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Early Church History

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by

Tag Green

on 22 February 2016

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Transcript of Early Church History

Timeline
Overview

The Ancient Church:
33-600 A.D.

The Canonization of Scripture
An Introduction
Early Church History:
What is
Church History?

Why study
Church history?

Church history is
an
organized record
of the
origin
,
development
, and
impact of

Christianity
on man.
a
. It is an

integral
part of
universal
history.

b. It is
impossible
to understand the
situation
in the
present church
without understanding its
history
.

c. It presents
practical lessons
of the
Christian life
.

d. Most errors of
Christian doctrine
had their
beginnings
in the church.

e. It strengthens
conviction
in the
triumph
of the church.

f. It is the basis of
theology
.
Ancient history
33 A.D.
Age of the
Apostles
95 A.D.
150 A.D.
300 A.D.
600 A.D.
1453 A.D.
1648 A.D.
Age of the
Church
Fathers
Age of the
Apologists
Age of the
Theologians
The Medieval
Church
The Reformation Church
The Age of the Apostles:
33-95 A.D.
The foundation
of the church
The beginning
of the church
The organization of the church
The worship
of the church
Matthew 16:18
"...on this rock I will build my church..."
Christ's life
birth, ministry, death, resurrection
The World at the Beginning of the Church
Roman Influence
"Pax Romana"
Growth of roads and cities
Suppression of trade barriers
Fading of cults
Greek Influence
Universal language
Spiritual bank of Greek thought: "unknown god"
Jewish Influence
Diaspora
Messianic hope
Beginnings of synagogues
Religious Influence
Sadducees
Pharisees
The Spread of the Church: Acts 1:8
The church began in
Jerusalem
. It
grew
and
spread
rapidly, despite
persecution
. Four of the most important leaders of the fledgling church were
Peter
,
James
,
John
, and
later, Paul
.
Worship of the Church
Preaching of the gospel
Reading the Old Testament and receiving explanation
Praying
Singing songs
Observing the ordinances of baptism and communion
Establishing places of worship - homes, catacombs
Primary Roles of Leadership in the Early Church
Bishops
* the highest authority in the early church
* in the first century, also known as the "elder" or "overseer"
Church gatherings
* Christians gathered in homes
* people were baptized when they accepted Christ
Age of the Church Fathers:
A.D. 95-150
What is a
Church Father?
"Church Fathers" is the
name
given to the
writers
of Christian literature who immediately
succeeded
the
apostles
. The name refers to either a
man

or
his
writing
.
Important Early
Church Fathers
Clement
of Rome
Ignatius,
Bishop of Antioch
(
Martyred
in Rome)
Polycarp,
Bishop of Smyrna
He personally knew
John
(the
apostle
). At his trial, he said that he had served Christ for
86
years. He was martyred in
A.D. 155
.
Papias,
Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia
He was also a disciple of
John
.
Writings of the Early
Church Fathers
Clement
wrote an epistle to the
Corinthians
.
Ignatius
wrote an epistle to
seven
churches. He wrote it on his way to
martyrdom
.
Papias
wrote
"Interpretations of the Sayings of the Lord."
Only
fragments
remain.
Organization of the Early Church
The office of
DEACON
* Collected offerings
* Cared for the poor and sick
* Served communion
The office of
PRESBYTER
* Attended to spiritual needs, including:
Preaching
Teaching
Baptizing
The office of
BISHOP
* Preached
* Trained presbyters
* Supervised all churches in a particular city
* Represented his city at church councils
Other terms and names:
MONASTERY
Societies that were formed outside of normal city life. Monks and nuns joined monasteries to keep from worldly corruption.
ABBOT
A presbyter who led a monastery or abbey
APOLOGIST
A person who defended Christianity
HERETICS
False teachers
COUNCIL
A meeting of several different churches to discuss an issue or problem in the church
The Canon
The Canon
The Process of Canonization
What does the word
Bible
mean?
Jerome, the fourth-century translator of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures into Latin, called them "
the Divine Library."
He wanted to stress that the many books were, in fact, one.
Greek-speaking believers made the same point when they shifted from the early plural form
Biblia
, meaning "the Books," to the Bible, meaning,
"the Book."
The Canon
Today the Bible has
66
books that Christians consider the written Word of God. These books are grouped under
Old Testament
(or Covenant) and
New Testament
.
In the ancient world a
"testament,"
or more often a
"covenant,"
was the term for a special relationship between two parties. Used in the Bible, the term stands for the
special relationship between God and man,
initiated and sustained by the
grace
of the Lord God.
The Canon
The old covenant was first between the Lord and
Abraham
, then between God and Abraham's
descendants
, the children of Israel (called by history the
Jews
). So the Old Testament contains the books that tell the story of
the Jews
and their ancient worship of God.
Early Christians believed that Jesus of Nazareth was God's promised
Messiah
, who established a new covenant with His new people,
the church
. So the New Testament stands
for the books telling the story of Jesus Christ
and the birth
of the church
.
The Canon
So the Bible contains two portions: the Old Testament, which the early Christians
claimed
, along with the Jews; and the New Testament, which the early Christians
produced
, in spite of the Jews. The Old Testament
promised
; the New Testament
fulfilled
.
The Canon
The word for the
special place these books occupy
in Christianity is
canon
. From the Greek language the term originally meant
"a measuring rod,"
or a "ruler," as we would call it today. It was the standard for judging something
straight
. So the idea transferred to a list of books that constituted the standard or "rule" of the churches. These were the books
read publicly in the congregations
because they had
a special authority of God
upon them.
The Canon
Early Christians accepted the
39
books of the
Old Testament
that Jesus Himself referred to when He spoke of the law of
Moses
, the Prophets, and the
psalms
(Luke 24:44). However, early Christians of the
East
accepted only those 39 books, while early Christians of the
West
tended to follow
St. Augustine's
inclusion of 12-15 additional books that the Greek translation of the Old Testament from Alexandria, called
the Septuagint
, had also made known.
The Canon
Today
Protestant
Christians follow the example of the early
Eastern Christians
, while
Catholic Christians
follow the example of the early
Western
Christians.
The Canon
From the beginning, however, Christians had more than the
Old Covenant
as their rule for faith. During Jesus' life on earth they had the Word made flesh, and after Jesus' departure they had
the living leadership of the apostles
. The
reverence
for the apostles'
message
, whether oral or written, as the authentic channel to the will of the Lord Jesus, is reflected throughout early Christian literature.
The Canon
During the days of the
apostles
, congregations often read letters from
the companions of the Lord
. Churches also relied on accounts
about the life of the Lord Jesus
. The first gospels were not written before
A.D. 60 or 70
, but their contents were partly available in written form before this. Luke tells us that many had undertaken some account of the
events of the life of Jesus
.
The Process of Canonization
Out of this growing body of Christian literature, how did the twenty-seven books we know of as the New Testament come to be set apart as Scripture? How did they become
canonical
?
Several factors can be summarized as the primary criteria by which a book became a part of the New Testament canon.
1) The books that are Scripture and are truly the Word of God have about them a
self-evidencing quality
.
They carry their uniqueness on their face. They have always exercised, and still exercise, an unparalleled power upon the lives of men.
2) Certain Christian books were added to Scripture because
they were used in Christian worship
.
Even in the New Testament itself there is clear evidence that the reading of the Scripture was a part of congregational life. The apostle Paul urged the Colossians: "After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea" (Col. 4:16).
Writing in the middle of the second century,
Justin Martyr
gives us the
first description
of a Christian service: "On the day called the Day of the Sun all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then,when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray."
However, the mere reading of a book in Christian worship did not assure the writing an eventual place in the canon. For example,
Clement of Rome
wrote a letter to the church at Corinth around
A.D. 96
, and eighty years later it was still the custom
in Corinth
to read Clement's letter in
public worship
. Yet Clement's letter was
never added to the canon
.
3) Perhaps the most
fundamental
reason for a Christian book's acceptance into New Testament
canon
was
its ties to an apostle
.
This was the
test
of the book's validity: was it
written by an apostle
, or at least by a man who had direct contact with
the circle of the apostles
?
In
the early church
the apostles held a place that
other men
simply could not fill. Early believers always regarded them as men
who had a unique relationship with the Lord
. Did not Jesus say: "He who receives you receives Me" (Matt. 10:40)?
Clement
of Rome reflects this
general attitude of Christians
when he writes: "The apostles were made evangelists to us by the
Lord Christ
; Jesus Christ was sent by
God
. Thus Christ is from God, and the
apostles from Christ
...The Church is built on them as a
foundation
" (I Clement 42).
4) Certain
outside events
forced the churches to
draw up a list
of canonical Christian
writings
sooner, and more emphatically, than they might have without these events.
The
primary event
came in the influence of a certain
wealthy shipowner
from Sinope on the Black Sea, named
Marcion
.
Though he was the son of a bishop, Marcion fell under the teaching of a man who believed that
the God of the Old Testament was different
from the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The God of the Old Testament
, he said, was
unknowable
; the Christian God had been
revealed
. The Old Testament God was sheer
justice
, whereas the God of the New Covenant was
loving and gracious
. The God of the Old Testament, he said, was
only concerned for the Jewish
people, and was prepared to
destroy all other people
. In contrast, the
Christian's
God was a God of
grace and love
for all, who disclosed himself in Jesus Christ, His Son.
Because of these beliefs, Marcion
rejected the entire Old Testament
and also those New Covenant
writings
that he thought favored Jewish readers (Matthew,
Mark
, Acts,
Hebrews
).
Therefore, as his
popularity and influence
grew, the church was faced with a two-fold problem:
his list of New Testament books
, shaped in the image of only one apostle (Paul); and
his rejection of the Old Testamen
t. How could the church accept Paul's letters without endorsing Marcionite teaching?
In the end, the church chose to include
all of Paul's letters
and the letters of
the other apostles
, and to link all of the letters to the
four Gospels
by using the
book of Acts
as the bridge. While the church treasured the
grace of God
preached by Paul, it realized that discarding the
Old Testament
was suicidal. Does the New Covenant make sense without the Old? What might have happened to the growth of the church if the Old Testament had been discarded as part of the Christian Bible?
The Age of the Apologists
(A.D. 150-300)
What were the apologists?
Who were the apologists?
What were the apologists?
The apologists were
writers
who responded to severe
attacks
upon
Christianity
. They
contended
for Christianity,
combatted
paganism, and
constructed
doctrinal belief.
Who were the apologists?
1) Justin Martyr (c. A.D. 100-165)
The
foremost
of the apologists in the
2nd
century. His parents were
pagans
.
His writings:
i.
First Apology
: written to
Emperor Antoninus Pius
ii.
Second Apology
: written to
the Roman Senate
iii.
Dialogue with Trypho
: written to
convince Jews of Christ as the Messiah
Who were the apologists?
2) Clement of Alexandria
His parents were
pagan
. He studied
philosophy
.
His writings:
i. Exhortation to the Heathen
ii. The Instructor
Who were the apologists?
3) Irenaeus (c. A.D. 130-212)
He was raised in
Smyrna
. He knew
Polycarp
. He was the bishop of
Lyons
(in Southern France), and he was
martyred
.
His writings:
i.
Against Marcion
ii.
Against Heresy
Full transcript