Is the church missing during the events from Rev 4 to Rev 20?

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?

Clarify Share Report Asked April 01 2018 Mini Anonymous

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Closeup Jennifer Rothnie Supporter Housewife, Artist, Perpetually Curious
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.

#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.)
Rev 7:4/Rev 14:1 (One possible interpretation of the 144,000 is that they represent the full church of God.)
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)

April 01 2018 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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