The Church Fathers on the Antichrist, Part 3 — What Holly Thinks

Irenaeus

The popular pretribulation rapture teaching claims that Christians will be snatched off the earth before the Antichrist’s reign. But this four-part series looks at writings from some of the earliest and most respected church fathers, showing their belief that Christians will have to go through the persecution of the Antichrist. See Parts 1 and 2.

Irenaeus

Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons, wrote at length about the Antichrist toward the end of the second century. He was a student of Polycarp, who, in turn, had known the apostle John. In his best-known writing, titled Against Heresies, Irenaeus said the Antichrist would persecute the Church, but God would use the time of tribulation to purify Christians. Here’s what he said (all three excerpts are quoted from Against Heresies, Book 5).

In a still clearer light has John, in the Apocalypse, indicated to the Lord’s disciples what shall happen in the last times, and concerning the ten kings who shall then arise, among whom the empire which now rules [the earth] shall be partitioned. He teaches us what the ten horns shall be which were seen by Daniel, telling us that thus it had been said to him: “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, who have received no kingdom as yet, but shall receive power as if kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and give their strength and power to the beast. These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, because He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings.” It is manifest, therefore, that of these [potentates], he who is to come shall slay three, and subject the remainder to his power, and that he shall be himself the eighth among them. And they shall lay Babylon waste, and burn her with fire, and shall give their kingdom to the beast, and put the Church to flight. After that they shall be destroyed by the coming of our Lord. (Book 5, Chapter 26)

And for this cause tribulation is necessary for those who are saved, that having been after a manner broken up, and rendered fine, and sprinkled over by the patience of the Word of God, and set on fire [for purification], they may be fitted for the royal banquet. (Book 5, Chapter 28)

For all these and other words were unquestionably spoken in reference to the resurrection of the just, which takes place after the coming of Antichrist, and the destruction of all nations under his rule; in [the times of] which [resurrection] the righteous shall reign in the earth, waxing stronger by the sight of the Lord: and through Him they shall become accustomed to partake in the glory of God the Father, and shall enjoy in the kingdom intercourse and communion with the holy angels, and union with spiritual beings; and [with respect to] those whom the Lord shall find in the flesh, awaiting Him from heaven, and who have suffered tribulation, as well as escaped the hands of the Wicked one. (Book 5, Chapter 35)

— Holly Pivec
8/1/08