Even some of those who were alive during the era of the apostasy recognized its occurance. Eusibius wrote,
The Church up to that time [the death of the apostles] had remained a pure and uncorrupted virgin, since, if there were any that attempted to corrupt the sound norm of the preaching of salvation, they lay until then concealed in obscure darkness. But when the sacred college of apostles had suffered death in various forms, and the generation of those that had been deemed worthy to hear the inspired wisdom with their own ears had passed away, then the league of godless error took its rise as a result of the folly of heretical teachers, who, because none of the apostles was still living, attempted henceforth, with a bold face, to proclaim, in opposition to the preaching of the truth, the ‘knowledge which is falsely so-called’ (Eusebius [270-340] quoting Hegesippus [110-180] in Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Series 2, 1:164).
It is interesting that Eusibius recognized that the lack of the Apostles made the work of the apostasy unrestrained. Could the apostles be those who were restraining “the son of perdition” talked about in 2 Thess. 2:3? We’ll discuss that in a later post.