Church History - Age of Apostles

Scripture Passage: 
Church History - Age of Apostles
  1. THE JEWS AND THEIR TRADITION 
    1. General Characteristics
      1. People of ritual; traditional practices
      2. Legalistic minds; straining at gnats
      3. Extremely nationalistic
        1. Led to constant uprisings
        2. Led to destruction of Jerusalem (70AD)
      4. Special privileges under the Roman empire
        1. Given complete liberty as compared to other peoples
        2. Many were allowed to become Roman citizens (Acts 21:39; 22:25-28)
        3. Given complete freedom of worship, including observance of Sabbaths and feast days
        4. Freed from military service because they refused to march or fight on the Sabbath
        5. Not obliged to appear in courts on holy days
      5. Exclusive attitude (Romans 2:17-20)
        1. Separate from other peoples; no intermarriage
        2. Would not join in the worship of the Roman gods or the Roman Emperor
        3. Their privileges plus attitude led to resentment from the general populace
        4. Often received blame for natural disasters  
    2. Political Parties
      1. Pharisees (Matthew 23)
        1. Considered the spiritual leaders of the time
        2. Extremely legalistic in practice
        3. Literal in interpretation to the extent of believing in the resurrection and angels
        4. Traditionalists who added to the word by accepting many traditions and writings as authoritative in addition to scripture
        5. Providential – believed that God had a part in the affairs of men
        6. Proud (Luke 18:9-13)
        7. Type of Roman Catholics (Matthew 15:1-9)
          1. Transgressing the word (v.3)  
          2. Neutralizing the word (v.6)
          3. Replacing the word (v.9) 
      2. Saducees (Acts 23:6-9)
        1. Spiritual modernists
        2. Rejected angels; resurrection (Matthew 22:23)
        3. Practiced free (not literal) interpretation
        4. Aristocrats
        5. Deistic – believed that God existed but did not concern Himself with the affairs of mankind
        6. Cooperated with the Romans
        7. Controlled the high priesthood most of the time 
      3. Essenes
        1. Lived a communal, monastic life
        2. Extremely pious in their external life – emphasized brotherly love
        3. Extremely ascetic
        4. Renounced marriage
        5. Denied a physical resurrection
        6. Rejected animal sacrifice
        7. Lived in separate and isolated communities
        8. Said by some to have influenced John the Baptist and Christ.  This is false.
        9. May have influenced later monasticism 
      4. Zealots
        1. Simon called Zelotes (one of the twelve) probably came from this group (Luke 6:15)
        2. Very pro-Jewish
        3. Hated Roman control
        4. Wanted independence
        5. Had much to do with inciting the wars against Rome
          1. The Great Revolt of the Jews (66-73AD) ended with the destruction of Jerusalem by General Titus in 70AD and the taking of Masada in 73AD
          2. The Revolt of Bar Kokhba (132-135AD) who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah resulted in temporary decrees prohibiting circumcision and the teaching of the Torah  
      5. Herodians
        1. Found in Matthew 22:16; Mark 3:6; 12:13
        2. A small group supportive of King Herod
        3. Pro-government and pro-Roman 
      6. Samaritans
        1. Partial Jews who were the result of intermarriage of the ten tribes with foreign races after the captivity of Israel (2Kings 17:24-41)
        2. Claimed that Mt. Gerizim was the true sanctuary (John 4:19-22)
        3. Accepted only the Pentateuch as scripture
        4. Not recognized by the Jewish purists (John 4:9
    3. Institutions 
      1. Temple
        1. The Temple Ages
          1. First Temple Age – Solomon’s Temple (2Samuel 7)
          2. Second Temple Age
            1. Began with Zerubbabel’s Temple (Ezekiel 6)
            2. Continued through the rebuilding of the temple by Herod (Mark 13)
            3. Ended with the destruction of the temple in 70AD
        2. Pattern for Roman Catholic services
          1. Sacrifice – the Eucharist
          2. Mediator – the priest 
      2. Synagogue
        1. Mentioned once in the Old Testament (Psalm 74:8) but complete service seems to have developed in the time between the testaments
        2. Service included:
          1. Singing
          2. Sermon
          3. Offering
          4. Prayer
          5. Scripture reading (Luke 4:16-21)
        3. Pattern for church services 
      3. Sanhedrin
        1. Scripturally called the council (Mark 14:55; Acts 5:21; 23:1-10)
        2. Jewish supreme court of law
        3. Higher court had 71 members
        4. Could pronounce but could not impose the death penalty (John 18:31-32)
        5. Appearance before the council
          1. Christ (John 19)
          2. Peter & John (Acts 4-5)
          3. Stephen (Acts 6-7)
          4. Paul (Acts 23) 
    4. Jewish Dispersion 
      1. Called the diaspora (see James 1:1; 1Peter 1:1)
      2. Major causes
        1. Captivities (Assyrian & Babylonian)
        2. Commercial opportunities under Roman freedom
      3. Jews lived throughout the Roman Empire and beyond it toward the east
      4. Largest Jewish population was in Alexandria, Egypt (Jeremiah 43:4-7); Antioch, Syria also had a large population 
    5. Jewish Literature 
      1. Philo of Alexandria
        1. Lived from c.20BC to c.42AD
        2. Famous Jewish philosopher
        3. Known for his allegorical interpretation of scripture
        4. Had much influence on later Christian thought 
      2. Flavius Josephus
        1. Lived from c.37 to c.100AD 
        2. Jewish historian born in Jerusalem of a priestly family
        3. Given command of the army of Galilee in the Jewish revolt of 66AD
        4. Captured by the Romans and after a time of imprisonment was released and given a role in trying to convince the rebellious Jews to make peace with Rome—but to no avail
        5. Works include Jewish War and Antiquities of the Jews 
      3. Mishnah
        1. Jewish tradition teaches that at the time of Moses two laws were given to him.
          1. The written law or the Torah
            1. Five Books of Moses
            2. Taught to contain 613 specific laws or mitzvoth that are binding on the Jewish people
          2. The oral law
            1. This was an extension of the written law observed in the traditions of the Jews    
            2. This law was passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation until recorded in the Mishna
        2. Written in about 200AD under the leadership of Rabbi Judah ha Nassi (the Prince)
        3. Divided into six orders and further subdivided into 63 tractates.  The orders are:
          1. Zera’im (Seeds) deals with agricultural rules and produce offerings    
          2. Mo’ed (Festivals) deals with the keeping of the Sabbath and the annual feasts
          3. Nashim (Women) deals with issues between the sexes including marriage and divorce
          4. Nezikin (Damages) deals with Jewish civil and ceremonial law
          5. Kodashim (Sacred Things) deals with the laws of sacrifice and ritual slaughter
          6. Taharot (Ritual Purity) deals with the laws of purity and impurity 
      4. Talmud
        1. The Mishnah was written in a difficult and abbreviated form that needed much interpretation
        2. Commentary, or text explaining the Mishnah, also became codified and took on the name of Gemera
        3. The Mishnah with its commentary (Gemera) came to be known together as the Talmud
        4. Two entirely different editions of the Talmud were written
          1. The Jerusalem or Palestinian Talmud Was completed c.400AD
          2. The Babylonian Talmud was completed c.500AD.  This was the largest Talmud and is the most used today
        5. Two types of material from the Talmud are given special names
          1. Halakah – refers to legal rulings
          2. Aggadah – refers to ethical and homiletic material 
  2. THE ROMANS AND THEIR GOVERNMENT 
    1. General Characteristics 
      1. People of action
      2. Practical minds
      3. Very organized
      4. Not considered creative (in comparison to the Greeks)
      5. Assimilated the cultures of those they conquered
    2. Rome’s Unifying Factors 
      1. A universal Roman law
      2. An extensive Roman army
        1. Kept order throughout the empire
        2. Highly respected; an army career was a distinguished career; consider the honor given to centurions in the Bible
      3. A common Roman coinage
      4. A complete network of roads
        1.  Established for the movement of armies
        2. Aided commerce
        3. Aided evangelism
      5. A universal language
        1. Not Latin, but Greek
        2. Even in Rome, one-half of the inhabitants spoke Greek; the church in Rome spoke Greek until the third century
        3. A remaining influence of Greek civilization 
    3. Social Conditions 
      1. Much travel and trade
      2.  A great deal of intermarriage
      3. A tendency to merge cultures
      4. Frequent wars
      5. Frequent suicides
      6. Infidelity was very common
      7. Divorce rate was very high 
    4. The State Religion 
      1. Emperor worship; the emperor was worshipped as a god
      2. Explains the origin of Caesar (Roman, Czar or Tsar (Russian) and Kaiser (German)
      3. All other religions were accepted in Rome as long as the other religions accepted the emperor as god.  NOTE: This is similar to the Roman Catholic attitude toward the pope. 
  3. THE GREEKS AND THEIR PHILOSOPHY 
    1. General Characteristics 
      1. People of thought (1Corinthians 1:21-24)
      2. Speculative minds; even their science was developed on mental speculation and not on physical experimentation
      3. Creative
      4. Not known for great organizational ability
      5. Dominated the culture, art, literature and thought of the Roman Empire even though conquered by them
      6. Major cities of Greek influence
        1. Athens – a major city of philosophy
        2. Alexandria – a major city of philosophy and science; they actually broke the mold and began experimenting (practiced vivisection on criminals)
        3. Antioch – Greek and oriental cultures merged here 
    2. Dominant Greek Philosophies (Colossians 2:8
      1. Pythagoreanism
        1. Founded by Pythagoras (582-510BC)
        2. Philosophy of mathematics; based on the principles of numbers
        3. Emphasized harmony
        4. Expressed ethics in symbolic, numeric form 
      2. Socratic Philosophy
        1. Founded by Socrates (471-399BC)
        2. Philosophy of ethics
        3. All vice is the result of ignorance
        4. Virtue is knowledge and is therefore capable of being taught 
      3. Platonism
        1. Founded by Plato (427-347BC)
        2. Philosophy of ideas
        3. Only the perfect idea is real: Idealism or nominalism
        4. Virtue is the perfect adaptation to one’s calling
        5. Praised by many “church fathers” as close to Christian theology
        6. Many faulty theological definitions are the result of incorporating Platonic definitions into Christian theology; soul is one example 
      4. Aristotelianism
        1. Founded by Aristotle (384-322BC)
        2. Philosophy of science
        3. Only the thing itself is real: realism
        4. Emphasized formal logic and intricate systems
        5. Followed by the Catholic philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274AD) in his Summa Theologiae 
      5. Stoicism
        1. Founded by Zeno (c.380BC)
        2. Philosophy of asceticism (self-denial)
        3. Had high moral tone; taught brotherhood of man
        4. Pantheistic in theology (God is everything)
        5. Found on Mars Hill (Acts 17:18
      6. Epicureanism
        1. Founded by Epicurus (341-270BC)    
        2. Philosophy of pleasure
        3. Identified good with pleasure and the absence of pain (see Luke 12:19)
        4. Found on Mars Hill (Acts 17:18
      7. Skepticism
        1. Philosophy of doubt
        2. Taught that any premise is as true as its contradiction
        3. Destroyed the distinctions between true and false, right and wrong (See Isaiah 5:20
  4. THE ORIENTALS AND THEIR MYSTERY RELIGIONS 
    1. General Characteristics
      1. People who sought a personal experience
      2. Reflective, meditative minds 
    2. The Eastern Religions 
      1. From Persia and Asia
      2. Centered around Babylon
      3. Offered man a spiritual release from death
      4. Promised eternal happiness
      5. Required initiations
      6. Provided a mediator between God and man
      7. The Babylonian Mystery Religions has a direct influence on Roman Catholicism (Easter, the sacraments, etc.) 
    3. Babylonian Mystery Religions 
      1. Orphic Cult
        1. Taught dualism between good and evil. (Although this may sound proper at first, eastern dualism tried to make a complete distinction between good and evil.  If the flesh was evil, then it had to be punished, etc.)
        2. Taught celibacy and abstention from meat and wine for priests 
      2. Magna Mater
        1. Means “the Great Mother”
        2. Baptism required for membership: required to forgive sins; was in blood
        3. Their priests “were eunuchs who wore female garb, who kept their hair long and perfumed with ointment, and who celebrated the goddess’ rites with wild music and dancing until their frenzied excitement found its culmination in self-scourging, self-laceration, or exhaustion.” –Encyclopedia Britannica in the article on “Mystery Religions” 
      3. Mythraism
        1. Taught triumph of light over darkness
        2. Taught baptismal regeneration
        3. Had sacramental meal 
      4. Isis Mysteries
        1. Originated in Egypt
        2. Related to Ishtar, Ashtaroth and Astarte
        3. Centered around mother (Isis) and her son
        4. “The Christian representations of the Madonna and child are clearly the continuation of the representations of Isis and her son suckling the breast.” –Encyclopedia Britannica  
  5. APOSTOLIC EVANGELIZATION  
    1. The Twelve 
      1. Their commission (Matthew 28:16-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8)
        1. Its content
          1. Salvation   
          2. Baptism
          3. Teaching
        2. Its extent (Acts 1:8)
          1. Jerusalem
          2. Judaea
          3. Samaria
          4. Uttermost part of the earth   
      2. Their disobedience
        1. Blessings (Acts 2:41-47)
        2. Contentment (Acts 5:28; cp 17:6
      3. The first major persecution
        1. At the time of Stephen’s death (Acts 8:1-3)
        2. Beginning of world evangelism (Acts 8:4)
        3. Beginning of church at Antioch and Gentile conversion (Acts 11:19-21
    2. The Apostle Paul 
      1. First missionary journey
        1. Begins at Antioch (Acts 13:1-4)
        2. Travels through Cyprus and Asia Minor with Barnabas
        3. Returned to Antioch (Acts 14:26-28)
        4. Followed by meeting in Jerusalem (Acts 15) 
      2. Second missionary journey
        1. Begins at Antioch (Acts 15:36-41)    
        2. Separated from Barnabas who went to Cyprus with Mark
        3. Took Silas and later picked up Timothy
        4. Strengthened and established the churches in Asia Minor
        5. Took the gospel to Europe by way of Macedonia
        6. Returned to Antioch  
      3. Third missionary journey
        1. Begins at Antioch (Acts 18:22-23)
        2. Confirms the established churches in Asia Minor and Europe
        3. Travels to Jerusalem and is arrested there
        4. Held in Casarea for two years
        5. Taken to Rome 
      4. Fourth missionary journey
        1. Disputed by many but fits the facts of scripture   
        2. Occasion of Paul’s journey into Spain (Romans 15:24,28); notice the statements of fact: “whensoever” (v.24) and “I will come by you into Spain” (v.28). 
        3. This journey was possible after the first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:30-31) and Paul’s first deliverance (2Timothy 4:16-17)
        4. Occurred before Paul’s final departure (2Timothy 4:6; subscript at the end of II Timothy)
        5. Consider the things Paul left behind
          1. Cloak, books and parchments which Paul needed before winter (2Timothy 4:13,21)
          2. Trophimus left at Miletum sick (2Timothy 4:20)
          3. By the end of Acts, Paul had been in prison over four years [2 years in Caesarea (Acts 24:27) and 2 years in Rome (Acts 28:30)].  When he wrote II Timothy, he was preparing to die (4:6).  The above statements do not make any sense if he did not have a time of freedom between the end of Acts and II Timothy.  This provides time for a fourth missionary journey.
        6. Quotation from Clement of Rome
          1. Written about 95AD
          2. “Paul…having come to the limit of the West, and borne witness before the magistrates, departed from the world and went to the holy place, having furnished the sublimest model of endurance.”
          3. The limit of the West would be Spain and/or Britain 
  6. THE COMPLETED CANON 
    1. Definition – a rule or standard; hence, the books which make up the scriptures (Romans 1:2; 2Peter 3:16
    2. Scriptural Evidence 
      1. Testimony of the Old Testament (Psalm 119:89; Isaiah 40:8)
      2. Testimony of Christ
        1. Gospels (John 14:26; 15:26-27) – “bring all things to your remembrance”
        2. Epistles (John 14:26; 16:13) – “shall teach you all things”; “all truth”
        3. Revelation (John 16:13) – “shew you things to come”
      3. Testimony of Paul
        1. Given by revelation (Galatians 1:11-12; 1Thessalonians 2:13)
        2. Given by inspiration (2Timothy 3:16)
        3. When completed will be “that which is perfect” (1Corinthians 13:8-13)
      4. Testimony of Peter (2Peter 3:15-16)
        1. Paul’s epistles
        2. Other scriptures
      5. Testimony of John
        1. Selectivity of canon (John 20:30-31; 21:19-25)
        2. Completion of canon (Revelation 22:18-19
    3. Evidence of Early Use 
      1. Evidence supports the acceptance and use of all the New Testament books as scripture by about 150AD
      2. Irenaus (c.175) quotes from all the New Testament books except Philemon, II Peter and Jude
      3. Clement of Alexandria (c.200) quotes from all 27 of the New Testament books
      4. The Old Latin Vulgate and Old Syrian Versions were translated by 200AD and have all the books of the New Testament 
    4. Verification of Their Acceptance 
      1. The 27 books of the New Testament canon were accepted by the great bulk of Christians and churches (cp.Isaiah 8:16)  long before they were verified by councils
      2. The books of the canon were formed without interference from any authority other than their own weight
      3. They were accepted because of their own merit and because of the witness of the Spirit with regard to any official recognition
      4. Several books were questioned by the scholars and writers of the first three or four centuries
        1. These books are called the antilegomena, meaning “spoken against”.
        2. They consisted of seven books
          1. Hebrews
          2. James
          3. II Peter
          4. II John
          5. III John
          6. Jude
          7. Revelation
        3. However, these books were accepted as true scripture by the majority of believers
      5. Several councils late in the fourth centure verified the canon
        1. Hippo, Africa (393)
        2. Carthage, Africa (397)
  7. APOSTOLIC WRITERS 
    1. Introduction
      1. Called apostolic because their lives overlapped the lives of the apostles
      2. Normally called the Apostolic Fathers.  However, Christ spoke against using father as a spiritual title (Matthew 23:9).  Therefore, this Catholic tradition will not be followed in these notes.
    2. Clement of Rome 
      1. 30-100AD 
      2. Bishop (i.e., pastor) at Rome
      3. Later writers identify him as the Clement spoken of by Paul (Philippians 4:3)
      4. Wrote an epistle to the Corinthians
        1. 97AD
        2. First Christian literature after the completion of the New Testament books
        3. Quotes from several new Testament books, including the disputed books of Hebrews and James
        4. Writing obviously not on the same level with the canonical books of the New Testament
        5. Sometimes quotes from the Apocrypha—something no New Testament book does
        6. Speaks of the myth of the phoenix (a bird that dies and resurrects every 500 years) as a fact
      5. Bears strong testimony to the doctrines of:
        1. The trinity 
        2. Blood redemption
        3. Justification by faith 
    3. Ignatius 
      1. C.35-107AD
      2. Bishop at Antioch, Syria
      3. Knew the Apostle John and Polycarp
      4. Wrote seven letters on the way to Roman imprisonment
      5. Spoke of Christ as the “God-man”
      6. First to speak of the “catholic church”; however, meant catholic only in the sense of universal
      7. Enthusiastically approached martyrdom (He was later criticized for this enthusiasm)
        1. “I would rather die for Christ, than rule the whole earth.”
        2. “It is glorious to go down in the world, in order to go up into God.”
        3. “I am a grain of the wheat of God, and I would be ground by the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread of God.”
        4. Thrown to wild beasts in the Roman arena  
    4. Polycarp 
      1. Before 69-155AD
      2. Bishop of Smyrna, Asia Minor
      3. Knew the Apostle John, Ignatius and Papias
      4. Teacher of Irenaeus
      5. Wrote an epistle to the Philippians
      6. Taught justification by grace
      7. Burned at the stake
      8. Said when given an opportunity to curse Jesus and not be killed, “Eighty and six years have I served Him, and He never did me any injury: how then can I blaspheme my King and my Saviour?” 
    5. Papias 
      1. 60-130AD
      2. Bishop at Hierapolis, Phrygia
      3. Knew the Apostle john and polycarp
      4. Held strong millenarian views
        1. A premillenialist
        2. Criticized by Eusebius for this
        3. Chiliasm, which is the belief in a thousand year reign of Christ, is called “the prevailing view in the second century” by Philip Schaff, a man who denied the kingdom reign of Christ
      5. Taught that Christ was born in a cave 
  8. EARLY HERESIES 
    1. Cerinthus 
      1. Appeared towards the end of the first century
      2. A Gnostic teacher of Asia Minor
      3. Taught that the world was not created by God but by a subordinate power
      4. Separated the physical Jesus from the spiritual Christ.  Said Christ came upon Jesus at his baptism and left at his crucifixion.  Therefore, the spiritual Christ was not born and did not die.  John’s writings had much that fought this teaching (see 1John 2:22; 4:3; 2John 1:7,9) 
    2. Basilides 
      1. A Gnostic who taught in Alexandria in the early second century
      2. Believed in two uncreated and self-existent principles: light and darkness.  God is the head of light and the universe is explained by the struggles between light and darkness; this is called dualism
      3. He also separated the physical Jesus from the divine Christ 
    3. Ebionites 
      1. Origin
        1. Continuation of the Judaizers (Galatians 2:14-21; 4:9-11)
        2. Comes from word meaning “poor”; a name first applied to Christians in general; then to Jewish Christians and finally to the heretical Jewish Christians
      2. Teachings concerning the Bible
        1. The Old Testament contained true and false elements
        2. Accepted James, Matthew and Peter
        3. Rejected Paul and John
      3. Teachings concerning salvation
        1. Legalistic and Judaistic
        2. Combined faith and works
        3. Taught that circumcision and the observance of the Mosaic law were necessary for salvation (Acts 15:1,5)
        4. Taught baptismal regeneration
      4. Teachings concerning Christ
        1. Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary
        2. Taught divine conception as opposed to virgin birth
        3. Emphasized Christ’s earthly life
        4. Jesus so fulfilled the law that God chose Him to be the Messiah 
    4. Gnosticism 
      1. General Information
        1. Name comes from the Greek word meaning “to know”    
        2. The Gnostics claimed divine knowledge
        3. The Gnostics rejected the New Testament except for the Pauline epistles and parts of the gospels 
      2. Philosophy of gnosticism
        1. Dualistic in nature      
        2. Based on the concept that all mater is evil
        3. And, all that is good is spirit 
      3. Teachings concerning creation
        1. Taught that the God of the Old Testament was a lesser god
        2. Since God is a spirit (John 4:24) and God is good; and since physical creation is matter; therefore, all matter is evil
        3. And, since a good God could not create an evil world, God had to create lesser gods (called “aeons”) who in turn created the world
        4. Christ was one of these aeons 
      4. Teachings concerning Christ
        1. Arianism
          1. Denied the deity of Christ
          2. Since Jesus was human and flesh is evil, Jesus could not be God
          3. Therefore, Jesus was indwelled by Christ (an aeon) at his baptism
          4. Scripture references: Galatians 4:4; 1Timothy 3:16
        2. Docetism
          1. Denied the humanity of Christ
          2. Since the flesh is evil, Christ only appeared to have a human body
          3. Scripture references:  1John 1:1-2; 4:2-3; 2John 1:7 
      5. Teachings concerning daily living
        1. Asceticism
          1. Denial and punishment of the flesh
          2. Since the flesh is evil, we must punish it to keep it under control
        2. Libertinism
          1. Indulgement of the flesh
          2. Since the flesh is evil, only the spirit is important
          3. Therefore, fleshly desires may be satisfied freely
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 22:12

The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, and he overthroweth the words of the transgressor.