Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Greek Exegesis of the Rapture Passages, John 14:1-3


These verses are part of what is called the Upper Room Discourse in which the Lord spoke in an intimate way to His disciples just before His arrest, trials, and crucifixion. Almost all scholars recognize these verses as referring in an initial or primitive description of the doctrine of the rapture. It must be remembered that Christ's disciples will enter the dispensation of the church with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. So therefore the Lord could possibly have come to remove them as members of the church in a dramatic way from the earth and they would not have experienced death.

The time of the rapture is kept in the recesses of the mind of the Lord. Believers, including the apostles, have (or had) no idea as to when the rapture could take place. Obviously it has not yet arrived and we all continue to wait for this great miraculous event called in Scripture "the Blessed Hope."

It must be remembered that the rapture is the removal of believers in this dispensation from the earth before the terrible Day of Tribulation, Day of Wrath, arrives upon the world. The rapture could take place at anytime. The Bible clearly teaches that this is an imminent, "any time" event. No one knows the time of its happening.

Free Greek Translation:

Let not the heart of each of you be disturbed. All of you together are believing in God, in the same way, all of you continue to trust in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places, but if not, I would have told you; because I go to prepare a room for you [to live in]. And if I am going and prepare a room for you, I will be coming again and take you along [to My own home], that where I am, I and you [together].

John 14:1

HEART. (kardia) Refers to the disciples' emotional disturbance when Jesus said that one would "betray Me" (13:21). Or better, their emotional anxiety could have come about when He said "Where I go, you cannot follow Me now" (v. 36). While they heard Him speak of His death they could not at this given moment process this as an actual event about to take place!

LET NOT BE TROUBLED. (tarasso) A Present Passive Imperative. "Let not the heart of you be continually anxious, troubled." The disciples were very much troubled. It is not improbable that they felt that His death would demolish all their schemes, for they had not yet fully learned the doctrine that the Messiah must suffer and die. (Barnes)

BELIEVE IN GOD, BELIEVE ALSO IN ME. (pisteuo) Both believes are Present Active in Greek. Some scholars think the first "believe" is a Present Active Indicative, or simply a statement, but that the second "believe" is a Command, an Imperative. If this is so, the whole passage could read:

Let not your heart be constantly troubled. All of you together are believing in God, in the same way, all of you be believing in Me!

Hendrikson opposes this view in favor of the position that both of these verbs (believe) are Commands, Imperatives. This would be in harmony with the entire discourse and falls in line with the first Imperative statement "Let not your hearts any longer be troubled." Though they had faith, that faith was beginning to waver. Hence (using the continuance Present Imperative) Jesus was saying, "Continue to trust!"

John 14:2


This house could not be the location of the earthly Kingdom in which Jesus will reign. Jesus is going now, in the historical context of His death, to His Father's house in glory. He will come for His own and take them back to a location He has prepared. This, then is a rapture passage. He does not return to stay but to catch away those who are in the body of Christ, believers in the Church age, including the disciples. That is, if possibly the rapture could have happened while the disciples were alive. Christ's statement stands as an event, an imminent happening, with a present hope and anticipation. Though no one knows for sure they are in that generation when the rapture takes place, in which they do not die but are transformed and immediately given a new glorified body!

MANY DWELLING PLACES. (mona) A "dwelling place, room" (Arndt & Gingrich) related to the verb monazo which means "to live alone, to separate oneself." Also, the Greek word monos means "only, alone." What Jesus is saying is "a secure place of your own, yet a place in the presence of the heavenly Father." "I will take you there and fellowship together with you!"

Many (pollai) is a plural but it expresses that there will be a multitude of personal dwellings for the saints. There will be in heaven room for all, but yet personal accommodations for all those who belong to Christ!

FOR I GO TO PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU. With the For (hoti) Jesus is explaining what He will be doing for those who are His.

"I am going to specifically make ready, definitely prepare, accomplish, set up (Aorist Tense) (Arndt & Gingrich) a "place, room" (topos) for you to stay and live in. In the Father's house there is an abiding-place for all. There is no risk that this heavenly house will be overcrowded. The revelation implies a home for all. (Commentary on the Whole Bible)

The picture is of one (Christ) who goes on a journey, and going before, prepares a place for his companions to come and lodge in. He goes to make necessary preparations. For the saints of the coming Church, Christ secures their admission there in heaven, and obtains for them the blessings of eternal life. (Barnes)

John 14:3

IF I GO. (Aorist Active Subjunctive) If I go does not imply uncertainty, but expresses that the fact is in the realm of the future. (Ellicott) Christ is now unfolding this truth to His immediate disciples but it is definitely applicable to future Church saints as well. These disciples will be the first of the Church believers as they enter the new dispensation in Acts 2.

The If (ean) is in the third class condition and is describing a future condition. It expresses that which is not taking place now but will take place in the future. (Summers)

I WILL PREPARE A PLACE FOR YOU. This is a Future Active Indicative of etiomazo. "If I am going, then I will prepare a place for you."

I WILL COME AGAIN. "Again, I am coming." "By context, and because of the 'again' this should be taken as a Future Present. A definite promise." (A. T. Robertson, Vincent) "This use of a Present Tense denotes an event which has not yet occurred, but which is regarded as so certain that in thought it may be contemplated as already coming to pass." (Dana & Mantey) This is not the Second Coming of Christ arriving to reign on earth. It is the rapture of the Church to "receive believers unto Himself."

I WILL RECEIVE YOU TO MYSELF. The Greek word paralambano is a compound of para=along side, and lambano=to receive. Thus "to bring alongside." The verb is in a Future Middle Indicative. The Middle Voice is a reflexive. "I will do this Myself!" "I shall take you along to My own home." (A. T. Robertson, Vincent) He comes to get us and takes up back to heaven! This then is a rapture passage. See 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

I Thessalonians 4:17b reads:

Likewise, always together with the Lord we shall be!

John 14:1-3 is a rapture passage because …

  1. The passage anticipates the dispensation of the Church which the disciples enter following the giving of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2. John 14:1-3 could have taken place while the disciples were alive and they would have been transformed physically and taken home to be with Christ in glory. But they died (and their souls were taken to heaven), so Christ's coming will bring their spirits and souls back for the resurrection, the granting of a new and eternal body!
  2. John 14:1-3 is not painting a picture of the coming judgment of the Son of Man, the Messiah. This passage instead is an intimate picture of a personal blessing for the Church saints.
  3. All commentators believe the "house" is heaven. Thus the Lord is not here simply coming back to earth to judge. Something else is going on.
  4. To be where He is, as given in these verses plus I Thessalonians 4:13-18, implies a being with Him, existing in the new body, changed by the rapture of the Church saints just prior to the coming of the tribulation, the Day of the Lord!

Some years ago I worked on translating all of the passages in the New Testament on the doctrine of the rapture of the church saints. Besides the grammar work I did, I consulted the best of the classical grammarians. I was surprised to see so many who called these passages "rapture" passages, though with their philosophy of amillennialism, they did not know what to do with the verses or where to put them in the order of biblical prophecy. I trust this study will bless all those who have a longing for the Lord's return to carry the Church away before the terrible days of the worldwide tribulation.