Arguments continued.

“3. John’s rapture to heaven in Rev. 4:1-2 represents the Rapture of the Church; John is raptured before the main events of Revelation take place, so the Church will also be raptured before those events.”

While it is true that in Rev. 4:1-2 the Apostle John is taken up to Heaven to observe what happens there, we must ask ourselves whether that is his location during the entire middle section of Revelation. In chapter 11 John is told to measure the Temple and its altar (but not the Court of the Gentiles/Outer Court). If the Temple is on earth in Jerusalem or Shiloh, as pre-tribbers affirm, then John has moved from Heaven to earth in order to be present at the Temple to measure it. In chapter 13, verse 1 says in some manuscripts, “And I [John] stood on the shore of the sea…”; again we have John on earth right at the  Antichrist’s/Beast’s emergence from the sea at the start of the Great Tribulation (3.5 years). Chapter 10 also implies that John is on earth at the time, because he takes a scroll from an angel who has one foot on the earth/land, and one foot on the sea.

We need to also ask ourselves whether John’s translation to Heaven before the 7-Sealed Scroll is opened necessarily implies the Church’s translation. No one argues that when Elijah went up to Heaven that he took all believing Israel with him or that Enoch’s translation to Heaven means he took all the believing Gentiles with him at that time. John’s translation is in the tradition of OT prophets such as a Ezekiel and Daniel, who were taken to various places in the Spirit to behold a vision (For example Ezekiel was taken to Israel in the Millennium to measure the Temple and tribal portions – chapters 40-48). John’s translation to Heaven may simply indicate two things: a) he is witnessing Christ’s Parousia (John 21:22); b) he is seeing events from God’s perspective: whereas the earth-dwellers worship the Antichrist as a god, God sees him as he really is – a terrible beast persecuting the saints. God’s perspective is true, but man’s perspective is subject to error.

Furthermore, John’s translation to Heaven fails to meet the strict linguistic system set down by pre-tribbers. Nowhere is the verb αρπαζω used; rather, verse 1 says “αναβα ωδε” – “come up here”.

“4. Revelation 3:10, “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“, suggests Christ will take believers out of the world before the really terrible times come.”

After 2 Thess. 2, I think this verse is in fact the pre-tribber’s strongest support for his position. No one disputes that the term “temptation/trial” can be used to signify persecution, and here we have a verse that explicitly promises (a part of) the Church exemption from the time of persecution as a reward for her faithfulness.

Alan Kurschner deals with this verse on pages 225-6 (endnote 45) of Antichrist before the Day of the Lord, and the same material may be found on his website: .

His arguments run as follows:

a) The “hour of temptation” may signify God’s Wrath, rather than the Antichrist’s Great Tribulation, in which case this verse supports the pre-wrath position as much as the pre-trib position. The nature of “temptation” (“πειρασμου“) must be determined first before we can be certain what exactly this verse is promising. Πειρασμος can also be rendered “testing” – we need to ask what God is testing. It may be He is testing the hearts of the earth-dwellers: the fact that they refuse to repent even in the light of His Wrath indicates that they are incurably wicked (cf. “transworld depravity”).

b) Rev. 3:10 does not address the issue of when the Day of the Lord begins: from this verse we cannot determine at what point the “hour of testing” begins, therefore we cannot use it to situate the Rapture in reference to other end times events without further supporting texts and analysis.

c) What does “keep from” signify in this text? It certainly could support the pre-trib rapture position, but it could also mean spiritual perseverance during the Tribulation. In other words, the verse promises that true believers will not succumb to deception and apostasy.

We may add a few other objections.

d) The pre-trib interpretation pre-supposes a particular hermeneutic for interpreting the Letters to the Seven Churches. We must bear in mind that they were addressed to particular churches in Asia Minor at a particular time. The universalising interpretation of the Letters, while certainly reasonable, needs to be discussed in greater detail with reference to the applications of the promises and warnings.

e) This verse may actually support a partial pre-trib rapture, rather than the full version. The promise is in fact conditional upon “ke[eping] the word of my patience” (“τον λογον της υπομονης μου“). We need to ask ourselves what this actually means: does it simply mean “being born again”, or is it a further condition placed on top of spiritual regeneration? What criteria and Bible verses can we use to determine what the correct reading is? A partial pre-trib rapture for some believers would not necessarily contradict a pre-wrath rapture of others (although clearly it would be desirable to be in the first group).