Exploring Prophetic Mysteries

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Early Church Leaders: Antichrist will Persecute the Church


The fact that the Church will be here during the Tribulation was taught by many of the earliest Christian scholars and is well documented, contrary to what many pre-Tribulation rapture advocates say. Among the writers who said the Church will come under persecution by the Antichrist is Irenaeus, a student of Polycarp, who was said to be a student of the Apostle John himself.  


This list is from:


Warning From Voices of the Past by Jim Sayles


Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-168):

Two advents of Christ have been announced: the one, in which He is set forth as suffering, inglorious, dishonored, and crucified; but the other, in which He shall come from heaven with glory, when the man of apostasy, who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians. (First Apology of Justine, Chapter 110)


Irenaeus (A.D. 140-202), a student of Polycarp - said to be taught by the Apostle John:

And then he...(Daniel)...points out the time that his tyranny shall last, during which the saints shall be put to flight.  (Against Heresies V, XXVL, 1) And they shall lay Babylon  waste, and burn her with fire, and shall give their kingdom to the beast, and put the church to flight. (Against Heresies V, XXVI)


Tertulian (A.D. 160-220):

That the beast Antichrist, with his false prophet, may wage war on the Church of God. (On the Resurrection of the Flesh, 25)


Cyprian (A.D. 200-258):

For you ought to know and to believe, and hold it for certain, that the day of affliction has begun to hang over our heads, and the end of the world and the time of Antichrist to draw near, so that we must all stand prepared for the battle...(Epistles of Cyprian, LV, 1, 2)


Nor let any one of you, beloved brethren, be so terrified by the fear of future persecution, or the coming of the threatening Antichrist, as not to be found armed for all things by the evangelical exhortations and precepts, and by the heavenly warnings. (Cyprian, LIII, p.722)


Hippolytus (A.D. 160-240):

...the one thousand two hundred and three score days (the half of the week) during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the Church... (Treatise on Christ and Antichrist, 61)


Victorinus of Poetovia (? -303)

The little season signifies three years and six months, in which with all his power the devil will avenge himself under Antichrist against the Church. (Commentary on the  Apocalypse, 20:1-3)


Augustine (A.D. 354-430):

...the kingdom of Antichrist shall fiercely, though for a short time, assail the Church... (The City of God, XX, 23)


Roger Bacon (A.D. 1214-1274):

...future perils [for the Church] in the times of Antichrist... (Opus Majus II, page 634)


Martin Luther (A.D. 1483-1546):

[The book of Revelation] is intended as a revelation of things that are to happen in the future, and especially of tribulations and disasters for the Church... (Works of Martin  Luther, VI, p. 481)


John Knox (A.D. 1515-1572):

[T]he great love of God towards his Church, whom he pleased to forewarne of dangers to come...to wit, The man of sin, The Antichrist...(The Historie of the Reformation etc., I, p.76)


Roger Williams (A.D. 1603-1683):

Antichrist...hath his prisons, to keep Christ Jesus and his members fast. (The Bloody Tenent etc, p. 153)


Charles Hodge (A.D. 1797-1878):

...the fate of his Church here on earth...is the burden of the Apocalypse. (Systematic Theology, III, p. 827)


Carl F. Keil (A.D. 1807-1888):

...the persecution of the last enemy Antichrist against the Church of the Lord...(Biblical  Commentary, YXMV, p. 503)


Only one mention of a pre-Tribulation rapture in over 1,500 years


There is but one reference to a pre-Tribulation rapture in ancient times which was made by Ephraim the Syrian (306 AD – 373 AD).


“For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.” On the Last Times 2 - Pseudo Ephraim.


After this there is no other clear mention of a pre-Tribulation rapture in over 1,500 years of Church history among thousand and thousands of writings, sermons and Biblical commentaries.  

An elaborate invention by a clever lawyer


Every person who believes that Jesus Christ will return invisibly and that the Church will be gathered up before the Tribulation can trace their belief back to one single individual: John Nelson Darby. Darby was a nineteenth century lawyer, preacher and self-styled theologian who invented a system of Biblical theology called Dispensationalism, as well as the pre-Tribulation rapture and invisible return of Christ. as it is widely understood and accepted today. J N Darby said he received this doctrine in a revelation from God and there is no indication that he was aware that anyone else before had ever taught such a thing.


The pre-Tribulation rapture is a new doctrine not found in the Bible


The pre-Tribulation rapture and invisible return doctrines are certainly new doctrines never taught, with one or two obscure exception, until the 19th century. Since it is not found in the Bible anywhere and  none of the reformers like Luther or Calvin or anyone until the 19th century ever gave any indication that there was such a thing, it must be viewed as a new doctrine without any biblical authority at all.



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© Daniel Speck 9.7.16