The Epistle of Barnabas and Ed Stevens

“I am doing my Master’s Thesis on the Epistle of Barnabas. Based on internal evidence and the best external traditions we have about Barnabas, I am dating the Epistle within the range of AD 55-56. – Ed Stevens

Let’s be honest, Preterist reject the Early Church Fathers and their writings because without exception they all teach a future Second Coming and Bodily Resurrection (post 70 AD). They can use the argument all day long they were not inspired so therefore do not count so they are to be ignored and cast away. This approach defies scholarly honesty on several levels.

The first is that preterist do not make the distinction between historical facts the ECF articulate, from doctrinal or theological statements. In both cases, whatever they say in the way of historical facts or in doctrine;

  1. We attest to the validity of facts by the consensus of many secular and non-secular sources such as who reigned when, according to what is available on the subject so it is never the word of just one person.

“When Jerusalem Fell” by Gentry is a collection of statements made by ECF that promote the idea of John, who lived without question to about 98-100 AD, wrote Revelation before AD 70.  His work is to prove the ECF were all wrong or at best suspect. That is what we call agenda driven theology that seeks to distort the facts to fit one’s agenda. It becomes agenda driven when the interpretation of Revelation leads to the belief that Revelation was written prior to AD 70 so therefore the testimony of ECF must be wrong.

2. By reading what they believed doctrinally we come to understand the agreed upon consensus of what theology was accepted as Orthodox such as the Trinity or Incarnation. From many we come to understand what they believed, right or wrong.

 

A minority claim the church was raptured in AD 70 and what was left was the “apostate” church yet as said above, these same “apostate” ECF not only compiled the 66 books of our Bible they are the same ones who formulated the doctrine of the Trinity and Incarnation to which is the basis for Orthodox Christianity. Many wrote against Heresies such as Irenaeus. So to claim they were “apostate” church after AD 70 is a blatant lie as evidence by anyone who would read their works and their attempt to deal with heresy and false doctrine.  We know their doctrine remained sound by what they wrote, not perfect in every sense but men have disagreed for two thousand years over minor points.

Secondly to claim there was a worldwide literal Rapture of every Christian which happened at his coming is historically as inaccurate as can be. The church in AD 70 was comprised of many church throughout Asia and the Middleast. Eusebius as well as other sources record who were the Pastors of these churches and it is the utmost importance for the Catholic Church to prove Apostolic Succession. For instance, the Catholic church claims as does history the Pope who succeeded St Peter was St Linus, he ruled from 64 – 76 AD. Eusebius records, “1. After the martyrdom of Paul and of Peter, Linus was the first to obtain the episcopate of the church at Rome. Paul mentions him, when writing to Timothy from Rome, in the salutation at the end of the epistle.History of the Church Book Three chapter 2. Eusebius goes on to record succession of Bishops in Jerusalem and of other churches.

After the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem which immediately followed, it is said that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh (for the majority of them also were still alive) to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James.

They all with one consent pronounced Symeon, the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention; to be worthy of the episcopal throne of that parish. He was a cousin, as they say, of the Savior. For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph.

IF there was a rapture of the church Linus’s years would have ended in 70 AD as would every church Bishop living and Pastoring in AD 70. There would be no church to continue.

The dishonest scholar will then dismiss these statements as coming from deceived, apostate, and inaccurate people simply because they establish there was no rapture of the church.

LOGIC: If the church was told to flee Jerusalem and the evidence point to their gathering at Pella, as Eusebius records, then they were not Raptured or if they were to be raptured out then there would have been no need for them to FLEE Jerusalem.

Now to the Point of Barnabas and Ed Stevens:

Many, because of the statements within, claim without merit that it is a spurious letter written possibly in the second century by some unknown author. In reality the preponderance of evidence establishes Barnabas as the author and being written after AD 70. Ed Stevens, who does not argue against the legitimacy of the authorship, seeks to prove it was written before AD 70. Yet the internal evidence of the document proves otherwise.

Barnabas, Epistle of  – Chapter 16

It has so happened. For through their going to war, it was destroyed by their enemies; and now: they, as the servants of their enemies, shall rebuild it. Again, it was revealed that the city and the temple and the people of Israel were to be given up. For the Scripture says, And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the Lord will deliver up the sheep of His pasture, and their sheep-fold and tower, to destruction. And it so happened as the Lord had spoken. 

Chapter 15

This means: when His Son, coming [again], shall destroy the time of the wicked man, and judge the ungodly, and change the-sun, and the moon, and the stars, then shall He truly rest on the seventh day.

Barnabas speaks to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, which puts the document written post AD 70, and further establishes his belief in a future second coming. Barnabas being a partner of Paul hardly fits the bill for Apostasy, and his letter establishes his trust in Christ.

In the Early Church the Epistle of Barnabas was considered “inspired” and “cannon” since it was believed Barnabas was possibly one of the disciples, but at the least was considered an Apostle. (Acts 14:14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it… which confirm Barnabas was a disciple of Christ in order to be called an Apostle.

How many such statement are required by good Christian men to disprove the tenants of Preterism?

May the Eyes of the Blind be Opened!

Amen.