If you click on the above link you will be taken to Jonathan Brentner’s post, which is his article titled, Is Belief in the Rapture Relatively New?
The rapture, meaning the catching away of the saints when Jesus returns is of course not new. Both Jesus and Paul taught about it in the scripture, but what is relatively new about it is it’s disassociation from Jesus Second Coming. This disassociation allows it to have occurred basically at any time throughout past history. So what is really “relatively new”, is the Pre-Trib Rapture teaching in the 1830’s. What was new about it was it’s placement in time possibly well before the Tribulation rather than after as both Jesus and Paul taught it.
So first of all Johnathan’s title could be somewhat deceptive rather than totally truthful.
But titles are meant to attract attention, and authors do take literary license don’t they. So what about the content of his message within the post? Does what he says hold true or is it also a form of deception?
As you read his post you will see that he lists several supports from early Christian documents, for what he believes to be pre-Trib teaching. Each of these have been in the past challenged as to this claimed support. I am not going to reinvent the wheel for you in that regard, but I will take just one of those documents, the Didache, and show you what he does with it. Then you decide if there is truth or deception.
Following is what he states concerning it:
“The Didache, which means [‘]teaching[‘] in the Greek, is a brief document from the early years of the church that provides valuable insight into the thoughts of early believers regarding the return of Jesus. Scholars believe The Didache originates from about AD 70, although they say it’s likely the church did not formally compile it until around AD 300.
Chapter 16 of The Didache says this about the nearness of the coming of the Lord: [‘]Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come.[‘][i] These words indicate an imminency regarding the Lord’s appearing such as would be the case for someone anticipating Jesus’ return to happen at any moment.
Such imminency presupposes the rapture. Matthew 24 reveals that certain specific events must occur before the Second Coming as described in verses 29-31. Yet The Didache shows that saints from the earliest days of the church watched for Jesus’ appearing as though it could happen at any moment. This sense of imminency points to an event that must occur before the Second Coming.”
So here we have Jonathan’s full case for the Didache’s support of the pre-Trib teaching, and a proof according to him for the fact that pre-Trib teaching is not relatively new. I will now paste below for you the one entire section of the Didache which Jonathan’s 3 verses were taken.
If one reads the entire content of chapter 16 pasted here, which is the final chapter within the Didache, then, “be watchful for your life”, takes on a different meaning for the message that goes before verse 5, which becomes an admonishment for what takes place in verse 5; because the last season is in view at the time of this call for watching. The things beyond verse 5 are the things we are to watch for, and they are the same things that both Jesus and Paul state to us for signs that we are to look for in determining this season.
Certainly every man is admonished in scripture to finish well. There are seasons of life to which we can look and know that our own race is concluding just as Paul stated concerning his own life. We too must be overcomers and finish well. But this is not the emphasis in this chapter of the Didache.
Imminency does not presuppose the Rapture until the signs listed in scripture, which are acknowledged in this last chapter of the Didache, are made manifest.
The Didache warns of falling away; deception; hatred; betrayal, etc. It also makes clear that the world will be handed over to the world deceiver. And from all of this men of faith are called upon to endure.
And so you are called upon even from within the Didache to make your choice — is it truth or deception, because scripture warns that there will be deception in the form of false teaching in the last days. And Jesus warns that many will fall from the faith in that time.
So even as Paul told Timothy:
Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
1 Timothy 4:16 NASB