The church is not explicitly mentioned between Rev 3:22 and Rev 20:16. Does that mean the church is missing during these events, such as would happen if the church was raptured?
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There are a number of factors to consider in regards to the particular argument that the church not being explicitly mentioned is proof that the church is not involved in any of the events of the vision. #1 It is an argument from perceived silence. The book of Esther, for example, doesn't explicitly mention God. That doesn't mean that God was not involved in events nor that the Jews did not worship God. For another example, the term 'church' is not present in 2 Tim., Titus, Heb., 1 & 2 Peter, 1 & 2 John, and Jude! A particular term not being used in a portion of scripture is not proof that the object doesn't exist or is not involved. #2 The entire book of Revelation is written to God's bond-servants (Rev 1:1), a common term for Christians in the New Testament which is used of both Jew and Gentile believers alike who are truly slaves of Christ (I Cor 7:23, Rom 1:1, Rev 22:3, etc.) This term is more personal than the general/corporate term for church/the assembly as it only refers to true believers, whereas even false believers can infiltrate the church. More specifically, the whole of Revelation is written to 7 specific churches (Rev 1:4.) While we benefit from it as well, there is no reason to suspect that John did not intend the rest of the book for those churches. #3 Chapter breaks are man made. There is no chapter 'division' in the original manuscripts, and hence that one term is used in some chapters and not others is meaningless since the term is used in the book itself and there is no introduction of a new audience. #4 The narrative style changes after the first three chapters from epistle-style to apocalyptic vision. It is understandable that the language and terminology would also shift accordingly. We should actually expect that many things in the book would not be described literally, but with apocalyptic symbolism. #5 Revelation finds some parallels with the apocalypse spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24. The early church, both Jew and Gentile, thought that Matthew 24 referred at least in part to themselves. This is why Christian believers noted the signs and took warning, fleeing to Pella and other cities through the mountains during a temporary lift in the Roman siege. History doesn't record a single death of a Christian from the siege. The ethnic Jews did not take warning, remaining behind, and history records their population being cut by about half (~4 million to ~ 2 million) in the 3 and a half year siege. If the events Jesus spoke of referred at least in part to a mixed church, then the events of Revelation should refer at least in part to a mixed church. Understanding that the evidence heavily leans towards an early date pre-siege for the writing of Revelation and not 95AD can help shed light on why the early Christians thought the book had relevance to them. https://ebible.com/questions/17356-when-was-the-book-of-revelation-written #6 There are many probable allusions to the church in Revelation, so the book should not be approached with the preconception that the church is not being described in any of those passages. Rather, the text should be approached in a neutral fashion in light of its context, and common views can be examined for/against without pre-reading personal bias into the text. Some examples of verses where the church may be referred to are: Rev 4:24/Rev 5:8 (One possible interpretation of the 24 elders is that they represent the church by the 12 tribes + 12 Apostles; prayers of the saints (church) are also mentioned.) http://biblehub.com/commentaries/revelation/4-4.htm Rev 7:4/Rev 14:1 (One possible interpretation of the 144,000 is that they represent the full church of God.) http://biblehub.com/commentaries/revelation/7-4.htm Rev 12:10-11 (brethren; triumphed by the blood of lamb and testimony, cf I Jn 5:10) Rev 12:17 (the rest of her (Israel's) offspring; those who keep Jesus' commands, cf Rom 9:6-26, Gal 6:16) Rev 13:10/Rev 14:12 (the saints; keep the commands of God) Etc.
1Corinthians 13:12,13, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just I am known." Deuteronomy 29:29, "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and our children forever..." Psalm 31:19,20, "Oh, how great is Your goodness, Which you have laid up for those who trust in You In the presence of the sons of men! You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence From the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion From the strife of tongues." Psalm 32:7,8 "You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with the songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye." Enoch - think E-Not... He lived in the pre flood era. He lived in the midst of death. He surrendered himself to God. Genesis 5:21-24, "Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah. After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him." Enoch surrendered his life to God. (E-Not) Hebrews11:5, "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, and was not found because God had taken him, for before he was taken he had his testimony, that he pleased God." In Acts chapter 11 we have the beginning of the church. It was born amidst persecution. It is a mystery, a secret that had been in the heart of God. Enoch communes with God for 300 years, during trying times. His faith stood fast! As he grew in spirit, he became E-Not! Daniel 2:47, "The king answered Daniel, and said, "Truly your God is the God of God's, the Lord of kings, and a revealed of secrets, since you could not reveal this secret." Indeed! Revelation 6:15-17, "And the Kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, and every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is as to stand?'" (These are unbelievers, no matter how strong, they cannot stand.) Romans 1:18-32 describes God's wrath on the unrighteous, the unbeliever, those who refuse Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior! But, Romans 1:16, " For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew and also for the Greek." The believer, the church, the Body of Christ, compose the Bride! We are not appointed to suffer the wrath of God. We are saved because we are hid in Jesus. We are walking in faith like E-Not! Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God." 2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." As the church walks through this world may we lift up our hearts in the Hope that the rapture comes soon.
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