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         14
      Closed Communion
      James Foley
       
      I Corinthians 11:17-34: "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come."

      INTRODUCTION

      Historic Baptists, true Baptists, have believed in and still believe in closed communion. Baptists impose upon themselves the same restrictions that they impose on others concerning the Lord’s Supper. Baptists have always insisted that it is the Lord’s Table, not theirs; and He alone has the right to say who shall sit at His table. No amount of so called brotherly love, or ecumenical spirit, should cause us to invite to His table those who have not complied with the requirements laid down plainly in His inspired Word. With respect to Bible doctrines we must always use the scripture as our guide and practice. For Baptists, two of the most important doctrines are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. These are the only two doctrines we recognize as Church Ordinances. The Bible is very clear in teaching how these doctrines are to be practiced and by whom.

      We only have two ordinances that we must never compromise or we risk our very existence, they are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper.

      The moment we deviate from the precise method God has prescribed we have started down the slippery slope of error. True Baptists have held fast to the original doctrine of The Lord’s Supper from the time of Christ and the Apostles.

      Unfortunately, in this day of what the Bible describes as the age of luke warmness, Baptists are becoming careless in regard to strictly following the pattern laid out for us in Scripture. Many of our Bible colleges are graduating otherwise sincere, Godly and dedicated pastors and teachers who have not been taught the very strict, biblical requirements that surround the Lord’s Supper. Any Bible college that neglects to teach its students the differences surrounding Closed Communion, Close Communion and Open Communion is not simply short changing its students; it is also not equipping their students to carry on sound Bible traditions. The result is men of God and churches that fall into error. And as we will see, this is serious error.

      Should we as Baptists ignore the restrictions made by our Lord and Master? NO! When we hold to the restrictions placed upon the Lord’s Supper by our Master, we are defending the "faith which was once delivered to the saints" Jude 3.

      The Lord’s Supper is rigidly restricted and I will show this in the following facts:

      IT IS RESTRICTED AS TO PLACE

      A. I Corinthians 11:18 says, "When ye come together in the church." This does not mean the church building; they had none. In other words, when the church assembles. The supper is to be observed by the church, in church capacity. Again this does not mean the church house. Ekklesia, the Greek word for church, means assembly. "When ye come together in the church," is when the church assembles.

      B. When we say church we mean an assembly of properly baptized believers. Acts 2:41-42: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers."

      The church is made up of saved people who are baptized by immersion. In the Bible, belief precedes baptism. That’s the Bible way.

      Acts 8:12-13, "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done."

      When we say properly baptized, we mean immersed. No unbeliever should take the Lord’s supper, and no non-immersed believer should take the supper. Those who are sprinkled are not baptized and cannot receive the supper. The Greek word for baptize is baptizo, and it always means to immerse.

      "In every case where communion is referred to, or where it may possibly have been administered, the believers had been baptized Acts 2:42; 8:12; 8:38; 10:47; 6:14-15; 18:8; 20:7. Baptism comes before communion, just as repentance and faith precede baptism".

      C. The Lord’s Supper is for baptized believers in church capacity: "When ye come together in the church," again not a building, but the assembly of the properly baptized believers.

      D. The fact that the Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, to be observed in church capacity, is pointed out by the fact that it is for those who have been immersed and added to the fellowship of the church.

      E. The Lord’s Supper is never spoken of in connection with individuals. When it is referred to, it is only referred to in reference to baptized believers in local church capacity I Cor. 11:20-26).

      I want to quote Dr. W.W. Hamilton,

      "The individual administration of the ordinance has no Bible warrant and is a relic of Romanism. The Lord’s Supper is a church ordinance, and anything which goes beyond or comes short of this fails for want of scriptural example or command".

      “The practice of taking a little communion kit to hospitals, nursing homes, etc. is unscriptural and does not follow the scriptural example.”

      IT IS RESTRICTED TO A UNITED CHURCH

      A. The Bible in I Cor. 11:18 is very strong in condemning divisions around the Lord’s table. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
      19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
      20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

      There were no less than four divisions in the Corinthian church.
      I Cor. 1:12: "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ."

      Because of these divisions, it was impossible for them to scripturally eat the Lord’s Supper. Division in the local church is reason to hold off observing the Lord’s Supper. But there are also other reasons to forego taking the Lord’s Supper. If there is gross sin in the membership we do not take it. Here is scriptural evidence for this: 1Co 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us:
      8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
      10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.

      B. At this point, I want to ask these questions: Are there not doctrinal divisions among the many denominations? Is it not our doctrinal differences that cause us to be separate religious bodies?

      IT IS RESTRICTED BY DOCTRINE

      A. Those in the early church at Jerusalem who partook "continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine" Acts 2:42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

      B. Those that do not hold to apostolic truth are not to partake. This means there is to be discipline in the local body. How can you discipline those who do not belong to the local body? You can’t. The clear command of scripture is to withdraw fellowship from those who are not doctrinally sound.

      II Thes 3:6: "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us."
      Rom. 16:17: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."
      To commune together means to have the same doctrine.
      II Thes. 2:15: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
      II John 10-11: "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."

      C. Some Baptists in our day have watered down this doctrine by practicing what they call “Close Communion.” By this they mean that they believe that members of another Baptist church may take communion with us because they are of the same beliefs. Once again, this is unscriptural.

      The welcome to the Lord's Table should not be extended beyond the discipline of the local church. When we take the Lord’s Supper there is supposed to be no gross sin among us and no divisions among us. We have no idea of the spiritual condition of another church’s members. If there is sin or division in the case of this other church’s members, we have no way of knowing it. We cannot discipline them because they are not members of our church. This is why we practice “Closed” communion, meaning it is restricted solely to our church membership. 
      So then, in closing I would like to reiterate the three different ideas concerning the Lord’s Supper and who is to take it. 
      Closed Communion = Only members of a single local church. 
      Close Communion = Members of like faith and order may partake. 
      Open Communion = If you claim to be a Christian, or simply attending the service, you may partake. 
      It is no small thing to attempt to change that which was implemented by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 
      Mt. 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. 
      Many of our Baptist churches have a real need to consider the gravity of the act of observing The Lord’s Supper. It is not a light thing that is to be taken casually or without regard to the spiritual condition of ourselves or our church.
      1Co. 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

       28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

       29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

       30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

Dorightchristians - The Anon Church And Back Row Baptist


Dr James Ach

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Ach may have a genuine grievance with the opponents he is writing about, but what is that to do with this forum? I've looked at his blog & web site & my advice is to stay away. It's not edifying.

 

It is an eye-opener, especially the comments left by familiar names.  It is sad to read.

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It "scares" you that  BIble Believing pastor has convictions about Bible Doctrine??? 

What is scary about that?  It should be NORMAL.  Every Bible Believing Baptist Pastor should be loudly proclaiming Bible Doctrine from the pulpit.  It should not be an anomaly, but normative.

 

The trouble is that often personal interpretation is taken as sound bible doctrine and mostly it isn't.  

 

I think it strange that most are against Calvinists, but believe in the pre-tribulation theory, which was started by a High Church Calvinist, namely J N Darby, who later became leader of the strict (Exclusive) variety of Plymouth Brethren, a branch that are still paedo-Baptist.

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The trouble is that often personal interpretation is taken as sound bible doctrine and mostly it isn't.

I think it strange that most are against Calvinists, but believe in the pre-tribulation theory, which was started by a High Church Calvinist, namely J N Darby, who later became leader of the strict (Exclusive) variety of Plymouth Brethren, a branch that are still paedo-Baptist.

Yep go right ahead and roll out that lie again.
It has been shown by others before that pre trib was around way before this Darby bloke - but if you keep saying it maybe someone will believe it.
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Yep go right ahead and roll out that lie again.
It has been shown by others before that pre trib was around way before this Darby bloke - but if you keep saying it maybe someone will believe it.

 

Yes I was wrong it went back to Edward Irving about 1828, Darby took it and added dispensationalsm.  That is what I should have said.  No one has ever proved that wrong although there have been a number of feeble attempts.  

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Make of it what you will...

_________________________________________________________

 

Examining an Ancient Pre-Trib Rapture Statement

by Thomas Ice

 

All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins. -Pseudo-Ephraem (c. 374-627)

 

Critics of pretribulationism sometimes state that belief in the rapture is a doctrinal development of recent origin. They argue that the doctrine of the rapture or any semblance of it was completely unknown before the early 1800s and the writings of John Nelson Darby. One of the most vocal and sensational critics of the rapture is Dave MacPherson, who argues that, "during the first 18 centuries of the Christian era, believers were never 'Rapture separaters' [sic]; they never separated the minor Rapture aspect of the Second Coming of Christ from the Second Coming itself."1

 

A second critic, John Bray, also vehemently opposes a pretribulational rapture, writing, "this teaching is not a RECOVERY of truth once taught and then neglected. No, it never was taught-for 1800 years nearly no one knew anything about such a scheme."2 More recently, pre-trib opponent ROBert Van Kampen proclaimed, "The pretribulational rapture position with its dual parousias was unheard of in church history prior to 1830."3 In our previous issue of Pre-Trib Perspectives, I noted that pre-wrath advocate Marvin Rosenthal has also joined the chorus.4

 

Christian reconstructionists have also consistently and almost universally condemned premillennialism and pretribulationism, favoring instead, postmillen-nialism. One sample of their prolific and often vitri-olic opposition can be seen in Gary North's derisive description of the rapture as "the Church's hoped-for Escape Hatch on the world's sinking ship," which he, like MacPherson, believes was invented in 1830.5

 

How to Find the Rapture in History

 

Is pretribulationism as theologically bankrupt as its critics profess, or are there answers to these charges? If there are reasonable answers, then the burden of proof and historical argumentation shifts back to the critics. Rapture critics must acknowledge and interact with the historical and theological evidence.

 

Rapture critic William Bell has formulated three criteria for establishing the validity of a historical citation regarding the rapture. If any of his three criteria are met, then he acknowledges it is "of crucial importance, if found, whether by direct statement or clear inference." As will be seen, the Pseudo-Ephraem sermon meets not one, but two of his canons, namely, "Any mention that Christ's second coming was to consist of more than one phase, separated by an interval of years," and "any mention that Christ was to remove the church from the earth before the tribulation period."6

 

Pseudo-Ephraem's Rapture Statement

 

I vividly remember the phone call at my office late one afternoon from Canadian prophecy teacher and writer Grant Jeffrey.7 He told me that he had found an ancient pre-trib rapture statement. I said, "Let's hear it." He read the following to me over the phone:

All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.

 

I said that it sure sounds like a pre-trib statement and began to fire at him all the questions I have since received many times when telling others about the statement from Pseudo-Ephraem's sermon On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World.8 Grant's phone call started me on journey through many of the substantial libraries throughout the Washington, D.C. area in an effort to learn all I could about this historically significant statement. The more information I acquired led me to conclude that Grant is right to conclude that this is a pre-trib rapture statement of antiquity.

 

Who is Pseudo-Ephraem?

 

The word "Pseudo" (Greek for false) is a prefix attached by scholars to the name of a famous historical person or book of the Bible when one writes using that name. Pseudo-Ephraem claims that his sermon was written by Ephraem of Nisibis (306-73), considered to be the greatest figure in the history of the Syrian church. He was well-known for his poetics, rejection of rationalism, and confrontations with the heresies of Marcion, Mani, and the Arians. As a poet, exegete, and theologian, his style was similar to that of the Jewish midrashic and targumic traditions and he favored a contemplative approach to spirituality. So popular were his works that in the fifth and sixth centuries he was adopted by several Christian communities as a spiritual father and role model. His many works, some of doubtful authenticity, were soon translated from Syriac into Greek, Armenian, and Latin.

 

It is not at all unreasonable to expect that a prolific and prominent figure such as Ephraem would have writings ascribed to him. While there is little support for Ephraem as the author of the Sermon on the End of the World, Caspari and Alexander have demonstrated that Pseudo-Ephraem was "heavily influenced by the genuine works of Ephraem."9 What is more difficult, though secondary to the main purpose of this article, is determining the exact date, purpose, location of, and extent of subsequent editorial changes to the sermon.10

Suggestions on the date of the writing of the original sermon range from as early as Wilhelm Bousset's 373 date,11 to Caspari's estimation of sometime between 565 and 627.12 Paul Alexander, after reviewing all the argumentation, favors a date for the final form similar to that suggested by Caspari,13 but Alexander also states simply, "It will indeed not be easy to decide on the matter."14 All are clear that it had to have been written before the advent of Islam.

 

Pseudo-Ephraem's Sermon

 

The sermon consists of just under 1500 words, divided into ten sections and has been preserved in four Latin manuscripts. Three of these date from the eighth century and ascribe the sermon to Ephraem. A fourth manuscript from the ninth century, claims not Ephraem, but Isidore of Seville (d. 636) as author.15 Additionally, there are subsequent Greek and Syriac versions of the sermon which have raised questions regarding the language of the original manuscript. On the basis of lexical analysis and study of the biblical citations within the sermon with Latin, Greek, and Syriac versions of the Bible, Alexander believed it most prOBable that the homily was composed in Syriac, translated first into Greek, and then into Latin from the Greek.16 Regardless of the original language, the vocabulary and style of the extant copies are consistent with the writings of Ephraem and his era. It appears likely that the sermon was written near the time of Ephraem and underwent slight change during subsequent coping.

 

What is most significant for present-day readers is the fact that the sermon was popular enough to be translated into several languages fairly soon after its composition. The significance of the sermon for us today is that it represents a prophetic view of a pre-trib rapture within the orthodox circles of its day.

 

The sermon is built around the three themes of the title On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World and proceeds chronologically. The fact that the pre-trib statement occurs in section 2, while the antichrist and tribulation are developed throughout the middle sections, followed by Christ's second coming to the earth in the final section supports a pre-trib sequence. This characteristic of the sermon fits the first criteria outlined by William Bell, namely "that Christ's second coming was to consist of more than one phase, separated by an interval of years." Thus, phase one is the rapture statement from section 2; the interval of 3 1/2 years, 42 months, and 1,260 days, said to be the tribulation in sections 7 and 8; the second phase of Christ's return is noted in section 10 and said to take place "when the three and a half years have been completed."17

 

Why Pseudo-Ephraem's Statement is Pretribulational

 

After learning of Pseudo-Ephraem's rapture statement, I shared it with a number of colleagues. My favorite approach was to simply read the statement, free of any introductory remarks, and ask what they thought. Every person, whether pre-trib or not, concluded that it was some kind of pre-trib statement. A few thought it was a statement from such pre-trib proponents like John Walvoord orCharles Ryrie. Most noted the clear statement concerning the removal of believers before thetribulation as a reason for thinking the statement pre-trib. This is Bell's second criteria for identifying a pre-trib statement from the past, namely, "any mention that Christ was to remove the church from the earth before the tribulation period." Note the following reasons why this should be taken as a pre-trib statement:

 

1) Section 2 of the sermon begins with a statement about imminency: "We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers, what is imminent [Latin "immineat"] or overhanging."18 This is similar to the modern pre-trib view of imminency and considering the subsequent rapture statements supports a pre-trib scenario.

 

2) As I break down the rapture statement, notice the following OBservations: "All the saints and elect of God are gathered . . ." Gathered where? A later clause says they "are taken to the Lord." Where is the Lord? Earlier in the paragraph the sermon speaks of "the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion. . ." Thus the movement is from the earth toward the Lord who is apparently in heaven. Once again, in conformity to a translation scenario found in the pre-trib teaching.

 

The next phrase says that the gathering takes place "prior to the tribulation that is to come. . ." so we see that the event is pretribulational and the tribulation is future to the time in which Pseudo-Ephraem wrote.

 

The purpose for the gathering was so that they would not "see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of their sins." Here we have the purpose of the tribulation judgments stated and that was to be a time of judgment upon the world because of their sin, thus, the church was to be taken out.

 

3) Finally, the Byzantine scholar Paul Alexander clearly believed that Pseudo-Ephraem was teaching what we call today a pre-trib rapture. According to Alexander, most Byzantine apocalypses were concerned with how Christians would survive the time of severe persecution by Antichrist. The normal approach given by other apocalyptic texts was a shortening of the time to three and a half years, enabling the survival of some Christians.19 Unlike those texts, this sermon has Christians being removed from the time of tribulation.

 

Alexander OBserved:

 

It is prOBably no accident that Pseudo-Ephraem does not mention the shortening of the time intervals for the Antichrist's persecution, for if prior to it the Elect are 'taken to the Lord,' i.e., participate at least in some measure in beatitude, there is no need for further mitigating action on their behalf. The Gathering of the Elect according to Pseudo-Ephraem is an alternative to the shortening of the time intervals.20

 

Conclusion

 

Regardless of what else the writer of this sermon believed, he did believe that all believers would be removed before the tribulation-a pre-trib rapture view. Thus, we have seen that those who have said that there was no one before 1830 who taught the pre-trib rapture position will have to revise their statements by well over 1,000 years. This statement does not prove the pre-trib position, only the Bible can do that, but it should change many people's historical views on the matter.

 

ENDNOTES

1 Dave MacPherson, The Great Rapture Hoax (Fletcher, NC: New Puritan Library, 1983), 15. For a refutation of MacPherson's charges see Thomas D. Ice, "Why the Doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture Did Not Begin with Margaret Macdonald," Bibliotheca Sacra 147 (1990): 155-68.

2 John L. Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching (Lakeland, FL.: John L. Bray Ministry, 1982), 31-32.

3 ROBert Van Kampen, The Sign (Wheaton, IL.: Crossway Books, 1992), 445.

4 Thomas Ice, "Is The Pre-Trib Rapture A Satanic Deception?" Pre-Trib Perspectives (II:1; March 1995):1-3.

5 Gary North, Rapture Fever: Why Dispensationalism is Paralyzed (Tyler, TX.: Institute for Christian Economics, 1993), 105.

6 William E. Bell, "A Critical Evaluation of the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine in Christian Eschatology" (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1967), 26-27.

7 For more information on the Pseudo-Ephraem statement see Grant R. Jeffrey, Final Warning (Toronto: Frontier Research Publications, 1995). Forthcoming, Timothy Demy and Thomas Ice, "The Rapture and an Early Medieval Citation" Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (July 1995): 300-11. Grant R. Jeffrey, "A Pretribulational Rapture Statement in the Early Medieval Church" in Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, ed., When the Trumpet Sounds: Today's Foremost Authorities Speak Out on End-Time Controversies (Eugene, Or: Harvest House, 1995).

8 Grant Jeffrey found the statement in Paul J. Alexander, The Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition, by (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 2.10. The late Alexander found the sermon in C. P. Caspari, ed. Briefe, Abhandlungen und Predigten aus den zwei letzten Jahrhunderten des kirchlichen Altertums und dem Anfang des Mittelaters, (Christiania, 1890), 208-20. This German work also contains Caspari's commentary on the sermon on pages 429-72.

9 Paul J. Alexander, "The Diffusion of Byzantine Apocalypses in the Medieval West and the Beginnings of Joachimism," in Prophecy and Millenarianism: Essays in Honour of Marjorie Reeves, ed. Ann Williams (Essex, U.K. : Longman, 1980), 59.

10 Paul J. Alexander, "Medieval Apocalypses as Historical Sources," American Historical Review 73 (1968): 1017. In this essay Alexander addresses in-depth the historical difficulties facing the interpreter of such texts. To these difficulties, issues of theological interpretation and concern must also be added.

11 W. Bousset, The Antichrist Legend, trans. A. H. Keane (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1896), 33-41. An early date is also accepted by Andrew R. Anderson, Alexander's Gate: Gog and Magog and the Enclosed Nations. Monographs of the Mediaeval Academy of America, no. 5. (Cambridge, MA.: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1932):16-18.

12 Caspari, 437-42.

13 Alexander, Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition, 147. This leaves the possibility that the work may have been altered or revised prior to the date of the extant manuscripts.

14 Ibid., 145. Earlier, he writes: "All that is certain, is as Caspari pointed out, that it must have been written prior to Heraclius' victories over Sassanid Persia, for the author talks repeatedly of wars between Rome and Persia and such discussions do not make sense after Heraclius' victories and the beginning of the Arab invasions" (144).

15 Ibid., 136-37. The only critical edition is Caspari's which suffers a lack of OBjectivity in that he relied upon only two of the four extant manuscripts.

16 Ibid., 140-44.

17 Caspari, 219. English citations are taken from a translation of the sermon provided by Cameron

Rhoades, instructor of Latin at Tyndale Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX.

18 Ibid., 210.

19 Alexander, 209.

20 Ibid., 210-11.

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Yes I was wrong it went back to Edward Irving about 1828, Darby took it and added dispensationalsm. That is what I should have said. No one has ever proved that wrong although there have been a number of feeble attempts.


Feeble attempts?

Stuff like what NN has just posted has been put up before - but you are so wrapped up in your false teachings that you ignore anything that doesn't fit your predetermined system.

This has been shown in your constant false accusation about this issue, in your rejection of what the Bible says about the 70 weeks and various other things.

You also reject stated forum positions and promote doctrines against the board positions.
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from: Online Baptist Rules

8) Be nice to the Moderators
c) We have the right to delete any post or ban any member who we feel is inappropriate for these boards without notice.
d) The mods have the right to lock any topic that they feel is not appropriate for this board.

So be nice now means people can't question any decision? ... to be honest that sounds like the way the supreme court has been interpreting the constitution

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It's just common sense, really, and netiquette 101. This a private site and the owner appoints the mods he wants to run it. If one finds themselves vociferously protesting every decision the mods take, then they are basically saying they don't have any respect for the forum or its owner, which ought to make them ask themselves why they are still on here.

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So be nice now means people can't question any decision? ... to be honest that sounds like the way the supreme court has been interpreting the constitution

 

It's just common sense, really, and netiquette 101. This a private site and the owner appoints the mods he wants to run it. If one finds themselves vociferously protesting every decision the mods take, then they are basically saying they don't have any respect for the forum or its owner, which ought to make them ask themselves why they are still on here.

Like pulling a rabbit out of a hat we somehow get from ANY to EVERY. Good one.

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Geneva -- down, back, chill, you're pushing. And don't feel a need to come back nor defend yourself.Remembering that you are on an IFB site with primarily KJVO, pre-mil, non-Calv, members and staff should cause you to think twice about your posts -- especially since you've been skating on thin ice this week.

 

 

"... refrain from questioning mod decisions... " Is that site policy?

 

 

So be nice now means people can't question any decision? ... to be honest that sounds like the way the supreme court has been interpreting the constitution

2 Tim -- if your question was in reference to my post to GB:

 

There was not "action" taken, I didn't give points, etc. It was a reminder to someone who already had 2 points and was (by his own later admission) letting his emotions run his mouth.

 

As to my comment about not needing to reply -- it is the natural tendency to instantly mouth off, OBject, justify and explain why we kept mouthing, OBjecting and explaining. I try to avoid doing that BUT it takes effort and sometimes it is only an attempt (as opposed to an accomplishment).

 

He handled it well, everything is water under the bridge -- I wasn't even going to type this explanation except the mis-perception seemed to grow amongst people other than GB.

 

Question action of a mod? I frequently (when locking thread and other actions) say you have an open door to appeal to Bro Matt if you think it's unjustified.

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Actually, #2 would apply to the topic at hand. It was already discussed when the ban took place. But #2 answers it very well. Whether or not some folks agree with the decision. ;-)

You don't think the rules ought to say what you mean then? Whether or not someone agrees or disagrees with the decision are we saying people don't have a right to ask if the decision was a right decision?

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You don't think the rules ought to say what you mean then? Whether or not someone agrees or disagrees with the decision are we saying people don't have a right to ask if the decision was a right decision?

Nope, that's not what I'm saying. People can ask. But the point is that we aren't gonna poll people for their opinions if a ban is thought necessary. Heh. If we did that, there'd be next to nOBody left on here. :-)
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OLD fashioned preacher I noticed Salyan had said "... refrain from questioning mod decisions... " So I asked "Is that site policy?" hence, nothing to do with you. Salyan did not specify that it wasn't site policy but responded that it fell under "8) Be nice to the Moderators"  since being nice and respectful is NOT explicit in that statement and I would be a little surprised if this site had a NO QUESTIONS/SILENT OBEDIENCE policy then it seemed to me to be a misrepresentation to not be up front and let the members know about that (if it is the case). I apologize OLD fashioned preacher if I was not clear. On the other hand if Salyan thougt I was talking about something specific ...  it seems when I said "Is that site policy?" it should have been clear I was asking a general question. However, I apologize if i wasn't clear enough.

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2 Tim -- if your question was in reference to my post to GB:

 

There was not "action" taken, I didn't give points, etc. It was a reminder to someone who already had 2 points and was (by his own later admission) letting his emotions run his mouth.

 

As to my comment about not needing to reply -- it is the natural tendency to instantly mouth off, OBject, justify and explain why we kept mouthing, OBjecting and explaining. I try to avoid doing that BUT it takes effort and sometimes it is only an attempt (as opposed to an accomplishment).

 

He handled it well, everything is water under the bridge -- I wasn't even going to type this explanation except the mis-perception seemed to grow amongst people other than GB.

 

Question action of a mod? I frequently (when locking thread and other actions) say you have an open door to appeal to Bro Matt if you think it's unjustified.

 

I am fine with the Brother here 2T3:16.

Thank you for re-explaining it to 2T though OFP.

 

:godisgood: .

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OLD fashioned preacher I noticed Salyan had said "... refrain from questioning mod decisions... " So I asked "Is that site policy?" hence, nothing to do with you. Salyan did not specify that it wasn't site policy but responded that it fell under "8) Be nice to the Moderators"  since being nice and respectful is NOT explicit in that statement and I would be a little surprised if this site had a NO QUESTIONS/SILENT OBEDIENCE policy then it seemed to me to be a misrepresentation to not be up front and let the members know about that (if it is the case). I apologize OLD fashioned preacher if I was not clear. On the other hand if Salyan thougt I was talking about something specific ...  it seems when I said "Is that site policy?" it should have been clear I was asking a general question. However, I apologize if i wasn't clear enough.

No prOBlem, I just noticed your first question was directly below my post and by the time you asked the second time wasn't sure what prompted it.

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Like pulling a rabbit out of a hat we somehow get from ANY to EVERY. Good one.

 

Ok, well I didn't mean literally every decision and I didn't think you were really asking whether we couldn't ever, ever, ever question a single decision, ever, so apologies for misunderstanding. The point I was trying to make is that it's both common sense (maybe common courtesy would be better) and netiquette 101 not to do it a lot. And Saylan's original comment and your question about it comes at a time when folk are doing it a lot. I've certainly publically questioned mod and webmaster decisions before--in fact I think I've questioned why someone's been banned before--and I've seen others do it too, and the mods have generally been fine about it.

I say netiquette 101 because pretty much every forum I've ever been on has had some kind of rule to the effect that the mods ought to be allowed to do their jOBs and piecemeal heckling of them is out of order. I say common sense, or common courtesy, because it seems OBvious to me that, say, someone in your church was volunteering to do the cleaning and you thought they weren't doing a great jOB, you'd have a discreet word with the person wouldn't you? Or you'd take your concerns to those in charge of them.You wouldn't stand in the middle of the space while the person was doing it, following them with your finger and continuously crying out 'you've missed a bit', 'you've missed a bit', 'why did you do it like that', 'you're not doing it right', 'don't use that product on that' etc etc.

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Make of it what you will...

_________________________________________________________

 

Examining an Ancient Pre-Trib Rapture Statement

by Thomas Ice

 

All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins. -Pseudo-Ephraem (c. 374-627)

 

Critics of pretribulationism sometimes state that belief in the rapture is a doctrinal development of recent origin. They argue that the doctrine of the rapture or any semblance of it was completely unknown before the early 1800s and the writings of John Nelson Darby. One of the most vocal and sensational critics of the rapture is Dave MacPherson, who argues that, "during the first 18 centuries of the Christian era, believers were never 'Rapture separaters' [sic]; they never separated the minor Rapture aspect of the Second Coming of Christ from the Second Coming itself."1

 

A second critic, John Bray, also vehemently opposes a pretribulational rapture, writing, "this teaching is not a RECOVERY of truth once taught and then neglected. No, it never was taught-for 1800 years nearly no one knew anything about such a scheme."2 More recently, pre-trib opponent ROBert Van Kampen proclaimed, "The pretribulational rapture position with its dual parousias was unheard of in church history prior to 1830."3 In our previous issue of Pre-Trib Perspectives, I noted that pre-wrath advocate Marvin Rosenthal has also joined the chorus.4

 

Christian reconstructionists have also consistently and almost universally condemned premillennialism and pretribulationism, favoring instead, postmillen-nialism. One sample of their prolific and often vitri-olic opposition can be seen in Gary North's derisive description of the rapture as "the Church's hoped-for Escape Hatch on the world's sinking ship," which he, like MacPherson, believes was invented in 1830.5

 

How to Find the Rapture in History

 

Is pretribulationism as theologically bankrupt as its critics profess, or are there answers to these charges? If there are reasonable answers, then the burden of proof and historical argumentation shifts back to the critics. Rapture critics must acknowledge and interact with the historical and theological evidence.

 

Rapture critic William Bell has formulated three criteria for establishing the validity of a historical citation regarding the rapture. If any of his three criteria are met, then he acknowledges it is "of crucial importance, if found, whether by direct statement or clear inference." As will be seen, the Pseudo-Ephraem sermon meets not one, but two of his canons, namely, "Any mention that Christ's second coming was to consist of more than one phase, separated by an interval of years," and "any mention that Christ was to remove the church from the earth before the tribulation period."6

 

Pseudo-Ephraem's Rapture Statement

 

I vividly remember the phone call at my office late one afternoon from Canadian prophecy teacher and writer Grant Jeffrey.7 He told me that he had found an ancient pre-trib rapture statement. I said, "Let's hear it." He read the following to me over the phone:

All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.

 

I said that it sure sounds like a pre-trib statement and began to fire at him all the questions I have since received many times when telling others about the statement from Pseudo-Ephraem's sermon On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World.8 Grant's phone call started me on journey through many of the substantial libraries throughout the Washington, D.C. area in an effort to learn all I could about this historically significant statement. The more information I acquired led me to conclude that Grant is right to conclude that this is a pre-trib rapture statement of antiquity.

 

Who is Pseudo-Ephraem?

 

The word "Pseudo" (Greek for false) is a prefix attached by scholars to the name of a famous historical person or book of the Bible when one writes using that name. Pseudo-Ephraem claims that his sermon was written by Ephraem of Nisibis (306-73), considered to be the greatest figure in the history of the Syrian church. He was well-known for his poetics, rejection of rationalism, and confrontations with the heresies of Marcion, Mani, and the Arians. As a poet, exegete, and theologian, his style was similar to that of the Jewish midrashic and targumic traditions and he favored a contemplative approach to spirituality. So popular were his works that in the fifth and sixth centuries he was adopted by several Christian communities as a spiritual father and role model. His many works, some of doubtful authenticity, were soon translated from Syriac into Greek, Armenian, and Latin.

 

It is not at all unreasonable to expect that a prolific and prominent figure such as Ephraem would have writings ascribed to him. While there is little support for Ephraem as the author of the Sermon on the End of the World, Caspari and Alexander have demonstrated that Pseudo-Ephraem was "heavily influenced by the genuine works of Ephraem."9 What is more difficult, though secondary to the main purpose of this article, is determining the exact date, purpose, location of, and extent of subsequent editorial changes to the sermon.10

Suggestions on the date of the writing of the original sermon range from as early as Wilhelm Bousset's 373 date,11 to Caspari's estimation of sometime between 565 and 627.12 Paul Alexander, after reviewing all the argumentation, favors a date for the final form similar to that suggested by Caspari,13 but Alexander also states simply, "It will indeed not be easy to decide on the matter."14 All are clear that it had to have been written before the advent of Islam.

 

Pseudo-Ephraem's Sermon

 

The sermon consists of just under 1500 words, divided into ten sections and has been preserved in four Latin manuscripts. Three of these date from the eighth century and ascribe the sermon to Ephraem. A fourth manuscript from the ninth century, claims not Ephraem, but Isidore of Seville (d. 636) as author.15 Additionally, there are subsequent Greek and Syriac versions of the sermon which have raised questions regarding the language of the original manuscript. On the basis of lexical analysis and study of the biblical citations within the sermon with Latin, Greek, and Syriac versions of the Bible, Alexander believed it most prOBable that the homily was composed in Syriac, translated first into Greek, and then into Latin from the Greek.16 Regardless of the original language, the vocabulary and style of the extant copies are consistent with the writings of Ephraem and his era. It appears likely that the sermon was written near the time of Ephraem and underwent slight change during subsequent coping.

 

What is most significant for present-day readers is the fact that the sermon was popular enough to be translated into several languages fairly soon after its composition. The significance of the sermon for us today is that it represents a prophetic view of a pre-trib rapture within the orthodox circles of its day.

 

The sermon is built around the three themes of the title On the Last Times, the Antichrist, and the End of the World and proceeds chronologically. The fact that the pre-trib statement occurs in section 2, while the antichrist and tribulation are developed throughout the middle sections, followed by Christ's second coming to the earth in the final section supports a pre-trib sequence. This characteristic of the sermon fits the first criteria outlined by William Bell, namely "that Christ's second coming was to consist of more than one phase, separated by an interval of years." Thus, phase one is the rapture statement from section 2; the interval of 3 1/2 years, 42 months, and 1,260 days, said to be the tribulation in sections 7 and 8; the second phase of Christ's return is noted in section 10 and said to take place "when the three and a half years have been completed."17

 

Why Pseudo-Ephraem's Statement is Pretribulational

 

After learning of Pseudo-Ephraem's rapture statement, I shared it with a number of colleagues. My favorite approach was to simply read the statement, free of any introductory remarks, and ask what they thought. Every person, whether pre-trib or not, concluded that it was some kind of pre-trib statement. A few thought it was a statement from such pre-trib proponents like John Walvoord orCharles Ryrie. Most noted the clear statement concerning the removal of believers before thetribulation as a reason for thinking the statement pre-trib. This is Bell's second criteria for identifying a pre-trib statement from the past, namely, "any mention that Christ was to remove the church from the earth before the tribulation period." Note the following reasons why this should be taken as a pre-trib statement:

 

1) Section 2 of the sermon begins with a statement about imminency: "We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers, what is imminent [Latin "immineat"] or overhanging."18 This is similar to the modern pre-trib view of imminency and considering the subsequent rapture statements supports a pre-trib scenario.

 

2) As I break down the rapture statement, notice the following OBservations: "All the saints and elect of God are gathered . . ." Gathered where? A later clause says they "are taken to the Lord." Where is the Lord? Earlier in the paragraph the sermon speaks of "the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion. . ." Thus the movement is from the earth toward the Lord who is apparently in heaven. Once again, in conformity to a translation scenario found in the pre-trib teaching.

 

The next phrase says that the gathering takes place "prior to the tribulation that is to come. . ." so we see that the event is pretribulational and the tribulation is future to the time in which Pseudo-Ephraem wrote.

 

The purpose for the gathering was so that they would not "see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of their sins." Here we have the purpose of the tribulation judgments stated and that was to be a time of judgment upon the world because of their sin, thus, the church was to be taken out.

 

3) Finally, the Byzantine scholar Paul Alexander clearly believed that Pseudo-Ephraem was teaching what we call today a pre-trib rapture. According to Alexander, most Byzantine apocalypses were concerned with how Christians would survive the time of severe persecution by Antichrist. The normal approach given by other apocalyptic texts was a shortening of the time to three and a half years, enabling the survival of some Christians.19 Unlike those texts, this sermon has Christians being removed from the time of tribulation.

 

Alexander OBserved:

 

It is prOBably no accident that Pseudo-Ephraem does not mention the shortening of the time intervals for the Antichrist's persecution, for if prior to it the Elect are 'taken to the Lord,' i.e., participate at least in some measure in beatitude, there is no need for further mitigating action on their behalf. The Gathering of the Elect according to Pseudo-Ephraem is an alternative to the shortening of the time intervals.20

 

Conclusion

 

Regardless of what else the writer of this sermon believed, he did believe that all believers would be removed before the tribulation-a pre-trib rapture view. Thus, we have seen that those who have said that there was no one before 1830 who taught the pre-trib rapture position will have to revise their statements by well over 1,000 years. This statement does not prove the pre-trib position, only the Bible can do that, but it should change many people's historical views on the matter.

 

ENDNOTES

1 Dave MacPherson, The Great Rapture Hoax (Fletcher, NC: New Puritan Library, 1983), 15. For a refutation of MacPherson's charges see Thomas D. Ice, "Why the Doctrine of the Pretribulational Rapture Did Not Begin with Margaret Macdonald," Bibliotheca Sacra 147 (1990): 155-68.

2 John L. Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching (Lakeland, FL.: John L. Bray Ministry, 1982), 31-32.

3 ROBert Van Kampen, The Sign (Wheaton, IL.: Crossway Books, 1992), 445.

4 Thomas Ice, "Is The Pre-Trib Rapture A Satanic Deception?" Pre-Trib Perspectives (II:1; March 1995):1-3.

5 Gary North, Rapture Fever: Why Dispensationalism is Paralyzed (Tyler, TX.: Institute for Christian Economics, 1993), 105.

6 William E. Bell, "A Critical Evaluation of the Pretribulation Rapture Doctrine in Christian Eschatology" (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1967), 26-27.

7 For more information on the Pseudo-Ephraem statement see Grant R. Jeffrey, Final Warning (Toronto: Frontier Research Publications, 1995). Forthcoming, Timothy Demy and Thomas Ice, "The Rapture and an Early Medieval Citation" Bibliotheca Sacra 152 (July 1995): 300-11. Grant R. Jeffrey, "A Pretribulational Rapture Statement in the Early Medieval Church" in Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, ed., When the Trumpet Sounds: Today's Foremost Authorities Speak Out on End-Time Controversies (Eugene, Or: Harvest House, 1995).

8 Grant Jeffrey found the statement in Paul J. Alexander, The Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition, by (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 2.10. The late Alexander found the sermon in C. P. Caspari, ed. Briefe, Abhandlungen und Predigten aus den zwei letzten Jahrhunderten des kirchlichen Altertums und dem Anfang des Mittelaters, (Christiania, 1890), 208-20. This German work also contains Caspari's commentary on the sermon on pages 429-72.

9 Paul J. Alexander, "The Diffusion of Byzantine Apocalypses in the Medieval West and the Beginnings of Joachimism," in Prophecy and Millenarianism: Essays in Honour of Marjorie Reeves, ed. Ann Williams (Essex, U.K. : Longman, 1980), 59.

10 Paul J. Alexander, "Medieval Apocalypses as Historical Sources," American Historical Review 73 (1968): 1017. In this essay Alexander addresses in-depth the historical difficulties facing the interpreter of such texts. To these difficulties, issues of theological interpretation and concern must also be added.

11 W. Bousset, The Antichrist Legend, trans. A. H. Keane (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1896), 33-41. An early date is also accepted by Andrew R. Anderson, Alexander's Gate: Gog and Magog and the Enclosed Nations. Monographs of the Mediaeval Academy of America, no. 5. (Cambridge, MA.: Mediaeval Academy of America, 1932):16-18.

12 Caspari, 437-42.

13 Alexander, Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition, 147. This leaves the possibility that the work may have been altered or revised prior to the date of the extant manuscripts.

14 Ibid., 145. Earlier, he writes: "All that is certain, is as Caspari pointed out, that it must have been written prior to Heraclius' victories over Sassanid Persia, for the author talks repeatedly of wars between Rome and Persia and such discussions do not make sense after Heraclius' victories and the beginning of the Arab invasions" (144).

15 Ibid., 136-37. The only critical edition is Caspari's which suffers a lack of OBjectivity in that he relied upon only two of the four extant manuscripts.

16 Ibid., 140-44.

17 Caspari, 219. English citations are taken from a translation of the sermon provided by Cameron

Rhoades, instructor of Latin at Tyndale Theological Seminary, Ft. Worth, TX.

18 Ibid., 210.

19 Alexander, 209.

20 Ibid., 210-11.

 

Yes I remember that post.  One almost anonymous person.  Not a lot to build a whole doctrine on.

 

Goes even fatther back than Irving. The Apostle Paul taught it in the first century.

 

 

That is the great prOBlem.  Paul didn't teach it.  It is what is read into his teachings.

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