THE REVELATION 4:1
THE CHURCH IN REVELATION
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:
Comments by R.g. Wallace
The Church and the
Tribulation, by Robert H. Gundry,
Alan Kurschner from:
Charles Cooper from
Rosenthal from THE PREWRATH RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH
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
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
COMMENTS BY R.g. WALLACE:
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
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 EARTHLY identification and activities of the great
Therefore, concerning the idea of an IMPLIED
rapture in the book of Revelation, there is an “implication” which is less
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
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
And in verses 9-17, we see a group of
resurrected saints in heaven, having been delivered out from the great
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).”
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
THE CHURCH IN REVELATION 4-18
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 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
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
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
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.
Alan Kurschner, January, 2006 from:
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
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?
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
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?
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
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.