Was the Pre-Trib Rapture taught by Early Church Fathers such as Eusebius? Find out with guest Lee Brainard and hosts Tim Moore and Nathan Jones on the television program, Christ in Prophecy!
Air Date: January 7, 2023
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Part 1 – Interview with Lee Brainard
Tim Moore: Greetings in the name of Jesus our soon returning King and welcome to Christ in Prophecy. I’m Tim Moore, the senior evangelist here at Lamb and Lion Ministries.
Nathan Jones: And I’m Nathan Jones, Internet evangelist.
Tim Moore: For over 40 years, Lamb & Lion Ministries has proclaimed the soon return of Jesus Christ. We do that through this program, the Christ in Prophecy television program, through our bi-monthly magazine, the Lamplighter, and a host of other books and booklets, and our ever expanding presence online. We focus attention on God’s prophetic Word because the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. In other words, as we demonstrated in our Jesus in the Old Testament series, the Bible is full of prophetic references to Jesus because God’s story points to Jesus.
Nathan Jones: And some people occasionally contend that they only want to focus on the here and now or the coming future, but prophecy demonstrates that God revealed in ages past what would be happening in our now and what lies ahead in our future. So, studying the Old Testament is just as important as studying the New. Likewise, understanding the expectations of the original Church Fathers can also help us understand what God revealed long ago. Not only does study prevent us from straying doctrinally, it helps us contend earnestly for the faith which was once at all handed down to the saints.
Tim Moore: We’ve come to really appreciate a man whose field of expertise takes him into the ancient writings of Christians who lived long ago and wrote in languages few people have mastered today. Lee Brainerd is a self-taught and well-respected expert in ancient Greek and Hebrew text, and he demonstrates that treasures can be unearthed through study and hard work and through a driving passion for the Word of God. Lee, I’m so glad you could be with us here today.
Lee Brainard: Oh, I’m enjoying the time, Tim. I always love to come down, visit the brethren here and the sisters at Lamb and Lion. It’s a tremendous opportunity to share in the work of the Lord.
Tim Moore: Well, obviously, we are so glad that your travels brought you near to us and you could be here. Obviously, this last week we talked about your new book, The New Heavens and the Earth, as we started off a New Year. And so, you’re here today to talk about a totally different subject on a project you’ve been working on, tell us what you’ve unearthed recently.
Lee Brainard: Well, I’ve been doing research in the early Church Fathers looking in particular for passages that demonstrate the belief in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture in the early church. And, you know, last year I discovered passages in Ephraim the Syrian that were unknown. Now I’ve uncovered passages in the writings of Eusebius that were unknown to the evangelical world.
Tim Moore: Well, speaking of being unknown some of us have never heard that name until you’ve shared it with us. So, for our viewers sake, tell us a little bit about Eusebius and his background and why he’s important to us.
Lee Brainard: Well, Eusebius was born around 260 A.D. died around 340 A.D., and he was the bishop of Caesarea by the seaside. And he was a well-known theologian in his day, respected by his opponents as well as by those in his own camp. He was suspected of Arianism never really conclusively proved. He was befriended by Constantine, which kind of shielded him from maybe being pursued by his enemies. And he was also an allegorical advocate, advocating for the allegorical and Amillennial interpretation of Scripture. So that makes it surprising that he’s also a Pre-Tribulationist.
Tim Moore: Very much so.
Nathan Jones: Well, Lee you always blow my mind because you get into these old documents that have been sitting in churches and basements for hundreds of years. Nobody’s read them. Nobody’s read them in the original languages and all. We covered Ephraim the Syrian and we covered Irenaeus, and now you’re getting to the original text of Eusebius. What is it like? Do you feel like Indiana Jones you’re getting in there and you’re opening texts that eyes haven’t set eyes on for hundreds of years. I mean, what’s that like?
Lee Brainard: Well, I actually enjoy it. There is an aura of excitement about it.
Nathan Jones: Yeah.
Lee Brainard: There’s an aura of we’re doing original research here. Now the writings of Eusebius and Ephraim the Syrian they do get read by some of the men in the Eastern Church like the Greek Orthodox Church. But in what we would regard as mainstream evangelicalism, they’re entirely unknown. They’re untouched. And I just feel like, wow, I’ve discovered a gold mine, and why hasn’t it been discovered before?
Tim Moore: You sound a lot like Indiana Jones looking for ancient secrets again, buried, and like Nathan said, in churches and basements and not so much in the Eastern world, but at least to those of us in the West.
Lee Brainard: Yes, yes. And to me, it’s really a privilege. I just feel like, okay, Lord, you’ve given me this opportunity. I want to maximize this opportunity. You know, the Lord has enabled me to learn Greek and I want to use it for the glory of the Lord and for the blessing of the people of God.
Tim Moore: Well, one of the common criticisms of the Pre-Tribulation perspective of the Rapture is that it’s too new to be true; in other words, that’s only something people crafted in the last 150 years. And yet we will ignore for a moment the fact that Martin Luther, obviously, when he proposed reforms within the Catholic Church, was also criticized as being too new to be true because he was advocating for salvation by faith alone and discounting centuries of built up Catholic doctrine, teaching salvation by works and in other indulgences and purgatory, and a host of other very unbiblical ideas. But for now, you’ve proven that once again, yet another church father wrote about his expectation of the end time. So, let’s dive into exactly what Eusebius had to say.
Lee Brainard: Well, for instance, let’s just look at the first one here. In fact, I’m going to look at number two here, Eusebius fragments in Luke his commentary on Luke 17:26, one of our very favorite Rapture passages in the modern evangelical church. “As all perished then except those gathered with Noah in the ark, so also at his coming, the ungodly in the season of apostasy shall perish, while according to the pattern of Noah, all the righteous and godly are to be separated from the ungodly and gathered into the heavenly ark. For in this way comes a time when not even one righteous man will be found any more amongst mankind, and when all the ungodly have been made atheists by the Antichrist, and the whole world is overcome by apostasy the wrath of God shall come upon the ungodly.”
So, you notice the order here. First, the righteous are removed from the presence of the ungodly and taken to the heavenly ark. And then there’s a season of apostasy down here on earth where not even one righteous man is going to be found, and the Antichrist is going to take all the ungodly and make them all perfect atheists, and then the wrath of God will come at the Second Coming.
Nathan Jones: Which is rather surprising because when you look at the original church fathers, many of them are Historic Pre-millennialist, they believed in a Millennial Kingdom, but they tended to put the Second Coming and the Rapture as the same event.
Lee Brainard: Yes.
Nathan Jones: And here we go to Eusebius who you said is an Amillennialist, he doesn’t believe in a literal interpretation of a Millennial Kingdom, but he’s making a quote here that very much sounds like he separates the Rapture from the Second Coming.
Lee Brainard: Yes, Eusebius is a very interesting situation because the first two centuries of the church, it was largely Pre-Millennial, it was largely Pre-Tribulational. But this Amillennial idea, the spiritualizing, the allegorical approach to prophecy came in. And there’s a reason for it because they held Replacement Theology. So, by the time we’re getting into the fourth century, the era of the late third and early four centuries, the era Eusebius the church is now largely coming into complete Amillennialism. And so, when we find people like Ephraim the Syrian, and Eusebius still holding on to a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, they’re really resisting the tide. They’ve already succumbed to Amillennialism, but they still can’t shut their mind to the fact there’s material in the New Testament that makes a distinction between the gathering of the church and the Second Coming, and they just held that testimony.
Tim Moore: I think there’s one thing we would push back on, among others, even in the passage you just read and some of the points you made, you said that he cites that they would not be one righteous man found any more among mankind. And so, here’s the distinction, at the time of the Rapture, there is not one righteous man who is left behind, righteous in the sense of having put their faith in Jesus Christ, being washed of their sins. So, all that are left behind are outside the saving knowledge of Christ, the faith in Christ, righteousness by faith alone.
Lee Brainard: Yes.
Tim Moore: But then during the Tribulation period, many will finally come to the end of themselves. They will yield to God and say, I got it wrong before, but now I do put my faith in Christ. And there will be many Tribulation Saints.
Lee Brainard: Yes, absolutely. And he looked at it like there might be a few, but we know there’s going to be many.
Tim Moore: And so, in terms of discerning this important order of end times events, what we call Eschatology and Eusebius, I hope I pronounce this right, you’ll correct me, Eclogae Propheticae.
Nathan Jones: Good try.
Lee Brainard: Yes.
Tim Moore: I tried. What does that title translate to in English and what was the order again that he described?
Lee Brainard: Well, you know, a literal translation of that phrase would simply be selections of prophecy.
Nathan Jones: Oh.
Lee Brainard: But it’s generally translated as a general introduction is what they call it.
Tim Moore: All right.
Nathan Jones: Fascinating. Okay. Well, you have what here? You gave me a list to look over of the things that you’ve discovered, which always blows my mind, because, like Tim said, you hear people come and say, ah, the teaching of the Pre-Trib Rapture is too new to be true. Well, you know, most people aren’t diving into ancient documents in other languages and interpreting them, and that’s what you’re doing. Before we get into application, you give us seven, so can you give us another one?
Lee Brainard: Yes, absolutely. Let’s move into number three here, which is the fragments in Daniel, which is found in Migne volume 24, page 528. And this is a commentary on Daniel 7:18 where the saints of the most high are going to take the kingdom. It’s going to be given to them by the Lord. And there he comments. “The Apostle Paul was moved to write in this manner on the second coming of Christ, for the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with the command, with the call of the Archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and so forth.” And you might first think, okay, he’s equating the Rapture, and the Second Coming, like Lord of the early church fathers did. But nope, he moves on and he adds, “But the same apostle also sets forth in order, in his prophetic writings, the end times coming of the Antichrist and his depravity, and after this the glorious appearing of our Savior.” And so, when you look at the Greek that’s here, what he’s saying is, first, they’re going to be gathering the church, then there’s going to be the time of apostasy and the Antichrist, and then there’s going to be the glorious appearing. So, he’s making a distinction between the gathering of the Church and the glorious public appearing.
Tim Moore: Wow. You know, he got so many things right in this regard the order. And obviously citing from Daniel, Daniel is not referring to the church by name, he’s calling it the Saints. And we understand that to be those who have faith in Christ, and therefore God has credited us with His righteousness. But how can we avoid falling into certain traps like Eusebius does, like dismissing the millennial reign of Jesus?
Lee Brainard: Well, I think the primary thing that we need to do as believers is really just, first of all, read and study the entire Bible, Old Testament, New Testament, and determine in our heart that we are going to take this whole testimony at face value. And we are never going to interpret anything in a spiritual or figurative manner unless it’s impossible to interpret it literally. And that’s the distinction between the literal interpretation or the literal hermeneutic and the spiritualizing hermeneutic. In spiritualizing you are spiritualizing passages that could be taken literally.
Tim Moore: You know, I’ve heard people say, well, every prophetic passage pointing to Jesus First Advent should be taken literally, but every passage pointing to a Second Coming should be taken figuratively. And I just think, where’s the logic in that? That makes no sense. If God fulfilled all the prophecies literally in Jesus First Advent, why would they be spiritualized for a Second Coming?
Lee Brainard: Well it’s, in my mind, the primary reason is for earthly political capital. It’s earthly political gain.
Nathan Jones: Oh, yeah because the Catholic Church then became the go to for everything, including someone’s eternal future.
Lee Brainard: Yes.
Nathan Jones: Lee, as you study the Greek and I still remember sitting in a Bible study that I used to co-teach and we had a professor of Greek there, and he would sit there while we’re reading our English translations, he’d be reading his Greek translation, which was pretty intimidating. You’d have to look at him to make sure you’re pronouncing the Greek right, and he’d kind of give you a thumbs up. But how do we know as only English speakers or other languages that are modern that what the Bible translations we’re reading now are true to the original Hebrew and Greek?
Lee Brainard: Well, what I like to tell people is get yourself two or three literal translations and sit down, start comparing. You go down this path, you begin to realize, okay, they might come at this verse just at slightly different angle, but it’s going the same direction. They might use one word instead of another word; one might be more paraphrastic, one might be literal. But you’re soon going to gain confidence that we have accurate translations. And I have done this myself, I use close to a dozen different English translations. I use several German translations. I use a couple of different Latin translations. And I’ve even used the Syriac at times. And what I discover is our English translations are actually very accurate.
Nathan Jones: Praise the Lord.
Tim Moore: Yes, exactly right. Well, you have two others I want to get you to comment on, that’s number six and seven in your list, both from Isaiah. That’s one of our favorite Old Testament books because it has so much relevance to the coming Messiah. I mean, the suffering servant, we could go on and on.
Lee Brainard: Yes.
Tim Moore: We will return to this book many, many times. But you found two passages that Eusebius translates and sees great insight from. What can you share from that part of Isaiah and your number six and seven?
Lee Brainard: Sure. Well, here, of course, he’s commenting on the book of Isaiah, and in particular, he’s commenting on the passage, which is chapter 43:5-6 on the gathering of Israel. And here we have a comment, “Many sons, born by God, I shall gather into my heavenly city, taking them up, flying them through the air, lofted like birds on the winds. I am talking about angelic powers. Some of them I shall gather to myself from the north, others from Africa, or as some say, from the south.” If you didn’t understand that last phrase.
Nathan Jones: I didn’t, no.
Lee Brainard: What some of the people used to do is where we would use the word south. They used the word Africa.
Tim Moore: Oh, gotcha, because it’s south of Israel.
Lee Brainard: Yes. Yes, exactly. Now, so what’s going on here? Here we see his Replacement Theology. Here we see this Amillennial mindset. He’s using the Old Testament, but he’s reading the Church into the passage. But he also maintained a Pre-Tribulation Rapture with a literal Tribulation and a literal apostasy and people getting saved during that time of Tribulation or time of apostasy that did not belong to the church.
Nathan Jones: Fascinating.
Lee Brainard: Fascinating subject. And then we drop down to number seven. And he continues in this conversation on the subject. And he says, “In the season of the end, God shall bring them,” that is the church, “to the city of God, even the heavenly Jerusalem, and prosper them with this supreme boon, when he shall take them up like he did with Elijah, carrying them upon the angelic chariots, bathing them in heavenly light.” He’s obviously got a Rapture here. This isn’t like the Post Tribulational concept of a Rapture where you go up to the clouds for a minute or five minutes or a couple of hours and come right back down to earth, this is taking them to the heavenly city the New Jerusalem.
Tim Moore: The place Jesus is preparing for us even now.
Lee Brainard: In John 14:1-3, absolutely. So, I find it again very fascinating, here’s a man that’s Amillennial and Pretribulational.
Tim Moore: What a combination today, it almost strains our understanding. But it’s clear in his writings that’s what he believes.
Lee Brainard: You know, one thing I try to encourage people, so if anybody out here in the audience, if you’re working on a master’s thesis or you’re working on a doctoral dissertation, you got to get one going, think of taking up this subject. Why write on a subject that’s been covered 100 times already? Why not take up a subject that’s unbroken ground? Take up the fact there were early church fathers that were Amillennial and Pretribulational. You just email me. If you don’t know my address, get hold of the boys, they’ll give it to you, and you can break new ground covering this subject for your thesis or your dissertation.
Nathan Jones: Well, speaking of a new ground, okay you’ve tackled Irenaeus, you’ve tackled Ephraim the Syrian, now you’ve tackled Eusebius who are you going to tackle next?
Lee Brainard: Well, I actually do have some more work to do with words I have not studied yet in Ephraim the Syrian and in Eusebius. And then I also have to do some contextualizing where I’m going to be reading some of the works that I haven’t yet read cover to cover, start to finish. There’s a lot of work to be done here. And then I have a list of names at home that I’m working through.
Nathan Jones: And you’ve got to finish this, man. You still got that fourth part of this series that isn’t done yet. This is Lee’s Planet Shaken series. It’s fiction teaching, Bible prophecy.
Lee Brainard: Yes.
Nathan Jones: But that’s how I got to meet you is through this series. And so, brother, you got to take a minute just to stop and finish the series, because I want to finish it.
Lee Brainard: Absolutely. Well, I definitely do need to write the last and final volume, which is going to be called “The Reckoning” because every title starts with the “R.” We have “The Rogue,” “The Rendezvous,” “The Russian Run,” and the fourth and final volume, which is going to close the series out is called “The Reckoning.”
Nathan Jones: Well, don’t leave us hanging.
Tim Moore: Yeah, don’t leave us hanging. Well, you know, so to reiterate for today, for those who are trying to wrap their minds around all of these ancient texts, this man who lived so many years ago with tremendous insight, again, we don’t agree with everything he said. But the point being that as we have an expectation of Jesus return and the Rapture of the Church prior to the Tribulation, that is not a concept that is too new to be true.
Lee Brainard: That’s exactly right.
Tim Moore: It was here. And but, I think there’s also another lesson for us, and that is that even as we revere the writings of Eusebius for the insights he had he was not correct about everything.
Lee Brainard: That’s exactly right.
Tim Moore: And so, we cannot ever put a man or any woman on a pedestal as being perfect and inspired except the man, Jesus Christ.
Lee Brainard: Amen.
Tim Moore: Because all of us fall short of His wisdom, of His understanding. And so even as we revere the writings of lots of folks from the past, they were not right about everything. I’ve cited Martin Luther, great insights, tremendous force of determination to reform the church. And yet later in his writings, he became very Anti-Semitic. So, all of these people, even as we study them and as we revere them, cannot detract from the humility we must have to say, you know what, they erred in some areas, perhaps and probably I do as well, so I have to drive back to the Word of God as my grounding.
Lee Brainard: What’s really interesting when you’re bringing up Martin Luther, if we understand that his problem was shared by basically everyone in his day, the problem was they were not dispensational. They were living in the wrong dispensation. If they had been dispensational and understood that God was not setting aside Israel permanently, and He was going to return to them and restore them, their attitude towards the Jews would be much different.
Nathan Jones: Absolutely.
Tim Moore: Well, we don’t want to make that mistake. We don’t want to fall into any traps of understanding. But quite frankly, even as Nathan and I share insights, as we have guests, and Lee you bring just a tremendous wealth of studying and of knowledge. But we want to drive all of you, as our viewers, to the Word of God, because where we err it does not, if ever we misspeak, it does not. And so don’t trust us, be like the Bereans, test every word that we proclaim that we share against the Word of God. And our foundational message is that Jesus Christ is coming soon, and that is throughout the Word of God. And so, we would just encourage every one of you to turn to our Savior, Jesus Christ. If you don’t already know Him as Lord and Savior, then give yourselves over to Him today. Put your trust in Him. Lee, any last words for us?
Lee Brainard: Yes. Just keep looking up. Time is short. Eternity is long. And the rewards of serving the Lord Jesus Christ with all your heart are worth it, no matter what it cost you.
Tim Moore: Amen and amen. Lee, thank you for being here today.
Lee Brainard: Amen. I’ve enjoyed it. Tim and Nathan it’s a great blessing to be with you brothers again.
Tim Moore: We’ll do it again.
Lee Brainard: Amen.
Tim Moore: Godspeed.
Part 2- Signs of the Times: Antisemitism
Tim Moore: Eusebius was one of the most learned leaders of the growing church. Beginning in about 314 AD, he served as the bishop of Caesarea Maritime—a famous site pilgrims love to visit to this day.
Tim Moore:As Lee Brainard demonstrated, Eusebius’ writings were powerful and insightful—pointing to the rapture of the Church prior to the Tribulation.
Tim Moore:Other early church fathers like Augustus were revered biblical scholars whose writings inspire us still today. But, sadly, many of those same men held to some attitudes that were in dramatic contradiction to God’s Word—and have worked their way like leaven into the Church down through the ages.
Tim Moore:I’m speaking of course of Antisemitism.
Tim Moore:In addition to Eusebius and Augustine, church fathers like Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement, and Tertullian all wrongly believed God had cursed the Jews and cast them aside. Even the great reformer Martin Luther condemned the Jews with scathing maliciousness when they did not embrace his reformed ideas. Today, Replacement Theology thrives across the Christian spectrum—in both liberal and conservative denominations.
Tim Moore:Satan has attempted to destroy God’s chosen people since they were first set apart as an example and conduit of God’s blessing. He motivated Pharoah and command that Hebrew male babies be killed while the children of Israel were captive in Egypt. He tried to snuff out their lineage through inbreeding with the pagan peoples of Canaan. He drove Haman to trick king Ahasuerus to destroy the Jews during the time of Esther. And he motivated Adolph Hitler to implement his wicked “final solution” in just the last century.
Tim Moore:David Reagan summed up the reason why Antisemitism is so widespread, so persistent, so poisonous, and so irrational. It is because it is a supernatural phenomenon motivated by Satan’s great hatred of the Jews. Why does Satan hate them so? Because God provided the Bible and the Messiah through them, and called them to be His Chosen People, and promised to save a great remnant of them. But most of all, Satan hates the Jews because God loves them.
Tim Moore:Antisemitism is on the rise again today. In late 2022, Kanye West—or Ye—who professed a dramatic conversion to Christian faith, was widely publicized for sharing Antisemitic propaganda. Ye and virulent holocaust-denier Nick Fuentes, who is so brash as to praise Adolph Hitler, made national news for visiting the home of former President Donald Trump who is himself not Antisemitic.
Tim Moore:Aside from ignorant statements from misinformed public influencers, America is witnessing a dangerous rise in Antisemitism resulting in persecution and physical attacks toward Jews. This sad trend offers us both a Sign of the Times and an Application.
Tim Moore:It is a sign because the Bible says that in the end times two things will happen: First, hatred of Jews will reach a fever pitch as Satan recognizes that his time is short. During the Tribulation, Satan will personally indwell the Antichrist and attempt to annihilate the Jews. Second, rising persecution will motivate individual Jews of the Diaspora to return to Israel. Once gathered there, they will be protected by God when Satan tries to destroy them, leading a great remnant to call upon God and embrace Jesus as their Messiah.
Tim Moore:But, this trend also offers us an application. Every Bible-believing, Christ-honoring Christian should heed God’s Word by blessing the Jewish people. If our heart is truly molded to our heavenly Father’s, then we will love like Him—and we will want to bless the Jews. That desire to bless the Jews in general will also lead us to bless individual Jews, in our prayers and in our words and actions. And the greatest blessing we can share with anyone—Jew and Gentile alike—is the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Part 3- Closing
Nathan Jones: Wow, Tim. Every time we bring Lee Brainard here I feel like I have to go and do a deep study back into the Greek.
Tim Moore: Me too. Obviously, that would be a help with our own Bible studies. You know thankfully, we have resources like study Bibles, concordances, and trusted experts like Lee, who can illuminate the depth and richness of God’s Word.
Nathan Jones: Is there a particular translation that you like to use Tim?
Tim Moore: You know actually there is, I think that any translation that is faithful to the original texts is valid. Now we tend to use the New American Standard translation, even though at times the King James is much more poetic and helpful. I also use the Christian Standard translation or version, the Legacy Standard Bible, the Revised Standard Version, and the New International Version. Sometimes, even a paraphrased version like the Message can be helpful.
But we would encourage our viewers to do two things: Read and study the Bible you’ve got and use online tools to explore and cross-reference passages as the Holy Spirit leads you to seek greater insight.
Nathan Jones: Well, that’s good advice. Well, folks, we love the free applications available online at sites like Blue Letter Bible. They allow you to access multiple versions, dig into the original Greek and Hebrew, and even read commentaries that help illuminate individual verses. Well, until we sit at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to lead us through the ultimate in-depth Bible Study, all of these tools can help you understand and love God’s Word even more.
Tim Moore: Few of us will ever be able to read the Bible in its original languages. And, most of us lack advanced degrees in hermeneutics. But the Word of God—sharper than a two-edged sword and able to pierce each of us to the heart—is not meant to confuse or confound us. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is simple enough that a child can understand—and deep enough that we will never plumb its depths and riches.
Nathan Jones: Which is why we’ll be back next week to engage in another conversation that seeks to edify the saints, evangelize the lost, and honor our Savior.
Tim Moore: We pray God’s blessing on you as you read and heed His Word. Until next week on behalf of Nathan and me and all the team here at Lamb & Lion Ministries, Godspeed!
End of Program