What is the meaning of Revelation 4:1? This is a fascinating verse that cause us to really think. We are going to use this verse as a launch pad for our discussion in this article.  We will ask the following questions:  Is John being caught up to heaven figurative of the rapture of the church? If so, does that mean that the church will not go through the Tribulation?

Let’s just jump right in and look at the word and figure these things out. There is a prophecy given in the bible that I fully believe in.  It is commonly called the rapture of the church. It is the belief that one day Christ will return in the clouds and he will catch away all of those who are Christians. We will meet Christ in the clouds, in the air and we will forever be with him. Some people like that idea because people who aren’t right with God will be left behind.

When I was a boy this was so real to me that when I was about 14, I had an experience where I thought that I had missed the rapture.  I wasn’t living right and I knew it. I was asleep in my bedroom. I woke up to find that my family had been eating supper. The water was running in the kitchen sink. There was a fork on the floor. The cars were in the driveway and my family was nowhere to be found. I thought I had missed it. Did I cry out to the Lord!  (My family had gone for ice cream with some others.) God used that to cause me to desire to stay right with him.

The main verse that teaches this is found in 1 Thessalonian 4:16-18 “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

There are a number of things I want to call your attention to in this verse.

First, there are many people who don’t believe in or try to deny the rapture of the church. And they will say things like the word rapture isn’t even found in the bible.  That is true. You will not find the word rapture in an English bible.  However, if you go back to the original language of Greek you will find a word harpazo, (ἁρπάζω), meaning “to snatch away” or “to seize,” and explains that believers in Jesus Christ will be snatched away from earth into the air.  The word rapture is derived from  Medival Latin raptura (“seizure, kidnapping”), which derives from the Latin raptus (“a carrying off”).  They simply have taken a Latin word to describe the Greek word. So, if you were reading this in Latin, in Medival Latin you would find the word rapture.  In every field of language there are words. It is unintelligent to not understand that people use words to describe things.  This word simply has caught on to describe this catching away that will take place one day.

By the way, at the end of this article I have 23 different verses that reference this same event either in part or in whole of the doctrine of the rapture of the church.

Secondly, to understand the meaning of Revelation 4:1 we need to examine 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18.  In this verse we have the following:

  • The voice of Jesus it says “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven.”
  • The trumpet call “and with the trumpet of God.”
  • We have the church being “harpazo’ed” or rapture, being caught away.
  • They find themselves “meeting the Lord”

 So with those four little details in mind I want to read the verse in Revelation 4:1-2  “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.”

In this verse we have the following just like in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17:

  • We have the voice of Jesus. That voice was saying Come up here.
  • We have the mention of a trumpet.
  • We have John being snatched away or caught away up into heaven.
  • We have John being found in the presence of God

I think that all of this is very important. Here is why. This verse is a type of the rapture of the church. It prefigures the rapture.  John is a part of the church.  And what is interesting is that Revelation 4:1-2 NKJV begins with these words:  “After these things I looked,” We have to ask ourselves this question. After what things?  After the church ages. Remember the key verse to understanding the book of Revelation is found in Revelation 1:19,  “Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.” The “things which you have seen” refers to the encounter with Jesus. The “things which are” refers to the church age and the seven types of churches, and then “the things which will take place after” refers to what is yet to come.  As we continue through the book of Revelation we are going to see all the things that will yet take place. The rapture has not yet taken place.

What I see and what I teach is that the meaning of Revelation 4:1 prefigures the complete rapture of the church that has yet to take place.  Now I want you to understand that there are…

Four Views of the Rapture

  • Pre-Tribulation View  (Most prevalent)

Jesus returns for the church and the church meets him in the clouds before the Tribulation. Then the rest of the world is going to go through an hour of trial, a difficult season of seven years call the tribulation period. I think that this is absolutely the correct view. Jesus Christ comes in fulfillment of his own promise

Revelation 3:10 “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.”

  •  Partial Rapture View (Very few hold to this view)

Christ will only rapture those who “look for him” or “wait for him”. This waiting is seen as those who have no financial debt or those who have reached a certain place of sanctification. Only those “special” Christians will go in the Rapture.

The key verse that is used is  Hebrews 9:28  “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”  There are many variants to the way they define waiting for him. But this teaching falsely leads some to believe that only a few of the Christians will be raptured and the rest have to go through at least part of the Tribulation period.  This view has very little biblical support.

  • The Mid-Tribulation View

Christ raptures his church in the middle of the tribulation along with the rapture of the two witnesses.  Later on in our studies, we will discuss that God will have two powerful witness in the city of Jerusalem. Ultimately, they will die, then be resurrected, then caught away.  The key verse is Revelation 11:12  Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.”  The teaching says that Christians will have to endure the first half of the tribulation period and then they will be raptured at the same time as the two witnesses.  If that is the case all of us need to be preppers. We need to have our bug out bags ready. But nowhere does the bible teach us to hoard up food and resources for the Tribulation.  The problem with this view is that the two witnesses are Jews and not members of the church.  It also allows Christians to receive at least partially the wrath of God.

People with this view skip over the fact that John (a member of the church) is seen in Revelation 4:1-2 as a type of rapture.

  • The Post-Tribulation View

This view teaches that Christ will come at the end of the Tribulation, just before the Second Coming of Christ to the earth. There are many problems with this view: It denies Revelation 3:10 that says that God will keep them from the hour of trial that comes on the earth. In this view Christ did not fulfill his promise. It also allows Christians to suffer Gods wrath denying 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10  “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”

I want to prove to you that the correct view is the Pre-Tribulation view.  I have discovered that people on the internet, even Christians can be downright ugly as they defend their interpretation of God’s word. I won’t argue with anyone over these things.

I simply teach God’s word. I want to give seven reasons why the church will not go through the Tribulation.


If we see the book of Revelation as predictive of the future then this event in Revelation 4:1-2 is significant.

Revelation 4:1-3 “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.  Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.”

The meaning of Revelation 4:1 is seen in the following:

  • The timing of this event fits in perfectly with a Pre-Tribulation view of the rapture. It makes sense that the church ages have ended because it says in Revelation 4:1 NKJV “After these things…” This shows that the time of the church is done. Chapters 4-5 speak of heaven and then chapter 6 introduces the Tribulation. It fulfills Rev 3:10 which of course is Jesus promise that says “I will also keep you from the hour of trial…” The timing of this verse fits completely with the idea of a Pre-Tribulation rapture. It makes perfect sense.
  •  The absence of any mention of the church in the rest of Revelation. How crazy is it that there are 16 references to the church in Revelation chapters 1-3, and then zero references to the church in Revelation chapters 6-18 that describe the Tribulation.  If the church was meant to go through the Tribulation, certainly there would be at least one reference to the church.  But there isn’t proving that the church has been taken out just as Jesus promised.
  • The extensive use of Old Testament language and symbols in Revelation 4-18 is indicative of Israel not the church.  As we further our studies we need to understand that the church age is known as the time of the gentiles.  Luke 21:24 “And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” God has mostly been dealing with the Gentiles during the church age. The church is largely made up of people who are not Jewish.  Whereas the Tribulation is known as “the time of Jacobs Trouble” and “Daniels 70th week.” We know that God will once again deal with his people Israel.  As we start to study Revelation 4-18 we are going to see a lot of Old Testament language and symbols.  Some of these Old Testament symbols are:  the tabernacle, ark of the covenant, the altar, elders, censers, cherubim, seals, trumpets and plagues.
  • There is similarity between Johns experience in Revelation 4:1-2 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. I looked at that earlier.  The first thing to happen as the church age end is John being “called up” to heaven.  It is logical that this is instructive.

Let me give you another reason why the church will not go through the Tribulation Period.


I wish people could understand the importance of Revelation 3:10   “Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.”  We know that Christians in different parts of the world at different times have went through difficult moments. But this verse is talking about a trial that will come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

We are experiencing this right now with Coronavirus. This is an example of something like the Tribulation period. It has come upon the whole world. As I have taught earlier about the coronavirus.  I believe that it is the beginning of sorrows as Jesus spoke of.  But here is the good news. Jesus is going to keep us from the hour of trial that will come on the earth.  We will be caught away.


Imminent is the word that theologically describes that Christ could come at any minute.  That is why scripture has so many admonitions to watch, to be ready, and to look for him to come at any moment.  Luke 12:40 “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” How could his coming be imminent if it is mid-tribulation or post-tribulation?

Believe me, you will know if you are on the earth that the Tribulation period has started. The book of Daniel teaches that Israel will sign a covenant with a world leader who we will call the Antichrist. That covenant will be for seven years. That is when the Tribulation starts. That is Daniels 70th week.  But the teaching of the rapture, the coming of Christ for his church is that he could come at any moment.  There is not one thing that must be fulfilled before Christ returns for the church. This is the teaching that Christ wanted for his church because it keeps the church on fire and serving him.


1 Thessalonians 1:10   “and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead —Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” The book of Revelation clearly portrays the Tribulation as the wrath of God.  Let me read Revelation  6:17  “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” The Tribulation Period is literally God pouring out his wrath on the earth.  Why would God pour his wrath out on those who have been redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus?  This is not possible. God accepted Jesus sacrifice for us, the wrath of God as far as we are concerned has been paid for by Jesus Christ.


1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive   salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  The very context of this scripture shows that this is in reference to the future.  The previous chapter talked extensively about the rapture.


It is not a very comforting thought that we are all going to go through three and one half or seven years of horror on the earth.  Millions will die during those days . 1 Thessalonians 4:18  “Therefore encourage each other with these words.”   Can you imagine someone trying to encourage and comfort each other by saying, it is only seven years of God’s wrath. Are you kidding. There is nothing encouraging or comforting about that.


It is interesting that the Lord uses Noah and Lot in referring to His Return.  Matthew 24:37-39  “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”

Luke 17:28  “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.”

 The Holy Spirit who is the author of scripture did this intentionally. While these verses describe the conditions at the coming of the Lord, these verses describe two individuals who were rescued from the wrath of God. God warned Noah and he and his family escaped the universal flood in Ark. God sent angels to Sodom and Lot escaped the fire that was rained down from heaven. These scriptures allude to that. It says. Noah entered the ark. It says Lot left Sodom. I can assure that Christ will return for the church and take us out of here just as he promised.

 We have to understand the coming of the Lord is in two phases. Paul writes to Titus of these to phases in Titus 2:13 “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”

The first phase is the blessed hope. This is the rapture of the church. Jesus will return to the clouds and will snatch away the church. It is a blessed hope because we will escape the wrath to come in the Tribulation.

And then, the second phase is His glorious appearing. Jesus will return all the way to earth and will set up a kingdom that will last for 1000 years.

He is coming soon.

Let’s be ready!



Rapture Passages   Second Coming Passages
John 14:1-3 Hebrews 9:28 Daniel 2:44-45 1 Peter 4:12-13
Romans 8:19 James 5:7-9 Daniel 7:9-14 2 Peter 3:1-14
1 Corinthians 1:7-8 1 Peter 1:7, 13 Daniel 12:1-3 Jude 14-15
1 Corinthians 15:51-53 1 Peter 5:4 Zechariah 12:10 Revelation 1:7
1 Corinthians 16:22 1 John 2:28-3:2 Zechariah 14:1-15 Revelation 19:11-20:6
Philippians 3:20-21 Jude 21 Matthew 13:41 Revelation 22:7,12,20
Colossians 3:4 Revelation 2:25 Matthew 24:15-31
1 Thessalonians 1:10 Revelation 3:10 Matthew 26:64
1 Thessalonians 2:19 Mark 13:14-27
1 Thessalonians 5:23 Mark 14:62
2 Thessalonians 2:1 Luke 21:25-28
1 Timothy 6:14 Acts 1:9-11
2 Timothy 4:1 Acts 3:19-21
2 Timothy 4:8 1 Thessalonians 3:13
Titus 2:13 2 Thessalonians 2:8