A Study of Revelation 4:1-2
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 show thee things which must be hereafter.
This verse indicates that a door has to be opened for anyone to go into heaven. That door is Jesus Christ. “I am the door;” He says in John 10:9, “by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.”
We are saved at the moment we enter through Christ into heaven by faith.
John then describes that the voice that he hears “was as it were of a trumpet talking with me”. We learn in Revelation 1:10 that the great voice of a trumpet is that of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last…”
When He comes on the clouds of glory on the last day, that sound of the trumpet will be His great call for all those who are in the grave to come forth.
Christ then tells the apostle John that He will show him things that must unfold in the future.
You see, in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, God has talked about conditions in churches throughout the New Testament period, including the time when John was receiving those messages. But now, He is about to show John His future plan for the world.
And immediately I was in the spirit; and behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
In the spirit, John receives a very descriptive vision of a beautiful throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. The vision shows that God reigns in heaven. The one who sits on the throne is the Lord Jesus Christ. We know that because in I Timothy 6:15 the apostle Paul, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says that Christ “is the blessed and only Potentate [Ruler], the King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
To sit on the throne means to rule. It means that God rules over everything. He rules over this earth and the heavens. Though He allows Satan certain privileges, God ultimately rules. Nothing happens outside of His will.
This gives us believers real security. When we put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are hanging our life on the Almighty God, who can and will make whatever He has planned for our lives come to pass.
There are those who teach that the first two verses of Revelation 4 are talking about the rapture of John, which, in turn, is a picture of the rapture of all believers.
The rationale is that – in contrast to Chapters 2 and 3, which pertain entirely to the church – the remainder of Revelation does not contain the word “church” at all.
They also say that inasmuch as most of the verses dealing with the final tribulation appear after Chapter 3, the church, having already been raptured, will not go through that period. This doctrine is very widely taught in churches today and, because the idea of not having to go through the horrible final tribulation sounds appealing, it is also popularly embraced by many, if not most, professing Christians.
That believers will be raptured before the final tribulation, however, is based on just a few selected verses taken out of context. It cannot possibly stand the scrutiny of all Scriptures. As seekers of truth, we must not accept any doctrine that is not in harmony with the teaching of the whole Bible.
In John Chapter 6, for instance, God makes it abundantly clear that it is on the last day that Christ will raise up all those who have died in Him. He declares this truth in that chapter as many as four times – in verses 39, 40, 44 and 54. “The last day” means, of course, literally the very last day of this earth’s existence.
We know from John 12:48, moreover, that the world will be judged also on the last day. Jesus says, “The word that I have spoken, the same shall
judge him [the unbeliever] in the last day.”
Since the unsaved will have to be raised to be judged, their resurrection will also be on the last day. Hence, believers and unbelievers will be raised simultaneously.
This is exactly what both John 5:28-29 and Daniel 12:2 declare.
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
The time will come when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth, some to the resurrection of judgment and everlasting shame, and some to the resurrection of everlasting life.
In short, there’ll be one resurrection but two destinations.
To decide that the final tribulation does not apply to the church just because the
word “church” does not appear after Revelation 3 is arbitrary.
If that principle were biblical, then the all-important statement that Jesus made to Nicodemus – “Ye must be born again” – would also have nothing to do with the church, since the word “church” does not appear once in the
entire Gospel of John.
For that matter, neither does the word “church” appear in I and II John, I and II Peter and Titus. Yet, that those books are definitely addressed to the church.
Actually, God repeatedly speaks of the church in Revelation, but, as He does with almost all statements in that book, He uses figures of speech.
He speaks of it, for example, as a great multitude of the redeemed from every nation
(Revelation 7:9), the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks (Revelation 11:4), those who refused to worship the image (Revelation 13:15), those in whose mouth no guile is found (Revelation 14:5), those whose names are written in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:15), and many, many more.
In the spirit
Revelation 4:1-2 really has nothing to do with the rapture of believers.
First of all, John went up alone; no other believers went with him.
Secondly, he went into heaven.
In contrast, at the time of the rapture, I Thessalonians 4 says, Jesus shall “descend from heaven” with a shout and both dead and alive believers will meet Him in the air and will ever be with the Lord.
True, one can argue that heaven is wherever Christ is. But John was not then with the Lord forever. After he had received the vision, he was back on earth again.
Finally, when the apostle Paul talked about his having been caught up to the third heaven in II Corinthians 12, he confessed that he did not know whether he was in the body or out of the body. But here, John makes it clear that he was “in the spirit”. In other words, he was not caught up in the body.