The Apocalypse Of John And The Rapture Of The Church
- The Apocalypse Of John And The Rapture Of The Church
The above title is an article by Michael J. Svigel found at
www.bible.org via the following link:
The premise is that though there may be passages in the book of
Revelation which assume a rapture, Svigel considers only one passage
to clearly elucidate the very event of the rapture itself:
Revelation 12:5 "So the woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who
is going to rule over all the nations with an iron rod. Her child
was suddenly caught up to God and to his throne" (New English
In regard to the chapter 12, Svigel begins with a brief introductory
examination of the type of literature, the perspective of the
passage, the structure of the passage, and the function and meaning
of the symbols in the over-arching context of apocalyptic
literature; he gives a hermeneutic for the Woman, the Dragon, and
the Male Child; the Child being the main focus. Svigel notes, "To
be sure, many commentators identify the male child as the none other
than Jesus Christ. Certainly, a first reading of the passage lends
itself to this interpretation. However, the following considerations
each lessen the likelihood that Jesus Christ alone is in view here
while at the same time strengthening the notion that the child
symbolizes the entire body of Christ, the New Testament Church."
The considerations Svigel refers to are as follows:
* Identifying the male child as the body of Christ is more
consistent with the symbolism of Revelation 12:1-6
* Identifying the male child as the body of Christ best explains
the allusion to Isaiah 66:7.
* Identifying the male child as the body of Christ takes seriously
the language of Revelation 12:5.
* Identifying the male child as the body of Christ best harmonizes
with the quotation of Psalm 2:9 found at the beginning, middle, and
end of Revelation.
The center of the argument is found in an exegesis of John's usage
of Greek for the Male Child being snatched up to heaven; it is
argued that the best usage of this word incorporates the entire body
of Christ, not Christ's ascension to heaven, as recorded in Acts.
"If the male child represents not simply the individual, Jesus
Christ, but the unio mystica, the believers of every generation of
the Church who are ejn Cristw'/, then Revelation 12:5 is the only
explicit mention of the rapture of the Church in the Book of
Revelation. While other passages may, in fact, imply a rapture (i.e.
Rev 3:10) the event itself is not described. Revelation 12:5, which
stands at the heart of the Apocalypse and which brings together the
two allusions to Psalm 2:9 found at the extremes of the Book, seems
an appropriate place for the rapture of the Church in a book that
was written to "show his servants what must happen very soon."
I am interested in this concept from a relationship perspetive, not
a chronological perspective. The idea of this portion of the text
of Revelation substantiating a rapture at this juncture contributes
that much more to the heart and soul of the original purpose of the
book; to convey something of the heart of God in regard to His
desire for relationship with mankind. These are my studies, anyway.
Thanks very much,
Keith R. Starkey
I read the article with some intrest, but these thoughts occured to
The woman was in heaven. The dragon was in heaven. So wasn't the baby
born in heaven? It doesn't say he was snatched up to heaven, but to
God and his throne.
It appears the woman goes to earth in 12:6, and the dragon in 12:9.
Could 12:4 be an allusion to Daniel 8:10?
Did the baby drop from heaven to earth? That's the only way I think
it could represent a rapture of the church. Or does a baby born in
heaven represent the church? If it is supposed to be in heaven how
does it represent the rapture?
- Hello Alan,
I think the allusion to Daniel 8 is not a stong one; the horn that comes out
of the broken large horn tramples the hosts, but the dragon in Revelation
doesn't trample on or throw people (hosts) out of heaven. He MAY have had
1/3 of the angels head over to his side, but that wouldn't qualify as
pertaining to this passage. Further, the Dragon may have trampled over some
of the angels he fights, but this still wouldn't qualify the interpretation
regarding the baby. The scene John sees is a SIGN in heaven. Babies are
obviously not born in heaven; the reality (or literality) of the scene, if
any, has to be on earth's side.
Rev 12:6 doesn't say the woman came to earth at this point, it says she fled
to the desert; she was already on the earth. (Surely she wouldn't flee from
heaven to earth for safety!)
Further, the baby (who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter) is
caught up to God and His throne, as you noted. Caught up . . . from heaven
to a throne? I think we'd be reading more into this than what seems
reasonably clear: the woman surely is Israel; the baby surely the Christ;
the dragon surely Satan; the offspring the disciples of Jesus (Rev 12:17
"Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to make war against
the rest of her offspring--those who obey God's commandments and hold to the
testimony of Jesus.")
Thanks very much for you input, Alan,
Keith R. Starkey
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Thanks for your clarification, but I have to disagree with the
location of the woman and the man child.
12:1 says the woman is in heaven.
12:3 says the dragon is in heaven.
12:4 says the dragon is before the woman as she was ready to give
I don't think we can escape the fact that the man child is born in
heaven. Heaven is spoken of as God's throne, but in Revelation we
are told that His throne is in heaven (4:2).
I can accept that what John sees is a sign, but if the catching away
of the man child is supposed to represent a literal physcial catching
away of the church, then I would expect the symbolism to show that.
If earth wasn't mentioned at all then perhaps the symbolism would be
consistent. But since the earth is mentioned, and all the events are
represented in heaven until 12:6 I don't see how the catching away of
the man child could represent a rapture of the type dispensationalism
>> the baby surely the Christ;<<In saying this you seem to contradict one of the main points of Mr
Svigel. He says;
>...the preponderance of evidence in favor of the interpretation thatthe male child represents not Christ alone, but the body of Christ,
the Church. The "snatching up" of the male child, then, would
equated with the catching up of the Church described in 1
Thessalonians 4:17. <
Much of his argument rests on the idea that the man child represents
primarily the church.
>>the woman surely is Israel;<<Svigel seems to depend a lot on Gen 37:9 for this interpretation.
Exactly what Israel meant isn't clear since Joeseph's mother had
already died (35:19). He may have meant her sister Leah, but
regardless Israel's interpretation wasn't literally fulfilled in the
OT. Only the brothers bowed down later (43:26-28).
So I would say that it is a mistake to interpret the woman as
Israel. The heavenly Jersalem is identified as the mother of us all
in Galatians 4:26. Since the new Jerusalem is seen as the bride of
Christ and the offspring of the woman are identified as christian in
Rev 12, I think the symbolism is more in line to show the woman as
the church and the mother of all christians.