Pre-Trib Rapture—A False Doctrine

04 Jun

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The roots of dispensationalism are found in works of the British clergyman, John Nelson Darby (1800-82), whose teaching greatly influenced Cyrus I. Scofield, an American. Scofield was so impressed with Darby’s doctrine that he developed his own reference Bible (The Scofield Reference Bible) in 1909 (revised 1917) using Darby’s notes on the same pages as the Biblical text. The result was the Bible became very popular in the United States, in that it was one of the few Bibles containing chain references and Biblical commentary as footnotes beneath the Biblical text. In so doing, Scofield successfully spread the doctrine of dispensationalism among many unsuspecting Bible students, who, otherwise, may not have ever even thought of the doctrine, let alone embrace it as the truth.

Dispensationalists believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the saints of God. The problem with this idea is that Revelation 6 describes the Great Tribulation. Therefore, if they are to show the legitimacy of their teaching, they must find evidence of a rapture before Revelation 6, and they find it (or so they claim) in Revelation 4:1…

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 here, and I will show you things which must be hereafter (Revelation 4:1).

With this in mind, they also teach that Revelation, chapters 2 & 3 are not letters to seven specific churches in Asia but, rather, represent seven church ages throughout New Covenant history. Therefore, the after this in Revelation 4:1 means after the church age. That is, the Rapture occurs in Revelation 4:1, represented in John going up into heaven, where he is given a vision of “things which must occur hereafter.” Now that’s a lot of supposition to swallow; nevertheless, many do. So, what’s the problem with this interpretation?

First of all, we need to remember what John was told in Revelation 1:19…

Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter (Revelation 1:19 );

Notice John was told to write the things which he had seen. What did he see? In chapter one John saw a vision of Jesus standing in the midst of seven golden lampstands. That is what he had seen. Next, he was told to write down what the things are. That is, what does what he had seen mean, or what did Jesus in the midst of the seven lampstands signify? Jesus told John the meaning of his vision in chapter one through his letters to the seven churches in Asia found in chapters 2 & 3. The seven letters explain or give meaning to “the things which he had seen.” In other words, the things which are (Revelation 2 & 3) give definition to Jesus among the seven lampstands (Revelation 1). Whatever we might think of the things which shall be hereafter (Revelation 4), chapters 2 & 3 express or define what John had witnessed “in the Spirit” or what he had seen in chapter one (Revelation 1:10). Therefore, the seven church ages doctrine is false.

Now, as I understand the matter, the hereafter or after these things (Revelation 1:19) concerns things found in the next room of the Temple,[1] not things future. However, even if the word should mean future events, we don’t get to the hereafter until Revelation 4:1. In other words chapters one through three are NOT things hereafter – future or otherwise. So right away there is a problem with the dispensationalist doctrine, because we don’t have the church age ending at Revelation 4:1. Moreover, unless one reads volumes into John’s going up into heaven, we have no rapture here. How so? John never physically left Patmos! Revelation 4:2 says he was immediately in the spirit. That is, he was given a vision and carried in the sprit into heaven.[2] So, a physical rapture had never taken place.

Additionally, John was given another vision in Revelation 7. This took place immediately after the darkening of the sun and the moon in Revelation 6:12-13, which Jesus tells us occurs immediately after the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21, 29), and at that time the Lord’s coming occurs (Matthew 24:30). So, after these things (Revelation 7:1) – the Great Tribulation, the darkening of the heavens, and the coming of the Lord—John saw a great and innumerable multitude, who appeared in heaven before the throne of God (Revelation 7:9). Now, here is evidence in the word of God of either a rapture or a resurrection, because this multitude had just arrived before the throne. Nevertheless, they weren’t there before the Great Tribulation (pre-trib), because one of the twenty-four elders, who was with John, told him they had come “out of” the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:13-15).

Therefore, if a rapture must occur, it would have to occur after the Great Tribulation—so pre-trib is a false doctrine, no matter how one looks at it. Moreover, if one tries to say the Rapture is a future event, we need to reconcile such a doctrine with the imminence of the message of the Apocalypse. John’s message in this book is that the events therein are “at hand” or must “shortly come to pass” and the Lord is coming “quickly” (Revelation 1:1, 3; 22:7, 10). How can such language be reconciled with a delay of nearly two thousand years? How can we divorce the content of Revelation chapters 4 through 22 from the context of it being a message to seven first century AD churches? At what point should we embrace sola scriptura over the doctrines and teachings of men (cf. Matthew 15:9; Mark 7:7)?


[1] See my study: The Throne Room.

[2] See Ezekiel 3:12, 14; 8:3; 11:1, 24 etc. where Ezekiel was carried away in the spirit to different places and given visions of what was going on (idolatry in the Temple etc.) and things future.


Posted by on June 4, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation


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4 responses to “Pre-Trib Rapture—A False Doctrine

  1. Eddie

    June 4, 2019 at 13:49

    Greetings Alberto. If I understand correctly, you said: “Thank you, Lord God, Almighty, because you reign forever and ever. Thank you for leaving us your testimony through your writing. How you dethroned the one who had the rule of death. GRACE FOR THIS GREAT SALVATION.”

    Lord bless you, Alberto, and thank you for reading and your inspiring praise for the Lord.

  2. Alberto gomez colmenares

    June 4, 2019 at 12:32

    Gracias Señor Dios todo poderoso porque Reinas por los siglos de los siglos amen.
    Gracias por dejarnos tu testimonio a travez de tu escritura. De como destronaste al que tenia el imperio de la muerte. GRASIAS POR ESTA SALVACION TAN GRANDE.

  3. Eddie

    June 4, 2019 at 11:46

    Thanks, Dave, for reading my study and for your kind words of encouragement. Lord bless you.

  4. Dave

    June 4, 2019 at 10:32

    Great succinct explanation Eddie. Now I have to study to fully absorb it!

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