Today, a friend mentioned this article, which has four pre-1800s statements that I haven’t seen before that indicate a rapture of the church before, during or just before the end the tribulation.
One of the examples times the departure just before the end of the tribulation: “before the battle of Armageddon … prior to His coming in glory and judgment at Armageddon,” which agrees with Dumitru Duduman’s prophecy.
Two indicate that only those who are holy will leave.
One is a bit strange.
Emphasis is mostly mine, as usual.
My comments are left-justified in brown text.
The History of the Pre-trib Rapture
[Keith A. Sherlin]
No matter whether one believes in a pre-trib rapture or not, there are historical statements that verify that people have indeed believed this teaching before the 1800s.
The timing says: “in the last persecution” and “seeking to avoid the persecution.”
Those removed are not just those who believe in Christ, but “the good.“
2. Victorinus ( Well known by 270 and died in 303 A.D.)
Victorinus wrote a commentary on the book of Revelation. In one place he made an interesting statement that reflects his idea that the church would be removed prior to the tribulation. Of course his ideas were not systematic, and some will argue that he contradicts himself in other places, which may very well be true. But even with such an admission it still serves us well to see that early in the church history someone taught in some sense that God’s church could escape the tribulation period by being removed from the earth. His commentary notes in Revelation 6:14 indicate a pre-trib reference of some sort:
“And the heaven withdrew as a scroll that is rolled up.” For the heaven to be rolled away, that is, that the Church shall be taken away. “And every mountain and the islands removed from their places intimate that in the last persecution all men departed from their places; that is, that the good will be removed, seeking to avoid persecution.
This reference gives light into a developing idea in the earliest periods of the church. There was an idea that God’s people could be spared the terrible time of wrath that God would pour out on the earth by removing the saints. The saint’s departure from the earth would occur so they would not undergo the terible wrath at the beginning of the judgments of God upon the sinful unbelieving world.
Fact checking: this text actually reads ANF07:
14. “And the heaven withdrew as a scroll that is rolled up.”] For the heaven to be rolled away, that is, that the Church shall be taken away.
“And every mountain and the islands were moved from their places.”] Mountains and islands removed from their places intimate that in the last persecution all men departed from their places; that is, that the good will be removed, seeking to avoid the persecution.
Ephraem’s statement does sound completely pre-trib and is early.
It’s also clearly only for Christians who actually overcome the world. Ephraem gives a clear “Woe…” warning to those brothers and sisters who do not overcome.
1. Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373)
Ephraem wrote an important sermon “On the Last Times, the Antichrist and the End of the World.” As a prominent theologian and prolific writer of the Eastern Byzantine church, he advocated for a pretribulational rapture position for the church. Dr. Grant Jeffrey has noted that he had a profound love for the Scriptures. Below is a selected quote that concerns the escape of God’s people from the horrible tribulation. He stated:
“We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers, what is imminent or overhanging. 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, and there is not other which remains, except the advent of the wicked one in the completion of the Roman kingdom. Why therefore are we occupied with worldly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or the anxieties of the ages? Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that He may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms the world? Believe you me, dearest brothers, because the coming of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand, believe me, because it it the very last time. Or do you not believe unless you see it with your eyes? See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: “Woe to those who desire to see the Day of the Lord!” Because all saints and the Elect of the Lord are gathered together before the tribulation which is to about to come and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins. And so brothers, most dear to me, it is the eleventh hour, and the end of this world comes to the harvest, and angels, armed and prepared, hold sickles in their earth exists with blind infidelity, arriving at its downfall early. Commotions are brought forth, wars of diverse peoples and battles and invasions of the barbarians threaten, and our regions shall be desolated, and we neither become very much afraid of the report nor of the appearance, in order that we may at least do penance; because they hurl fear at us, and we do not wish to be changed although we at least stand in need of penance for our actions!
Fact checking: the quote appears genuine. On the Last Times, the Anti-Christ, and the End of the World, A Sermon by Pseudo-Ephraem reads similarly:
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.
The following statement about what Dolcino apparently believed has some doctrinally strange elements.
Timing is after the Antichrist comes within the 3 1/2 years, avoiding the Antichrist’s persecution.
2. Brother Dolcino (d. 1307)
One scholar has found a quote that relates to the teachings and disciples of Dolcino. Dolcino and his followers held to some form of rapture view whereby people were translated to heaven before the time of judgment on the Antichrist. The teaching is as follows:
“Again, [Dolcino believed and preached and taught] that within those three years Dolcino himself and his followers will preach the coming of the Antichrist. And that the Antichrist was coming into this world within the bounds of the said three and a half years; and after he had come, then he [Dolcino] and his followers would be transferred into Paradise, in which are Enoch and Elijah. And in this way they will be preserved unharmed from the persecution of Antichrist. And that then Enoch and Elijah themselves would descend on the earth for the purpose of preaching [against] Antichrist. Then they would be killed by him or by his servants, and thus Antichrist would reign for a long time. But when the Antichrist is dead, Dolcino himself, who then would be the holy pope, and his preserved followers, will descend on the earth, and will preach the right faith of Christ to all, and will convert those who will be living then to the true faith of Jesus Christ”
The timing in the following agrees with spiritual heavyweight, Dumitru Duduman’s prophecy. The true church will avoid the wrath of God, not the entire tribulation period:
Dumitru Duduman: The Russian Invasion of America — “It will start with the world calling for ‘peace, peace.’ Then there will be an internal revolution in America…. The government will be busy with internal problems. Then, from the oceans…” — The rapture will occur AFTER America is destroyed, as God destroys the enemies of Israel [after the true Jews repent]!
3. Peter Jurieu (1687)
Peter Jurie in his book “Approaching Deliverance of the Church ” (1687) taught that Christ would come in the air to rapture the saints and return to heaven before the battle of Armageddon. He spoke of a secret Rapture prior to His coming in glory and judgment at Armageddon.