PreTrib Rapture in John 14

The Pre-Trib Rapture in John 14:1-3

Dr. Mike Johnston

Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth (Jeremiah 33:25). 

When the Bible was written it was divided between Old and New Testaments even though most of the gospel accounts were written as an extension of the Old Testament narrative: Hebrews 9:16-17  For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.  (17)  For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

We believe the Bible is better divided into two more well defined, descriptive terms: prophecy and mystery. Prophecy is basically the purpose God has for the earth and Christ’s reign upon it, which includes the nation of Israel and the city of Jerusalem (2 Peter 1: 16-19). The Mystery is that body of truth proclaimed by the Apostle Paul, concerning heaven and the exaltation of the Body of Christ in heaven, together there with Christ (Eph. 2:4-10, 3: 1-4).

While the Lord Jesus fully revealed the revelation of the Mystery, which was kept secret since the world began (Romans 16:25) to Paul- including a full disclosure of the doctrine of the rapture (a mystery within a mystery- 1 Cor. 15:51), He clearly alluded to it during an intimate gathering of his disciples prior to His betrayal and crucifixion. Their responses indicate they didn’t understand this any better than many of our contemporaries do today.

As we study this passage in its context, we find it clearly distinguishes itself from the Second Coming (or the Revelation) which culminates on earth for Israel in Jerusalem at the end of the tribulation (Zech. 14:4-5; Rev. 19:11-21) aka “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) while at the same time correlating to Paul’s Rapture account in 1 Thess. 4 which I have placed in brackets under the text we are considering.

  • It is for Christians only: (John 14:1) Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. [1 Thessalonians 4:14  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him].

As a result of rejecting Christ as Messiah, the nation Israel is today blind and unregenerate (Rom. 9-11). In this passage, the Lord is addressing those who believe in Him; members of His body, the church- not Israel.

  • It involves Christ returning in the air to take us back where He ascended: (John 14:2-3) In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17  (15)  For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  (16)  For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:  (17)  Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord].

In this passage, the Lord assures us that His Father’s House- which is in Heaven, not earth- is filled with mansions. His promise is that He would prepare a place for us then return to receive us to Himself and personally escort us back to where He Himself resides. Where is that? Heaven! If this event was to occur after the tribulation as some think, Christ would simply return to earth to set up His kingdom irrespective of taking us back to heaven.

Thomas Ice writes: “When it comes to a comparison between John 14:1-3 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 we see amazing parallels. That John 14:1-3 is a Rapture reference is supported by the progression of words and thoughts when compared to Paul’s more extensive Rapture passage (1 Thess. 4:13-18).”

Observe the similarities from the chart below: 

John 14:1-3

trouble v. 1

believe v. 1

God, me v. 1

told you v. 2

come again v. 3

receive you v. 3

to myself v. 3

be where I am v. 3

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

sorrow v. 13

believe v. 14

Jesus, God v. 14

say to you v. 15

coming of the Lord v. 15

caught up v. 17

to meet the Lord v. 17

ever be with the Lord v. 17


Summary: When studied in context- devoid of prejudices and preconceptions contrary to sound hermeneutics, this passage has nothing to do with earth, and nothing to do with Israel and her kingdom. This is the rapture Christ introduced to the church as a comfort and blessed hope which only makes sense if it occurs before the tribulation begins.

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