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What did the first century church fathers believe about the Rapture? Were they pre-tribulation or post-tribulation? What did the disciples of the Apostles of Jesus Christ teach about the Rapture? This article will present the writings of the early church fathers — from those who learned under the disciples of Jesus Christ, to the church leaders of the second and third centuries, on the Rapture — the supernatural removal of all Bible-believing Christians from Earth to enter Heaven.
While the writings of the first, second and third century Christian church fathers are not Scripture and not on par with the Bible in any way, it is informative to see how the early church leaders interpreted Scripture in addition to what the learned directly from those closest to The Lord Jesus Christ.
And definitively, the few writings still in existence on the end times, put the timing of the Rapture before the Great Tribulation. This article will also serve to dispel some of the common misconceptions about Rapture theology as being something invented in the 19th century by a man named John Darby.
The following is an excerpt that summarizes this theory: The movement in which this teaching began originated in small groups in England and Ireland about and by was part of the official teaching of the Plymouth Brethren. The truth is that the first historical reference to the Rapture doctrine comes from the Plymouth Brethren.
For example, the 4th century Montanists, who preached both pre-millennialism and that they knew when Christ would return, never ventured so far as to create another 2nd coming of the Lord in a secret rapture.
In all the writings of the Scriptures, the Early Fathers, and the Ecumenical Councils, there is no mention of two 2nd comings of Christ. This is very strong language, but is it true? Were there no ancient Christian writings about the church being Raptured before Great Tribulation? An examination of early church writings shows that this charge is false and there were some church fathers who indeed wrote about the Rapture.
Irenaeus Irenaeus A.
Irenaeus is most-known for his five-volume treatise, Against Heresies in which he exposed the false religions and cults of his day along with advice for how to share the Gospel with those were a part of them.
He also believed in a literal Millennial reign of Christ on earth following the Second Coming and the resurrection of the just. On the subject of the Rapture, in Against Heresies 5.
He then quotes Matthew During his short stint as leader of the church, he guided the flock through intense persecution at the hands of the Roman Empire.
In AD after spending seven months of confinement to his home by order of Roman authorities, he was beheaded for his faith. Several of his works still exist today. In Treatises of Cyprian he wrote in describing the end times Great Tribulation: Do you not give God thanks, do you not congratulate yourself, that by an early departure you are taken away, and delivered from the shipwrecks and disasters that are imminent?
Let us greet the day which assigns each of us to his own home, which snatches us hence, and sets us free from the snares of the world and restores us to paradise and the kingdom. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Clearly Cyprian believed and taught that the Rapture takes place before the Great Tribulation. The book Pseudo Ephraim was one of his still existing works. In his work, On The Last Times 2, he wrote: Already there have been hunger and plagues, violent movements of nations and signs, which have been predicted by the Lord, they have already been fulfilled consummatedand there is not other which remains, except the advent of the wicked one in the completion of the Roman kingdom.
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