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.