One of my students is doing his (undergraduate) dissertation research on the reception of the „Rapture” in the early patristic writings.

One thing should be clear from the outset: the early Fathers are no dispensationalists. But some of them do understand the event described in 1 Thes. 4:17 in a manner which recalls the classical Pentecostal perspective.

Below you can read a chunk of Pentecostal fire-and-brimstone sermon by Tertullian. If I were to translate it into good Romanian, rehearse it and preach it in a Romanian traditional Pentecostal church, I suspect that nobody would guess it was from Tertullianʼs De cultu feminarum. 🙂


What service, again, does all the labour spent in arranging the hair render to salvation? Why is no rest allowed to your hair, which must now be bound, now loosed, now cultivated, now thinned out? Some are anxious to force their hair into curls, some to let it hang loose and flying; not with good simplicity: beside which, you affix I know not what enormities of subtle and textile perukes; now, after the manner of a helmet of undressed hide, as it were a sheath for the head and a covering for the crown; now, a mass (drawn) backward toward the neck. [2] The wonder is, that there is no (open) contending against the Lord’s prescripts! It has been pronounced that no one can add to his own stature. You, however, do add to your weight some kind of rolls, or shield-bosses, to be piled upon your necks! If you feel no shame at the enormity, feel some at the pollution; for fear you may be fitting on a holy and Christian head the slough of some one else’s head, unclean perchance, guilty perchance and destined to hell. Nay, rather banish quite away from your „free” head all this slavery of ornamentation. In vain do you labour to seem adorned: in vain do you call in the aid of all the most skilful manufacturers of false hair. God bids you „be veiled.” I believe (He does so) for fear the heads of some should be seen! [3] And oh that in „that day” of Christian exultation, I, most miserable (as I am), may elevate my head, even though below (the level of) your heels! I shall (then) see whether you will rise with (your) ceruse and rouge and saffron, and in all that parade of headgear: whether it will be women thus tricked out whom the angels carry up to meet Christ in the air If these (decorations) are now good, and of God, they will then also present themselves to the rising bodies, and will recognise their several places. But nothing can rise except flesh and spirit sole and pure. Whatever, therefore, does not rise in (the form of) spirit and flesh is condemned, because it is not of God. From things which are condemned abstain, even at the present day. At the present day let God see you such as He will see you then.