Overview of Revelation: Where did the “Church” Go?

The word “church” is used 19 times in the first 3 chapters of the book of Revelation.  Then it’s not used again until Revelation 22.  So what happened in Revelation 4-21?

We are not sure.  Scholars use this fact to support the pretribulationist view that Christians are indeed exempt from any tribulation because the word is not used.  In fact, the word “church” is never used in Revelation when discussing the Tribulation.  Romans 8:1 says Christians will not experience any wrath from God.  This is the strongest evidence for this view in the Bible.

Those who disagree say the word “saints” used throughout Revelation 4-21 means the church.  However, this is a different Greek word and why would John, the author of Revelation, use a different word here unless they were different?

However, scholars will point out that the Greek word “saints” is used 59 times in the New Testament to refer to a true believer in Christ.  So perhaps the writer of Revelation merely switched terms.  Furthermore, the word “church” is also missing from the books of Mark, Luke, John, and others.  Does this mean the church didn’t exist?

No.  As most of us know, the idea of the church meaning the body of Christ developed after the apostles were dead and has evolved over time to mean believers.

Hence, in my opinion, we can’t conclusively draw any conclusions as to why the word “church” is missing here but used elsewhere as well as the word “saints”.  As a writer, word choice is subjective and a prerogative by the writer.  John could have simply been bored and wanted a change!

My reason for this post is two-fold:  1)  Don’t read too much into word choice and translation choices. The Word is God-breathed but man-written and man-translated.  2)  I just wanted you all to notice this in Revelation.  I’m unsure if BSF will even mention this as the debate is intense in the eschatological community.  But I find it interesting and good to know.  If you read much on the End Times, you will see this mentioned over and over again.  With so many out there with an opinion, it’s good to form your own opinion.  But you can’t without the knowledge.


7 thoughts on “Overview of Revelation: Where did the “Church” Go?

  1. GOSPEL Mt 16:24-28

    What can one give in exchange for one’s life?

    A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

    Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.”

    Could you explain the meaning of the ending of this passage. Some of you standing here will not taste death until the son of man etc


    1. Nancy,

      Jesus is referencing the End Times here. He’s saying some people (believers) will be alive when he comes again and those who are alive will not experience a physical death but will just be taken up to heaven during the Tribulation and await the arrival of the second kingdom. Here, scholars differ on exactly when the kingdom will be established as some say there won’t be a waiting period but an immediate establishment.

      You can see my posts on Tribulation and Different Views. This one probably sums it up the best: https://atozmomm.com/2015/08/07/overview-of-revelation-what-is-the-rapture-and-what-does-that-have-to-do-with-the-tribulation/


  2. Well thought out. Should be an interesting lesson for all of us this year.
    One I am very much looking foreword to!!! God Bless


  3. The “church” didn’t GO anywhere. It still exists today in the form of the Eastern Orthodox Churches of the world. And since I’ve already done a cursorary look at the first five lessons, if you thought the questions from the last three years were “fluffy” wait till you see these.


    1. Norma,

      I’m talking about the word “church”, not the church as a body itself. It is obvious you didn’t read my post–just the title.

      And I have already completed the first four lessons for Revelation. And, yes, some of the questions are repetitive from last year and some could be called “fluffy” but I’ve never used that word in any of my posts (which I doubt you read as well since you are a first time commenter here).


      1. Sorry, but I have been following your blog for some years. Perhaps I should have stayed in the background once again and not taken a leap. And yes, “fluffy” isn’t a word you’ve used; I used it in a hurry to describe my perception of the change in direction of the questions over the last nine years. (See your post of 27 Mar 2015 “Personal Questions” and/or “Opinion Questions”) If you delete this and the previous comment I won’t be offended in any way.


      2. I appreciate the leap and the comment. I usually don’t respond to comments, but I had to correct what my post was about since it was being misconstrued in case others interpreted it in a similar manner.

        If you do hang around here for Revelation, you will see a lot of repetition from last year’s study–same questions, some over the same material. I write more about that on the posts.

        I rarely delete comments unless they attack me or another commenter.

        God bless…


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