Wednesday, August 26, 2009


In between Olivet Discourse instalments, I thought I’d post a few links on the subject of Pseudo-Ephraem. I often come across a website or blog that cites several early Church fathers or the Didache to point out that pretribulationism wasn’t taught by the early Church. I always thought that the battle-field for these topics was Scripture and not the aggregate of people’s beliefs. But perhaps where Scripture fails to prove one’s point one does one’s best elsewhere.

If recency really is a mitigating factor, some of the cherished beliefs of most other popular systems can also be considered questionable.

The long and the short of it is that pretribbers actually found a document by a so-called Pseudo-Ephraem that seemed to hold to a pre Great Tribulation (pre latter half of the week) rapture. He wasn’t pre-trib in the sense that pretribbers are today - he was more mid-trib. But the significant thing was that this man purportedly believed that the Church did not experience the Antichrist.

The document can be read HERE and HERE

Of particular interest is the following statement:

"Woe to those who desire to see the day of the Lord!" 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….”

Sounds pretty straight forward, doesn’t it? Well, I think so. Here’s one ancient guy out of many who agrees in principle with pre-trib. Thomas Ice wrote an article on this:

The Rapture in Pseudo-Ephraem

At first Robert Gunrdy (on a proviso) accepted Pseudo-Ephraem could be a genuine example of an early pre-trib (GT) view. But then he proceeded to interpose his objections. Whatever the source of his grievances, Thomas Ice answers him:


I note that there were at least two links at non pre-trib websites that claimed to refute that Pseudo-Ephraem actually believed a pre-trib rapture, but both have gone into oblivion now. There may be others around that I'm not aware of. I suggest people just read the thing and decide for themselves what PE actually wrote. Personally I’m somewhat surprised at what lengths some will go to debunk PE after reading the plain sense of his writing.

What about early Church eschatology? What is its history and how systematic and refined was the eschatology of the early Church fathers anyway? Here’s an article by James F. Stitzinger that addresses some of these issues:



wakawakwaka said...

no pseudo ephream did not teach a pre trib rapture, and

wakawakwaka said...

i am sorry but that article you providede was nothing but historical revionisms John Gill was a historical prmillenialist with heavy preterist leanings....commentaries put the Olivet Discourse, including the Great Tribulation, as having seen it’s fulfillment in the Roman-Jewish war, and refer to Josephus as evidence for this fulfillment.

Alf Cengia said...

Hey Waka,

One of your links was a Dave MacPherson offering. He’s the one who carefully edited out Maggie’s vision and dishonestly claimed it was new evidence. Caught red-handed fibbing!

But the main thing is that neither of the two links actually address Thomas Ice’s response to Gundry. Sorry about that.

Alf Cengia said...

Really? Something like MacPherson's revisionism? Or is that just plain fabrication?

Alf Cengia said...

...commentaries put the Olivet Discourse, including the Great Tribulation, as having seen it’s fulfillment in the Roman-Jewish war, and refer to Josephus as evidence for this fulfillment.

The only commentary worthy is Jesus’ own. He states:

For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Mat 24:21-22

The problem for pretzelists is that far worse times have happened since 70 AD. So they have to twist Scripture to make it fit that period.

Alf Cengia said...


I don’t appreciate being swamped by multiple comments.

I can’t comment on Paul Alexander’s beliefs because I haven’t read the book. I’ve always taken the stance that I don’t really care what the early church fathers taught (or a John Gill for that matter) because they disagreed on so many eschatological issues and because most of them adopted the unbiblical doctrine of replacement theology.

But the fact is that a plain-sense reading of PE is pretribulational.

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 all the world? Believe you me, dearest brother, because the coming (advent) of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand, believe me, because it is the very last time. Or do you not believe unless you see 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!” 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 argument against it is contrived and reminds me of how Catholics get around some of the Marian doctrines. Pretribulationism stands on its own and was biblically defendable long before PE came along. I find it amusing that people go to extremes in attempting to disprove one document that appears to support pretribulationism. PE, in itself, doesn’t. It stands or falls by biblical rules.

Pretribbers have never held that the church is exempt from tribulation. However, the nature of the seals and Rev 3:10 suggests that the church is kept from the hour of trial. The word tribulation is used for Daniel’s 70th week yet it incorporated God’s wrath.

Alf Cengia said...

As for Dave MacPherson and his friend Joe Ortiz - they came out with the lie that a new hand-written doc by Margaret MacDonald had materialized out of nowhere. It allegedly proved she was pretribulational. On Ortiz’s blog an edited document was featured with the following words:

nothing: So that two shall
be in one bed, the one taken
and the other left; because
now will the wicked be re-
vealed with all power, and
signs, and lying wonders,

The fact is that there was nothing new about the words. And in context, this is where they belonged:

“I felt that those who were filled with the Spirit could see spiritual things, and feel walking in the midst of them, while those who had not the Spirit could see nothing - so that two shall be in one bed, the one taken and the other left, because the one has the light of God within while the other cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven...I saw the people of God in an awfully dangerous situation, surrounded by nets and entanglements, about to be tried, and many about to be deceived and fall. Now will THE WICKED be revealed, with all power and signs and lying wonders, so that it it were possible the very elect will be deceived - This is the fiery trial which is to try us. - It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus; but Oh it will be a fiery trial. Every soul will he shaken to the very centre. The enemy will try to shake in every thing we have believed - but the trial of real faith will be found to honour and praise and glory. Nothing but what is of God will stand. The stony-ground hearers will be made manifest - the love of many will wax cold.”

MacPherson lied.

Alf Cengia said...

You can blow steam all you want, Waka. But you're done on this blog.

Alf Cengia said...

MacDonald's vision:

Margaret MacDonald was an Irvingite. They believed they were already in the last half of Daniel's 70th week.

Yes, MacP fibbed.

wakawakwaka said...

but the problem is that you also have to take the text by pesudo ephraem in context, and by the lingo that is used in his day so a plain reading would not do, but wheather a pre trib rapture is in the bible is another story altogether

Alf Cengia said...

Here's the irony;

I don't really care whether PE is pretrib or not. The interesting thing to me is how non-pretribbers try to squeeze any possible pretrib element out of it. 0n the other hand, you have people like Tim Warner who want to make MacDonald's vision pretrib when a careful reading appears to that she saw the church being persecuted by the Antichrist.

Warner's essay

Moreover, what Warner doesn't mention is that the Irvingites believed they were already in the great tribulation.

Mike Stallard:

First, MacPherson has not dealt adequately with the debate over whether or not the Irvingites were pre-trib, partial trib or post-trib. His chapter on Edward Irving and his group totally ignores the fact that the group by means of visions and prophesying believed that they were living in the last three and a half years before Christ’s return and dated that period from January 14, 1832 to July 14, 1835. The Irvingites were historicists in contrast to the developing futurism of the Darbyites. It is amazing that a historian would totally overlook the impact of this teaching while discussing documents during the time leading up to the alleged Second Coming.

Review: The Rapture Plot

wakawakwaka said...

well the second article that was given says that a plymouth brethern guy took a look at the PE document and said it wasnt pre trib, but anyways why dont we just give the credit to JN darby and end it at that

Alf Cengia said...

That alerts us to the fact that there isn't a blind acceptance to the pretribulational position among pretrib scholars.

The Plymouth Brethren gentleman is entitled to his opinion as are Gundry and Ice.

There is no question that Darby popularized pretribulationism in the 19th century. But that he didn't get it from MacDonald is demonstrable.