Home > Apologetics, Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Rapture > The Pre-Trib Rapture in John 14:1-3

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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  1. October 31, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    Since the birth of the church, the true born again Christians have been suffering already. Jesus said, “In this world you shall have tribulation”. They who are born in the flesh will always persecute them who are born in the Spirit and those who live godly in Christ will always suffer persecution. When the wrath of God is poured at the coming vengeance (Isaiah 61:2), He will preserve his people from his wrath (See Rev. 3:10; Matthew 24:29-30 and Revelation 7:14). He preserved Sadrach, Mesach and Abednego from the fire but did not take them out from the fire and He preserved Daniel from the lions. There is no proof that the antichrist made covenant with Israel but there is more proofs that Jesus made covenant with “many” for one week which will culminate in his second coming. We are looking forward for that “blessed hope which is the coming of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” Titus 2:13.

    • November 1, 2015 at 9:53 am

      There are many examples of the rapture shown to us in Scripture; some of which have been discussed on this blog which you can study. In Revelation 2-3, the Lord Jesus provided personal messages to seven churches. Dispensational Bible scholars teach that while these churches hold meaning beyond the first chapters of Revelation; that they picture 7 distinct periods of church history beginning with the apostolic church of the first century to the apostate church in the modern era. If we follow this proposition – which this author does – we find ourselves in an overlapping period between the Philadelphian age and licentious Laodicean liberalism. Nevertheless, it is to this Philadelphian church the Lord Jesus made a very distinct and comforting prediction and promise:

      Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. The Greek word for from is “ek” which means out of, not through. Fact is, if you know the Book of Revelation you must know about 2/3 of the world’s population dies during the tribulation. How in the world can that be interpreted to mean the Lord provides protection?

      The next two chapters prove the Lord Jesus made good on His promise.

      Chapter 4 – From Earth to Heaven

      John is caught up to Heaven

      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 hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

      Dr. Arno Gaebelein adds these insights: The scene changes suddenly. We are no longer on earth but are transported into heaven. The true Church is gone and the apostate Church, while still on earth to pass into the judgments of the great tribulation, is no longer owned by the Lord and, therefore, not mentioned. That is why the word “church” disappears entirely from the book after the third chapter. The open door and the voice which calls “come up hither” and John’s presence in glory in the spirit, clearly indicate symbolically the fulfillment of 1Th_4:15-17. That for which the faithful remnant waited, the blessed hope of the Church, has suddenly come to pass. The departure of the true Church from the earth will be as sudden as its be-ginning (Act_2:1-2). (Annotated Bible)

      As alluded to in Dr. Gabelein’s commentary, the term “come up hither” is extremely significant for the following reasons:

      1. It fulfills a promise the Lord made to the disciples just before His betrayal and crucifixion: 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. [Further study available in the Addendum]

      2. It is an imminent, any moment event! Remember, John was in that small crowd the Lord Jesus prom-ised His deliverance to and he was looking for Him, just as we should be looking for Him to deliver us “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).

      3. It coincides with Paul’s description of being “caught up” in First Thessalonians 4:17.

      4. It is the single event transforming our bodies from mortality to immortality (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

      5. It removes the church before the worldwide hour of temptation as the Lord promised in Revelation 3:10 which is consistent with Scriptural judgment.

      6. It excludes the church from being mentioned during the entire 7 year tribulation/great tribulation. This is conspicuous indeed. In Chapters 1-3 there are 19 specific references made to the church. She Chapter 22 is the next mention.

      7. It harmonizes with Scripture in that when God decrees judgment, He doesn’t punish the righteous with the wicked. which hearkens back to the Agreement Principle we studied earlier.

      There are many many more discussions on the PreTrib rapture on this blog if yo ucare to As inconvenient as this may be for those opposed to PreTrib rapture, from this precise moment the Lord Jesus tells John to come up hither until we return with the Lord (Rev. 19:11-21), the Body of Christ – church – is not on earth.

      The Lord Jesus provided personal messages to seven churches. Dispensational Bible scholars teach that while these churches hold meaning beyond the first chapters of Revelation; that they picture 7 distinct periods of church history beginning with the apostolic church of the first century to the apostate church in the modern era. If we follow this proposition – which this author does – we find ourselves in an overlapping period between the Philadelphian age and licentious Laodicean liberalism. Nevertheless, it is to this Philadelphian church the Lord Jesus made a very distinct and comforting prediction and promise:

      Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

      The next two chapters prove the Lord Jesus made good on His promise.

      Chapter 4 – From Earth to Heaven

      John is caught up to Heaven

      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 hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.

      Dr. Arno Gaebelein adds these insights: The scene changes suddenly. We are no longer on earth but are transported into heaven. The true Church is gone and the apostate Church, while still on earth to pass into the judgments of the great tribulation, is no longer owned by the Lord and, therefore, not mentioned. That is why the word “church” disappears entirely from the book after the third chapter. The open door and the voice which calls “come up hither” and John’s presence in glory in the spirit, clearly indicate symbolically the fulfillment of 1Th_4:15-17. That for which the faithful remnant waited, the blessed hope of the Church, has suddenly come to pass. The departure of the true Church from the earth will be as sudden as its be-ginning (Act_2:1-2). (Annotated Bible)

      As alluded to in Dr. Gabelein’s commentary, the term “come up hither” is extremely significant for the following reasons:

      1. It fulfills a promise the Lord made to the disciples just before His betrayal and crucifixion: 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. [Further study available in the Addendum]

      2. It is an imminent, any moment event! Remember, John was in that small crowd the Lord Jesus prom-ised His deliverance to and he was looking for Him, just as we should be looking for Him to deliver us “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).

      3. It coincides with Paul’s description of being “caught up” in First Thessalonians 4:17.

      4. It is the single event transforming our bodies from mortality to immortality (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

      5. It removes the church before the worldwide hour of temptation as the Lord promised in Revelation 3:10 which is consistent with Scriptural judgment.

      6. It excludes the church from being mentioned during the entire 7 year tribulation/great tribulation. This is conspicuous indeed. In Chapters 1-3 there are 19 specific references made to the church. She Chapter 22 is the next mention.

      7. It harmonizes with Scripture in that when God decrees judgment, He doesn’t punish the righteous with the wicked. which hearkens back to the Agreement Principle we studied earlier.

      As inconvenient as this may be for those opposed to PreTrib rapture, from this precise moment the Lord Jesus tells John to come up hither until we return with the Lord (Rev. 19:11-21), the Body of Christ – church – is not on earth.

  2. October 31, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    AMEN BROTHER !!!!!

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