What do I blog about when I seem to run out of ideas? Actually, I probably haven’t run out of ideas but I do want to please blog friends. One of my first articles was My Two Concerns. Many of you have not read that article. The article dealt with my two biblical life concerns:
1) Is Eternal Security a biblical teaching, and 2) what is the correct view on the Rapture question? Since I have personally resolved these for myself, I have had a desire to pass on this information. Many people might not be interested in these type questions. However, I seriously believe the Bible to be the Word of God and has the adequate and perfect answer to all important life questions. Therefore, it is natural for me to be concerned about these two important issues. Actually, I have come to the conclusion that the Rapture question is not that important since I can do nothing to control anything regarding it. In fact, I am of the opinion (educated opinion – judgment) that the Rapture is just a component of the first resurrection for those who are not already dead when Jesus Christ returns. This was the view up until approximately 1830 A.D. when John Nelson Darby popularized the concept of Premillennial Dispensationalism and posited a secret coming of Christ seven years before the actual Second coming.
Of all the early Church Fathers who were premillennialists, none taught anything like a rapture. Personally, I believe that many Christians have latched onto the concept of Pre-Tribulational Rapture because they do not want to suffer. That is just the reason that Pre-Tribulational Rapture is much more popular in the United States. We have not endured that much personal suffering here. In Europe and other parts of the World people have commonly had great periods of suffering in their history. They tend to be less optimistic and naïve. Almost none of the people that I know that believe in Pre-Tribulational Rapture have ever studied that issue in detail. Many of the scholars that have studied the issue in depth are very tentative about the timing of the Rapture. The only person that I have read that dealt with what the early church fathers believed regarding the Rapture question was George Eldon Ladd.
In approximately 1976 or 1977 I read the book The Blessed Hope by George Eldon Ladd, when I took a course in Premillennialism at Trinity Evangelical Seminary In Deerfield, Illinois. In the book he demonstrated that none of the early Church Fathers taught any kind of Pre-Tribulational Rapture. At that time I did not have access to the works of the Early Church Fathers or access to the now marvelous internet. Now a person can find almost anything on the internet. The internet is great for theological and biblical research. Since that time I have studied all the early Church Fathers with the conclusion that none understood and conceived of any rapture like that of John Nelson Darby.
I am truly surprised that there are what we would call great biblical teachers and scholars that hold to the Pre-Tribulational Rapture but clearly have no biblical support for their views. When I feel better I will tell my story about asking Dr. Charles Ryrie of Dallas Theological Seminary a serious question about the Rapture. I will give you his general answer.
Regarding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and/or if there is a separate Rapture, my best advice is “Hope for the best, and plan for the worst”. The question that the Apostle Paul was answering in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 was what will happen to my loved ones that have already died and Jesus has not come back yet. What happens to the “dead in Christ” since they cannot meet him at his Second coming? Paul explains what happens to both the dead Christians and what happens to the living Christian when Jesus returns at his Second Coming. Paul is not talking about two events, but two aspect of the same event – the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus.
The mention of the Early Church Fathers has been made by me several times. First Polycarp was the famous disciple of the last Apostle John. Polycarp studied directly under the Apostle John. He did not leave many writings except a letter to the Philippians. Polycarp was Martyred and burned to death when he was the Bishop of Syrna. However, Polycarp had a very famous disciple named Irenaeus. Irenaeus wrote a book or books entitled Against Heresies. From this book we can clearly understand Irenaeus’ view of Premillennialism and the Rapture question. Irenaeus clearly taught Premillennialism and believe that Christians would suffer from the Anti-Christ during the time of the Tribulation. There is not even a hint of a concept like Rapture. Irenaeus, likewise, had a famous disciple name Hippolytus. Hippolytus taught the same Premillennialism that Irenaeus taught and without any type Rapture.
My question is that if the Apostle John knew about Premillennialism which God and Jesus taught him, why didn’t he also know about this allegedly important teaching about a secret Rapture? It seems almost impossible that they would not have learned about a Pre-Tribulational Rapture from the Apostle John, if there was such a thing??
What did the Early Church Fathers teach? They either taught Post-Tribulational Rapture or the new Prewrath view. There is absolutely no concept of a Pre-Tribulational Rapture in their writings. The best advice that I have is “Don’t count on it!”
Regarding the question about is Eternal Security truly biblical? My answer is my prior post entitled “Permanent and Irrevocable Eternal Life”.
May God bless your today and forever.
Thomas Clark – Phil. 3:14