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

The popular pretribulation rapture teaching claims that Christians will be snatched off the earth prior to the Antichrist’s reign. Advocates of this view claim that the early Christians held this view. But, in an earlier post, I showed how not one quotation can be furnished from before the 19th century supporting the pretrib rapture. On the other hand, every church father who wrote about the Antichrist assumed that Christians will be persecuted by him. In this four-part series, I will present quotations from some of the earliest and most respected church fathers, showing their belief.

The Didache

The Didache, also called “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” was a popular text written in the late first or early second century that provided instruction for the Christian communities. It was so popular, in fact, that some of the church fathers at first thought it should be part of Scripture. But the consensus was that it was not inspired. Yet, the fact that it was so widely esteemed among Christians at that time shows that it was a good representation of their views.

The last section, chapter 16, addresses the subject of Christ’s return. It’s titled “Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord.” It’s purpose is to warn Christians about the persecution and deception of the Antichrist that will precede Christ’s return and encourage them to “endure in their faith.” Here’s what it says:

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. But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead — yet not of all, but as it is said: “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.” Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven. (See it here)

— Holly Pivec
7/28/08