The Rapture and the Early Church
by Terry L. Craig
Did people in the Early Church think the rapture could happen any moment?
I hear it said, "People in the Early Church thought Jesus could come back any moment."—and that's generally true. Some teachers then stretch that to say, "People in the Early Church believed in a 'Pre-trib' rapture, so we should, too."
Did they? Should we?
In order to help us sort it out, let's look at why many people in the Early Church believed that Jesus could come back at any minute.
They thought the Gospel message had been preached to the "whole world" or "all nations." (They didn't know of the people who existed outside their maps. However, Jesus didn't say the gospel would be preached to everyone they knew, He said it would be preached to "the whole world".)
They were being martyred for their faith.
The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.
Jerusalem was destroyed.
They thought they knew who the Antichrist was. (Did they? No.)
They thought they were seeing the worst days that would ever happen in all of human history. (But were they?)
All the things above are described by Jesus as events of the Last Days, the time of the "Great Tribulation." So when Christians thought they could see all of it taking place it led them to think that the return of Christ was imminent!
Put simply, many of the Christians during that time believed that they were IN the tribulation, so to say they believed in a pre-tribulation rapture is to ignore the facts. (What happened then is a foreshadowing of what will happen in the last days, but doesn't fulfill all of what Jesus said would take place prior to his return. To see a comparison of Jesus' actual statements in Matthew, Mark, and Luke in our article What Jesus said about the Last Days.)
Jesus said (and Paul the apostle also wrote) that a "great falling away" would happen in the (actual) last days, before the return of the Lord to collect his saints. Could it be that people who've been taught that they could expect to be collected in the rapture before the tribulation will abandon their faith when they find themselves in it?
Our (Christian) hope shouldn't revolve around when we think we are leaving, but should be firmly be fixed on Jesus so that we might shine, no matter the circumstance.
This is just one of a new series of articles Wild Flower Press, Inc. has published on "the Last Days" for those who want to be wise, and shine for the Lord. In the next article Paul the Apostle gives readers the sequence of end time events.
The newest article in this end time series is What Jesus Said about the Last Days is a Bible study that looks at what Jesus actually taught about the last days. Other articles on the end times include What People Need More than a Survival Bunker and Chicken Little. For a full list, click on the Articles tab.
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© 2018 Terry L. Craig