IS IT TRUE THAT THE ‘RAPTURE’
OF THE CHURCH
IS AN ADDED DOCTRINE,
AND NEVER MENTIONED
UNTIL THE 1830'S???
Some falsely claim that ‘if we would search we will find no history of the teaching in the early church record. It did not exist until the 1830's."
These skeptics try to use several quotes to try to prove this. For instance, Justin Martyr claimed the antichrist would persecute Christians, so if we are raptured before he comes, how can that be?
Justin Martyr 100 A.D.-
" The man of apostasy shall venture to do unlawful deeds on earth against us the Christians."
This is true, some Christians will be persecuted by the antichrist during the tribulation, for many will be saved during the tribulation, after the rapture of the church, they are called the ‘tribulation saints", so this statement does not teach against Pre-trib rapture.
Another quote some of them will use is:
The Pastor(Shepherd)of Hermas 150 A.D.-
"Happy ye are who endure the great tribulation that is coming."
" Those, therefore, who continue steadfast, and are put through the fire, will be purified by means of it… Wherefore, cease not speaking these things into the ears of the saints. This then is the type of the great tribulation that is yet to come."
At the time that was written, the early church was going through great tribulations, burnings upon crosses, crucifixions, throwing to lions, imprisonments, scourges with 39 stripes, etc. So when they spoke of enduring tribulations, they meant the tribulations they were currently in. Note that they also said "this then is the type of the great tribulation that is yet to come." So, they knew another, greater tribulation was still to come, but only the tribulations they were currently in would be the ones they endured before the coming of the Lord.
Barnabas, the co-worker with Paul wrote in his epistle:
"Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are called by God, we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord."
(The Epistle of Barnabas, chapter IV)
This indicates that salvation can be lost, and the hope of escaping the tribulation and the Antichrist would have to be faced, if one ‘falls asleep in their sins". As the five foolish virgins will have to go through the tribulation, but not the five wise ones. This is what Barnabas was speaking.
Also, they quote Irenaeus:
Irenaeus 130 A.D.- " And they (the ten kings) shall give their kingdom to the beast, and put the church to flight."
(Against Heresies, V, 26, 1)
Yet, this refers to the fact, there will still be a church. For ‘where two or three are gathered in His name’, is a church. So after the rapture of the church in a pre-trib rapture, there can be a ‘church’ of tribulation saints which will endure some tribulation, before being killed.
There is currently an apostasy, and a great falling away, and perilous times, and much tribulation upon saints, and trials galore, but that is not the 7 year tribulation spoken of in Revelation and Daniel. So the above quotes refer to this type of trials, not to the 7 year period of the wrath of God.
Hermas has a quote they do not want to use, for it shows that the early church spoke of tribulations often, for they were going through many, but they also knew of a separate tribulation, through which they believed the church would not pass.
Hermas tells us that he passed by a wild beast and met a virgin who saluted him saying, Hail O man.! He returned the greeting... Lady, hail! Then she asked... Has nothing crossed your path? Hermas replied... I was met by a beast of such a size that it could destroy peoples, but through the power of the Lord and His great mercy, I escaped from it... The virgin said... Well, did you escape from it, because you cast your care on God, and opened your heart to the Lord, believing that you can be saved by no other than His great and glorious name? You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. God therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be free and spotless in serving the Lord blamelessly."
Hermas, The Shepherd of Hermas,
Book I, fourth, ch. ii, also ch. iii)
This shows that the teaching was definitely in the early church of a pre-trib rapture, and that the teaching of the pre-trib rapture was not added in 1830, but to a restoration of the doctrine that had been lost when the church apostatized in the dark ages.
During the ‘dark ages’, some of the church lost not only the pre-trib rapture doctrine, but salvation by faith, not works, became powerful feeling, and persecuted and tribulated (excuse the word) the world for a time, instead of wanting an escape of the tribulation.
After the first early rain revival of the church, the church became powerful, and ruled over the wicked, and the hope of the rapture waned. The church was joined by many wicked, with teachings from heathenism, for it was illegal not to belong to the church. The corruption of church doctrine explains the lack of the teaching of the pre-trib rapture, or of a rapture period, during the middle ages. Thus it is not strange that in the post-Nicene period, and the leaders in the middle ages, there is silence regarding the rapture of the church.
But the early church did believe in a pre-trib rapture, as evidenced by Hermas’ teaching, and the promise to the church of Philadelphia:
Revelation 3:10 (KJV)
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
The word "hour’ designates a time of coming trial, a period of tribulation that comes upon not only a part of the earth, but upon ‘all who dwell upon the earth."
The word for ‘dwell’ is not the normal "oikeo" but the strengthened "katoikeo" meaning all who are identified with the earth. Alford refers us to other examples in the Bible of this word being used, which shows it refers to "those who are not of the church of Christ".
The nature of the 70th week of Daniel is one in which it is Israel who is to be dealt with, not the church:
"Come, My people enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be over past, For behold, Jehovah cometh forth out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."
The twenty four elders, representing the 24 divisions of the heavenly priesthood all have crowns on their heads in Rev. 4 and 5, and Paul clearly teaches that no saint, not even him, would get their crown until the rapture time, and the tribulation is starting in Rev. 6 -19, so this would indicate a pre-trib rapture.
There is a necessity for a period between the rapture and the second coming of Christ. The judgment of believers will take some time, the passing out of rewards. And then the second thing, the marriage supper of the Lamb, the opening of the New Jerusalem, will also take some time. If we go up to the clouds, and then immediately come back to rule and reign with Christ for a 1000 years, when do these things occur?
Why would we be constantly exhorted to watch, if we could date the Antichrist’s coming, note esp. the date of the abomination of desolation, for if we were here, and knew that date, we have revealed in Scripture to the day, how many days after that is the second coming, and we would know the day of His return
The rapture is taught in the Bible. It is the ‘calling our of harm’s way’ of the Christians from the judgment of sin during the tribulation.