The Conception of the Church

Part and parcel of the discussion surrounding the Great Sign of Revelation 12 previously discussed here, is the full and complete identity of the Child mentioned in those passages. Clearly, the Woman represents Israel, as is the case all throughout scripture; perhaps most comprehensively detailed in the book of Hosea, where she is depicted as the unfaithful wife of Jehovah. She also represents a parallel to the virgin Mary, who brought forth the Messiah – who of course is also a Child of Israel, being a descendent of the line of David.

Let’s examine the specific passage that introduces the Child.

“She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.”
-Revelation 12:5

We know that Bible prophecy is rich and multi-dimensional. The Child of Revelation 12 must have a deeper meaning that only representing Christ, since Jesus had already been born, walked the earth, was crucified, resurrected, and ascended at the time of John’s writing. To prophesy solely of the Messiah’s first coming after it had already happened makes no sense. Furthermore, Jesus wasn’t immediately caught up to heaven upon His birth to protect Him from the wrath of the dragon. Instead, He walked the earth for 33 years teaching, healing, and serving man. Upon His crucifixion, death had no claim to Him. He conquered sin and death at His glorious resurrection. Satan’s attempt against Him failed miserably.

Revelation 12 tells us that the Child is destined to rule the nations with a rod of iron. This immediately parallels the millennial kingdom, in which Christ Himself sits upon the throne of David and rules with an iron rod.

“Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.”
-Revelation 19:15

However, we are told of others who are to rule along with Christ.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.”
-Revelation 20:4

It is clear that the Body of Christ is to rule with Him, and joined with Him in His everlasting kingdom. Could the Child represent both Christ as the Head, and the Church as the Body? Here’s where it gets interesting.

In Revelation 12, the word “child” first appears in verse 2, and it is uncapitalized.

“Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.”
-Revelation 12:2

The word for “child” here in the original Greek is γαστήρ (gastēr). This word is a strictly physiological word meaning the womb, the belly, or the uterus with child. It is where our prefix -gastro comes from, having to do with the stomach or belly. So this passage isn’t identifying who the child is yet, just describing the woman as giving birth to a child in a physical sense.

There are two other words in the original Greek text used for “Child” in Revelation 12. Let’s look at verse 5:

“She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.”
-Revelation 12:5

Notice that both times the word “Child” appears here, it is capitalized. This is an obvious difference from verse 2, where the woman is just being described as giving birth in a generic, physiological sense.

What’s really intriguing, is the Child in the first sentence of verse 5, and the Child in the second sentence of verse 5, are completely different words in the original Greek.

Now we have a proper name being used, so the Child here must be specific. What’s really intriguing, is the Child in the first sentence of verse 5, and the Child in the second sentence of verse 5, are completely different words in the original Greek.

The first usage, in the passage, “She bore a male Child…” uses the Greek υἱός (huios) which is used specifically of Christ Himself. The term literally translates as the “Son of God” or the “Son of Man”. These are titles and designations used only of Christ Himself. This makes perfect sense, given that the passage tells us that this Child will rule the nations with a rod of iron, as the Bible describes the same in many other places of Christ.

The second sentence of verse 5, which says, “And her Child was caught up to God and His throne”, uses the Greek τέκνον (teknon), which is always employed in a strictly corporate sense. For example, this is the word which would be used in the phrase “children of God” or “children of Abraham”. Here are some other examples of its usage elsewhere in the New Testament:

“and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children (teknon) to Abraham from these stones.”
-Matthew 3:9

“And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children (teknon).”
-Matthew 27:25

“I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children (teknon) I warn you.”
-1 Corinthians 4:14

Any astute student of the Bible is sure to ask at this point, “why would John employ two entirely different words for ‘Child’ in the same passage”? The answer seems obvious. He is strictly speaking of Christ in the first part, and strictly speaking of those in Christ in the latter. We know that we are the Body and Christ is the Head. We know that we will rule with Him one day, so the passage even makes more sense than before.

One would also be interested to know that the word for “caught up” in verse 5 is the very same ἁρπάζω (harpazō) used to describe the rapture in this well known passage that indicates the same:

“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (harpazō) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
-1 Thessalonians 4:17

Could this passage in Revelation 12:5 be indicating the rapture of the Church? The evidence is certainly strong. But wait… there’s more!

It is often said the the Church was “born” at Pentecost. However, if this is the case, then when was it conceived? Prior to Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection, His ministry was local. It certainly created quite a stir, but it wasn’t worldwide. Prior to His glorious Ascension, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
-John 14:26

This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost, detailed in Acts chapter 2.

“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
-Acts 2:1-4

It isn’t disputed that the creation of the Church is credited to the Holy Spirit, upon this very event. But this wasn’t the “birth” of the Church – it was its conception. A child is first created in the womb, where life begins. It is miraculously formed by the hand of God Himself inside the womb, for a gestation period of around nine months, until it is fully prepared and able to live on its own outside of the womb.

The Holy Spirit’s power of supernatural conception is made known in Joseph’s dream, in the first chapter of the book of Matthew.

“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
-Matthew 1:20

Jesus certainly wasn’t born in the moments after the Holy Spirit descended onto Mary. She first had to carry Him to term, as with any natural birth. The Holy Spirit conceived in her the Messiah, she carried Him, and nine months later, gave birth.

The “birth” of the Church hasn’t happened yet. We are a divided Body – divided among doctrines, denominations, theology, and more. There are many basic biblical precepts that we can’t even agree on as Christians. We also know that we are in the age of grace currently, also known as the Church Age.

The “birth” of the Church hasn’t happened yet. We are a divided Body – divided among doctrines, denominations, theology, and more.

The Church Age could be compared to a baby being cared for inside of the womb, unable to function as an autonomous unit. The mother must provide all care, security, sustenance, and protection of the baby in her belly. Outside of the womb, the baby would surely die in short order.

We know that when we are joined with Christ for eternity, we will function as one whole and complete Body, undivided, and in complete harmony with Christ as the Head. No one can rightly claim that is the case currently. So how can the Church be born yet? The Holy Spirit is the Helper that joins us to Christ at a distance now. It is rarely disputed that in the future, when the Church is removed, the Holy Spirit will be removed as well. That is precisely because we will actually be joined with Christ directly.

So when is the birth of the Church? Back to Revelation 12 – I think the picture is detailed precisely in verse 5. The Body is born of the woman, and is immediately caught up to heaven to spare the Child the wrath of the dragon, who waits for its birth to devour it. If the scripture tells us that the woman is giving birth to a corporate Body, then it is logical to assume that corporate Body isn’t born yet. The word harpazo in verse 5 describes a rapture event, in which the Church is caught up to God upon its birth. Certainly without the protection of the womb – the Holy Spirit – we would be devoured at any moment, given we are not joined with Christ for eternity yet.

This writer recognizes that there are radical concepts being forwarded here, perhaps for the first time. Even some long held ecclesiastical traditions and soteriological positions are being challenged outright. It’s natural to be skeptical. But I urge you to endeavor a healthy skepticism – one in which you employ prayerful consideration in the Word of God, to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” as it is stated in 2 Timothy 2:15.

Again, this writer is not making the claim that the rapture is going to occur on September 23 this year, or even at any specific time at all. In Matthew 25:5, Jesus mentions in His parable that the bridegroom was delayed. Could this portend a delay of the claiming of His Bride in the future? Certainly. We are to always be expectant of the Master’s return at any time, and watch earnestly and with sober mind for our Blessed Hope. If this Great Sign event doesn’t signal the rapture, this writer will employ the words of David himself:

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
-Psalm 34:1

Studying the scriptures and seeking His wisdom during the study of these times has been a blessing like none other I have ever experienced in my life. I thank the Lord for His Word, and for revealing it to me in a much deeper way than I’ve ever experienced before.

Maranatha!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *