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Extra-Biblical Evidence For The Pre-Trib Rapture

We have addressed the accusation before that the pre-trib rapture theory was invented by a Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald in the early 19th century.  This is now widely known to be factually incorrect and in fact there are numerous references to a pre-trib rapture in late 18th century American writing, as well as contemporary (at that time) Catholic writings such as Manuel Lacunza's The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty.

Additionally, Chuck Missler has brought to light a writing from "Ephraem the Syrian" (b. 306; d. 373 AD) where this early Church deacon wrote in unequivocal language the following:

"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."

Now it has been charged that the above quote was not written by Ephraem himself, but a later writer possibly posing as Ephraem (called Pseudo-Ephraem).  This is possible, even likely, but is almost irrelevant as the writing was not made any later that 627 AD.  This means that the pre-tribulational rapture was positively taught no later than the early 7th century.

Other even more ancient writings have recently come to light as well.  Including from Cyprian:

"We who see that terrible things have begun, and know that still more terrible things are imminent, may regard it as the greatest advantage to depart from it as quickly as possible... And do you not give God thanks, do you not congratulate yourself, that by an earlier 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."

Cyprian died in 258 AD, so his above treatise had to have been written even before that year.  But far more amazing than Cyprian's quote, is Iranaeus' Against Heresies.  Iranaeus was only once removed from John himself (John likely being the very person who wrote down the Book of Revelation).  In Book 5, chapter 29, Iranaeus wrote:

"And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, There shall [then] be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.  [Matthew 24:21] For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption. [1 Corinthians 15]"

Even in the context of the larger chapter, the very next thing that occurs in Iranaeus' timeline after the Church is "suddenly caught up" is the revelation of the antichrist.

All these references aside, the rapture itself is plainly taught in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.  This verse alone proves that there will be a rapture event (unless, without justification, you want to interpret this verse symbolically).

And the timing of the rapture as pre-tribulational may be unequivocally taught in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 if apostasia is translated "departure".

In any case, while only time will tell and God alone knows how things will pan out, there are numerous reasons to confidently hold to a belief in the pre-trib rapture, not least of which is that Biblical scholars pretty much unanimously agree that the early church, both before and for awhile after 70 AD, believed almost universally in the imminent coming of Christ... an event that would come suddenly.


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8 comments :

  1. Still, Luther, Calvin, Menno Sim. and Catholic church fathers never taught this. And it has been since the 1890's that this Rapture teaching had any cred via Pent. branches of Christianity. It would be wonderful if this happens but.........sad the Lord did not do it in the 20th c with the worse murders, perversity in our history happening such as WWI, II, et al , the Holocaust. This is not the same issue as the Second Coming. All born again Christians believe that or should. When that happens, all history will end and a new eternal history will begin. To think God rescues the Church before persecution is more wishing than historical at least since the Reformation.

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  2. Thank you for your thoughts. I do think that largely depends on which "fathers" you speak of though. I don't give as much credence to early Church "fathers" as the Catholic Church does, and I am diametrically opposed to many Catholic doctrines.

    It is often argued that the early Church didn't teach pre-trib, but this is not because there is much evidence to the contrary, but because there is not much evidence outside the Bible for any theory as to the timing at the time.

    One thing we do know, that scholars almost unanimously agree with is that the early Church believed firmly in the imminent return of Christ. I can't square this with a post-trib view, though I could possibly see harmony with a mid-trib or pre-wrath view.

    And when it comes to preterism and/or amillenialism I definitely have to put my foot down as there are numerous scriptures objectively at odds. In addition I think these theories give way to much leniency to re-interpreting scripture and saying something is meant symbolically when the text itself doesn't give such permission.

    God's Word is true and is should not be lightly trifled with.

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  3. If Christian's who are alive today go through the tribulation period (not raptured before) then who will Christ (and the Saints) rule over when He comes to reign for one-thousand years on earth (Millennium)? If the rapture and the Second Coming occur at the end of the tribulation period who will be left on the earth for us to reign over? You must remember that I Thessalonians 4:13-18 says that every Christian will be raptured who is on the earth. The Bible also says that everyone outside of Christians will take the mark and it's clear they will be executed at the coming of the Lord. With that said, I ask again, who will be left on the earth to enter into the Millennium?"

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  4. Why I believe in PreTrib. rapture.
    The primary Scripture passage on the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. It states that all living believers, along with all believers who have died, will meet the Lord Yeshua in the air and will be with Him forever. The rapture is Yahweh’s removing His people from the earth. A few verses later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says, “For Yahweh did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach.” The book of Revelation, which deals primarily with the time period of the tribulation, is a prophetic message of how God will pour out His wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. It seems inconsistent for God to promise believers that they will not suffer wrath and then leave them on the earth to suffer through the wrath of the tribulation. The fact that God promises to deliver Christians from wrath shortly after promising to remove His people from the earth seems to link those two events together.
    Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the “hour of trial” that is going to come upon the earth. This could mean two things. Either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. Both are valid meanings of the Greek word translated “from.” However, it is important to recognize what believers are promised to be kept from. It is not just the trial, but the “hour” of trial. Christ is promising to keep believers from the very time period that contains the trials, namely the tribulation. The purpose of the tribulation, the purpose of the rapture, the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and the interpretation of Revelation 3:10 all give clear support to the pre-tribulational position. If the Bible is interpreted literally and consistently, the pre-tribulational position is the most biblically-based interpretation.

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  5. Ignore all this stuff and read your Bible. The pre-tribulation rapture was prophesied of by the prophet Isaiah. Read Isaiah 26_20-21:
    "Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past.
    For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain." (NKJV) This is clearly talking about the Tribulation and the Great Tribulation, where the Lord will punish mankind for its wickedness and it will be so severe that, were it not for the sake of the elect (the saints, those who are the salt of the earth), no flesh would be saved. (Matt. 24:21-22)

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  6. there is no "secret rapture" before the 2nd Advent. This notion of a rapture before His return is %100 unbiblical.

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  7. The Pre-Trib Rapture doctrine is setting up Christians, from this generation, for a terrible crisis they are NOT expecting and which might result in the spiritual downfall of MANY. Pinning ones hopes on a Pre-Trib raptures opens them up to following false Christs and being deceived. Now if the Mid Tribers are wrong, and the rapture occurs Pre-TRib, then everything is OK, but if it is the other way around a Pre-Trib is wrong, then the Pre-tribers are in a world of hurt. MC

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