The word “Church” does not appear after Revelation 3. Some believe this is evidence of a Pre-Trib Rapture. Some Pre-Trib Rapture supporters also claim Revelation 4:1 depicts the Rapture. Do Pre-Trib Rapture believers have valid points?
In this article, I will answer whether Revelation 4:1 depicts the Rapture.
Revelation 4:1 Video:
Revelation 4:1 Overview
Revelation 4:1 describes John, the author of Revelation, being called up to Heaven:
“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.”
Some say this represents the Church being taken to Heaven. My rebuttal to this is that people who are part of the Church are mentioned on Earth beyond Revelation 4:1.
The Church After Revelation 3
The Fifth Seal Martyrs
First, we have the fifth seal martyrs, who will be killed during the great tribulation. Revelation tells us they will die for holding onto their beliefs. Revelation 20 tells us they believe in Jesus. This means they are Christians.
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:” (Revelation 6:9)
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4)
The Saints in Revelation 12-14
Also, Revelation 12 and Revelation 13 tell us that Satan (the dragon) and the Antichrist will make war with the saints. Revelation 14 tells us that the saints are Christians. This is again evidence that Christians will die during the tribulation:
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 12:17)
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Revelation 13:7)
“Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)
What About “Tribulation Saints”?
Pre-Trib Rapture supporters will argue that the Christians who die are tribulation saints or people who get saved after the Rapture of the Church. Here is the problem with that argument.
Scripture tells us that the dead in Christ will be resurrected before the Christians alive at that time meet Christ in the air when the Rapture takes place:
“(4:16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (4:17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
“(51) Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
Remember the fifth seal martyrs who will die in the great tribulation? Revelation 20 tells us that they are part of the resurrection of the dead: the first resurrection. They are among the group who will be resurrected when Christ comes:
“(4) And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (5) But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (6) Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:4-6)
This means the Rapture cannot take place without them martyred first. The Rapture cannot take place until after the end of the great tribulation. Otherwise, not all the dead believers will be accounted for before the surviving Christians are transformed at the Rapture.
Christians will be martyred. It’s inevitable. That’s why we have Revelation 14:12-13. The passage encourages the Christians still alive at that time to endure even as their fellow believers die:
“(12) Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”
Therefore, we can conclude that the Revelation 4:1 does not depict the Rapture. The absence of the word “Church” after Revelation 3 is no reason to argue for a Pre-Trib Rapture. The word “Church” is missing, but the people who comprise the Church are mentioned after Revelation 3 and they are being martyred. They are encouraged to endure and to overcome like Jesus encouraged the members of the 7 churches to endure.
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- Revelation 22:16 mentions the word “churches”. However, this does not affect the analysis of my article. ↩
You are correct that Rev 4:1 does not depict the rapture. It clearly occurs after (in conjunction with) the 6th seal. The martyred saints are part of the first resurrection as was Jesus, the first fruits from the dead. The first resurrection is the “harvest”. Jesus is the first fruits, Christians are the main harvest and tribulation saints are the gleanings. There is no second resurrection for believers, the second resurrection is for unbelievers to be judged in Rev 20. Jesus will appear and come for those who are looking for Him. I believe in a pre-wrath rapture. If I’m right, then I’ll be looking for Him and be raptured. If I’m wrong, then I’ll be stuck here for the tribulation as you say. For those who believe your teaching, you will be here for the tribulation whether you’re right or wrong since you won’t be looking for Him. Remember, Noah and Lot. Both escaped wrath on the same day it came. Gods wrath begins when all 7 seals are broken. That’s why the Bible depicts the rapture there as well as the sealing of 144k so they will be protected as the wrath comes. Clearly Rev tells of a two fold wrath judgement of trumpets and bowls. One each for both sides of the scroll and for the OT and the NT saints. The 24 elders (12 tribes/12 apostles), the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, the 12 foundations and the 12 gates.
I was once a proponent of the classic Pre-Wrath Rapture proposed by Van Kampen and Rosenthal, but my views evolved as I studied more. I found in my studies that the wrath of God (orge wrath) starting around the time of the 6th seal also begins at the sounding of the 7th trumpet and the sounding of the 7th bowl. This wrath, orge wrath, is the one that we will avoid:
Thank you for this! What do you tell people that say but it says that we will not suffer Gods wrath and they bring up the church of Philadelphia; how they will be saved from the hour of temptation?
Those who say we will not suffer God’s wrath are correct, but they fail to distinguish between orge wrath and thumos wrath. The Bible says that we will not suffer orge wrath. Orge wrath doesn’t begin until the end of the tribulation. I have an article about that different wraths:
Revelation 3:10 says that the Church of Philadelphia will be kept from the hour of temptation or testing. The Greek word for “kept” does not imply removal from the testing. The word implies that people will be protected as the testing occurs around them. The Israelites were kept from harm as the plagues of Egypt happened around them. They were not removed from Egypt as the plagues took place.