Many people claim that the teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture is a recent construction of John Nelson Darby, and has only been taught in the Christian Church for the past two hundred years. In other words, it is a novel doctrine whose historicity is questionable. However, once in a while in my studies on eschatology in church history, I come across a text that appears to have a teaching similar to modern pretribulationism. In 2002 Bibliotheca Sacra published “A Rapture Citation in the Fourteenth Century” about a teaching on the rapture of a certain brother Dolcino. Bibliotheca Sacra will also publish “The Rapture in the Apocalypse of Elijah” in their October 2013 issue.
The Apocalypse of Elijah is a third century text from a group of millenarian Christians in Egypt. Their document claims that when the Antichrist is persecuting the saints, Christ will have compassion on his people and send angels to carry them to the “holy land” where they will eat from the tree of life, wear white robes, and be safe from Antichrist’s wrath. After that occurs, all sorts of catastrophes happen on earth including the murder of the two witnesses. Later Christ returns to earth with his saints where they reign a thousand years.
To read the Introduction to that article, click here.
I hope you’ll read the article when it comes out in print. Until then, keep looking up!