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Christian Church History

Chapter 1 - An Introduction To Church History
Chapter 2 - Upon This Rock
Chapter 3 - To The Jews First
Chapter 4 - Also To The Greek
Chapter 5 - The Books And The Parchments

CHAPTER - 1

An Introduction To Church History

Knowing the past of the Church is something which is very important and interesting. The people of God has a special interest in Church history because their faith is rooted in the history. Church history serves to enlighten us regarding our spiritual ancestry.

The Definition of Church History.

The English word for 'History' came from the Greek word 'historia', which is derived from the Greek verb 'historeo'. It means to learn by enquiry (search for the truth) or investigation. The word is used by Paul in Gal 1:18 (to make acquaintance with) to describe his interview with Peter in Jerusalem. The Greeks subsequently began to use the word 'historikos' for history which means the product of enquiry, the record.

The German noun 'geschichte', a form of the verb 'geschehen', which means to happen, refers to history as an event rather than to history as a process or a product.

The word history refers to event documents, process, product. The historian's study of the sources to ascertain the facts of the event is process. And the account of those facts is history as product.

Definition

History may be defined as the interpreted record of the socially significant human past, based on organized data collected by the scientific method from archeological, literary or living sources.

Church history, then, is the interpreted record of the origin, progress and impact of Christianity upon human society based upon organized data gathered by scientific method from archeological, documentary or living sources. It is the interpreted, organized story of the redemption of man and the earth.

The writing of Church History

A. Scientific Element

The Church historian uses scientific method in writing the history. He uses the scientific work of the archeologist. eg:- study of the art of catacombs. The writer of the Church history will also make use of the techniques of literary criticism to evaluate the documents of the history of the Church.

B. Philosophical Element

The problem of the meaning of the History faces the writer of history once he has ascertained his facts.

1. Pessimistic Group

They often adopt a materialistic approach to reality. They are obsessed with the failure of man in history. Oswald Spengler is one of the chief advocates of this view. He sees no progress in the history. They are concerned with civilizationsicism and the Theory of Evolution. Hegal's philosophy of history also shares this optimism.

2. Optimistic Group

Karl Marx, also belongs to this group. Although he borrowed Hegel's logic, Marx interpreted history differently. He developed a system of thesis - antithesis and synthesis. For him matter the only reality. All human institutions, including religion, are determined by the economic process of production.

3. Pessimistic - Optimists Group

This group agrees with the pessimists in emphasising the failure of unregenerate man; but in the light of divine revelation and grace it is optimistic concerning man's failure.

C. The Artistic Element

In the presentation of facts make of as artistic as possible. Modern historians have not stressed an interesting literary presentation.

The value of Church History.

Is this an acrobatics in the academic circles. Some think it as a dry subject, simply remembering old facts. The ancient historians had a much higher appreciation of the pragmatic, deductive, and moral values of history.

1. Church History as Synthesis

Church history links with the past factual data of the Gospel with the future proclamation and application of that Gospel is a present synthesis. The Church history shows the Spirit of God in through the Church during the ages of its existence. We can also see how Systematic Theology has made an impact upon previous thought and action.

2. Church History as an Explanation of the present.

We can understand the present much better if we have some knowledge of its roots in the past. It is interesting to trace the protestant Episcopal Church back to England and to note the origin of the Anglican Church in the struggle of the Royal power with Papacy.

Different believes and liturgical practices become more understandable in the light of past history. The difference in Methodist and Presbyterian theology becomes much plainer when one studies the views of Calvin and Arminius.

Many of the present day problems of the Church are often illuminated by study of the past.

3. Church History as a Guide.

The present is usually the product of the past and the seed of the future. Correction of the existing evils and avoidance of error and false practice is another good thing of historical studies (1 Cori 10: 6, 11). New sects will be revealed as old heresies in a new guise. For example Christian Science is the new presentation of old Gnosticism.

4. Church History as a Motivating force.

It offers edification, inspiration or enthusiasm that will stimulate high spiritual life (Romans 15: 4). Study of Ambros' stand against Emperor Theodosius from communion until the King repent about his massacre of the Thesselonian crowd is an element of inspiration from Church history. Another examples, Carey's missionary travel to India and Wesley's industry and drive for the spread of Christianity he preached over 10, 000 sermons in his life time.

There is also edification in the process of becoming aware of one's spiritual ancestry. In showing the genetic development of Christianity, Church history. is to the New Testament what New Testament is to the Old Testament. The sense of unity that comes from a knowledge of continuity of history will lead to spiritual enrichment.

5. Church History as a Practical tool.

A Christian leader will achieve practical good from reading Church history. The doctrine of Triunity, of Christ and of Stereology, one cannot understand properly unless he studied Church history. This study imparts a student much valuable illustrations. A preacher can give his congregation much warnings against dangers from this track of knowledge. For example, how mysticism weakened the inspiration in to the level of illumination, Quakerism and how Pietism developed as a reactionary force against the cold orthodoxy of Luthernism after 1648. The roots of all these waves are found in the past history.

6. Church History as a Liberalizing Force.

This has a cultural value. The history of Western civilization shall be incomplete unless we understand the Christian contribution to it. The history of man can never be divorced from the history of his religious life. He who studies the history will humble himself as he encounters the giants of his spiritual past and realises how much he owes to them.

The Organisation Of Church History

A. Branches of Church history.

For the sake of convenience, church history can be organised under the following topics.

1. The Political Element - involves in the relation between the church and the state, and the secular environment of the church. For understanding history properly, how social, political and aesthetic power at work in the flow of history is essential.

2. The propagation of the Gospel - This involves the study of foreign missions, home missions and city missions and the special techniques the church used to convey her message. The story of the mission has its own heros and martyrs, which is an integral part of the church history.

3. Persecution of the Church - Propagation often brought in persecution. It's begun by the political - ecclesiatical Jewish state; was organised on an imperial level by Decius and Diocletian; was often made the Muslim policy; and has been revived by the modern secular totalitarian states. Study of persecutions reveals the fact that Tertullian's dictum is correct: the blood of the martyrs is often the seed of the Church.

4. Polity - It is the study of the church government. This must examine episcopacy, Presbyterianism and congregationalism or modifications of these three systems. Consideration of the position of the ministers, discipline and liturgy (forms of worship) are related to polity.

5. Polemics - This considers the struggle between the church and the heresies. Not only this but the formulation of dogmas, creed and Christian literature in answer to heresies. The writ ings of the church fathers are rich in this field. Most theological systems have been born out of meeting these needs. The golden times of polemics are the eras between 325 and 451 and between 1517 and 1648.

6. Praxis. - This involves the practical outworking of the Christian faith. The home life, charitable work and the influence of Christianity upon the life of the day are parts of this branch of the church history.

7. Presentation or Propaganda. - Presentation involves study of the educational system of the church, its hymnology, liturgy, architecture, art and preaching.

B. Periods of Church History.

The student must remember that the history is "seamless garment". It is a continuous stream of events within the frame work of time and space. The periodization of history is an artificial device. This division helps memory and concentration on one segment at a time.

General plan

Ancient Church History : B. C. 5 - A. D. 590

1. The Spread of Christianity in the Empire : upto 100 A. D
2. The struggle of the old catholic Imperial church for survival : 100 - 313
3. The supremacy of the old catholic Imperial church : 313 - 590

Medieval Church History : 590 - 1517

4. The rise of the Empire and Latin Teutonic Christianity : 590 - 800
5. Ebb and flow in the relationship between Church and State : 800 - 1054
6. The supremacy of the Papacy : 1054 - 1305 The medieval Ro man Catholic Church reached the peak of its power under the leadership of Gregory VII and Innocent III.
7. Medieval sunset and Modern sunrise : 1305 - 1517

Modern Church History : 1517 and after.

8. Reformation and Counter Reformation : 1517 - 1648
9. Rationalism, Revivalism and Denominationalism : 1648 - 1789
10. Revivalism, Missions and Modernism : 1789 - 1914
11. The Church and 20 - 21 century problems.

ANCIENT CHURCH HISTORY B. C. 5 - A. D. 590

1. The spread of Christianity in the Empire to 100

The Fullness of the time

Paul and Mark (Gal 4:4, Mark 1: 15) announce that the fullness of time has come for the coming of Christ upon the earth. Consideration of the events that proceeded the appearance of the Christ upon the earth is necessary. Not only Jews but also Greek and Romans contributed though negative, to the religious preparation for the appearance of Christ. It brought up the historical development to the point that Christ's coming can make maximum impact in the history of the world.

Political Considerations

Political contributions behind scene made largely by the Romans.

a) A sense of the Unity of Mankind

The Romans brought a sense of unity under a universal law. It was a favourable environment for the acceptance of the fact of the unity of human race and salvation offered universally and a universal church.

Political unity was the peculiar task of the Romans. The Roman Law was applied in all parts of the Empire impartially. The law education was became the essential part of the curriculum of every Roman boy. There were similarities in the laws of all nations and the Roman law was enriched by these laws. According to the Greek concept, the philosophical Romans explained these similarities a sign of a universal law written in the nature of man.

Another important factor boomed the political unity is the availability of Roman citizenship to the non Romans. This process began in the period preceding the birth of Jesus Christ.

b) Peace

Free movement in the Mediterranean world was very difficult before the reign of Agustus Caesar (B. C. 27 - A. D. 14). Small states scattered all over engaged into war so that chaos was the result. But the development of the Imperial Roman power subdued all conflicts. Pompey had swept the pirates from the Mediterranean sea and the Roman soldiers kept the peace upon the roads of Asia, Africa and Europe. This enhanced the early missionary journeys of Paul and others and the Christian preaching.

c) Roman Roads

The Romans developed an excellent system of roads. The main roads were built of concrete to serve for ages. Some of them are still in use at the present time. A study of the missionary tourneys of Paul will leave the impression that he made great use of the excellent road system. IF the great empire builder, Emperor Trojan, had a vision of Roman imperialism, Paul as a builder of Christ's empire, the Church, had a vision of Christian imperialism that embraced not only the Roman Empire but the whole world.

d) The Roman Army

The contribution of Roman army could not be ignored in this matter. The Romans adopted the custom of provincials in the army. The provincials were brought into contact with Roman culture and helped to spread its ideas throughout the ancient world. Some men of these become converts to Christianity and became means of Christianity where they were assigned for military duty. It is probable that the earliest introduction of Christianity to Britain is through the army.

Intellectual Contributions

The city of Rome may be associated with Christianity's political environment, but it was Athens which helped to provide an intellectual environment that widened the propagation of the gospel. The Romans conquered the Greeks politically but the Greeks conquered the Romans culturally.

a) A Universal Language

The universal gospel was in need of a universal language if it was to make maximum impact upon the world. Most cultured Romans knew both Greek and Latin.

The Attic dialect used by the Athenians came into wide usage in the 5th century B. C. with the growth of the Athenian Empire. This empire was to destroyed by 5th century B. C. The language of that time is known as the classical Greek. Alexander, his soldiers and the merchants of the Hellenistic world between 338 and 146 B. C., modified, enriched and spread throughout the Mediterranean world.

This dialect of the common man, known as 'Koine' and differing from classical Greek. Christians were able to make contact with people of the ancient world. Koine Greek was become the language of the New Testament and Septuagint (LXX). Adolf Deissman made the discovery near the end of the 19th century that the Greek used by the ordinary men of the first century in the papyric records of his business and the documents essential to his daily life. Since that time such scholars as Moulton and Milligan have put Deissman's discovery on a sound scientific foundation by comparative study of the vocabulary of the papyric and that of the N. T. If the gospel written in the tongue of the common man in the period of its inception, the translators reason, it should be put in the vernacular of the common man of our day.

b) Greek Culture

Greek Philosophy may be considered as negative preparation for the coming of Christianity. For the Greek philosophic mind, his polytheistic religion so rationally unintelligible that he turned away from it to philosophy. But it did not satisfy his spiritual needs. At the time of Christ's advent, philosophy had declined from the peak reached by Plato. Moreover philosophy can create an abstract God, not a personal God of love.

Another way Greek philosophers served that they taught that the reality which transcended the temporal. Socrates and Plato insisted that reality was not temporal and material but spiritual and eternal. The search for truth never led them to a personal God. To such people Christianity offered the revelation of God. At the time when Christ came, men realised, as never before the insufficiency of human reason and polytheism. Christianity came with the offer of this personal relationship and found that Greek culture, became of its own inadequacy, and created many hungry hearts.

Religious Contributions

The Greek, Roman and Jewish religions have made contributions to the 'fullness of time'. Comparing with the Jewish contributions to Christianity, the contributions of Greek and Roman religions are scanty. Christianity had to confront with the political milieu of Rome and the intellectual environment created by the Greek mind. But her connection with Judaism was much more intimate. Judaism may be though of as the stalk on which the rose of Christianity was to bloom.

a) Roman Religion

Roman conquests led to a loss of belief to many people in their gods. Because these gods could not keep them from their shameful defeat. Hence many left their religions with a spiritual vacuum. The Roman emperor worship though which was tangible cannot satisfy the spiritually hunger heart of millions.

The worship of Cyblele, a goddess of fertility, Attis, Isis, imported from Egypt did no remarkable contribution to fill the spiritual vaccum. All these religions emphesised a saviour - god, among these Mithraism was great. When people found that the bloody sacrifices of these religions had nothing to offer, the Holy Spirit led them to accept the reality offered to them in Christianity.

b) Greek Religion

The Greek religion also played her own role in setting ready the stage of the day to accept Christianity wholeheartedly when it appeared. The materialistic emphasis which came to philosophy cast away the divine element from their thinking system. With this their faith in polytheism also was distracted.

So people naturally turned to philosophy. But it was become a pragmatic invidualism under the successors of Sophists. This can be seen in the teachings of Zeno and Epicurus. Lucretius the poetic exponent of Epicurus' philosophy, founded his expositions upon a materialistic metaphysics that considered even the spirit of man as merely a fine type of atom. Though Stoicism considered supernatural, it was pantheistic. Thus both the Greek and Roman system of philosophy and religions made negative contributions to the coming of Christianity.

c) Jewish Religion

Jewish religion, which was not the result of a reasoning process but that is revealed. Their organized system that was started with their father Abraham. Salvation was to be, indeed, of the Jews (John 4: 22). From this tiny captive nation, situated on the cross roads of Asia, Africa and Europe, a saviour was to come.

Contributions

i. A Sound Monotheism : Surrounding the Jewish nation flourished pagan polythe ism. Never again after the return from the Babylonian captivity did the Jews lapse into idolatry. The prophets of the nation Israel, condemned the pagan gods as mere idols. This lofty monotheism was spread by numerous synagogues throughout the Mediterranean area during these centuries preceding the coming of Christ.

ii. The hope of a coming Messiah

The hope of a Messiah had been popularized in the Roman world by its steady proclamation by the Jews.

iii. The purest Ethical System in existence

The high standard of the Ten Commandments was in sharp contrast with the prevailing ethical system of the day. To the Jews sin was not the external, mechanical, contractual failure of the Greeks and Romans, but it was a violation of the known will of God. Out of this moral spiritual approach developed a doctrine of sin and redemption.

iv. A Sacred Book - The Old Testament.

This is the most outstanding contribution to the infant church. Even a casual study of the N. T. will reveal Christ's an apostles' deep indebtness to the O. T. Many gentiles also read it and became familiar with the theme.

v. Jewish Synagogue

For the development of early Christianity, the institution synagogue did great contribu tion. During the Babylone captivity this synagogue became an integral part of Jewish life. By means of these synagogue many gentiles found their way to the Truth. It became the preaching house of early Christianity. Apostle Paul made maximum use of it for the Christian growth. Moreover the system of government practiced in the Jewish antecedents in the synagogue. The elders and deacons of the early Church are remniscent of similar offices in the Jewish synagogue.


CHAPTER - 2

Upon This Rock

Christ is the rock upon which the church is founded.

The Historicity of Christ

The values of Christianity has a historical beginning. Because these values are inextricably linked with the person, life and death of Christ, some consideration must be given to the evidence for the historical existence of Christ (1 John 1:1-3). It is fortunate that there is extra - biblical historical evidence for the historical existence of Christ.

A. Pagan Testimony

1. Tacitus (A. D. 55 - 120)

Tacitus, the dean of Roman historians links the name and origin of Christians with 'Christus', who in reign of Teberius "suffered death by the sentence of the Procurator, Pontius Pailate."

In his Annals of Imperial Rome, Tacitus describes how the Emperor Nero attempted to divert the blame for lighting the fire which destroyed three quarters of Rome, away from himself to a new and detested religious sect.

" ....Christus from which the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Teberius at the hands of one of our Procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a deadly superstition, thus checked for a moment again brokeout not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but also to the city of Rome....."
Tacitus confirms five details mentioned in the New Testament.

  1. The public life of Christ occurred in the times of Emperor Tebetius (Luk 3:1)
  2. Pontius Pilate was the Roman governor when Christ died. (Math 27: 2, Acts 3:13, 13:28)
  3. Christ was executed as a criminal (Luke 23:1)
  4. This occurred in Judea (Mark 11:16)
  5. The movement spread from Jerusalem to Rome (Acts 1:4, 28: 14)

There comes another question- Why Tacitus and Pliny fail to wrote more about Jesus Christ.? One reason is that these men are of upper strata of the society. The Aristocratic Romans are backward looking and proud about Rome's illustrious past. They wanted no change in their present situations.

Another reason may be this that Roman's acute hatred against cross. See what the famous Roman lawyer Cicero says, " Even the mere word cross, must remain far not only from the lips of the citizens of Rome, but also from their thoughts, their eyes, their ears."

2. Pliny : Letters from Bithynia (A. D. 112)

Piny was a Roman governor in Bithynia, south of Black Sea. In a letter, Pliny asking the Emperor counsel how to handle the troublesome group known as Christians.

Pliny complained to Trojan that " many of all ages and every rank and also of both sexes" were involved.

After Pliny's interrogation of Christians, he wrote to Trojan that who were these Christians and what did they believe. Let us see the words of Pliny:
" ...it was their habit on a fixed day to assemble before daylight and recite by turns a form of words to Christ as a god..."

The Greatest insight we get of the early Christian faith is that the early Christian community venerated Christ as God. Their faith was not a recent development. Half a century earlier, Peter had reminded the Christians in Bithynia about the glory of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:21)

Three conclusions can be drawn from Pliny's letter.
  1. He confirms that early Christians sometimes destroyed the business side of older religions. (Acts 19: 24)
  2. The early Christians met on a 'fixed day' for worship. This can be compared with the first day of the week. (Acts 20: 7)
  3. They prayed to Jesus as God and refused to curse him. (1 Cori 12: 3)
3. Christian inscription in Pompeii

Pompeii is a nearby place to Rome. From Pompeii got two inscriptions (on stone) which sealed by the volcanic ash in A. D. 79. There is general consensus about its Christian origin.

Letters in the square can be redistributed, with none spare, to make two A's , two O's and the words 'PATERNOSTER' (Latin : Our Father) in both arms of a cross.

A and O stands for Greek a and w symbols for God in Rev 1:8, 21:6, 22:13. If this is a correct reading, this can be an indication of a measurable Christian presence in Pompeii by the seventies.

4. Suetonius: Writing about Rome. A. D. 49

He also wrote daminingly about Christians. He turned their faith as 'new and wicked superstition'. This remark indicates their revulsion towards Christians. Suetonius refers the incident of that Claudius expelled Christians from Rome. At this point refers or relates Christians with the name of 'Chrestus'. He writes :
"Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he (Claudius) expelled them from Rome."

This happened in A. D. 49. This means, there were Christians in Rome about A. D. 49. Among the expelled Christians were Aquila and Prizcilla (Acts 18:2-4). How Christian ity came to Rome, we do not know exactly. Probably it began with Christian migra tion to Rome. But one thing is sure that this movement started with Jesus in Judea.

5. Lucian

This man wrote a satire upon Christians and their faith about 170 A. D. He wrote about Christ as the one "who crucified in Palestine". He despised them further by saying that they are "worshipping that crucified Sophist."

B. Jewish Testimony

1. Benediction Twelve

After the disastrous war with the Romans in A. D. 66-70, the Jewish Sanhedrin or Senate, ceased to exist as a political and administrative body. The Emperor Vespasian brought Judea under direct military rule. In the post was times, only two sects survived, the Pharisees and Nazrenes or Christians.

In the 80's the Pharasee dominated Sanhedrin held a meeting at Jamnia, a town to the east of Jerusalem. They formulated the synagogue prayer :
"...the Nazarenes and the minim perish as in a moment and blotted out from the book of life and with the..."

References in the Talmud indicate that the 'minim' and the 'Nazarenes' usually refers to Christians.

The grim sentiments in the Benediction 12 reflects the thought separation of synagogue and Church after the end of the war in A. D. 70.

b. Rabbi Eliezer

"...... There was a man, born of a woman ......"

Although Rabbi Eliezer doesn't name Jesus, the reference to born of a woman. What Balaam foresaw, said the Rabbi, was "a man ..... who should ...... make himself God" God was warning "all the people of the world" through the words of Balaam, " that ye go not astray after him." The early Christians believed Jesus was God.

3. Flavius Josephus.

Josephus an aristocratic Pharasee, was born in A. D 37. Early in the nineties he wrote the 'Jewish Antiquities'.

"...........convened the judges of the Sanhedrin and brought before them a man named James, the brother of Jesus who was called the Christ, and certain others."

a. Jesus was called Christ (Acts 2:36) b. James was his brother (Gala 1:19)

The Character Of Jesus Christ

Even a casual reader of NT will be impressed with Christ's originality. When Jewish authorities quote others as authorities for various statements, Christ simply uttered the words "I say".

Christ's sincerity also stands out in the Biblical records. He was the only human being who had nothing to hide. He had a wonderful balance in character. Boldness connected with Peter, love with John and meekness with Andrew. No one of character is in excess in Christ. This outstanding originality and transparency can adequately explained by virgin birth of Christ.

The Ministry of Christ

Most likely He was given a Biblical education at home and in the synagogue school for children. He also learned the trade of His father because every Jewish child was given instruction in some natural trade. Nazareth was one of the main trade routes so that He had the opportunity to observe people of different walks. His parables and sermons shows that He was a keen observer of life.

His ministry was preceeded by His forerunner John the Baptist. He took baptism under the hands of John. With this He started His public ministry. After His rejection in Nazareth, Christ made Capernaum the base for the Galilean ministry. From here He made three tours to Galilee. His first tour mainly consisted in the Eastern part of Galilee which involve many healing events, raising the dead and choosing the twelve.

His second tour reached southern Galilee. Much of His parabolic teaching about the Kingdom came out in this tour. The third tour was a continuation of this work of teaching. (Matth 4:12, 11:1, 17:22)

Three tours were followed by brief intervals in which He spent time with His disciples to instruct them.

The Mission of Christ

Mark 10:45 - It was for this work on the cross He came into this world. On the cross He defeated the evil powers completely.


CHAPTER - 3

To The Jews First

Christ is the foundation rather than the founder of the Church. (Math 16:18). In Proclaiming the Good news priority was given to Jews. A study of Acts will reveal this fact. At first the message was preached in Jerusalem. Form there it began to spread unto the end of the world.

The founding of the Church in Jerusalem

The very bitterest opposing center of Christianity has become the citadel of Christian faith. From 30 to 44 the church which is in Jerusalem held the leading position in early Christian community. The spirit led Christian progress was another feature of the early faith.

Jews from all parts of the Mediterranean world were preset at Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Pentecost. Peter made this the best occasion for preaching first and the most fruitful sermon. Atleast three thousand accepted the word then and there. Thus the body of Christ came into being.

Growth was rapid. So many were added daily to the Church. This growth hap pened not without much opposition. Ecclesiastical authorities found this movement a threat to their prerogatives as the official interpreters of the law. So they rallied their forces to combat Christianity. Stephen was become the first heroic martyr of early church. But the combined politico - religious attack against the infant Church did not quench her inherent enthusiasm.

Church in Palastine

Philip brought gospel to Samria. Samaritans were the descendants of those ten tribes who were not carried away to Assyria. The Jews and Samaritans became bitter enemies (2 Kings 17). They received the five books of Moses and undervalued the rest. They were circumcised, keeping the law and expecting Messiah.

After the wonderful conversion of Samaritans, Philip was led to another single person, an Ethiopian eunuch. Today also what we need is this type of spirit led evangelism.


CHAPTER -4

Also To The Greek

The early Church was slow in apprehend the universal character of Christianity. This vision was received by Paul in its fullest sense. In his mind he had the slogan 'the Roman Empire for Christ'.
"No event in the progress of Church so deeply, or blessedly affects her after history, as the conversion of Saul of Tarsus" - Andrew Miller.

1. Paul's Environment

Paul was proud of having his training at the feet of Gamliel. Few could boast of having more trained than Paul. He was also a citizen of Tarsus, the leading city of Cilicia, 'no mean city'. The tutors of both Augustus and Tiberius were men of Tarsus. Moreover Paul was a freeborn Roman citizen. In his mission works he did not hesitate make use such privileges.

The political environment

Augustus Caesar had brought about the down fall of the Republic. Normally he shared control of the state with the senate. Unfortunately his sucessors had neither the ability nor the character of Augustus. Caligula (37-41) was insane during part of his reign, and Nero (54- 68), under whom Paul was martyred and the Church endured its first persecution. Claudius was an excellent ruler, under his able administration state enjoyed stability. It was in his reign that Paul made most of his missionary journeys.

Social and moral situation were not as promising as political situations. Now a wealthy aristocratic class was created who had slaves and wealth to go after every illegitimate desires. This class had a contemptuous look to the new movement and viewed its appeal to the poor class a threat to their superior position in the society. But some of this class were won by the Gospel.

Paul faced the rivalry of competing systems of religion. The Romans were somewhat eclectic in their religious outlook and were willing to give toleration to any faith that would not prevent its worshipers from taking part in the state system of worship. Christians could not do this so they faced the rising opposition from the state.

Roman intellectuals accepted varied philosophical systems such as Stoicsm, Epicurean ism and Neo Phythagoreanism. They taught philosophical contemplation a way to salvation. These systems provide a philosophical foundation for the Roman Empire. Some of the emperors, such as Marcus Aurelius (161 - 180) found its ethical standards appealing. In this chaotic situation Paul preached his simple message of Redemption.

2. Paul's Work

His genius was multi faceted so that it must be considered under different categorize.

a. A Propagator of the Gospel

Paul was a wise as well as devoted missionary. A consideration of the maps of his journeys reveals the advance of the gospel under his preaching from Antioch to Rome. From the beginning of his career he had the vision of Rome and he was rest less until he reached there.

He began works in the strategic areas of the Roman Empire, from where villages were reached. At any city, first he preached gospel to the Jews by means of synagogues and when opposition arises he will turn to gentiles. After founding a church he would organize a local church with elders and deacons because the work must continue even after his departure.

b. Paul's Publications

Paul made arrangements to keep in touch with local churches and when ever the situation demanded he wrote letters also. These inspired letters became the canoni cal scriptures. each of these letters grew out of a definite historical crisis. The first chapters of the letters constitute the theological foundations and the latter part focused on practical applications of doctrines. Paul always balanced theological formulas by practical application.

c. The Principles of Paul's Theology

No discussion of Paul shall be complete and meaningful unless it touches Paul's Theology.

Paul realised that happiness and usefulness are basic goals of all men. Paul substantiated that it will achieved through God's favour.

Paul's ethical system grew out of the personal union of the believer with Christ by faith. The vertical relationship is to be balanced with the horizontal relationship. Man's union with Christ is the source of love.

Paul's philosophy of history is closely related to his ethical and theological views. He rejected the cyclic theory of history which was so characteristic of the ancient world. According to Paul's view progress can come only through spiritual conflict in which man is given strength through the grace of God. Ultimately God will the victor over all the forces of evil which were provisionally defeated upon the cross of Calvary by Christ.

d. Paul as a Polemicist

Paul was never content merely to present Christianity, by voice and pen he fought for the purity of doctrine in his day. No deficient view of the person and work of Christ escaped his castigation, nor did he fail to try to win the erring one back to the faith.

The problem of the scope and means of Salvation, which Paul faced at the end of the first missionary journey. This was raised in the Jerusalem Council. There arose two groups related with Christianity. One narrow reactionary group of Jewish Christians with a pharisaic background believed that gentiles as well as Jews must keep the law of Moses for salvation. They wanted to make Christianity a particularist sect of Judaism. The other group realized that salvation came by faith in Christ alone and was universal.

The happenings at the Jerusalem council revealed Paul's determination where a matter of principle was concerned. Not for one moment would he consider the circumcision of Titus at the Council (Gal 2:3), but at the beginning of his second journey, he had Timothy circumcised for the mission work. Paul was ready to make harmless concessions. Gentilic freedom from observance of the Jewish ritual law was the principle for which he was fighting.

The liberation of Christianity from observance of the ceremonial Jewish law was the long range result of the Council. since salvation is through faith alone. Thus Christian ity is freed from the danger of becoming only a sect of Judaism. Jewish Christians, who had been saved by faith, were left free to observe the law of Moses as a voluntary task of they so desired.

The Reformers also faced the same problem, who saw the Roman Church demanded faith plus the good deeds a condition for salvation. Modern liberals also commit the same error by lifting the good deeds to the position of faith.

He also faced the challenge of Greek rationalism. Some people sought to make the means of salvation intellectual. Gnosticism developed with particular danger in the Colossian Church. They held a dualistic philosophy. For them material is evil and spirit is good. A link between pure spirit and evil matter is a hierarchy of celestial beings. Christ is considered as one of this hierarchy. Angels are to receive worship because they have a part in this hierarchy (Colo 2:8, 18-19). Faith is relegated to a subordinated position in this system.

Paul answered this heresy by unqualifiedly asserting the all sufficiency of Christ as Creator and Redeemer. Christ is the full manifestation of God and is no way inferior to God.

Gnosticism was the first heresy to be met by the church. The real cause of such tendencies are mostly man's pride in reason and rationalizing tendency. Misuse and overemphasis of some scriptures sometimes lead to error. Sometimes a leader with mistaken enthusiasm, who seeks to protect the truth, Montanus was a good example for this.

Paul had planted the Christian culture in Europe. He was the unique interpreter of the meaning of Christ's life and death. He worked out the details of organization in the churches and was in constant relation with them to solve problems. He realised the cosmic significance of Jesus Christ. He, the Apostle of Nations, interpreted Christ to the Gentile world.


CHAPTER - 5

The Books And The Parchments

A flood of religious literature was produced by Early Church. Its basic literary forms - gospels, acts, epistles and the apocalypse.

The writings of the Fathers do much to fill the gap in historical knowledge between the New Testament period and the latter part of the fourth century. The leading men of the church, by pen as well as by voice formulated apologetic and polemical literature as they faced problems. Creeds were formed to give accurate statements of faith.

The name, 'Father of the Church' has its origin in the use of the name 'Father' which was given to bishops, especially in the West, to express affectionate loyalty. It was increasingly used from the third century on to describe the orthodox champions of the Church and exponents of its faith. These men were usually bishops. 'Paterology' or 'Patristics' is the name of the study of the life and works of these men, most of whom lived in the period between the end of the apostolic age and the Council of Chalcedon (451).

There is sure evidence that the canonical books of the New Testament were completed just before the end of the first century after Christ. Men who knew apostles and apostolic doctrines continued the task of writing Christian literature. These men are known as Apostolic Fathers. The literary works of these men were produced between 95 and 150.

Certain characteristics could be seen with their writings. Their writings were simple statements of sincere faith and piety. These writings were not the outcome of pagan philosophical training. The Apostolic Fathers had a deep reverence for the O. T books. They leaned heavily on the O. T books to support their ideas. For this reason they fell into typological interpretation. For their writings the N. T. became their model. edification of the church stands out as the chief objective.

The Fathers, Their Period and Works

First Century 96 - 150 : Apostolic Fathers - To edify - typological interpretations
Second Century 125-190 : Apologists - To defend Christianity
Third Century 190-250 : Polemicist - To fight false doctrines
Fourth Century 325 - 450 - Golden Age of scientific Bible study

Epistolary Literature

A. Clement of Rome

About the year 95 a serious disturbance occurred in the Church at Corinth. Two years later Clement, the elder of the Church at Rome, wrote them a letter exhorting to stop their revolt against elders. This letter has a prominent place among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. Since it is the earliest Christian writing apart from the books of the N. T. The heart of his argument appears in chapters 42-44 and centers around the fact that the elders and deacons were provided for by the apostles.

This letter is valuable for the information concerning the exalted position of the bishops or elders in the church at the end of the first century. Obedience to the bishop is to be the practical guarantee of Christian unity. The theory of two imprisonments Paul had at Rome and a period of release in the interim is built mainly upon his reference.

B. Ignatius (1st - 2nd century)

From Antioch in Syria, coming another Apostolic Father - Ignatius. He was bishop of Antioch and was arrested by the authorities and sent to Rome, to be killed in the imperial games by beasts. On his way to Rome, visitors were allowed to him from churches. He wrote 'thank you' letters to these churches.