Absent Church?

Is the church missing from parts of the Book of Revelation?Revelation 4:1-3

Clouds Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash
In the fourth chapter of
Revelation, the trumpet-like voice summoned John to “come up here,” and he found himself standing before the “throne set in heaven.” Does the image of John being called “up here” symbolize the physical removal of the church from the earth prior to the rest of the book’s visions? - [Clouds Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash].

It is true that the word “church” does not appear again after the close of chapter 3 until the epilogue in chapter 22. But by itself, does that omission mean the church is removed from the planet before the subsequent events of the book?
  • (Revelation 4:1-3) - “After these things, I saw a door set open in heaven; and the first voice which I heard as of a trumpet speaking with me, saying, Come up here, and I will show you the things that must come to pass. After these things, immediately, I came to be in Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, and upon the throne was one sitting.”
The proposition that the church is removed at this point uses the logical fallacy known as argumentum silento; that is, an argument from silence. Since the term “church” is omitted, it is assumed that it is absent. But this line of reasoning ignores the other terms applied to the people of God in Revelation. Additionally, it overlooks the literary links between the seven letters to the churches of Asia and the rest of the book.

In its entirety, Revelation is addressed to the “servants of God,” the seven “churches of Asia.” John called the members of the congregations “fellow-participants” in the “tribulation, kingdom, and endurance in Jesus.” Rather than escape from persecution, the churches are exhorted to endure through whatever came. In this way, they would “overcome” and inherit the promises in the “New Jerusalem” - (Revelation 2:7, 2:11, 2:17, 2:26-28, 3:5, 3:21).

For example, the innumerable company is composed of men from every nation who are redeemed by the “blood of the Lamb,” just as are the "overcoming" saints from the “churches of Asia.” Rather than escape tribulation, John saw the group exiting the “Great Tribulation” - (Revelation 5:6-12, 7:9-17, 20:4-6).

The “seven churches” are summoned to “overcome” through perseverance, a challenge epitomized by the faithful endurance of the followers of the “Lamb” elsewhere in the book. The refusal to render homage to the “beast” by “overcoming” saints, for example. Their faithful “endurance” in the face of persecution is the definition of the “perseverance of the saints,” who are those who have the “testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 1:1, 1:18, 2:8-13, 3:21, 5:5, 12:11, 13:7-10, 14:12-13).

Following the expulsion of Satan from heaven, a voice declared that the “brethren” overcame the “Dragon by the blood of the Lamb, by their word of testimony, and because they loved not their life even unto death.” Enraged, Satan “departed to make war with the rest of her seed,” that is, those “who have the testimony of Jesus.” Surely these faithful saints were members of the “church” purchased by the blood of Jesus - (Revelation 12:9-17).

In chapter 13, the “beast” was authorized to “make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” In this text, “overcome” mean to slay, and this group of martyrs is identified as “saints,” those who “keep the faith of Jesus” - (Revelation 13:1-10, 14:12).

Later, John saw “Babylon drunk with the blood of the saints and the witnesses of Jesus.” Previously, “saints” were identified as those who keep “the faith” and have the “testimony of Jesus.” Likewise, the victims of the “beast” are called “saints” - (Revelation 17:1-6).

The Book of Revelation was addressed to the first-century Christian congregations of Asia, and the churches do not fall out of the picture after chapter 3. The “saints” consist of men from every nation who have been redeemed by the “blood of the Lamb.”


Popular Posts

Language of the New Testament

Servant of Yahweh