Is the “Rapture” in Revelation 4?

The Absence of “Church” proves “the Rapture”  Theory, in Revelation 4…

 If you’ve been around Pre-Trib for any length of time, the standard explanation concerning the presence of the church in the book of Revelation goes something like this— “The church is not mentioned after chapter 3, which proves that the church is raptured away at the beginning of chapter 4, and is not mentioned again until chapter 22. Thus, the Rapture and ‘Seven Year Tribulation Period’ is clearly marked out from chapter 4 to chapter 21. Proving that the church will not be around for the events that unfold in the Revelation, between chapters 4 and 22.”

As a logical, Bible-believer, I’m embarrassed for those who actual teach this as “sound doctrine”! (And, there are many that do) Where did this goofy “proof for the Rapture” originate?  Like so many other Pre-Trib theories, the one traceable, easy to find, tangible source would be the Scofield Reference Bible.

                 Hopefully by now, you are starting to understand where modern day Pre-Trib teachers derive their doctrine—typically, one needs to look no further than the Dispensationalism of the SRB, to understand the conclusions that Pre-Tribbers tend to jump to. Here are some KJV/Pre-Trib teachers who “parrot” Scofield’s notes:

Paul Chappell –  “Because the church is absent in Revelation 4-18. The first three chapters of Revelation are directed to the Apostle John and the seven churches in Asia Minor. At the beginning of Revelation 4, John hears a trumpet and is called up into Heaven. Revelation 4-18 focuses on the judgments on Earth during the Tribulation. The church is not mentioned in these chapters except where she is seen in the few brief glimpses in Heaven.”[1]

 Dennis Corle –  “Revelation 4:1-2 tells us that John was caught up to Heaven. This is a picture of, as well as a prophecy concerning, the Rapture.”… “The word church does not appear from Revelation 3:22 to Revelation 22:16. Why? It is raptured in Revelation 4:1-2.”… “The word ‘church’ is conspicuously missing from Revelation 3:22 which is the last verse of chapter 3 with chapter 4:1 being the next verse through chapter 22:16. Why? It has been taken out and the elect in the entire Tribulation refers to the Jew.”[2] [sic]

David Cloud –In the book of Revelation, the church is not seen on earth after chapter three until chapter nineteen, when she is seen returning to earth with Christ. The churches are repeatedly mentioned in Revelation one through three, then disappears until the end of the book, but the true church is not the focus on the Great Tribulation recorded in Re. 4-18.”[3]

Robert Sargent – {Revelation 4} “The aged apostle is given a foretaste of the glorious ‘rapture’ as he is transported in his spirit to heaven… The rapture will occur at the end of the Church Age. There is no mention of any church between Rev. 2:22 [sic] and Rev. 22:16… Another proof of the Pre-tribulation rapture. In Rev. 4:1,2 the believer is transported to heaven…”[4]

Clarence Sexton –At the conclusion of this church age, the church will be raptured as Lord Jesus comes for His bride; but the world will not end. During the Tribulation period, which is a seven-year period of time, the church will be gone. You will not find the church on the earth. If you read the Revelation of Jesus Christ and come to the fourth chapter, you do not find the church on the earth. Heaven opens, and the church is caught up to be with the Lord.”[5]

 Thomas Strouse – “The abrupt ending of revelatory truth concerning the seven assemblies on earth, and the beginning of future events of the visions concerning heaven, require the reader to recognize that Christ unveiled teaching about “the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world” from which the Lord would keep the churches…”[6]

 Henry Morris –This (3:22) is the last reference to churches in Revelation until the very last chapter (22:16). This fact strongly reinforces the inference that Revelation 2 and 3 reflect the entire church age, with the rest of the book dealing with the period after all true churches have been raptured and taken to be with the Lord… In Revelation 4-22, the Lord shows us the ‘things which must be hereafter’—that is, after the church age…”[7]

Kent Brandenburg – THE ABSENCE OF THE CHURCH IN THE TRIBULATION REQUIRES A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE… The tribulation is wrath… If God spares His children from wrath, then we would expect not to find the church in the passages of Scripture dealing with the tribulation. We don’t. You can read Revelation 2 and 3 and find nineteen mentions of church or churches. In Revelation 4 through 19, you will see none. The churches are gone.” [8]

But, what about the Pre-Scofield [1917] Commentaries?

             Take the time to read what the older commentaries had to say (or, did not say) concerning Revelation chapter 4. Not a hint of a suggestion from them, that— “since the word ‘church’ isn’t mentioned past chapter 3, then it must symbolically mean that the ‘church’ will be ‘secretly raptured’, during the period of time between Revelation 4-18, etc. …” Search the older commentaries, such as— Adam Clark, the Geneva Bible Notes, Matthew Poole, John Wesley’s Notes, Jamieson-Faussett-Brown, Albert Barnes, Matthew Henry, Thomas Scott, B. H. Carroll, Thomas Haweis, William Burkitt, Charles Ellicott, John Gill, F.B. Meyer, etc., etc.

These older commentators made no mention of a symbolic rapture being illustrated by the absence of the words, “church” or “churches”, from chapter 4 to chapter 22. In fact, some of them said quite the contrary! Ironically though, it is the Pre-Tribber who accuses the rest of us of “spiritualizing into the text” —something “figuratively”, and not taking the Scripture passages, “literally”. Yet, their own “Rapture doctrine”— based on the absence of the words, “church/churches”, is certainly guilty of this very thing!

The explanation for the “church” absence is quite simple…

The reason WHY the words “church” or “churches” are not found in Revelation 4-21, is much simpler than is imagined —

It really is this simple! Revelation is a LETTER written to the seven churches. This is also how several other NT epistles were written.

 Typically, when one writes a letter, they will officially address the recipient, by name, at the beginning of the letter, and then, they may choose to address them, again by name, towards the end of the letter— or then, not at all. However— it is logically understood that the ENTIRE letter is addressed to the person(s) named at the beginning of the letter!  ~ “Dear, John,…”

The goofy claim that— “…since ‘church’ is not mentioned in the Body of the letter, therefore that section of the letter does not apply to the Church…”, is easily refuted.

Several other NT epistles were written in the same format, yet we do not pretend to think that the “Body” (the main part of the letter) of these other epistles, was “not addressed to the church”!!!

Galatians only mentions “church” in the first chapter—does that prove that chapters 2-6 are not “to the church”???

Colossians only mentions “church” in the first and last chapters—does that prove that chapters 2-3 are not intended for the “church”???

 2Thessalonians only mentions “church” in the first chapter—does that prove that chapters 2-3 are not addressed to the “church”???

And, horror of horrors! —there is NO mention of the word, “church” in any of these other NT books— Mark, Luke, John, Titus, 2 Timothy, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, and Jude!!! Does this mean that we (in the church) should think of these books— as if they do not apply to us???  … Of course, NOT!

There are even other good reasons to reject—“Revelation chapter 4 = the Rapture of the Church” as a bogus theology. [9]

To whom was the entire “letter” of Revelation addressed?

 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne…” (Revelation 1:1-4)

Revelation 4:1-2

“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. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.” 

(Can one really find “the Rapture” in there???)

Even the late, John R. Rice (a Pre-Tribber, himself) was candidly honest as to just how unsubstantial the claim that —  “Revelation 4 = the Rapture of the Church”, really is:

“We suppose the rapture of saints taken to Heaven is hinted at in the words to John, ‘Come up hither’ (vs. 1), but none of the events and details connected with the rapture are mentioned. No mention of ‘the shout,’ the ‘voice of the archangel.’ There is a ‘trumpet’ sound, but no mention of the resurrection, no change of the living, no ‘one… taken, and the other left.’ The book of Revelation is not especially about the rapture of saints taken to Heaven and before the judgment seat of Christ and for the wedding supper.”[10]


The “Rapture” is not in Revelation 4 — unless one adds it in there!

“The book of Matthew is for the Jews”  {Matt. 24 = to Jews}???

             Using their own “the church is not mentioned between Revelation 4-21” theory, what about the book of Matthew? The word “church” appears nowhere in Mark, Luke, or John, but it is found repeatedly in the gospel of— Matthew!

 Matthew 16:16-19 – And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 Matthew 18:15-18 – “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 Matthew 28:18-20 – “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

{Matthew ends with the Church’s “Great Commission”!}

Yet, the book of Matthew [esp. Matthew 24] was “written to the Jews”, and not to the Church???      


What about “the Church age”? Is it permanent, or temporary?

 For a moment, let’s pretend that Pre-Tribbers are correct, and those who get saved, after the Rapture (during “The Tribulation Period”), are “Tribulation Saints”— if so, then, why would these saints NOT be “the church” on earth???  Surely, they would still have the Scriptures [Matthew 24:35], and the Scriptures would direct them on how to be saved, and then, to be baptized after their salvation, and then, “added to the church” [Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 2, etc.]— so, why would these saints NOT be counted as “the church”, during “the Great Tribulation”??? 

Pre-Tribbers will argue something like this— “All of ‘the Tribulation saints’ will be those who get saved during ‘the Tribulation period’, but, after the Rapture, the ‘church age’ will be over, so, these ‘Tribulation saints’ will not be a part of the church…” Yet, how can the “Church Age” ever be over [Eph. 3:21], when as long as— “two or three are gathered together”, in His name—He is there, too??? [Mt. 18:20]  They insist that those Jews who supposedly get saved in ‘the Tribulation’ will not be a part of “the church”— yet, it was saved Jews who were a part of the very foundation of the church! [Matthew 16:16-18; Ephesians 2:19-22]

David Cloud says— “After the Rapture, there will be no born again churches on earth…”[11] However, since the Word of God cannot pass away, if there were to be, “Tribulation saints” [saved people on earth, after the Rapture]— then, there would also have to be a born-again church, even during “the Tribulation Period”!

Of course, this is all hypothetical, anyway—as there won’t be any future, “Tribulation saints” on earth after the return of Christ, because at the Second Coming of Christ, the wrath of God will be poured out. (By then, any tribulation on earth will have been “past tense”, and His own children will have been caught up together, to be with Him, before the pouring out of His wrath upon the unbelievers.)

“Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”   ~ Ephesians 3:21


[1] Understanding the Times – Paul Chappell – “A Sudden Disappearance” – p71, 2010

[2] PROOF of the Pre-Tribulation RAPTURE – Dr. Dennis Corle – 2021 [pp7, 86, 142]

[3] Way of Life Encyclopedia – David Cloud – “Rapture”; Point 3 – p454 -2002

[4] Outline Studies in the Book of the Revelation – Sargent (Rev. 4) Oak Harbor, WA, 1987

[5] The Parables of Jesus – Vol. 1 – Clarence Sexton – p111 – Crown Publications, 2002

[6] To the Seven Churches – Dr. Thomas Strouse – 2013 – p198 – BBT press

[7] The New Defender’s Study Bible – Henry M. Morris – notes on Rev 3-4, p1994, 2006


[9] {accessed 2021}

[10] Revelation “Behold He Cometh!” – John R. Rice – p108 – 1977 – SLP

[11] David W. CloudWhat about Steven Anderson? – [2017] – p129