Revelation Spotlight: The Rapture

Revelation Spotlight: The Rapture

Out of all the views and beliefs from Revelation, the rapture is one of the more widely known. It’s apocalypse 101. People disappear leaving their crumpled (or folded) clothes behind and panic ensues.

So where did the idea of the rapture come from? Is it biblical?

While I don’t know the very first person who read scripture and was like, yes! rapture!, I can show you the scripture and the logic behind the idea of the rapture.

First, let’s go to Revelation itself. In a previous post, I spotlighted the seven churches. Revelation 2-3 gives a message to these churches and each one is promised a reward for endurance. Check out their rewards below:

Ephesus: “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Rev. 2:7b)
Smyrna: “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10b)
Pergamum: “To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” (Rev. 2:17b)
Thyatira: “The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. And I will give him the morning star.” (Rev. 2:26-28)
Sardis: “The one who conquers will be clothed in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Rev. 3:5)
Philadelphia: “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.” (Rev. 3:10-12)
Laodicea: “The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” (Rev. 3:21)

After Revelation 2-3, the throne room of heaven is introduced in chapter 4. This is where we find a great clue to back up what is called “the rapture.”

John has just received a word for the seven churches and looks to see a “door standing open in heaven.” A voice tells him, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” This is the break that takes us from the present to the future. We’ve seen a vision of Jesus standing in the midst of seven churches. There is a call to the churches to persevere, conquer, and look to a future reward. Now we are introduced to what takes place after the church age.

“After this.”

John finds himself taking in a throne room. The one sitting on the throne has the appearance of jasper and carnelian with a rainbow surrounding the throne. This one is God Almighty. Take a look at who is seated around this grand throne. Twenty-four elders.

Revelation 4:4 states, “Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads.”

The first two visuals that should pop out to you are the white garments and golden crowns. To the church in Sardis, John writes that the conquerors will be dressed in white garments. The churches in Smyrna and Philadelphia were told they would be wearing crowns. To top it off, those who conquered in Thyatira, Philadelphia, and Laodicea would all have places of authority and rule next to God the Father.

And what is the description of the elders in Revelation 4? They are “seated on thrones.” These people are ruling. They are “clothed in white garments.” They have “golden crowns on their heads.” These are the believers from the church age who persevered to the end. They remained faithful to God and are now seated with Him in the throne room in heaven!

In Revelation 5, a scroll is introduced that can only be opened by one who is worthy. No one can be found and John begins to cry. He reports that, “one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’

“And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.”

This is a fantastic image that should be so comforting to any Christian. The one the elder described is none other than Jesus Christ. Look where He is standing: between the throne of God and the four living creatures and among the elders. Jesus, forever the church’s advocate, has successfully conquered and is worthy to open the scroll. Like He said to the church in Sardis, “I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” He is standing in the midst of the church just as He was doing during the church age (Revelation 1:12-13).

Important note: As we venture into Revelation 6, the seals to the scroll are opened. Guess who is not mentioned from chapter 6-18? The twenty-four elders! We see them again in chapter 19. They are still around the throne of God worshiping Him and getting ready for battle.

This brings me to the second point that goes outside of Revelation: God never subjects His people to His judgmental wrath. Throughout the Bible, we see that God draws His people away before His wrath is commenced (see Noah and the ark, the rescuing of Lot, the Israelites during the plagues on Egypt… how about God sending His Son to take on His wrath so that we don’t have to??). God is faithful and unchanging. Believers didn’t experience His wrath in the Old Testament or New Testament and we see that they won’t in the future either.

There are more arguments for the rapture than these two, but this is a good framework to start with. If you want to go in-depth on different views of the rapture, check out this book. You’ll have more detail than maybe you want on people’s rapture views. 🙂

Enjoy and be encouraged!


Revelation Spotlight: The Seven Churches

Revelation Spotlight: The Seven Churches

The book of Revelation begins with John, on the island of Patmos, receiving a vision from God. He was told to write it down and send it to seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.

Below is a basic map from Wikipedia showing the geographical location of the churches. When researching Revelation, be careful about your sources. Reading Wikipedia’s description of the seven churches, I saw it covered quite a few views on Revelation, but didn’t have great transitions from one view to the next. They were all kind of blurred together. I used their map image because it’s tough to find a map on the seven churches without a link to a weird website or too much prophetic detail.

Image result for revelation seven churches

Wikipedia Link to Seven Churches Page

In John’s vision, each church receives an affirmation, reprove, and reward. Only one church does not receive a warning for any sinful actions. Studies on the culture and economic statuses of these cities have been done and the information found matches what is said of the churches in John’s letter.

Here’s an example from Revelation 3 of this breakdown:

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.

‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'” (Revelation 3:1-6, ESV, emphasis added)

For the church of Sardis, their message starts off with a reprimand. The reputation they created for themselves does not match what’s inside their hearts. God can see through their actions and calls them incomplete.

However, not all of the Christians at Sardis had fallen into that dead state. God acknowledges them and affirms their endurance in the faith.

Their reward for perseverance? They will be clothed in white garments and have a guaranteed spot in the kingdom of God. Jesus will stand up for them before God the Father. Looking ahead, check out Revelation 4:4. Do you see anything familiar? What are the twenty-four elders wearing? We’ll pick up more of this in a discussion on the rapture.

This has been a brief look into the seven churches. If going into more history of the churches interests you, Kay Arthur has a great, inductive Bible study on Revelation. She spends some time studying the seven churches and shows you how to take a closer look into prophecy.

If you have any questions, feel free to message me at!


Revelation Resources

Revelation Resources

If you’re ready to jump in and study Revelation, but would like some resources to provide context, check out the books below for supplemental reading. These books have helped me get a clearer idea of different views on Revelation, points of thought when thinking of eschatology (study of future things), and shaping my view of the God who provided us this prophecy.


God With Us by Glenn R. Kreider

Eschatology: Biblical, Historical, and Practical Approaches by D. Jeffrey Bingham and Glenn R. Kreider

Four Views on the Book of Revelation by Stanley N. Gundry and C. Marvin Pate

Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond by Darrell L. Bock

Three Views on the Rapture by Stanley N. Gundry and Gleason L. Archer Jr.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

Dispensationalism by Charles C. Ryrie

Progressive Dispensationalism by Craig A. Blaising and Darrell L. Bock


Revelation Spotlight: The Great Prostitute

Here’s a shout out to all my ladies! Here’s to nights full of purple and scarlet dresses, gold, jewelry, pearls, aaaaand a golden cup FULL of abominations and the impurities of sexual immorality!

Wait… what?

It is this image that caused the apostle John to say, “I marveled greatly.” Wouldn’t it be that John sees so many things in his vision, but it is one of two women in the midst of it all that causes him to marvel. But can you blame him when this is what he saw:

A woman dressed like royalty wearing high roller jewelry sitting on a scarlet beast. She’s holding a “golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality.” While the beast is full of blasphemous names, the woman has a name written on her forehead: Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.

This picture is pretty odd, kind of disgusting, and yes, intriguing. And if the visuals weren’t enough, this woman is drunk – not with wine, but drunk “with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.”

So what does this all mean? The angel next to John does not find this woman to hold mystery. He asks John, “Why do you marvel? I will tell you the mystery of the woman, and of the beast with seven heads and ten horns that carries her.”

He then goes into an explanation of what is to come. There’s a lot to this explanation, so I won’t go into it all in this article, but stay primarily focused on the imagery of the woman.

So, let’s go piece by piece through the description of this great prostitute, Babylon.

We see her make her debut in Revelation 16:19 in the seventh bowl judgment. Verse 19 reads, “The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell, and God remembered Babylon the great, to make her drain the cup of the wine of the fury of his wrath.”

As John sees this powerful act of God’s judgment take place, an angel comes to him and gives John a clearer picture of this Babylon the great that received the wrath of God. Enter in the prostitute:

Her outfit: The prostitute is arrayed with excessive luxury. She has on purple and scarlet clothes which were difficult colors to come by if one did not have money. She is wearing expensive jewelry: gold and pearls. In her hand is a gold cup. This woman just oozes wealth. She looks beautiful on the outside, but on the inside she is drunk with corruption.

Her ride: She is sitting on a scarlet beast with seven heads, ten horns, and filled with blasphemous names. We learn later, from the angel, that the seven heads are seven mountains. Mountains in prophecy resemble kingdoms. So, this woman is being funded by the world’s governments. The angel also explains that the ten horns are ten kings that haven’t received their royal power just yet. The prostitute has in her power not only the established kingdoms, but also the young and upcoming rulers. All of that to say, this prostitute is riding more than a nice Cadillac. She is sitting atop a world empire. It is here that we see a one world religion and a one world government. They have united in power.

Her name: On her forehead, we see her name written: Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations. This is a big clue for us as to who this woman is. In Genesis 11, we see the beginnings of a people working together to reject God and make a name for themselves. Babylon became a city full of false religion and pagan cult worship. This Babylon in Revelation is the antithesis of the one, true God. She sways the world to live a lie and reject God Almighty.

Her drunken state: In Revelation 17:6, we see that Babylon is “drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” This one world religion only has one faith that will not allow itself to be absorbed into her fold: Christianity. Due to the converts during this time of tribulation, the one world religion and government will seek to destroy every believer in Jesus. There will be mass persecution during this time.

Her fate: The angel explains to John, that the one world government will turn against Babylon and follow the beast. We will look into the beast at another time. Revelation 17:15-17 tells of her fate:

“And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the prostitute. They will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it in to their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast until the words of God are fulfilled.”

Babylon’s fate is judgment and destruction by the power and sovereignty of God.

Reading Prophecy As Literal and Symbolic

Reading Prophecy As Literal and Symbolic

There are ways to read prophecy that will give the reader different interpretations of what has been written. This is a key reason as to why there are so many variations of beliefs coinciding with the book of Revelation. As a dispensationalist, a main element to how I interpret the Bible is that I read it as literal. I do not pick and choose which pieces of the Bible really happened and which are allegories or metaphors. In my interpretation, each book is to be taken literally and read according to its genre. A historical narrative is not a mythological story that portrays a moral message. It’s something that actually occurred in the past.

Just like historical narrative, prophecy has its own way of being read literally. It’s called literal and symbolic. When reading prophecy, I interpret it as an event that is literally going to occur, but the imagery within the prophecy is to serve as a guide to the real figures, places, and events.

For example, in Revelation 1:12-20, John gives a description of the “Son of Man.” In verses 13-16, we see descriptions like, “hairs of his head were white, like white, wool, like snow,” “eyes were like a flame of fire,” “feet were like burnished bronze,” and “from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword.” The words don’t read, “He had eyes on fire” or “His hair was snow.” No, these descriptions are there to reveal characteristics of the real person.

Standing before John is a person who is like a son of man, but not quite. There is something more to him that is not completely of man. We see a person who has stark white hair. What does white hair often represent? Age, wisdom, and discernment. The person before John is wise. We also see that his eyes were like fire. This person can see beyond what normal men can see. He can pierce into the soul of man. A two-edged sword comes out of this person’s mouth. He has the word of judgment. This person is powerful.

This person speaks to John and gives further description of himself. He calls himself “the first and the last” and “the living one.” He says, “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” Is this person beginning to sound familiar? All of these clues point you to the one and only fully God and fully man, Jesus Christ. The one who died, resurrected, and stands in the midst of the church interceding on our behalf. It is Jesus who comes to John and initiates this message of Revelation to the churches.

As important as reading prophecy literally and symbolically to understand what’s written, there’s another factor that helps: reading the Old Testament. These clues that are given in Revelation are not the first time they’ve shown up in prophecy. Read Ezekiel 1:26-28; 43:1-6 and Daniel 7:9-14; 10:5-14 to see if you find anything similar to what John saw and documented.

And that, my friends, is a brief look at how to read prophecy literally and symbolically.