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A. End Times 4 – Revelation Chapter 4:1-4 – John Caught Up To Heaven
B. Video Support. Is John 14:1-3 a rapture passage? Details will be shown at the bottom of this page.
II. Translation Considerations.
“The New American Standard Bible (NASB) translation was chosen for this, and other studies, because of two main reasons. First, the NASB capitalizes the first letter of pronouns that address God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit); not all Bible translations show that same respect for God. Second, the NASB has a history of correctness in translation.”
III. Text. Revelation 4:1-4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
A. Scene in Heaven.
1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” 2 Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. 3 And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.
B. Comments. MacArthur Study Bible.
4:1(a) Come up here. This is not a veiled reference to the rapture of the church, but a command for John to be temporarily transported to heaven “in the Spirit” (see note on 1:10) to receive revelation about future events.
4:1(a)(1) 1:10 in the Spirit. This was not a dream. John was supernaturally transported out of the material world awake—not sleeping—to an experience beyond the normal senses. The Holy Spirit empowered his senses to perceive revelation from God (cf. Acts 10:11).
4:1(b) things which must take place after this. According to the outline given in 1:19, this begins the third and final section of the book, describing the events that will follow the church age.
4:1(b)(1) 1:19 This verse provides a simple outline for the entire book: “the things which you have seen” refers to the vision John has just seen (chap. 1); “the things which are” denotes the letters to the churches (chaps. 2, 3); and “the things which will take place after this” refers to the revelation of future history (chaps. 4–22).
4:2(a) I was in the Spirit. See note on 1:10. This was not a dream. John was supernaturally transported out of the material world awake—not sleeping—to an experience beyond the normal senses. The Holy Spirit empowered his senses to perceive revelation from God (cf. Acts 10:11).
4:2(b) throne. Not so much a piece of furniture, but a symbol of sovereign rule and authority (7:15; 11:19; 16:17, 18; cf. Is. 6:1). It is the focus of chap. 4, occurring 14 times, 11 times referring to God’s throne.
4:3 emerald. A cool, emerald-green hue dominates the multicolored rainbow surrounding God’s throne (cf. Ezek. 1:28). From the time of Noah, the rainbow became a sign of God’s faithfulness to His Word, His promises, and His Noahic covenant (Gen. 9:12–17).
4:3(a) Ezekiel 1:28 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
28 As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking.
4:3(a)(1) Ezekiel 1:28(a) the glory of the LORD. That glory shines fully in the person of Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 4:6), which is a constant theme in Ezekiel.
4:3(a)(2) Ezekiel 1:28(b) fell on my face. John, in Rev. 1:17, had the same reaction to seeing the glory of the Lord.
4:4 twenty-four elders. Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments (19:7, 8), and their golden crowns (2:10) all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed (vv. 9–11; 5:5–14; 7:11–17; 11:16–18; 14:3; 19:4). The question is which redeemed? Not Israel, since the nation is not yet saved, glorified, and coronated. That is still to come at this point in the events of the end. Their resurrection and glory will come at the end of the 7-year tribulation time (cf. Dan. 12:1–3). Tribulation saints aren’t yet saved (7:9, 10). Only one group will be complete and glorified at that point—the church. Here elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption (5:8–10). They are the over-comers who have their crowns and live in the place prepared for them, where they have gone with Jesus (cf. John 14:1–4).
C. Comments. Ryrie Study Bible.
1. 4:1 The things which will take place after these things.”
a. 4:1 These are the things which occur from 4:1 through 22:5.
b. 4:1 The Tribulation Period occurs from 4:1 through 19:21.
c. 4:1 The throne in heaven is discussed in 4:1 through 4:11.
d. 4:1 The throne is discussed in 4:1-4:3.
2. 4:1 Ryrie comments on 4:1. Here begins the third section of the book (see 1:19 and note there) describing what is yet future. This section can be divided into three parts: the coming Tribulation (chaps. 6-19), the Millennium (chap. 20), and the new heaven and new earth (chaps. 21-22).
3. 4:2 “I was in the Spirit.” as in 1:10.
4. 4:4 “twenty-four elders.” Some understand this to be angelic beings, though it is likely that the 24 elders represent redeemed who are glorified, crowned, and enthroned. Angels are never said to be given crowns, though believers are (2 Tim 2:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Rev 2:10).
D. My comments. I will touch on one aspect of Revelation 4:1, “Come up here.”
1. 4:1 “Come up here.” John is shown in this verse, which is not the first account in the Bible of someone being caught up to Heaven. We will discuss other instances of such “raptures” in the following verses.
4:1(a) Gen 5:24. Enoch was caught up to Heaven.
4:1(b) 2 Kings 2:1. Elijah was caught up to Heaven.
4:1(c) Acts 1:9 Christ was caught up to Heaven. He will return to earth at the end of the tribulation (Matt 24:30; Rev 19:11-21; Zech 14:1-4).
4:1(d) Acts 8:38-40. Philip was snatched away from the place where he had baptized the Ethiopian, to the city of Azotus where he began to tell others about Christ.
4:1(e) 2 Cor 12:1-3. Paul was caught up to the Presence of God, in the third heaven, and came back to earth.
4:1(f) Rev 11:11-12. The two witnesses, whom will be murdered in Jerusalem, will be raised to life, and be told “Come up here.” They will be taken to the Presence of God.
2. 4:1 All of the above people whom were taken to the Presence of God, and made that trip in perfect resurrected bodies, soul and spirits.
4:1(a) In order for anyone to appear before God, whom is Holy, such a person must also be Holy.
4:1(a)1 1 Cor 15:50. Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
3. 4:1 John 3:3. “You must be born again…to see the Kingdom of God.” A person having a flawed spirit (this applies to all whom have ever been conceived) must be given a spirit that is “without flaw,” that is as righteous as the Spirit of God. All whom are in the Presence of the Risen Christ must be, and will be, as Holy as Christ, “body, soul and spirit.” The born again experience causes the spirit of those whom have been born again to dwell within the Spirit of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Also, the Spirit of God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) will dwell within the spirit of each born again believer in Christ. No person whom has not been born again has any place in the Presence of God, nor can reside within the Spirit of God.
4. 4.1 All of those whom have been identified as being taken to the Presence of God have had one satisfied condition in common: John 3:3, Ezekiel 36:24-29, 2 Cor 5:17; they were all born again, and possessed a resurrection body and soul (soul is our consciousness, emotion, mind). In essence, each of them had Godly provided resurrection bodies.
4:1(a) John 14:20. “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
4:1(b) 2 Cor 5:17. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” The new creature is the new born again spirit, which is as pure as the Spirit of Christ.
4:1(c) 2 Cor 5:21. ” He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” The born again spirit dwells within the perfect Spirit of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). Christ did not sin, but was made to “be sin” so that He could pay the sin debt for everyone whom has been born again (Rom 3:23, 6:23, 5:8).
4:1(d) Col 1:27. “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The perfect Spirit of Christ will dwell within the perfect spirits of all whom have been born again.
4:1(e) 1 John 3:2 “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.” Christ is perfect; born again believers in Christ will be “just like Him;” “Holy!” “Body, soul, and spirit” (1 Thes 5:23).
4:1(f) 1 John 3:5-6 ” 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.” After we have been born again, there is no sin within our born again spirit. When we come face to face with God, our total, “body, soul and spirit” will be as sinless, and without defect, as God; there is no sin in God, and there will be no sin in His born again believers.
5.4:1 An event will take place that will cause millions of born again believers in Christ to be taken to the Presence of God. The event is called the “rapture” (English), “harpazo” (Greek), and “rapio” (Latin), which means “to catch up,” or, “to snatch away.” https://biblehub.com/lexicon/1_thessalonians/4-17.htm
5.4:1(a) John 14:1-6. “2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way where I am going.” 5 Thomas *said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
5.4:1(a)(1) vs 2 Christ will be taken from this earth to prepare a place for all of His born again believers of the Church age to dwell with Him during the tribulation. vs 3. Christ will return to earth “in the air” to personally take His believers back with Him. vs 6. This verse is more than a “belief” scripture. It is an action statement of Christ personally taking His believers to Heaven with Him. The proof, which is often not believed, is that “only Christ” will take His believers to Heaven. Only church age saints will be caught up and taken to Heaven. At the end of the Kingdom Age, the “new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem,” will be made the dwelling place of all born again believers “of all times.” The new Jerusalem, which will have been hovering above our present earth, ever since John 14:2, will come down from Heaven (Rev 21:1-2).
5.4:2(a) 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. “16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
5.4:2(a)(1) vs 16 Christ comes from Heaven. Deceased believers in Christ will be resurrected from their places of death. vs 17 Living believers will caught up (raptured). Both, the deceased and living believers, will be caught up in the air and will always be with Christ. vs 18 This is a verse of comfort.
5.4:3(a) 1 Cor 15:50-53. “50 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
5.4:3(a)(2) vs 50 In order for us to be allowed into the Kingdom of God, we must be changed from “flesh and blood beings,” to “spiritual beings of perfection. vs 51 A mystery is a truth that had never been revealed, such as all deceased and living believers in Christ “will be given perfect resurrection bodies.” vs 52 the deceased saints will be resurrected, and the living saints will be “changed” and be given resurrection bodies. vs 53 Perfected dead and living believers will be given resurrection bodies that will never suffer from illness, and will never die.
6. When the Apostle Paul was caught up to the Presence of God, he mentions “the third heaven.” Let’s consider the three heavens, per the MacArthur Study Bible description of 2 Cor 12:2-4.
6.1 Since it took place 14 years before the writing of 2 Corinthians, the specific vision Paul relates cannot be identified with any incident recorded in Acts. It probably took place between his return to Tarsus from Jerusalem (Acts 9:30) and the start of his missionary journeys (Acts 13:1–3). caught up to the third heaven . . . caught up into Paradise. Paul was not describing two separate visions; “the third heaven” and “Paradise” are the same place (cf. Rev. 2:7, which says the tree of life is in Paradise, with Rev. 22:14, which says it is in heaven). The first heaven is the earth’s atmosphere (Gen. 8:2; Deut. 11:11; 1 Kin. 8:35); the second is interplanetary and interstellar space (Gen. 15:5; Ps. 8:3; Is. 13:10); and the third is the abode of God (1 Kin. 8:30; 2 Chr. 30:27; Ps. 123:1).
6.2 The three heavens are also described in 1 Cor 15:40: the first heaven, “terrestrial,” is where the birds fly; the second heaven, “celestial,” is where the astronauts fly; and the third heaven, being the Presence of God, is where God “doesn’t need to fly.”
7. As has been shown above, only church age born again believers in Christ will be caught up from earth to be with Christ in Heaven; they will remain there with Christ during the seven year tribulation period. At the end of the tribulation, Christ and His resurrected and raptured saints will descend from Heaven to earth for the Battle of Armageddon. For those whom will be left behind from the rapture, the words in 1 Thes 4:18 are meaningless to them: “comfort one another with these words.” Those whom will be undergoing God’s judgments during the tribulation will have words and feelings of grief, torment, and fear, as follows in Matt 24:29-31.
7.1 Matt 24:29-31 “29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
7.1(a) vs 29 The rapture takes place before the tribulation. The second coming of Christ, as shown in these verses, comes at the end of the tribulation. There will be great cataclysmic disruptions. vs 30 The tribes of the earth are the Jews; they had rejected Christ as Messiah. The mourning comes from their knowledge of the Godly judgment that will come upon them, as well as upon unbelieving Gentiles. vs 31 Christ will send His angels to gather His elect (the Jews, Deu 14:2) from all over the world for judgment (Matt 24:40-41). Those whom came to belief in Christ will enter into the Kingdom Age. Those whom will still be in a state of unbelief will be taken in death to the end of the Kingdom Age for the Great White Throne Judgment, where they will be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:15).
7.1(b) Matt 24:40-41. 40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
7.1(c). The ones whom are left, will be left to enter the Kingdom Age of the 1,000 year millennium. Those whom will be taken, will be taken to the great white throne judgment. In the rapture, the reverse will happen. Those “taken” will be taken from earth to be with Christ; those “left” will be left behind on earth to face the judgments of God, which will include the persecution of the anti-Christ.
8. In coming articles, we will discuss what will happen to people of the Old Testament, as they await eternal life with Christ or eternity apart from Christ. We will also discuss what will happen to those whom will be left behind from the rapture, as they also await eternal life with Christ or eternity apart from Him.
9. Video Data.
9.1 Is John 14:1-3 a rapture passage? May 29, 2009. John Ankerberg Show.
9.2 This clip is from our series “35 most asked questions concerning Bible Prophecy”. This clip answers the question: Why is John 14:1-3 a rapture passage?
A. The words that were spoken to the Apostle John in Rev 4:1, “come up here,” are of essential importance to all whom whom are present in the world today. Had the Apostle not “been born again,” he would not have received the call, and would not have taken the heavenly journey, that allowed him to be shown “what must take place after these things.” The key words “you must be born again,” are eternally important. The body of Christ is called to make known, to all whom they may meet, the truth of the following new birth scriptures.
1. A scripture of truth by Ezekiel to Jews in 587 B.C.
Ezekiel 36:24-29 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
24 For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. 25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 28 You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God. 29 Moreover, I will save you from all your uncleanness; and I will call for the grain and multiply it, and I will not bring a famine on you.
2. A scripture truth of Christ to Jews in 30 A.D.
John 3:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
3. A scripture truth of the Apostle Paul to the Church at Corinth in 60 A.D.
2 Corinthians 5:17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
B. The message is clear, “you must be born again.”
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