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Prophecy ... Different Views Shouldn't Turn into Slanderous Accusations

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When Darby brought in the ideas of the "pre-tribulation" rapture -- he was of the order of the "Plymouth Brethren" and one of the icons of the Plymouth Brethren movement was George Mueller.  Now in my life, George Mueller, was instrumental in my life by his powerful books on Prevailing Prayer.   In the beginning of his ministry, he was reaching Jews in Germany with the gospel.  Later in his life, he went to England and started some of the largest orphanages and was one of the leaders of the Plymouth Brethren movement -- and yet he disagreed with his counterpart in the movement as he was a post-tribulationist.  He simply asked, "Can there be a resurrection before the first one?"  And cited Revelation 20:4-5.

So here were two brothers in the Lord -- icons in their own movement who disagreed with each other.  Both extremely influential -- yet BROTHERS!


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Over my life, I've been very blessed by Oswald Smith.  He wrote such books as The Revivial We Need and The Enduement of Power.   During his lifetime, he changed his position on the end times.  So during his lifetime, some would have called him a "heretic" depending on which side of the debate you are on.  And yet -- he was never a heretic -- his books were powerful and influenced my life!  

This is an article he wrote,

The Rapture – Oswald J Smith

Tribulation or Rapture – Which?

by Oswald J. Smith

 Why did the Lord Jesus conceal the Secret Rapture in Matthew twenty-four? How are we to explain the silence of the Church for centuries concerning it? What about the passages that have been used to support it? Have we been lulling the Church into a false security? Are there any outstanding Christian leaders who believe that the Church will go through the Great Tribulation?

In my first book on Prophecy I asked the questions: “Will the Church pass through the Tribulation or be raptured out of it?” In answering I made this statement: “I have always held the view that the Rapture precedes the Revelation by some seven years, and that the Church, therefore, will not go through the Tribulation, but I do not want to be dogmatic about it and, if God should reveal the contrary to me, I will gladly accept it”.

Hence, you see, I did not approach the subject with my mind closed to new light and my heart already prejudiced. I was open to whatever God might reveal. Now, after years of study and prayer, I am absolutely convinced that there will be no rapture before the Tribulation, but that the Church will undoubtedly be called upon to face the Antichrist, and that Christ will come at the close and not at the beginning of that awful period.

I believed the other theory simply because I was taught it by W. E. Blackstone in his book “Jesus is Coming,” the Scofield Reference Bible and Prophetic Conferences and Bible Schools; but when I began to search the Scriptures for myself I discovered that there is not a single verse in the Bible that upholds the pre-tribulation theory, but that the uniform teaching of the Word of God is of a post-tribulation Rapture: pre-millennial always.


My First Awakening

My first awakening to this important truth came one day in 1925, when I was spending a few days in a cottage at Stoney Lake, Ontario. One of my neighbors, Frank Edmonds by name, simply made the suggestion to me. I opposed it at once. “Why,” I exclaimed, “however could that be? What about the Scriptures? The teaching of a pretribulation Rapture is clear and indisputable.” But he quietly affirmed that I was wrong and emphasized the truth concerning the Last Trump. Of course, I was not convinced. I almost ridiculed the very idea of such a possibility. And there the matter rested.

One day, in the early twenties, I began preaching on Prophecy. I had taken my people through Daniel without difficulty. Then came Mark 13. Luke 21, and Matthew 24 and 25. But, lo and behold, no sooner had I started on Matthew 24 than I got into trouble. I had announced that I would deal with Matthew 24 at the next service. Hundreds had gathered. I was in a maze, for I was perplexed. So I took a verse here and there through the chapter and thus satisfied the people for that hour at least.

But now the next meeting was coming. What was I to say? I need not point out that there is no pretribulation Rapture in Matthew 24. The Second Coming is unmistakably placed “immediately after the Tribulation” (verse 29), and I was forced to the conclusion that if the Rapture was to be “before” the Tribulation, the Lord Jesus Christ would certainly have given some hint of it at least. He was dealing with the End-Time of the Age. It is unthinkable that He would have spoken so minutely of the Tribulation without stating that the Church would escape. Instead, He purposely led His hearers to the belief that His followers would be in it. Hence, I was staggered, nor could I honestly defend my previous position.

So, when I again faced the people, I said sufficient to let them know that I questioned my former stand and saw evidence of a post-tribulation Rapture. For, as I read Matthew 24 and 25, I saw that many things, as prophesied by the Lord Jesus Christ, simply had to take place before Jesus could come, namely: “All these things” (verse 33), especially the prediction regarding the preaching of the Gospel. See Mark 13:10, and note the significance of the word “first”. Thus, since God’s future program could not be set aside, there could be no “any moment expectation” of Christ’s Return. We are to watch, watch as prophecy after prophecy is fulfilled, ever looking forward to His Appearing; and, in the End-Time, to watch as never before, and to always be ready, for none can ever know how quickly the events predicted might come to pass and Christ return.

 My “Any Moment” Theory

Then followed the next step. There came into my hands a copy of a book by Dr. Henry W. Frost, then the Home Director of the China Inland Mission. It was entitled “Matthew 24 and the Revelation,” a volume of over 300 pages. I fairly devoured it. Portions of it I read through twice. It was most conclusive in its arguments for a post-tribulation Rapture. About the same time I got hold of a book by James H. McConkey, called “The Book of Revelation,” and another – perhaps the best of all – by Edmund Shackleton (England), entitled “Will the Church Escape the Great Tribulation?” Before I had read them through I was firmly convinced that there would be no Rapture before the Tribulation, and that I had done wrong in promising the Church an escape instead of preparing her for the terrible ordeal that must most surely be awaited.

My “any moment” theory could not be sustained. In fact, the very first statement in the latter book, which was written about 1890, amazed me beyond measure and I was fairly staggered as I grasped its significance. Let me quote it verbatim:

“All who held the pre-millennial Coming of Christ were, till about sixty years ago, of one mind on the subject. About that time a new view was promulgated that the Coming of Christ was not one event, but that it was divided into stages, in fact, that Christ comes twice from heaven to earth, but the first time only as far as the air. This first descent, it is said, will be for the purpose of removing the Church from the world, and will occur before the Great Tribulation under Antichrist. This they call “The coming for His saints” or “Secret Rapture.” The second part of the Coming is said to take place when Christ appears in glory and destroys the Antichrist. This they call “The coming with His saints.” Apart from the test of the Word, which is the only final one, there are certain reasons why this doctrine should be viewed with suspicion. It appears to be little more than sixty years old; and it seems highly improbable that, if scriptural it could have escaped the scrutiny of the many devoted Bible students whose writings have been preserved to us from the past. More especially in the writings of the early Christian fathers would we expect to find some notice of this doctrine, if it had been taught by the Apostles; but those who have their works declare that they betray no knowledge of a theory that the Church would escape the Tribulation under Antichrist, or that there would be any “coming” except that spoken of in Matthew 24, as occurring in manifest glory “after the Tribulation.”

This is all the more significant, because these writers bestowed much attention upon the subject of the Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. Augustine, referring to Daniel 7, wrote: “But he who reads this passage even half asleep cannot fail to see that the kingdom of Antichrist shall fiercely, though for a short time, assail the Church.” Then when I remembered that the death of Peter, his prediction of corruption and apostasy after his decease, the death of Paul, and many other events had to occur before the Rapture – especially the evangelization of the world (Mark 13:10 and Matt. 24:14 – my “any moment” theory took wings and fled. Last of all, I ran across “The Great Tribulation – The Church’s Supreme Test” by John B. Scruby, the most convincing; the most unanswerable of all. It deals with every point minutely and proves conclusively that the Tribulation precedes the Rapture.

Recently I got hold of that remarkable book “Tribulation to Glory” by H. A. Baker, in which he wrote: “For eighteen centuries the fundamental principle of tribulation to glory was the universal belief of the truly born-again members of the Church”, and then he goes on to show that the new pre-tribulation rapture teaching was first proclaimed as a direct revelation by a woman in Edward Irving’s church, and then taken up by John Nelson Darby (and the Scofield Reference Bible) in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Church for eighteen hundred years.

“Beginning with the Irvingite woman, then propagated by John N. Darby about 1830, this new “spirit-inspired” doctrine during the last century has come down to us until it has become popular. George Muller opposed it; so did Benjamin Wills Newton; so did Dr. S. P. Tregelles and other Brethren, but all in vain.” But now, thank God, large numbers of our leading Bible Teachers are coming back to the original position. God’s Word I discovered that no time element is ever mentioned so far as the Rapture is concerned, except as it is related to the Resurrection. And that the Resurrection is always placed at the time of the sounding of the Last Trump (1 Cor. 15:51-54). This Trump, without doubt, closes the Tribulation. There is no eighth. The saints are rewarded (Rev. 11:18). The “mystery of God”, is then finished, there is time (delay) no longer (Rev. 10:6 and 7), and the Resurrection, of course, immediately precedes the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:16).

Naturally, I thought of 2 Thessalonians 2:7: “he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way”. But then I learned from the Greek that the second “he” is the Antichrist, and that the Greek does not say “taken out of the way,” but “revealed in the midst,” or, “born out of the midst.” In other words, lawlessness will be restrained until the appointed time for the lawless one, the Antichrist, to appear.

There is no mention of the Holy Spirit at all. That is a Scofield Bible assumption. The Holy Spirit and the Church remain to the end of the Age. Then, too I thought of Luke 21:36 and of Revelation 3:10. But Noah, I remembered, “escaped” by preservation. Daniel “was kept” and protected in the lion’s den. The three Hebrew children were “kept” though in a burning fiery furnace. None of them were taken out. Rather they were kept, preserved, protected while in, and thus they escaped. Why not the Church? Note that 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10 finds the saints in trouble, in tribulation, and resting only at the close.

In fact the first two chapters of 2 Thessalonians cannot be interpreted in any other way. Chapter two, verse one, is most explicit. “Now we beseech you, brethren”, writes Paul, “by the coming (Revelation) of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together (the Rapture) unto Him”. There is here no separation between the Rapture and the Revelation. The Coming is the one and only Coming spoken of throughout the two chapters, the Coming described in chapter one, verses seven and eight.

I learned, too, that the word for “meet” in 1 Thessalonians 4: was only used in two other places, and, in both cases, it meant “returning with” and not “remaining at” the place of meeting. When the brethren from Rome met Paul, they immediately returned to the city with him. When the Virgins met the Bridegroom they accompanied Him back to the wedding. When the saints meet Christ in the Air, as He comes to judge the nations and establish His Kingdom on earth, they will return with Him.

There is no Scripture that says they will remain for some seven years in the Air. In 1 Thessalonians each chapter closes with a reference to the Second Coming, but no distinction is made. As Christ descends with His angels after the Tribulation, the saints ascend, and, meeting Him in the Air, turn and continue with Him back to the earth. How long He remains in the Air, following the meeting with the Church is nowhere revealed. “The Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (1 Thess. 3:13), is unquestionably the Revelation, after the Tribulation, simply because the words, “with all His saints” are added.

But why infer another, a previous Coming, in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 and 1:10, or 5:23? It is all one and the same. There is no Secret Rapture. That theory must be deliberately read into the passage. There is no Rapture in Revelation until chapter nineteen is reached.

I had been taught that the Greek word “parousia” always referred to the Rapture and that other words were used for the Coming of Christ in glory after the Tribulation. But I found that this is not true. Parousia is used for the latter, too. See 2 Thessalonians 2:1. While it is clear that the Church must endure the wrath of the Antichrist, it is certain that the Church will not have to endure the wrath of God. When His judgments are poured out on the Antichrist and his followers, the Church will be divinely protected by God even as the Israelites were protected when His wrath was poured upon the Egyptians – not by being raptured, but by being kept. We might go through all the writers of the New Testament, and we would fail to discover any indication of the so-called “two-stages” of our Lord’s Coming.

Peter, James and John tell the same story. There is no Scripture for a pre-tribulation rapture. That theory had to be invented by man. Search and see. There is no verse in the Bible that even mentions it. I discovered that nearly all evangelical missionary leaders believe that there must be representatives in the Church of Christ from every tribe, kindred, tongue and nation, and not just from the so-called civilized world, and that, therefore, the only way to hasten the Coming of Christ is by evangelizing the remaining unreached peoples of earth. Jesus made it perfectly clear when He said, “the gospel must first be published among all nations” (Mark 13:10) “and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14). Hence, the greatest incentive to missionary work is the Second Coming of Christ.

 Spiritual Preparedness

I am sure that with the true child of God it is not a question of preference but of truth. Does God’s Word say so? Why then rebel? Is not His plan best? Besides, what difference does it make so long as we are ready? “Spiritual Preparedness” is the only important factor after all. I wonder if we have been lulling the Church into a false security? Can it be that we have been preaching an easy escape? Ought we to prepare the Church for the greatest of all ordeals? Should not our teaching harden her for the fires of the Tribulation? What kind of soldiers are we training? I am afraid that we have been very guilty and that God will certainly hold us responsible for the type of Christian our preaching is producing. We need men and women today of the martyr spirit. The test of the Inquisition is coming again and woe betide the premillennialists who are not ready. The Church must be purified in the fires of persecution.

Voices of Others

Now if I were to go into the subject in detail and attempt to deal with the numerous passages, both for and against, I would simply be overlapping. Others have already done this most ably, far better than I can, and so, if you are really interested, I would suggest that you secure the books that have been written on the subject and study them prayerfully and with an open mind before taking sides. A great many have been written by men on both sides of the Atlantic.

The following are among the best that have been published in Great Britain and you may procure most of them from:


The organization that publishes the Post-Tribulation magazine Watching and Waiting. Send for their catalogue.

 Here are the books:

Will the Church Escape the Great Tribulation? (by Edmund Shackleton);

Christ’s Second Coming (by S. P. Tregelles) [these two are scarce];

Our Lord Cometh (by W. J. Rowlands);

The Coming of the Son of Man (by Rev. E. J. Poole-Connor);

The Second Advent of our Lord, Not Secret, but in Manifested Glory (by B. W. Newton);

One Second Coming of Christ (by W. J. Rowlands);

The First Resurrection (by S. P. Tregelles);

Touching the Coming of the Lord (by Dan Crawford);

The Saints’ Rest and Rapture (by Frank H. White);

The Second Coming of Christ (by George Muller).

The following have been published in North America:

The Blessed Hope (by Professor George E. Ladd). Dr. Ladd teaches in Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. It is a masterly volume and it goes into both the history and doctrine of both the Pre-Tribulation and the Post-Tribulation Advent.

“Will Christ’s Coming he in two stages?” (by Norman F. Douty).

 I have a list of nearly seventy Bible Teachers who have proclaimed this view of the Return of Christ. Among them, in addition to those who have written the above books, there are such names as W. J. Erdman, Charles R. Erdman. Dr. Campbell Morgan, Bishop Frank Houghton, Dr. A. B. Simpson, Dr. J. W. Thirtle, Dr. Charles T. Cook, Alexander Reese, Dr. Horatius Bonar, Dr. Adolph Saphir, Henry Varley, Dr. Nathaniel West, David Baron, H. W. Soltau, Dr. Bergin, Dr. Harold J. Ockenga, and many others.

 To ignore the convictions of such spiritual leaders is impossible. Deference must be given to their views. These views I would sum up by quoting from Watching and Waiting “We believe that this was the teaching of our Lord and His Apostles. We believe it was held by the Early Church and by all in the Middle Ages who had any light on the Second Advent. We believe, too, that it was the teaching of the Early Brethren and that no other view was generally accepted among them until the Any Moment. Secret Rapture, Pre-Tribulation, or Two-Stage Coming theory was taught by Edward Irving, as a result of a vision received by a woman in his church. Thus Any Moment teaching is a “novel” doctrine”.

 My Final Appeal Beloved, the shadows are darkening. The day is drawing to a close. It is now Saturday night in the history of the Church. The times of the Gentiles have almost run their course. Events are fast shaping for the end. The Antichrist will soon be here. One fact and one only is important – Christ is coming. Of that there can be no doubt. One question and one only is vital – Are we ready? We may differ on minor details of prophecy. We may disagree as to the time of His Appearing. We may not see eye to eye regarding the order of prophetic events. But one thing is certain – He is coming. We will be with Him. The Millennium is at hand and soon now we shall know all. Therefore, let us love one another sincerely and labour together “till He Come”. If I am mistaken I will know it then. Hence, let us agree to disagree agreeably. God knows our hearts. He knows that we love Him and that is all that really matters. If I love Him and you love Him, we will love each other. Soon the day will break and all the shadows flee away. Meanwhile I am “looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2 :13).

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Now at the same time, I've been greatly influenced by men like -- Chuck Smith, Chuck Missler and John MacArthur-- and they were and are proponents of a pre-tribulation rapture.   Does this mean if you held a "post-tribulation" rapture position, you should throw out their teachings because you disagreed with their rapture position?  Chuck Smith wrote great works like -- The Man that God Uses, and Love the More Excellent Way.   And these men have influenced my walks immensely!  

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Then you come across works that are really "different" than everyone else's positions!  For example, when you read the life of Watchman Nee, you come across how the Chinese government would change the guards outside his cell every day, because of how many were converted when sitting next to his cell!  He suffered greatly for his faith and wrote phenomenal works such as  The Normal Christian Life.  He wrote about victorious Christian living that inspired my walk.  And yet, his end times position was completely and radically different than anyone else I've ever read. 

He wrote that he believed there were "multiple" raptures based on the harvest cycles of Israel.  He actually came away with a rapture position that incorporated "pre, mid and post" tribulation idea into one position!  

So would I throw out his book the "Normal Christian Life" because I disagreed with his end times position?   I'm glad I didn't know of his position before I read his book -- as I may have been influenced by it -- however reading it -- you know this man spent time in prayer and was anointed by God as he began the House Church Movement in China that exploded in the past 70 years.  In the 1950's there was less than 50,000 believers in China.  By 1953, China had expelled every Missionary out of the country.  And yet, under the intense persecution -- in the midst of the fire -- Watchman Nee helped facilitate one of the greatest moves of God in our lifetime!  And yet -- his end times position would be labeled by some as "heresy".   

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Thank you George ... words that I have been waiting to hear.

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This is an old devotional I wrote that sums up this thread ...

The World Needs to See Our Love!

John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

One day, a man was walking across a bridge and saw another man standing on the edge, about to jump off. He immediately ran to him and said, "Stop! Don't do it!" "Well, why shouldn't I?" he replied. The other said, "Well, there's so much to live for!" "Like what”? "Well ... are you religious or atheist?" "Religious." "Me too! And are you Christian or Jewish?" "Christian." "Me too! Are you Catholic or Protestant?" "Protestant." "Me too! Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?” "Baptist." "Wow! Me too! Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?" "Baptist Church of God." "Me too! Are you Original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God." "Me too! Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915?" "Reformed Baptist Church of God, reformation of 1915!" To which he said, "Die, you heretic!" and pushed him off the bridge.

When we get together with our family here in Israel on Shabbat, we often find ourselves discussing and even arguing our views on various topics, political, spiritual, etc. You’ve heard the phrase two Jews, five opinions? That’s our family. At the end, we all laugh about who argued best and try to learn from one another.

The body of the Lord is one big family. Yes, we differ in opinion on some issues. But we are going to be together for eternity and we must learn to live in peace with one another! In order for us to make a real difference in the world, the world needs to see us loving each other.

Let’s not be like the man who pushed the other off the bridge. Let’s laugh about it and try to learn from one another.

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Prophecy ... Different Views Shouldn't Turn into Slanderous Accusations

On 6/15/2018 at 11:04 AM, George said:

As I've been reviewing threads in recent weeks, it's amazing to me how fast the term -- "false teacher" and "heretic" are used to slander the brethren on "non-essentials" of the faith.   When these terms are used they should be only used on salvational issues.  If you read our Statement of Faith -- or the Apostles Creed -- these are what I would term "essentials" of the faith.  These essentials are the core values of every born-again believer and shouldn't be issues of debate.

Agreed. I've looked over at least 7 "rapture" theories in the past.
Four of those I was able to quickly dismiss for lack of any real verses of Scripture in any kind of context at all.
However, for "Pre, Mid, and Post tribulation positions, I've seen many scriptures that "seem" to have support for all three these positions.
I've read along with many eschatological enthusiast here at Worthy here on their varied positions as well.

For "now" at least, I'm a "Pan Tribulationist."
I "know" it's all going to "pan out" in those 7 years.

This much is for certain, whenever our Lord does return, we should look to be ready, keeping Him as our first love, and our faith in Him strong.





Edited by B3L13v3R

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Quoting Oswald J. Smith:

On 6/15/2018 at 11:23 AM, George said:

Recently I got hold of that remarkable book “Tribulation to Glory” by H. A. Baker, in which he wrote: “For eighteen centuries the fundamental principle of tribulation to glory was the universal belief of the truly born-again members of the Church”, and then he goes on to show that the new pre-tribulation rapture teaching was first proclaimed as a direct revelation by a woman in Edward Irving’s church, and then taken up by John Nelson Darby (and the Scofield Reference Bible) in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Church for eighteen hundred years.

“Beginning with the Irvingite woman, then propagated by John N. Darby about 1830, this new “spirit-inspired” doctrine during the last century has come down to us until it has become popular.

I'd like to address this portion of the article that I've also heard a number of times over the years.
I do believe the time frame for Pre Tribulation's initial dating in the 1830s to be in error.

The woman that Darby used was a questionable mystical woman.
With her in the mix, it attempts to give the Pre-Tribulationist a bit of a dark and dubious starting point.

However, there were others many years prior that believed in the Pre Tribulation rapture of the church.

I thank David Cloud for his research here with a portion of his article quoted:

When Was the Pre-Tribulation Rapture First Taught?

"It has long been claimed by those who interpret prophecy allegorically that the doctrine of the pre-tribulation Rapture is a new doctrine, and since it is allegedly a new doctrine it cannot be a true one.

...When Demar says the pre-tribulation Rapture did not exist prior to 1830, he is referring to the The Morning Watch prophecy journal and the writings of John Darby which popularized dispensational theology in the 1800s.

Though this claim continues to be made, it is patently false.

MORGAN EDWARDS (1722-1795)

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture was taught by prominent Baptist leader Morgan Edwards. His Two Academical Exercises on the Subjects Bearing the Following Titles; Millennium and Last-Novelties was published in 1744 in Philadelphia.

Morgan Edwards was one of the most prominent Baptist leaders of his day. He was the pastor of the Baptist church in Philadelphia and the founder of Brown University, the first Baptist college in America. A summary of life was featured in the Baptist Encyclopedia. He was one of the first Baptist historians of repute, his Materials Toward A History of the Baptists (1770) providing a foundation for all subsequent works.

Following is what Edwards believed about Bible prophecy:

“The distance between the first and second resurrection will be somewhat more than a thousand years. I say, somewhat more; because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ’s ‘appearing in the air’ (I Thes. iv. 17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many ‘mansions in the father's house’ (John xiv. 2), and disappear during the foresaid period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for ‘now the time is come that judgment must begin,’ and that will be ‘at the house of God’ (I Pet. iv. 17)” (Edwards, Two Academical Exercises on the Subjects Bearing the Following Titles; Millennium and Last-Novelties, 1744).

...EPHRAEM THE SYRIAN (AD c. 303-373)

We now go back to two centuries after the apostles. Ephraem is venerated as a “saint” by the Catholic and Orthodox churches, but they would not allow him to teach his doctrine of prophecy today.
Ephraem is called “the Syrian” because he lived in that region.
He was a voluminous writer. Many of his sermons and psalms are included in the 16-volume Post-Nicene Library. (The Council of Nicea was held in AD 325, and historians divide the “fathers” into Ante-Nicene, before 325, and Post-Nicene, after 325).
Some of Ephraem’s sermons and hymns are used in the liturgy of Orthodox churches.
In the 1990s some of Ephraem’s writings were translated into English for the first time, one of these being On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World, A.D. 373.
The translation was done by Professor Cameron Rhoades of Tyndale Theological Seminary at the bequest of Grant R. Jeffrey. It was subsequently published in Jeffrey’s 1995 book Final Warning.
It is obvious that Ephraem believed in a literal fulfillment of prophecy, including a Rapture of New Testament saints prior to the Tribulation.
“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” (Ephraem the Syrian, On the Last Times).
Observe that Ephraem taught that the saints will be taken to the Lord so they will not see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world, which is exactly what 1 Thessalonians 5:3-9 says.
Ephraem taught a literal antichrist who will sit in a literal rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, a literal 3.5 year Tribulation, a literal Two Witnesses or prophets who will preach in Jerusalem, a literal battle of Gog and Magog.

"...It was in the era of Augustine that allegoricalism widely replaced the previous method of interpretation. Prior to this, it was common among Bible believers to interpret prophecy literally. They believed that Christ would return literally (and imminently), bind Satan, and establish a literal millennial kingdom on earth.

This is admitted by church historians.
-William Newell says: “The early Church for 300 years looked for the imminent return of our Lord to reign, and they were right” (Newell, Revelation).
-Phillip Schaaf said, “... the most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age [prior to AD 325] is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment” (History of the Christian Church, 8 vols, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1960, 2:614).
-Henry Thiessen says, “It is clear ... that the Fathers held not only the pre-millennial view of Christ’s coming, but also regarded that coming as imminent. The Lord had taught them to expect His return at any moment, and so they looked for Him to come in their day. Not only so, but they also taught His personal return as being immediately, with the exception of the Alexandrian Fathers, who also rejected other fundamental doctrines” (Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 477).
In fact, Augustine, “the father of amillennialism,” once believed in a literal millennium himself. He said, “I myself, too, once held this opinion. ... They who do believe them are called by the spiritual, Chiliasts, which we may literally reproduce by the name Millenarians” (Augustine, City of God, book 20, chapter 7).



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