John Darby (1800-1882) is generally credited
as the first man to teach the idea that there would be a 7 year tribulation
period. Prior to Darby , there is no known record of anyone claiming that
the 7 years of Dan 9:27 outlines the length of the tribulation period in the
book of Revelation.
It's not that there aren't an abundance of
commentators. For example, all of the following people commented on the
End Times, the False Messiah, and other such topics:
The last chapter of the Didache
(circa 100-120 AD) outlines the events of the Second Coming, but says
nothing about a 7 year trib period.
Irenaeus (120-200 AD), in
V Chapter XXV , quotes from Daniel to discuss the tribulations and
says the false messiah would reign for 3.5 years, and makes no mention of any
greater length of 7 years.
(200-258 AD) discusses the false messiah too in Letter 55 but
said nothing about a 7 year tribulation.
(circa 240 AD) wrote a Commentary on the entire Book
of Revelation, but not once did he mention anything about the tribulation
period being 7 years in length. There's a lot of SEVEN's in the book of
Revelation (7 churches, 7 trumpets, 7 seals) and as such, he talks a lot about
the symbolic meaning of the number 7 in his commentary on the first
chapter. But still, not once does he say anything about a 7 year period
despite all of these opportunities and places where one would expect
Ephraim the Syrian (4th
century AD) discusses the false messiah reigning for 3.5 years,
but says nothing of any sort of 7 year tribulation period.
One could probably go through one example
after another and find similar results; one commentator after another from the
earliest times right on up to Darby had no notion of the End Times fitting into
some sort of 7 year time period. We even see the opposite , for all of
them talk about the false messiah reigning for only 3.5 years.
Darby (19th century AD) is the first person history knows of to suggest that the
entire tribulation period would fit into some sort of 7 year
Now yesterday FM Riley claimed that , "God’s
people [true believers] throughout this present dispensation have always
taught a future seven year Tribulation. " This is
just simply not true. And if someone wants to allege such a thing, then I
would like to challenge them to find me someone who, prior to John Darby, taught
a 7 year tribulation period. If Darby got the idea from an earlier source,
I'd like to know. But none of the earliest writers seem to know anything
about it. It's a post-Nicean concept that's for sure, because none of the
pre-Nicean writers had anything to say about it.
I even checked out what Isaac Newton
(1642-1727) wrote about Daniel today and he wrote a very extensive commentary on
Daniel trying to correlate the events in Daniel with historical events. He
mentions nothing of a 7 year trib period and he enterpreted the 7 years of
Daniel 9:27 as ending in Acts 10 when the Cornelius, who was among first Gentile
believers, accepted the Gospel!
Furthermore, he also said, "The “interpretation” of Daniel 9:26-27 which has
been traditionally taught by all true believers right through the
centuries is completely vindicated. The debate is
over!" to be highly
objectionable. It's as if you're calling into question the salvation of
anyone who is less than convinced that all of Revelation has to fit into some
sort of 7 year time frame. The debate is not over, and no, "all true believers right through the centuries" did not
teach this. In fact, most "true believers right
through the " first 19 "centuries" never heard
of the idea.
Fast forward to today, and there are so many
Protestant pastors that teach Darbyism (the 7 year Trib theory), that most of
them have no clue that this is not universally accepted by all Christians in all
parts of the world. They have no clue that the idea is unheard of in
pre-19th century writings. they just assume "Everybody knows this" when in
reality no one heard of it until John Darby in the 19th century.
Now maybe if someone had sat down and
COUNTED THE CLUES, such as the 1st woe being at least 5 months long, the second
woe streching into at least part of a 43rd month, and the 3rd woe being 42
months long, Darbyism may not have gotten started and Darby would have seen the
error of his ways. But some people are so hung up on the traditions they
have already accepted that even when you show them PROOF FROM SCRIPTURE that in
the form of 2 + 2 = 4, or in this case 5 + 43 + 42 = 90 > 7 years, they still
don't believe what is obvious from the plain ink because they have held that
idea in their mind, and any idea that is believed true for more than 3 days will
never go away with some people. For some folks its any idea over 2
weeks. Some people are more set in their ways than
others. But let's pay attention to what Scripture says, and
not what Darby or other man-made doctrines have to say, and maybe Prophecy will
start making a lot more sense to us. And when a doctrine "doesn't add up",
like this one doesn't, then let's just face that fact that the only timeline we
can put on the trib period is that it will be at LEAST 90 months (7.5 years),
probably more, but we don't know EXACTLY how long because there are tribulation
events who's time isn't counted. All we can do is put a minimum figure on
how long it will last, not an exact figure on it.