description.
In verses 1-8, we see upon the earth, a group of new converts who accept Jesus as the Messiah and become “bond-servants” of God.
And in verses 9-17, we see a group of resurrected saints in heaven, having been delivered out from the great tribulation.
The next event should therefore be the pouring out of God’s wrath on those unbelievers still on the earth. And that is exactly what John sees for us as the 7th seal introduces the trumpets and bowls of God’s wrath.

Notice that in the administration of the trumpet judgments at Revelation 8 and 9, there is no mention of the church or saints period. This is because the focus of these judgments is on the kingdom of the beast and the unbelievers of the world.

In chapters 11-13, which is a review of what transpires during the time of affliction through the oppressive reign of the beast prior to the 6th seal return of Jesus and the rapture of the church, we are shown several times that the beast administrates his wrath on the saints of God (Rev. 11:7; 12:17; 13:7). And most dramatically, at Rev. 12:17, upon “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
This correlates with Matthew 10:22-23; 24:9-21; 2 Thes. 1:6-10 and Rev. 6:9-11.
Following this, Revelation 14 gives an overview of events from the conversion of the 144,000 bond-servants after the rapture, up to the final battle at Armageddon.
Chapters 15-16 then picks up chronologically from the seventh trumpet and outlines the final 7 bowls of God’s wrath which again brings us to the final battle at Armageddon.
Chapters 17-18 also “back up” and review the history of Babylonian religion from Old Testament times up to her final collapse prior to the battle of Armageddon. Within this context, one would expect to find the saints as objects of persecution by this religious monstrosity, which is what we see at Rev. 17:6 and
18:24. Here, the term, “saints” probably refers to Old Testament believers and the witnesses of Jesus to the church. At verse 18:24, “prophets and saints” refers to the Old Testament believers (as in Babylonian evil’s influence in Israel, summarized at Mat. 23:29-36) and “all who have been slain on the earth” would refer to believers both before and after the rapture.
Chapter 19 shows us both the preparation for Jesus’ descent to the earth and the actual descent to fight at Armageddon. Part of that preparation is the evaluation of the believer’s works at the justice seat of Christ. The result of this evaluation is that the “bride” of the Lamb stands before Him, purified from all human works and clothed in white garments, which constitute the sum-total of the righteous production of the saints who were claimed by Jesus at the rapture.
But the word, “church” does not occur in connection with this preparation. If one claims that since “church” does not occur between Revelation 4 and 19, and therefore she is not present on the earth, perhaps they should make the same claim that she is not present here in connection with the bride of the lamb. Furthermore, in chapter 21, the “church” is not mentioned but certainly represented by terms such as, “he who overcomes (v.7)” and the “bride adorned for her husband (v. 2)” and “the 12 apostles of the Lamb (v.14).”
It has been suggested that the reason for the absence of the term, “church” throughout these chapters is because the issue is not the “organized” church of today which is infiltrated and saturated with pseudo-believers such as described at Matthew 7:21-23, but genuine trust in Christ as savior, which is not limited to denominational ties and organizational parameters. A lot can be said in support of this idea and yet, the message still goes out “for the churches,” “let the one who wants, take the water of life (salvation reality) without cost (by grace through faith).” Revelation 22:16-17.


3. Robert Gundry, who holds to the post trib rapture view, deals with the claim that the church is absent from most of Revelation.
The Church and the Tribulation, by Robert H. Gundry, pages 77-80


    In Revelation 4-18 John does not mention the Church once by that name or by any other term distinctive to the believers of the present age. This, it is argued, implies the absence of the Church from the earth during the tribulation described in those chapters.
    But in Revelation 4-18 the absence of the term "church" cannot carry very much weight unless the phrase "after these things” in 1:19 and 4:1 means "after the Church age.” We have seen to the contrary that that phrase refers only to the visionary experiences of John in the first century. And to think that whatever prophetic sweep chapters two and three may contain stops short of the tribulation is to assume pretribulationism in the first place. If the Laodicean era of the Church includes Daniel's seventieth week, chapters two and three sweep the entire Church age to the posttribulational advent. The same can be true if chapters two and three simply characterize types of churches which appear throughout the age. Then in the seals there is a stepping back for further detail on the closing period of the Church age, in the trumpets another, shorter stepping back for greater detail on the latter part of the tribulation, in the bowls a very short stepping back for details concerning the divine wrath to be poured out at Armageddon, and in chapters 17-19 a full account of the fall of Babylon and of the Parousia itself.
        Although in chapters 4-18 John does not mention the Church as on earth by means of distinctive terminology, neither does he mention the Church as being in heaven or in the air by means of distinctive terminology. Yet the setting of most of these chapters and visions is in heaven. Thus, the omission of the Church as in heaven cancels out the omission of the Church as on earth. It may do even more, viz., create the presumption that the last generation of the Church is still on earth in these chapters since John has described no rapture.
        An emphasis on the universal meaning of the term "Church" does not conform to the most frequent usage in the NT. Out of 114 occurrences, only 15 to 20 refer to the Church in the universal or generic sense. To demand, therefore, that the term appear with this sense in Revelation 4-18 is demanding more than is reasonable, especially since "church" bears only the local sense in chapters 1 to 3. And we should hardly require references to particular local churches in a general description of the tribulation.
        The Church is not mentioned as such in Mark, Luke, John, 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, or Jude, and not until chapter 16 of Romans. Unless we are prepared to relegate large chunks of the NT to a limbo of irrelevance to the Church, we cannot make the mention or omission of the term "church" a criterion for determining the applicability of a passage to saints of the present age. Perhaps it is forgivable to wonder whether an appearance of the term "church" in an indisputably tribulational passage would not be passed off as a reference to the congregation of
Israel. The word does carry that sense in Acts 7:38 and in the LXX. It would be easy to say that the Israelitish character of the tribulation requires such an understanding. In other words, in demanding that the term "church" appear in a tribulational passage we forget that except by context that word no more distinguishes saints of the present age than do other terms which do designate tribulational saints throughout Revelation 4-18.
    There is a dramatic style in Revelation. Once introduced onto the stage, the actors and elements which figure throughout the tribulation usually are not mentioned again. We encounter no problem, then, in that churches, once introduced in chapters two and three, do not appear as such in subsequent chapters. On the other hand, we read in the message to the church in Thyatira that overcoming believers will continue until the coming of Christ at "the end," when He will give them "authority over the nations" (
2:25, 26). The ruling of the saints over the nations will begin at the setting up of Christ's earthly kingdom after the tribulation. And in the entire book of Revelation we read description of only one return of Christ, the posttribulational. We shall later see that "the end" will come at the close of the tribulation, in accordance with the Olivet Discourse. Both that discourse and the letter to Thyatira come from the lips of Jesus. We would expect Him to be consistent in His terminology. All evidence which can be gleaned from these verses points to the holding fast of Christians throughout the tribulation to the millennial kingdom.
    Although in his description of the tribulation John uses no distinctive terminology for Christians, neither does he differentiate tribulational saints from Christians or vice versa. Coupled with the absence of a pretribulational rapture, resurrection, and Parousia in Revelation, the lack of differentiation appears to be more significant than lack of distinctive terminology for °the Church. We have to interpolate a pretribulational rapture into Revelation before we can say that tribulational saints do not belong to the Church. But there is no validity in arguing a pretribulational conclusion from a pretribulational premise.
    We need further examination of the terms which designate the saints whose presence in the tribulation all parties acknowledge. Of special interest is the reference to those who "die in the Lord" (
14:13). The term "Lord" refers to Christ, as it usually does in the NT after the gospels (see especially Acts 2:36; Phil. 2:9-11). Hence, to "die in the Lord" is equivalent to dying in Christ. Yet "the dead in Christ" shall rise at the rapture of the Church (1 Thess. 4:16-18). Walvoord even writes that the phrase "the dead in Christ" is a technical term for deceased members of the Church (Rapture Question, page 39). The resemblance between "the dead in Christ" and "the dead who die in the Lord" strikingly points toward the conclusion that those who "die in the Lord" during the tribulation are among the "dead in Christ" who will rise at the rapture (cf. also 1 Cor. 15:18). If so, the rapture must follow the tribulation, during which those saints "die in the Lord."
    In 6:9; 12:17; 14:12; 20:4, tribulational saints are designated as those who keep the commandments of God and the testimony, or faith, of Jesus, just as John, who said he was in Patmos "because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus" (1:9). It would seem that John, a member of the Church, groups himself with tribulational saints. And later John is classed with his "brethren that hold the testimony of Jesus" (
19:10). The remaining appellations of tribulational saints are general terms which might be applied with equal propriety either to members of the Church or to Israelites. But in view of the address of Revelation "to the seven churches" (1:4) and in view of the glaring omission of even a short description of a pretribulational resurrection, rapture, or Parousia, we use better logic to regard tribulational saints as belonging to the Church.


4.By Alan Kurschner, January, 2006 from: http://www.prewrathrapture.com/
Here we find a popular argument from silence made by pretribulationists to support their claim that the church is not present on earth during the Great Tribulation. It is asserted that the word, "church" does not appear in Chapters 4-21, therefore, it is inferred that the church is raptured just before the events of chapter 4 commence.

Furthermore, pretribbers insist that because the Apostle John is told in Revelation 4:1 to "come up here", this purports to be a picture of the rapture (despite pretribulationism's insistence on a literal interpretation of Scripture).

If one is to be consistent with this method of interpretation he must then conclude that most of the New Testament does not apply to the church. This argument uses a "concordance" type interpretation. That is, if we want to know what passages apply to the church we simply open up a concordance and finger down the page looking for usages of the word "church"; thus, they must be applicable to the church. The problem with this method is that it does not take Scripture in a normal, natural, customary sense. Hence, it is naive and completely ignores context.

Here are my points:

1. The word "church" is absent from all the classic rapture passages: 1Thess.4:13-17, 1Cor 15:50-54, and John 14:1-4. Following their logic, are we right to conclude that the "church" will not be raptured?

2. The word "church" is absent from the heavenly scenes in Revelation 4 and 5. But Heaven is the one place we would expect to find it, given this is where pretribulationism says the church will be at that time (because of their less than literal interpretation that Revelation 4:1 represents the church being caught up).

3. The word "church" is absent from the books of Mark, Luke, John, 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude. Does that mean those books do not pertain to the church?

4. Who are the recipients of the book of Revelation? Revelation 1:1 says, "The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave Him to show to His bondservants." Note it does not use the term "church." This is a very important fact about New Testament writers. They used many different phrases and descriptions to describe true believers (the true church). Here the term "bondservants" is employed.

a. Again, in Revelation 22:6 the bondservants (the faithful) are addressed. The unfaithful will not experience persecution or great tribulation; it will be the faithful or bondservants within the church who endure persecution for their faith.

b. Notice that the term "bondservant" is used eight times in Revelation to distinguish them from look-alikes in the church. The focus in Revelation is not the church in general but the faithful, true believers who are persecuted for their faith.

c. It is to the church in general, characterized by compromise, that Christ makes an appeal to repent. The bondservants, true believers, saints, elect of God and those who hold to the testimony of Christ will endure struggle and persecution and be ultimately victorious.

5. The word "saints" is used 59 times in the New Testament to refer to a true believer in Christ, a member of the true church. When pretribbers claim that the references to "saints" in Revelation suddenly refer to a special group of "tribulation saints" because of a "revival" during the 70th week of Daniel, this creates a new class of Christians apart from the church. Their assumption forces this distinction upon Scripture. Further, there is no hint of revival during the 70th week. In fact, rebellious men are hardened even more through their unbelief and apostasy.

6. It should also be noted that it is wrongly assumed that all of the events in chapter four and beyond describe God's Day-of-the-Lord wrath. But a cursory reading of these chapters reveal that not all of these events are part of the Day of the Lord but rather particular events describe the persecution of God's people. It is not the purpose of this article to describe these events, only to note that the prewrath position has demonstrated this extensively in other literature.

5. Why is the church not mentioned in Revelation 4-22?
By Rev. Charles Cooper

It is assumed by pretribulationists that the church is not present on earth during the events spoken of in the majority of the book of Revelation. This thinking is based primarily on the absence of the word "church" from Revelation 3:22 to Revelation 20:16. If the "church" is not mentioned, it is concluded, she must have been raptured prior to the events written about. Further, it is assumed that the invitation to the apostle John in Revelation 4:1 to "come up here" is a picture of the rapture of the church preceding the events of the 70th week.

It is important to examine these assumptions because they clearly attempt to place the rescue of the righteous (the rapture) before Daniel's 70th week and not after. If that is so, it should be clearly taught in Scripture.

For several compelling reasons, it is a false conclusion to assume that the church will be raptured before the 70th week of Daniel (and for that reason is not mentioned between chapters 4 and 20):

1. The plain teaching of Scripture. Jesus, in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:3-31), outlines the sequence of events in the last days relative to the church. Verses 3-14 parallel Revelation chapter 6 and depict those events from the beginning of the 70th week to the rapture. Then, in verses 15-28, He focuses on the middle time period of that future week (the final 7 years) and emphasizes two key events: (a) a time of great persecution, and (b) the "cut[ting] short" of "those days" of persecution for "the sake of the elect". Finally, in verses 29-31, He highlights what it is that will "cut short" that persecution, the rescue of the elect (the rapture).

Paul echoes this same teaching in his 2nd letter to the Thessalonians 2:1-12: (a) the apostasy comes first, (b) the revealing of the man of lawlessness, (c) the "challenge" to all who will not bow down to him and worship him "as being God", and (d) the coming of the Lord to "gather together" believers unto Himself.

In Revelation 6-8, we have the same sequence repeated: (a) the 70th week begins, (b) the pressure builds [seals 1-3], (c) the midpoint [seals 4-5] and apex of the persecution (against the "saints") arrives, (d) the "cut[ting] short" of that persecution with the same cosmic announcement [seal 6] as Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24:29-31 followed by the rapture of the saints (Revelation 7:9ff). There is absolutely no teaching either by hint or by direct instruction that the church will not be present during the 70th week of Daniel.

2. The recipients of the book of Revelation. In Revelation 1:1 we read: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants,..." In Revelation 22:6, we read: "the Lord,... God... sent His angel to show to His bond-servants..." Eight times in the book of Revelation, we encounter the reference "bond-servant". This special term is applicable in the New Testament to the apostle John, Paul, and Timothy. It is a word that has reference to all true believers as opposed to "tares", "darnel", or look-alikes. What does this mean? By writing the book of Revelation to the bond-servants, Jesus is clearly focusing not on the church in general, but faithful servants. They are to know what will transpire during that climactic era of history. Why? Perhaps to avoid unnecessary exposure to the evil empire of Antichrist. Perhaps to be able to assist struggling believers who did not prepare themselves when they should have. Perhaps to be able to effectively serve the Lord in some capacity with strength during those challenging days. Only God fully knows.

We are made to understand that the church in general will, for the most part, be a compromising body at the time of the end. When Jesus addresses the seven churches in Revelation, His primary appeal is a call to repentance. Each of those churches is in one or more compromising situations and needs to change their spiritual condition if they are to be overcomers. The clear desire of Christ is that the individuals in each of those churches be victorious rather than suffer the consequences. It's the church in general that will not know what is happening when the end-time events unfold and in chapter 6:7-11 and chapters 12 and 13, we see that they pay a high price for their unpreparedness.

3. The use of "saint"(s) in the New Testament. The New Testament uses the term "saint" some 59 times. Virtually every reference clearly indicates it means a true believer in Christ. Link that with the conspicuous absence of any reference in the major eschatological works of the Bible that supposedly teach some sort of "revival" during the 70th week of Daniel. The fact is, the repeated reference of mankind in Revelation during this time is that they "did not repent" (cf. Rev. 9:20-21; 16:9,11). When the persecution begins at the midpoint, that experience won't be the most conducive means of seeing people come to Christ in great numbers. Who then are these saints? Are they believers who come to Christ after the beginning of the 70th week? Yes and no. Certainly it must be acknowledged that there will be some who come to Christ once the 70th week begins. But are those potentially trickling numbers worthy of a worldwide vendetta by Antichrist? Hardly! No, there must be a significant enough body of "saints" still present when Antichrist reveals himself to warrant his widespread wrath. The great multitude in Revelation 7 speaks to that clear reality.

4. The misrepresentation of John being the church. It is said that the church is not present during the events of Revelation because in chapter 4:1, John is called to "come up here". John is said to be a picture of the church, and therefore it (the church) is in heaven during the days of the 70th week of Daniel. But is that a valid inference? Nowhere in all of the New Testament is there warrant to apply the understanding that John represents the church in Rev. 4:1. The context clearly implies that "John" refers to... John, and no one else. He is simply given a heavenly perspective of what is going on behind the visible world and what will take place during the last days. Nothing else. To say otherwise is to grasp at straws to try to support a hollow argument.

5. The argument from silence. It is maintained that since the word "church" isn't used again from 3:22 until 22:6, she is absent from the events unfolding during that time period. That's an argument from silence. If we apply that same argument to the gospel of John, we have to conclude that the gospel of John isn't for the church because the word church isn't even mentioned in all of its chapters. Can that be true?

The overwhelming evidence is that the church is indeed present during the 70th week of Daniel regardless of whether the word is used or not. What one believes must be squarely built on what the Bible clearly says, not on what we might like it to say for whatever reason. What we believe about the last days will have tremendous implications for our lives should we enter those days. Let us be Bereans, searching to see if these things are so. (Acts 17:11)


6. MARV ROSENTHAL answers this issue on pages 44-46 of THE PREWRATH RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH.

REBUTTAL 1 In response to this argument, the following observations are made. First, for posttribulation rapturism, the conspicuous absence of the church from chapters 4 through 21 creates a significant problem. This is a seven-year period of time during which, according to the posttribulation scenario, the church is being supernaturally protected. Yet in the book of Revelation, which presents the fullest description of that seven-year period, the church is not even mentioned in that description. Posttribulationism has yet to give a satisfactory response to the dilemma which that fact creates for their position.

Second, it will be repeatedly noted that an argument that discredits posttribulation rapturism does not necessarily prove pretribulation rapturism. That obvious fact is important to remember because all too frequently it is ignored. Third, the pretribulation argument being challenged in this rebuttal not only does not create a problem for the prewrath position espoused in this book, but helps sustain it. In Revelation 1 to 3 the church is repeatedly mentioned (nineteen times). In chapter 4, John was called up to heaven (Rev. 4:1). Chapters 4 and 5 describe a heavenly scene depicting God seated upon His throne. In this heavenly scene, the church would not be expected to be in view. Chapter 6 describes the opening of the first six seals and concludes with the statement that God's wrath "is come" (I.e., is about to occur). It is precisely at this point of time, before the opening of the seventh seal and the commencement of God's wrath, that the church is raptured in chapter 7. Therefore, the fact that the church is not mentioned in chapters 8 through 21 not only is compatible with a prewrath Rapture but gives it essential support.

ARGUMENT 2 Many pretribulation rapturists argue from the apostle John's statement, "After this I looked and, behold, a door was opened in heaven; and the first voice that I heard was, as it were, of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up here, and I will show thee things which must be hereafter" (Rev. 4:1). They take the command to John to "Come up here" to signify the Rapture of the church. Since this occurs in chapter 4, before the opening of the seals, trumpets, and bowls, the Rapture must be pretribulational.
REBUTIAL 2 In response to this view, the author must acknowledge that this issue was almost omitted from discussion. The argument which suggests that John's being called up to heaven represents the church and determines the timing of the Rapture is fanciful and totally without biblical justification. That kind of interpretation dishonors a literal and grammatical approach to the Scriptures. To make John's being caught up into heaven mean the church is raptured at that time is tantamount to adopting Origen's allegory method of interpretation-an approach premillennarians universally shun in other instances. Because this argument is frequently cited by zealous exponents of pretribulation rapturism, its inclusion here was deemed necessary.



There is no doubt that the issue of the 24 elders is critical to the whole argument of Pre-tribulationalism. George Eldon Ladd, a Post-tribulationalist, admits that very fact in his commentary on the Book of Revelation.

Yes, indeed! If the 24 elders are identified as THE CHURCH in heaven because it was raptured at Revelation 4:1, then it is crucial to the pretrib view.
However, while the 24 elders are not symbolic of angels, they are NOT symbolic of the raptured church either. They are symbolic of the group of believers that is present in heaven at the time of John’s vision – a group comprised of both Old Testament and New Testament saints.

Hocking: The very fact that the 24 elders are seen in heaven, NOT on earth during the judgments of the Tribulation forces us to connect them with the following possibilities:

1. They refer to angels.
2. They refer to all believers who have died and are now in heaven.
3. They refer to Gentile believers who are saved during the Tribulation and are martyred.
4. They refer to church-age believers only.

But it is just an assumption that sees this time as “during the judgments of the Tribulation.”
And that is based on the erroneous imaginative theory that the church was raptured at Rev. 4:1.

Hocking: The 24 elders cannot refer to angels because they are identified separately from them in Revelation 5:11 and 7:11. They cannot refer to the Gentile multitude who is saved during the tribulation on the basis of the discussion of Revelation7:13-14.

The description of these 24 elders in Revelation 4:4 connects them with the promises to church-age believers in Revelation 2 and 3. The words about them sitting on thrones remind us of Revelation 3:21; the reference to them being clothed in white raiment connects us with the words of Revelation 3:5; the picture of them with crowns of gold on their heads reminds us of Revelation 2:10 and 3:11.

These 24 elders are not called "priests" or "saints" but rather "elders." That is a specific description of church leaders as well as the "elders" who acted as judges and administrators of justice among the children of Israel.

However, the "elders" of the Sanhedrin who are often connected with the priests and the scribes are not treated as genuine believers in the New Testament. They are the ones who condemned our Lord to death and delivered Him to the Romans for crucifixion.

The use of the number "24" is also very instructive. There have been many attempts by Bible teachers to divide this number into the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles of the Church. But, there is no Biblical warrant for that kind of exegesis. The number is found in I Chronicles 24 and 25 and refers to 24divisions of priests and musicians for the Nation of Israel. But, these are not called "priests" but rather "elders."

Are the 24 elders angels? Are they representative (symbolic) of a
group of people who will be there in the future or
are they present there, right NOW as John is given a
view of the heavenly realm?

I don’t think that designating the 24 elders as angels
is a good choice.
What IS in heaven at the time of John’s vision?
  1. There is the Father and the Lamb: 
     A. The Father:  Mt. 5.16; Rev. 4.3; Heb. 12.23
     B. The Son:  Heb. 1.3; Rev. 5.5-6; Heb. 12.24

  2. We have a multitude of angels:
           Heb.12.22; Rev.5.11;
     (The seraphim of Isaiah 6:4 and the cherubim of Ezekiel, and the 4
     living creatures of John's vision should be seen as SYMBOLIC figures
     within the context of the respective visions, and NOT actual beings
     that reside in heaven. For details see Revelation 4:6.)

  5. We have the multitude of Old Testament believers,
     described as the spirits of just men made perfect, who
     now live in heaven. Heb. 12.23

  6. And we have all church age believers who had died
     by the time of Johns vision.  2 Cor. 5.8;

Now John, in the Spirit (that is in vision format) is taken
to heaven and sees what is present there and sees what is present
on the earth.  What does John see in heaven?
1. The Father and the Son:   Rev. 4.3; 5.6
2. The Holy Spirit represented by the 7 lamps (Rev. 4:5)
   and the 7 eyes on the Lamb (Rev. 5:6).
3. A multitude of angels:  Rev. 5.11

4. What’s left?  How about the Old Testament saints and
the dead in Christ saints?
And why not view these two groups together since they
are now both covered by the blood of Jesus and share in the new
Jerusalem, which is also in heaven at Hebrews 12.22?
And is it not interesting that when the new
Jerusalem is described at Revelation 21.10-14, we have 12 gates
for the 12 tribes of
Israel and 12 foundation stones for the 12
apostles of the lamb. I suggest that this number, 24, is a symbolic
number combining both OT and church believers.
See Topic:  Saints in Heaven

I see the 24 elders as a "representative" group.
Twelve and twelve probably represents both groups of
saints who would be in heaven at the time of John’s

And then John sees on earth a multitude of saints:
Rev. 5.9-10
These are from every tribe, tongue, people and nation,
and are a kingdom of priests (Rev. 1.6).
The present activity of the church on earth is as a
priestly nation.   1 Pet. 2.9
These also WILL (future) reign upon the earth.
It should be clear that the believers who are seen in
heaven at Revelation 7.9-17, are there in direct fulfillment of
Matthew 24.31 and 1 Thessalonians 4.14f.

The description of the saints seen in heaven at
chapter 7 does not mitigate against the identification
of the elders as "saints" because what is seen at
Revelation 7 is part of the vision or MOVIE that John
is watching. IN just the same way, JOHN can see the
raptured church, BUT he is not there as part of the group.

Now concerning the description of the 24 elders:
1. They are presbuteros, or “old men”: This indicates
authority or rank.
2. The crowns need not refer to rewards, as they are
symbolic of both the authority and the rank of believers in
3. The crowns could also refer to the fact that these
are overcomers by faith in the Messiah, which is pertinent to both
Old Testament and church age saints.
4. “Sitting on the thrones” is another symbol which
indicates association with the One on the throne, and is not a
fulfillment of the "throne" promises, for they are not fulfilled until the earthly kingdom.

5. The white robes need not indicate the raptured
church, for all creatures associated with God are dressed
in white. And as saints even without ressurection body,
they would be dressed in white.
At Revelation 7.9 we have the elect of Matthew 24.31, in white robes.
Notice the martyrs of Revelation 6.9-11 who are in
heaven without a resurrection body and they have white robes.
Also notice that the angels at Revelation 15.6,
have garments that are clean and bright, and at
Revelation 19:14, white and clean. By the way, the armies that
follow Jesus are angels, not believers.
It is perfectly consistent with all revelation that
"the 24 elders" are a SYMBOLIC group that represents the
MYRIAD of believers from all previous history, who are
in heaven at the time of John’s vision.




This issue is the most important of all and involves a great deal of controversy among Bible teachers. Consider the various English translations of these verses.
First of all, in relation to the differences in verse 10 between the King James Version and other English translations, the Greek text shows a number of variant readings. If the third person plural is preferred, it still does not prove anything because it can simply refer to those mentioned in verse 9. It is interesting that we have in Revelation 1:6 these words: "And hath made US kings and priests unto God"- and there is no variation in the manuscripts supporting this reading. It would appear that Revelation 5:10, therefore, should support the reading of Revelation 1:6.

Secondly, the real problem depends upon the manuscript evidence behind Revelation 5:9. Does the evidence support the word "US" or a reading of "THEM" or "MEN" or "PEOPLE" etc.? The Greek manuscripts (that we have today) of the passage in Revelation 5:9 are 24 in number, and 23 of them read "US" - only Codex Alexandrinus differs in this regard. We also have many Latin manuscripts of this verse and all of them read "US." Even the primary languages into which the Greek version was soon translated - all read "US." The issue is critical to the argument - are the 24 elders singing a song of redemption about themselves or about others who would be redeemed during the Tribulation? It appears that the evidence is overwhelming and that the King James translation is the correct one of Revelation 5:9.

Regarding the song of the 24 elders and the
discrepancy concerning the pronoun.  It is no issue.
1. If the 24 are symbolic of the Old Testament saints plus dead New
Testament saints, the pronoun "us" is quite pertinent, for they ALL  
come under the work of Jesus.

2. And if we go with the better mss. reading and use
"them", then, it is probable that the elders are referring
to a DIFFERENT group, which would be the church on the
earth at that time, identified as “from every tribe,
tongue, people and nation.”

Hocking: CONCLUSION: It would appear that the Rapture is indeed pictured and stated in the Book of Revelation and that church-age believers will be removed from the judgments of the great Tribulation upon the earth!

Yes. The rapture is pictured in the Book of Revelation. But it does not occur at Revelation 4:1.
Nor is it pictured by the symbolic group called the 24 elders.
It occurs at the 6th seal when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire. This is according to Mat. 24:29-31 and 2Thes. 1:6-10.
After the arrival of Jesus John is shown two results.
1. The conversion of the 144,000 Jews at Rev. 7:1-8.
2. The presence of saints in heaven that have been gathered out from the tribulation at vs. 7:9ff.


Questions and comments are always welcome

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