Why is the church not mentioned in the Great Tribulation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Another claim I would often see come up from pre-tribulationists back on my journey was that the church was not mentioned in Revelation after chapter 3. The obvious conclusion to them was that the church wasn’t there. The church had been raptured.
At best, this is an argument from silence. The church only shows up in the Gospels in Matthew. However, it also ignores that there are other ways to refer to the people of God. Saints is a very common one and Paul even uses that for the church at Corinth which was a highly messed up church.
If we consider also that most of the focus on Revelation is on God judging the wicked, it’s not a shock that God’s people are not described as the focus. Still, they are there, such as the dragon going off to wage war against those who hold to the testimony of Jesus.
The problem with arguments from silence is that where there is no reason to expect a mention, the argument is weak. Those who put forward the argument need to state why such an event in any case should be mentioned. This is a big problem Jesus mythicists have as they assume that since Jesus is the most awesome figure in culture today, that surely everyone would have been talking about Him. Especially since this was the supposed Son of God walking on Earth doing miracles.
Most people though would have treated the claims with skepticism and not wasted time and/or capital to investigate them. It’s not a shock that so few people outside of the Christian community mentioned Jesus. It’s a shock that really anyone did mention Him.
So right at the start, we have this as an argument from silence. Now pre-tribulationists will definitely admit that the text of Revelation 4-19 does include references to those who hold to the testimony of Jesus and other terms, but these are usually seen as tribulation saints. These are people who find Jesus after the rapture.
That does work, but the problem is that you have no reason to think that unless you assume the pre-trib idea to begin with. This is especially so since it’s assumed that when John gets called up to Heaven in Revelation 4:1, that the church would have been understood to go up with him, except John is shown on Earth in passages such as Revelation 10 and there’s no indication that the church is understood to return to Earth with him then. Again, when the rules change suddenly, then you can expect that there is something else going on here.
I really do want to stress that I am trying to be fair to the arguments that i came across, but I really do just find them extremely weak. Did I ever return and give them a fair shot later on? We’ll be getting to that in a later post, but for now, this is just another argument that I don’t find convincing a bit.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)