This one is about those early leader's ideas concern the return of Christ and some events prophecied concerning it. It's in response to statements such as this (which was dealt a bit a few entries ago)
A battle cry for Christian reform
Q. Today, many evangelicals are fascinated with the end of the world. There's the popularity of the "Left Behind" books. And talk about the Rapture. Their belief is: Things will get worse, we will have world crises. They say that's part of God's plan, to have Armageddon. Is that biblical or is that thinking part of the problem, in your opinion?
I write a good bit about this in the book. And on the tour, one of my talks will be devoted to this subject. I think this is an incredibly important subject.
What a lot of well-meaning, committed evangelical Christians don't realize is that the view of the end-times that they believe is biblical and the historic Christian view is actually a newcomer and an anomaly in Christian history. That view of the end-times was never, ever thought of in Christian history until the 1830s. Now, that doesn't make it wrong. But it does make it suspect.
Now, is this statement true? Is it true that all of the ideas behind the "Left Behind" books are of such recent origin?
My point in doing what I'm wanting to do here is to say that, no, that's not really true. Perhaps the speaker didn't realize what others have said.
It's a little tricky really giving the reference for things here, because it's from a PDF document with a collections of writings from various church fathers. Here is the page where you can find the PDF or other version of it if you choose.
ANF01. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus
The quote below is from Justin Martyr, from "Dialogue with Trypho". The page number is for the page in the PDF document. Color text in the quote is meant to highlight my point.
Chapter CX.—A portion of the prophecy already fulfilled in the Christians: the rest shall be fulfilled at the second advent.
And when I had finished these words, I continued: “Now I am aware that your teachers, sirs, admit the whole of the words of this passage to refer to Christ; and I am likewise aware that they maintain He has not yet come; or if they say that He has come, they assert that it is not known who He is; but when He shall become manifest and glorious, then it shall be known who He is. And then, they say, the events mentioned in this passage shall happen, just as if there was no fruit as yet from the words of the prophecy. O unreasoning men! understanding not what has been proved by all these passages, that two advents of Christ have been announced: the one, in which He is set forth as suffering, inglorious, dishonoured, and crucified; but the other, in which He shall come from heaven with glory, when the man of apostasy, who speaks strange things against the Most High, shall venture to do unlawful deeds on the earth against us the Christians, who, having learned the true worship of God from the law, and the word which went forth from Jerusalem by means of the apostles of Jesus, have fled for safety to the God of Jacob and God of Israel; and we who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each through the whole earth changed our warlike weapons,— our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage, —and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified; and sitting each under his vine, i.e., each man possessing his own married wife. For you are aware that the prophetic word says, ‘And his wife shall be like a fruitful vine.’ Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world. For it is plain that, though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, and chains, and fire, and all other kinds of torture, we do not give up our confession; but the more such things happen, the more do others and in larger numbers become faithful, and worshippers of God through the name of Jesus. For just as if one should cut away the fruit-bearing parts of a vine, it grows up again, and yields other branches flourishing and fruitful; even so the same thing happens with us. For the vine planted by God and Christ the Saviour is His people. But the rest of the prophecy shall be fulfilled at His second coming. For the expression, ‘He that is afflicted [and driven out],’ i.e., from the world, [implies] that, so far as you and all other men have it in your power, each Christian has been driven out not only from his own property, but even from the whole world; for you permit no Christian to live. But you say that the same fate has befallen your own nation. Now, if you have been cast out after defeat in battle, you have suffered such treatment justly indeed, as all the Scriptures bear witness; but we, though we have done no such [evil acts] after we knew the truth of God, are testified to by God, that, together with the most righteous, and only spotless and sinless Christ, we are taken away out of the earth. For Isaiah cries, ‘Behold how the righteous perishes, and no man lays it to heart; and righteous men are taken away, and no man considers it.’
Justin Martyr lived shortly after the time of the apostles. In the quote above, he refers not only to Christ's return in glory, but the coming of a "man of apostasy" who would move against believers. It is clear that he did not see that as having been fulfilled in the past, not in Nero. And that is one of the main element in the dispensationalist/futurist view of the end times, the coming of an Anti-Christ leader.