Session 2: The Spread of Christianity
Session 2 The Spread of Christianity
This lesson provides an overview of Christianity’s spread westward through the Roman Empire and beyond. We will also look at the beginnings of the church eastward, especially in India.
At the end of this lesson, participants should:
• describe the historical setting of the Roman Empire as the venue for the
spread of Christianity
• describe the geographical areas into which the church advanced, and chart
these on a map
• list various reasons for the advance of Christianity
• show how Christianity transformed people while building on the culture of
• describe early missionary efforts
• discuss reasons for and against the possibility that the apostle Thomas
began the church in India
• describe methodologies used by Thomas in the evangelization of India
• contrast and compare these writers’ understanding of sanctification to that
of the Church of the Nazarene
Email your response paragraphs to email@example.com by the Sunday by 5PM before the class session.
A. Read Bruce L Shelley, Church History in Plain Language Chapter 1-3 and 8
Write Big Idea paragraph concerning why you think Christians today do
not follow Jewish customs.
B. Read the following articles:
1. The Places The Apostles Evangelized
2. The Spread of Christianity Westward.
3. Growth of the Church in the Roman Empire
4. The Growth of the Church in the West Outside of the Roman Empire
5. The Spread of Christianity Eastward
6. Poignant features of Thomas’s work in India
7. Why the Phenomenal Spread of Christianity?
C. Be prepared to discuss the following from your study of the Didache:
Chapters 1-4 What is expected of a child of Yahweh?
Chapter 5 What is the underlining cause of behaviors inconsistent
Chapter’s 6 and 11 How do you know you are dealing with a false prophet or
Chapter 7 Why would fasting be a part of the baptism ritual?
Chapter 8 What purpose is served by reciting the Lord’s Prayer 3
times a day?
Chapter 9, 10 and 14
1. For what purpose does this liturgy serve?
2. What is the main purpose of celebrating the Lord’s
Chapters 12 and 13 What is the criteria for one who is worthy of support and one who is not?
Chapter 15 What would speaking amiss about someone consist of?
Chapter 16 What is the early churches understanding of suffering in the Last
D. Write in your journal. Reflect on and respond to the following:
AUGUSTINE’S CONFESSIONS, READING `2
The Places The Apostles Evangelized
3.1 SIMON, GIVEN THE NAME PETER or CEPHAS, 'THE ROCK' - A FISHERMANPeter worked among the Jews before he eventually reached Rome, where he was traditionally the first bishop. Along with the Apostle Paul, he may have been executed around AD64 during the persecutions of Emperor Nero, or later in AD67. Apparently he was crucified, head-down, at his own request. Later traditions claim that St. Peter's in Rome was built over his grave.
Mark's Gospel is based on Peter's teaching, and Peter wrote The First Letter of Peter. Scholars still question the authenticity of the Second Letter of Peter. Apocryphal works associated with his name, but dating from the 2nd century and later include the Gospel of St. Peter and the Apocalypse or Revelation of St. Peter.
3.2 ANDREW, BROTHER OF SIMON PETER - A FISHERMANAndrew was originally a disciple of John the Baptist. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, claims are that Andrew preached in Achaia (southern Greece) and Scythia (Ukraine and southern Russia - St. Andrew is the patron saint of Russia), and was crucified at Patras in Achaia. A later tradition describes him as being crucified in a spread-eagled position - hence the St. Andrew's cross of Scotland.
3.3 JAMES, SON OF ZEBEDEE - A FISHERMAN
(Acts 12:1-2)During the persecutions of Herod Agrippa I, King of the Jews, in c AD44, the apostle James was beheaded - 'put to the sword' (Acts 12:1-2 following). Before his death, James the Greater as he is known to distinguish him from James, son of Alphaeus, preached in Jerusalem and Judea, modern Israel. A later Spanish tradition is that James preached the Gospel there sometime before his death.
Acts 12:1-2 - "It was at this time (of great famine, possibly around AD44) that King Herod laid violent hands on some of the Church members. James, John's brother, he executed with the sword ....."
3.4 JOHN, BROTHER OF JAMES and SON OF ZEBEDEE - A FISHERMANAccording to John's Gospel (19:26-27), it was probably John who took Mary, the mother of Jesus as his adopted mother. He preached in Jerusalem, and later, as bishop of Ephesus, south of Izmir in western Turkey, worked among the churches of Asia Minor. During the reigns of either Emperor Nero (AD54-68) or Domitian (AD81-96), he was banished to the nearby island of Patmos, now one of the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. He was subsequently freed and died a natural death at Ephesus c AD100.
After decades of debate, many scholars accept that the apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation, perhaps as early as c AD68-70, and that he either wrote or provided the material and theology for John's Gospel and the three Letters of John.
3.5 PHILIPPhilip preached the Gospel in Phrygia (west central Turkey) before dying or being martyred there at Hieropolis.
The apostle should be distinguished from Philip the "deacon" or Evangelist, who preached to the people of Samaria and baptized the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8:4-8,26-39.
3.6 BARTHOLOMEW, also NATHANAELThe missionary work of Bartholomew is linked with Armenia (present day Armenia, eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, north western Iran) and India. Other locations include Egypt, Arabia, Ethiopia and Persia (Iran). Traditionally he met his death by being flayed or skinned alive, and then beheaded. Derbent, north of present day Baku on the Caspian Sea may have been his place of martyrdom. Alternatively he may have suffered this cruel fate in what is now India.
3.7 THOMAS DIDYMUS - 'DOUBTING THOMAS'Thomas may have labored for the Gospel in Parthia (including modern Iraq and Iran), but stronger traditions link him with southern India. Indian Christians from the west coast Kerala area claim they were evangelized by Thomas, who was later speared to death near Madras on the east coast. Mount St. Thomas, close to Madras is associated with his name.
Apocryphal writings include the 3rd or 4th century Acts of Thomas, and the Gospel of Thomas.
3.8 MATTHEW, also LEVI - TAX-COLLECTOR/PUBLICANNothing definite is known of Matthew's career. After preaching in Judea, different traditions place his missionary work and possible martyrdom in Ethiopia or Persia.
The first Gospel of the New Testament has from the earliest times been attributed to Matthew. This is now disputed by many scholars.
3.9 JAMES, SON OF ALPHAEUSKnown as James the Less, to distinguish him from James the Greater, son of Zebedee, but more likely because of his smaller stature than his relative importance. He, and Jude following, should not be confused with James and Jude (or Judas), the brothers of Jesus. Most commentators treat them as separate sets of brothers.
Tradition claims he first worked in Palestine (Israel) before preaching and martyrdom in Egypt.
3.10 JUDE, also THADDAEUSJude is also confused in some sources with Jude, one of the brothers of Jesus. He may have preached in Assyria (eastern Iraq) and Persia (Iran), before joining with Simon the Zealot and being killed with him in Persia.
3.11 SIMON THE ZEALOT or PATRIOTSimon is referred to both as the "Cananaean" and the "Zealot". The titles may refer to him being "zealous", or to his membership of one of the Jewish revolutionary movements known as Zealots. Nothing else is known about him.
One tradition is that he first preached in Egypt, before joining Jude and travelling to Persia, where both were martyred. Simon may have been crucified or hacked to death.
3.12 JUDAS ISCARIOT
(Matthew 27:3-10; Acts 1:18-19)Matthew 27:3-10 - "Then (as Jesus was being handed over to Pilate) Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that he was condemned and in his remorse returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and elders, with the words, "I was wrong - I have betrayed an innocent man to death."
"And what has that got to do with us?" they replied. "That's your affair."
And Judas flung down the silver in the Temple and went outside and hanged himself. But the chief priests picked up the money and said, "It is not legal to put this into the Temple treasury. It is, after all, blood-money." So, after a further consultation, they purchased with it the Potter's Field to be a burial-ground for foreigners, which is why it is called "the Field of Blood" to this day. And so the words of Jeremiah the prophet came true:
'And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed them' (Zechariah 11:12,13; Jeremiah 32:6-9)."
Acts 1:18-19 - "(After his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus ascends to heaven. The disciples meet to choose a successor to Judas Iscariot, and his fate is briefly described by Luke in his Acts of the Apostles ....) This man (Judas) had bought a piece of land with the proceeds of his infamy, but his body swelled up and his intestines burst. This fact became well known to all the residents of Jerusalem so that the piece of land came to be called in their (Aramaic) language Akeldama, which means "the field of blood"."
4. MATTHIASAs a disciple from the time of Jesus' baptism through to his death and resurrection, and possibly one of the 72 sent out to preach and heal, Matthias was chosen by prayer and the drawing of lots to replace Judas Iscariot as the twelfth apostle, Acts 1:15-26. No more is heard of him in the New Testament, and the various traditions are made more confusing because of the similarity of his name to Matthew's.
He may have preached and been martyred in Ethiopia, Other traditions place him in Judea, and later Cappadocia (eastern Turkey) and the Caspian Sea area.
5. PAUL OR SAUL OF TARSUSPaul travelled widely, made at least three major missionary journeys, wrote many letters of which thirteen still exist (some scholars dispute three of them), and his life and work is touched upon in a variety of ways in his letters. On returning to Jerusalem after his third journey, he was arrested and during his subsequent trials, as a Roman citizen "appealed to Caesar" for judgement - all covered by Acts 21-26. Chapters 27 and 28 then describe Paul's voyage and journey to Rome in fascinating nautical detail. Thereafter his life, and death is a matter of conjecture and tradition.
For some two years after his arrival in Rome, he was under house-arrest, before possibly being executed in the persecutions of Emperor Nero that followed the burning of Rome in AD64. If so, Paul's authorship of the three "Pastoral Letters" - 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus - can be open to doubt.
However, there are strong traditions that on appeal to the Emperor on what was a Jewish religious charge, he was acquitted. He remained free for perhaps three years, revisiting Ephesus and other churches, and even going as far as Spain, before being re-arrested and sentenced to death. In his cell, he wrote his last letter - the Second Letter to Timothy - before execution around the year AD67.
Tradition is he was beheaded at a place now called Tre Fontane in Rome, and that the church of St. Paul stands over his grave.
The apocryphal "Acts of Paul" comes from the second century. They describe Paul as "a man small of stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked, full of friendliness; for now he appeared like a man, and now he had the face of an angel!"
The Spread of Christianity Westward
Christianity presented a faith for the world, not a particular class or ethnic group. The particular, saving event of Christ became the universal Christian message. The geographic boundaries of Christianity increased dramatically in the first century. The task of mission fell upon the church. While the Jews considered Christians to be heretics and foreigners, the Greeks persecuted them for their “atheism”—their
failure to worship the pagan gods and the emperors.
Jerusalem was not to be the center of Christianity, especially after its fall in A.D. 70. By then, the church had broadened its base to include the Gentiles. The role of the apostles in this spread is uncertain. Only in the second or third century did the so-called “Acts of the Apostles” appear. It is purported to be an account of the later work and martyrdoms of the apostles, but emanated from heretical, Gnostic circles. These stories, nonetheless, appealed to the common people. In Clement of Rome’s letter to the Corinthians, about A.D. 100, there is strong support for the tradition that both Peter and Paul sojourned to and were martyred in Rome during the time of persecutions under Nero.
In a sense, the lost record of the later deeds of the apostles only emphasizes the reality that every Christian was a witness. The Christian message spread through converts of all kinds. Miracles, signs, and wonders often accompanied them. That Christians “died well” when persecuted awed and swayed many. The Early Church acutely sensed the tension between the gospel and the world. In Rome, Christians used underground tunnels or “catacombs” both as places of worship and to bury their dead.
In many ways they were different from their pagan neighbors.
• They refused to take up arms to defend the state, but, at the same time, were obedient members of society.
• They avoided contemporary public amusements. At the same time, they were compassionate and concerned.
• They were ambivalent toward prosperity.
• They treated their spouses and families with dignity and respect.
Meanwhile, Christians translated the gospel into other languages. Early theologians used the philosophies of their time to express the gospel. In doing so, Christianity demonstrated its respect for indigenous cultures, and its optimism that cultural forms and idioms could equally express and reflect the good news of Christ.
The Roman world was ready for the gospel. The Roman Empire reflected a political and cultural unity. Intellectual exchange remained influenced by Greek
“Hellenist” philosophy. There was one language, Greek, for trade and education. Rome provided a common law. The empire contained many gods and religions.
People were interested in finding ways to salvation. The broad diversity of peoples and religions demanded a degree of tolerance with the views and beliefs of
others. That is why Judaism with its radical monotheism did not fit well.
Nonetheless, Jews and synagogues, scattered throughout the empire, formed a network through which the gospel spread. Their monotheism—pure, radical, and personal—had appealed to some non-Jews. There were Greek “God-fearers” who were not only interested in Judaism but were worshipers of God. In the gospel of Jesus Christ all their longings for salvation were fulfilled.
Growth of the Church in the Roman Empire
Christian evangelism and growth in the Roman Empire was effected by mobility in all directions. The empire provided cities, ports, roads, and a postal system that
transported the gospel message rapidly over great distances. Evangelism centered in the cities, and progressed outward from them into:
PALESTINE: There was inevitably a rift between the church and the synagogue. Eventually Jewish Christianity dwindled. Out of Jewish Christianity came some heresies, which insisted that even Christians conform to the old Jewish laws.
ANTIOCH: Syria, where the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26), became the second home of the church. By A.D. 400 perhaps one-half of Antioch’s
population of about a half million were Christians.
CYRENE: The church here may have been initiated under those from Cyrene who were present in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10).
ASIA MINOR: Here the people were civilized, intelligent, and volatile, but receptive to the gospel. Paul initiated work here where, as was true throughout the empire, city-dwellers proved more receptive to the gospel than rural people.
ROME: After Jerusalem and Antioch, Rome was the third home of Christianity. Early, the Roman church identified Peter and Paul as founders. Indeed, these two apostles probably were martyred under Nero about A.D. 64. Initially, in Rome, the church drew members from the poorer, Greek-speaking masses. Only in 190 was Latin in use. Much later, in the 300s, Rome claimed superiority to the other centers of the church.
GAUL AND SPAIN: The church reached the southern, tribal people here by A.D. 150.
BRITAIN: The only certainty is that the church had been established in Britain by 314, when it was represented in a council. Probably, Britain was Christianized through Roman soldiers stationed there.
EGYPT: The important city here was Alexandria, a center for East/West trade. Alexandria seemed eager for new ideas. Hellenistic Judaism was prominent—
flourishing under the philosopher Philo (20 B.C.-A.D. 50), who used an allegorical method in his interpretation of Scripture. Important early Christian theologians from Alexandria included Clement (late second century) and Origen (early third century). Alexandria developed a Logos-centered theology that attempted to proclaim the gospel using the language of Greek philosophy.
NORTH AFRICA: The church here may have been the result of Christians from both Rome and Alexandria. North Africa was the first Latin-speaking area of the
church and gave rise to important theologians: Tertullian (160-220), Cyprian (d. 258), who worked in Carthage, and Augustine of Hippo (354-430).
By the beginning of the fourth century the church had virtually “conquered the Roman world”—even though the total population of the empire. At the same time, while the church was spreading throughout the empire, the cultural values of the empire were seeping into the church—especially after the Edict of Toleration pronounced by Emperor Constantine in 313, who had been converted to Christianity in 312 as the result of a vision. This brought a great influx of new believers.
After this, Christians literally built upon Roman ruins. Christianity led in the shaping and the reshaping of civilization. In theology, it was influenced by Greek
philosophy; in polity, by Roman law. In some measure, the world entered the church.
The Growth of the Church in the West Outside of the Roman Empire
THE GOTHS: A Germanic tribe, the Goths were evangelized by Christians from Cappadocia, particularly Ulfilas, who in the 300s became bishop of the Goths. Ulfilas translated the Bible into Gothic.
IRELAND: Patrick, who became a bishop in the 400s, evangelized this island. By 460 Ireland was largely Christianized. Irish or Celtic Christianity became known
for its evangelical monasticism.
THE FRANKS: This was another Germanic tribe. Among the first-known evangelists was Martin of Tours (316-397). In 496 Clovis, king of the Franks, was
baptized. He was able to defeat the Arian barbarians and preserve orthodox faith.
The Spread of Christianity Eastward
Christianity spread outside of as well as within the Roman Empire. Outside of the empire, Christianity spread to:
MESOPOTAMIA (Edessa): Oerhoene claimed to be thefirst kingdom in the world to embrace Christianity when King Abgar IX (177-212) became a Christian. A legend has it that his predecessor, Abgar V, had exchanged letters with Jesus himself. According to the story, Jesus promised to send one of His apostles. It was said that Thaddeus, one of the seventy, reached Edessa. What is sure is that Edessa became an important center of Syrian Christianity and enabled the spread of the gospel eastward.
ETHIOPIA (Abyssinia): Christianity reached Ethiopia by the 200s. There is a tradition that roots Ethiopian Christianity in Philip’s encounter with the eunuch (Acts 8:27-39).
ARMENIA: Gregory of Cappadocia evangelized Armenia in the late third century. In about A.D. 300, Armenia accepted Christianity as its state religion.
INDIA: Most historians now conclude—regarding the legend about Thomas the apostle beginning Christianity in Asia—that while there is no direct historical proof, there is enough evidence to show that it would not have been impossible, and it may even be probable, that Thomas did indeed preach and evangelize in India.
According to the late second- or early third-century Syriac “Doctrine of the Apostles” and “Acts of Thomas,” written by Edessan Christians, Thomas wrote letters from “India”—though the exact meaning of that is not certain—and evangelized adjacent countries. In about 170, Heracleon writes of Thomas dying a natural death, as does Clement of Alexandria about 50 years later. Origen in 250 describes Thomas as evangelizing the Parthians.
In the early fourth century the historian Eusebius mentions Thomas as being allotted “Parthia” by the apostles, which was an ancient country extending from what is now northwestern Iran to the Indian state of Punjab. There are three separate traditions testifying to Thomas’s work in India, even if disagreeing in details:
1. the “Acts of Thomas”
2. the Western church sources
3. the Indian church itself, in its oral history
The latter accounts were transmitted within certain well-respected, Indian families as well as in the church itself. They told the history to the Portuguese who began trading along the coast in the sixteenth century and the Portuguese subsequently wrote these accounts.
If some of the legendary material is stripped away, there may even be lessons to learn from Thomas’s experience. The “Acts of Thomas” tells of Thomas’s initial reluctance. After Thomas met an agent of an Indian ruler, Gundaphar, God persuaded him that it was His will for Thomas to go eastward. This agent was
looking for a carpenter to help the king build his palace, and the Lord himself appeared to the agent in a dream, according to the “Acts,” which led Thomas to
doubt no longer that it was God’s will for him to go with the agent.
So they traveled, eventually encountering King Gundaphar. The story is filled with miracles of a type surpassing those of Peter and Paul in the “Acts of the Apostles.” As well as miraculously healing various sicknesses and raising a number of dead, Thomas lived simply and counseled asceticism.
As his contractor, the king gave Thomas money to build the palace. But instead Thomas spent it to alleviate the sufferings of the poor. This enraged the king, initially, but he came to realize—through the dreams of his brother, who dies, goes to heaven, and then returns to life again—that Thomas built his palace, but in heaven rather than on earth. Gundaphar became a Christian, as did many others in his realm. Thomas went on from there, leaving a deacon in charge.
The historical context for the story is substantiated by coins bearing Gundaphar’s image and dating from the first century, and by evidence that during the first
century trade and communications were common between Palestine and India. In fact there is even documentation for Indian rulers seeking Palestinian carpenters for building projects in India in the first century! Added to this are the traditions of both the Early Church Fathers and the ancient Mar Thoma Church of India, which is centered in the southeastern state of Kerala, along the Malabar coast.
There is some speculation as to how far east and south into the subcontinent Thomas actually reached. Parthia was considered part of India as defined in these
centuries, and the “Acts” seem to locate Thomas in Punjab, which is in the north, an area ruled by Gundaphar, according to history. But the oral traditions of the Mar Thoma Church speak of Thomas’s conflicts with Brahmins, who according to some accounts, finally had him killed. Much tradition has him buried near Madras, on the southwestern coast. In the fourteenth century Marco Polo mentions the site.
Historian Samuel Moffatt surmises that there are ways the accounts can be harmonized to indicate that Thomas may indeed have started in the northwest, and
journeyed south and eventually eastward. Some local Indian traditions have Thomas journeying to China and back, and successfully establishing churches across much of Asia.
Poignant features of Thomas’s work in India, insofar as it is known, may be helpful today.
• Thomas went with a kind of comity arrangement of the apostles, which allowed them not to compete with each other. Rather there was a plan of cooperation for the evangelization of the world, even though it seems Thomas was given so much larger a part of the world compared to the other apostles!
• That he was given this responsibility is remarkable considering he was the “Doubter” among them, who would believe only when thoroughly convinced of Christ’s resurrection. But perhaps that was precisely the kind of apostle the Indians needed.
• Thomas went supporting himself, not as a tentmaker like Paul, but as a carpenter. Their strategies were similar in this respect. Thomas’s vocation opened possibilities he otherwise would not have had.
• Thomas went with the permission of the authorities—in fact the king himself—which was important, yet he did not actually abide by the king’s instructions. In fact his service was, in the king’s eyes, subversive. Yet, because Thomas was faithful to the heart of the gospel, to offer the good news to the poor, God opened the king’s eyes and he was converted. The king’s conversion had far reaching implications for his people.
• Thomas’s preaching was accompanied by good works. Not only the miracles, but the very tangible redirection of the king’s funds touched the people
holistically. It was obvious that Thomas perceived well their social, economic, and political situation. His method was both subversive and constructive, making sure the poor truly benefited.
• At the same time, the point was that the kingdom of God is in palaces above, not in magnificent institutions below. As he ministered to the poor, the Kingdom was indeed being built.
• Apparently Thomas was, again like Paul, on the move rather constantly. If Paul’s goal was to reach Spain, the western extreme of the known world, one can well imagine that Thomas’s intent was to reach the eastern extreme. Whether he really reached China, as Indians (and even Martin Luther) believed, historians probably never will know.
Christianity had reached the following areas of the world:
THE END OF THE APOSTOLIC PERIOD (A.D. 100)
Adriatic Sea, Asia Minor, Greece/Macedonia, Iberia, India, Mesopotamia,
North Africa coast: Alexandria, Carthage, Cyrene; Palestine, Persia (western), Southern Italy (Rome), and Syria
Why the Phenomenal Spread of Christianity?
Historian Kenneth Latourette describes several reasons for the rapid growth of Christianity in these early centuries.
• Evangelists such as Martin demonstrated signs and wonders associated with the Cross.
• Christianity satisfied basic philosophical and religious quests for immortality, morality, and fellowship, while preserving antiquity.
• It grew in a time when old social structures were disintegrating.
• By the time of Constantine, the church had become the strongest institution in all of Roman society.
• Its message was inherently “translatable” in all cultures and languages.
• It appealed both to men and women, all classes, and all races.
• Christianity was flexible while remaining true to its basic convictions. It abhorred syncretism, yet was forgiving for those who fell away.
• Christians died well. The blood of the martyrs truly affected the people.
• Christianity worked moral transformation in individual lives.
• Believers told the story both well and passionately.
• Their lives were winsome.
• Finally, the message of Jesus was itself compelling.
DIDACHE (c. 115)
The manuscript of this work, also called The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, was discovered in 1873. The work was written sometime before the beginning of the
second century and is reflective of Syrian Christianity. It was probably a catechism, and is composed of two sections. The first, often called “The Two Ways,” is a contrast between the path of righteousness and the path of unrighteousness, the way of life and the way of death.
The second part is composed of teachings on church rites and orders. It includes various sacraments, fasts, and instructions for their proper use. Baptism was a “sealing” analogous to circumcision in the Old Testament. It was a means of grace. Baptism was to be given by immersion under “running water.” Where this was not possible, baptism was to be done by a threefold pouring. The Didache offered precise rules for prayers and fasting. Wednesdays and Fridays were days of fasting. The Didache depicted the bishop as “monarchial”—presiding over the Eucharist and superior to the elders. The bishop mediated Christ to the faithful, and the faithful to Christ, whom the Didache described as coming soon. Therefore, Christians must be watchful of the Antichrist and morally faithful.
The Didache included an ancient form of the Lord’s Supper. The bishop, and not all elders, celebrated and presided over the Lord’s Supper. These were the instructions:
At the Eucharist, offer the eucharistic prayer in this way. Begin with the chalice:
We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the holy Vine of thy servant David, which thou hast made known to us through thy servant Jesus. Glory be to thee, world without end.
Then over the particles of bread:
We give thanks to thee, our Father, of the life and knowledge thou hast made known to us through thy servant Jesus. Glory be to thee, world without end.
As this broken bread, once dispersed over the hills, was brought together and became one loaf, so may thy Church be brought together from the ends of the earth into thy kingdom.
Thine is the glory and the power, through Jesus Christ, forever and ever.
No one is to eat or drink of your Eucharist but those who have been baptized in the Name of the Lord; for the Lord’s own saying applies here, “Give not that which is holy unto dogs.”
When all have partaken sufficiently, give thanks in these words:
Thanks be to thee, holy Father, for thy sacred Name which thou hast caused to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and everlasting life which thou hast revealed to us through thy servant Jesus. Glory be to thee for ever and ever. Thou, O Almighty Lord, hast created all things for thine own Name’s sake; to all men thou hast given meat and drink to enjoy, that they may give thanks to thee, but to us thou hast graciously given spiritual meat and drink, together with life eternal, through thy Servant. Especially, and above all, do we give thanks to thee for the mightiness of thy power.
Glory be to thee for ever and ever.
Be mindful of thy Church, O Lord; deliver it from all evil, perfect it in thy love, sanctify it, and gather it from the four winds into the kingdom which thou hast prepared for it.
Thine is the power and the glory for ever and ever.
Let His Grace draw near, and let this present world pass away.
Hosanna to the God of David.
Whosoever is holy, let him approach. Whoso is not, let him repent.
O Lord come quickly. Amen.
Didache presents an insight in to how some first century Christians viewed their faith. The Gospels have not yet been written, the Epistles of the Apostles are well known dealing with theological issues the nascent church was experiencing. Unlike the theological nature of the epistles and later the narrative nature of the gospels the Didache is a list of rules. The Didache is also written in the time before there was a decisive split between Judaism and Christianity. “So these people are seeing themselves as the community of the covenant with God, and this covenant is the way to life, but this covenant had been renewed and transformed through their encounter with Jesus. So it shows us that they don’t see themselves as primarily followers of Jesus, they see themselves as having been shown by Jesus how to be the perfect followers in the perfection of the covenant, and they’re now addressing God not as a distant being but as Father.” (Dr. Thomas O’Loughlin, University of Nottingham, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gx0Seur1nts ) The Didache is written for gentiles who are considering becoming followers of Jesus.
Why bother spending 20 minutes to read the Didache, let alone the investment of time to study the writing when it is not considered authoritative by the Church? Hopefully you are familiar with the letters of the Apostles. With the exception of John, they have all be martyred at this point in time. What we see in the Didache is the impact that the message of the Apostles had on believers. Its serves as a bridge between the Epistles and Gospels to the 2nd century and the writings of the group we refer to as the Fathers. If we are to understand the concept of Christian perfection, the Didache is the first stop after leaving the New Testament. When you examine the Didache as a whole you discover the early churches understanding of perfection/holiness.
The Lord's Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations.
As you read Chapters 1-4, answer this question: What is expected of a child of Yahweh?
Chapter 1. The Two Ways and the First Commandment.
1:1 There are two ways, one of life and one of death, but a great difference between the two ways. 1:2 The way of life, then, is this: 1:3 First, you shall love God who made you; 1:4 second, love your neighbor as yourself, and 1:5 do not do to another what you would not want done to you. 1:6 And of these sayings the teaching is this: 1:7 Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. 1:8 For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the Gentiles do the same? But love those who hate you, and you shall not have an enemy. 1:9 Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts.1:10 If someone strikes your right cheek, turn to him the other also, and you shall be perfect. 1:11 If someone impresses you for one mile, go with him two. 1:12 If someone takes your cloak, give him also your coat. 1:13 If someone takes from you what is yours, ask it not back, for indeed you are not able. 1:14 Give to every one who asks you, and ask it not back; 1:15 for the Father wills that to all should be given of our own blessings. 1:16 Happy is he who gives according to the commandment, 1:17 for he is guiltless. 1:18 Woe to him who receives; 1:19 for if one receives who has need, he is guiltless; 1:20 but he who receives not having need shall pay the penalty, why he received and for what. 1:21 And coming into confinement, he shall be examined concerning the things which he has done, and he shall not escape from there until he pays back the last penny. 1:22 And also concerning this, it has been said, 1:23 Let your alms sweat in your hands, until you know to whom you should give.
Chapter 2. The Second Commandment: Grave Sin Forbidden.
2:1 And the second commandment of the Teaching; 2:2You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born. You shall not covet the things of your neighbor, you shall not swear, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge. 2:3 You shall not be double-minded nor double-tongued, for to be double-tongued is a snare of death. 2:4 Your speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed. 2:5 You shall not be covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor evil disposed, nor haughty. 2:6 You shall not take evil counsel against your neighbor. 2:7 You shall not hate any man; but some you shall reprove, and concerning some you shall pray, and some you shall love more than your own life.
Chapter 3. Other Sins Forbidden.
3:1 My child, flee from every evil thing, and from every likeness of it. 3:2 Be not prone to anger, for anger leads to murder. Be neither jealous, nor quarrelsome, nor of hot temper, 3:3 for out of all these murders are engendered. 3:4 My child, be not a lustful one. for lust leads to fornication. Be neither a filthy talker, nor of lofty eye, 3:5 for out of all these adulteries are engendered. 3:6 My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leads to idolatry. Be neither an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be willing to took at these things, 3:7 for out of all these idolatry is engendered. 3:8 My child, be not a liar, since a lie leads to theft. Be neither money-loving, nor vainglorious, 3:9 for out of all these thefts are engendered. 3:10 My child, be not a murmurer, since it leads the way to blasphemy. Be neither self-willed nor evil-minded, 3:11 for out of all these blasphemies are engendered.
3:12 Rather, be meek, since the meek shall inherit the earth. 3:13 Be long-suffering and pitiful and guileless and gentle and good and always trembling at the words which you have heard. 3:14 You shall not exalt yourself, nor give over-confidence to your soul. 3:15 Your soul shall not be joined with lofty ones, but with just and lowly ones shall it have its intercourse. 3:16 Accept whatever happens to you as good, knowing that apart from God nothing comes to pass.
Chapter 4. Various Precepts.
4:1 My child, remember night and day him who speaks the word of God to you, and honor him as you do the Lord. 4:2 For wherever the lordly rule is uttered, there is the Lord. 4:3 And seek out day by day the faces of the saints, in order that you may rest upon their words. 4:4 Do not long for division, but rather bring those who contend to peace. 4:5 Judge righteously, and do not respect persons in reproving for transgressions. 4:6 You shall not be undecided whether or not it shall be. 4:7 Be not a stretcher forth of the hands to receive and a drawer of them back to give. 4:8 If you have anything, through your hands you shall give ransom for your sins. 4:9 Do not hesitate to give, nor complain when you give; 4:10 for you shall know who is the good repayer of the hire. 4:11 Do not turn away from him who is in want; rather, share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are your own. 4:12 For if you are partakers in that which is immortal, how much more in things which are mortal? Do not remove your hand from your son or daughter; rather, teach them the fear of God from their youth. 4:13 Do not enjoin anything in your bitterness upon your bondman or maidservant, who hope in the same God, lest ever they shall fear not God who is over both; 4:14 for he comes not to call according to the outward appearance, but to them whom the Spirit has prepared. 4:15 And you bondmen shall be subject to your masters as to a type of God, in modesty and fear. 4:16 You shall hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord. 4:17 Do not in any way forsake the commandments of the Lord; 4:18 but keep what you have received, neither adding thereto nor taking away therefrom. 4:19 In the church you shall acknowledge your transgressions, and you shall not come near for your prayer with an evil conscience. 4:20 This is the way of life.
As you read Chapter 5 answer this question: What is the underlining cause of behaviors inconsistent with discipleship?
Chapter 5. The Way of Death.
5:1 And the way of death is this: 5:2 First of all it is evil and accursed: murders, adultery, lust, fornication, thefts, idolatries, magic arts, witchcrafts, rape, false witness, hypocrisy, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness; 5:3 persecutors of the good, hating truth, loving a lie, not knowing a reward for righteousness, not cleaving to good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for that which is good, but for that which is evil; 5:4 from whom meekness and endurance are far, 5:5 loving vanities, pursuing revenge, not pitying a poor man, not laboring for the afflicted, not knowing Him Who made them, murderers of children, destroyers of the handiwork of God, turning away from him who is in want, afflicting him who is distressed, advocates of the rich, lawless judges of the poor, utter sinners. 5:6 Be delivered, children, from all these.
Please Read Chapter’s 6 and 11 together and answer this question: How do you know you are dealing with a false prophet or teacher?
Chapter 6. Against False Teachers, and Food Offered to Idols.
6:1 See that no one causes you to err from this way of the Teaching, since apart from God it teaches you. 6:2 For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; 6:3 but if you are not able to do this, do what you are able. 6:4 And concerning food, bear what you are able; 6:5 but against that which is sacrificed to idols be exceedingly careful; for it is the service of dead gods.
As you read Chapter 7 answer this question: Why would fasting be a part of the baptism ritual?
Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism.
7:1 And concerning baptism, baptize this way: 7:2 Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. 7:3 But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; 7:4 and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. 7:5 But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. 7:6 But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; 7:7 but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before.
As you read Chapter 8 answer this question: What purpose is served by reciting the Lord’s Prayer 3 times a day?
Chapter 8. Fasting and Prayer (the Lord's Prayer).
8:1 But let not your fasts be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and fifth day of the week. 8:2 Rather, fast on the fourth day and the Preparation (Friday). 8:3 Do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in His Gospel, like this: 8:4 Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. 8:5 Thy kingdom come. 8:6 Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 8:7 Give us today our daily (needful) bread, 8:8 and forgive us our debt as we also forgive our debtors. 8:9 And bring us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one (or, evil); 8:10 for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. 8:11 Pray this three times each day.
Please read Chapter 9, 10 and 14 together then answer these two questions:
1. For what purpose does this liturgy serve?
2. What is the main purpose of celebrating the Lord’s Supper?
Chapter 9. The Eucharist.
9:1 Now concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. 9:2 First, concerning the cup: 9:3 We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine of David Thy servant, which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; 9:4 to Thee be the glory for ever. 9:5 And concerning the broken bread: 9:6 We thank Thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which You madest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; 9:7 to Thee be the glory for ever. 9:8 Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let Thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Thy kingdom; 9:9 for Thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever. 9:10 But let no one eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized into the name of the Lord; 9:11 for concerning this also the Lord has said, 9:12 "Give not that which is holy to the dogs."
Chapter 10. Prayer after Communion.
10:1 But after you are filled, give thanks this way: 10:2 We thank Thee, holy Father, for Thy holy name which You didst cause to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality, which You modest known to us through Jesus Thy Servant; 10:3 to Thee be the glory for ever. 10:4 Thou, Master almighty, didst create all things for Thy name's sake; You gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; 10:5 but to us You didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant. 10:6 Before all things we thank Thee that You are mighty; 10:7 to Thee be the glory for ever. 10: 8 Remember, Lord, Thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in Thy love, 10:9 and gather it from the four winds, sanctified for Thy kingdom which Thou have prepared for it; 10:10 for Thine is the power and the glory for ever. 10:11 Let grace come, and let this world pass away. 10:12 Hosanna to the God (Son) of David! 10:13 If any one is holy, let him come; 10:14 if any one is not so, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen. 10:15 But permit the prophets to make Thanksgiving as much as they desire.
Chapter 11. Concerning Teachers, Apostles, and Prophets.
11:1 Whosoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things that have been said before, receive him. 11:2 But if the teacher himself turns and teaches another doctrine to the destruction of this, hear him not. 11:3 But if he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. 11:4 But concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel. 11:5 Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. 11:6 But he shall not remain more than one day; or two days, if there's a need. 11:7 But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. 11:8 And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges. 11:9 If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. 11:10 And every prophet who speaks in the Spirit you shall neither try nor judge;11:11 for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven. 11:12 But not everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; but only if he holds the ways of the Lord. 11:13 Therefore from their ways shall the false prophet and the prophet be known. 11:14 And every prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it, 11:15 unless he is indeed a false prophet. 11:16 And every prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. 11:17 And every prophet, proved true, working unto the mystery of the Church in the world, yet not teaching others to do what he himself does, shall not be judged among you, 11:18 for with God he has his judgment; 11:19 for so did also the ancient prophets. 11:20 But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him. 11: 21 But if he tells you to give for others' sake who are in need, let no one judge him.
Read Chapters 12 and 13 together and answer the question: What is the criteria for one who is worthy of support and one who is not?
Chapter 12. Reception of Christians.
12:1 But receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord, and prove and know him afterward; 12:2 for you shall have understanding right and left. 12:3 If he who comes is a wayfarer, assist him as far as you are able; 12:4 but he shall not remain with you more than two or three days, if need be. 12:5 But if he wants to stay with you, and is an artisan, let him work and eat. 12:6 But if he has no trade, according to your understanding, see to it that, as a Christian, he shall not live with you idle. 12:7 But if he wills not to do, he is a Christ-monger. 12:8 Watch that you keep away from such.
Chapter 13. Support of Prophets.
13:1 But every true prophet who wants to live among you is worthy of his support. 13:2 So also a true teacher is himself worthy, as the workman, of his support. 13:3 Every first-fruit, therefore, of the products of wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, you shall take and give to the prophets, 13:4 for they are your high priests. 13:5 But if you have no prophet, give it to the poor. 13:6 If you make a batch of dough, take the first-fruit and give according to the commandment. 13:7 So also when you open a jar of wine or of oil, take the first-fruit and give it to the prophets; 13:8 and of money (silver) and clothing and every possession, take the first-fruit, as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment.
Chapter 14. Christian Assembly on the Lord's Day. 14:1 But every Lord's day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. 14:2 But let no one who is at odds with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. 14:3 For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: 14:4 "In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; 14:5 for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations."
Read Chapter 15 and answer this question: What would speaking amiss about someone consist of?
Chapter 15. Bishops and Deacons; Christian Reproof.
15:1 Appoint, therefore, for yourselves, bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men meek, and not lovers of money, and truthful and proved; 15:2 for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. 15:3 Therefore do not despise them, 15:4 for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers. 15:5 And reprove one another, not in anger, but in peace, as you have it in the Gospel. 15:6 But to anyone that acts amiss against another, let no one speak, nor let him hear anything from you until he repents. 15: 7 But your prayers and alms and all your deeds so do, as you have it in the Gospel of our Lord.
Read Chapter 16 and answer this question: What is the early churches understanding of suffering in the Last Days?
Chapter 16. Watchfulness; the Coming of the Lord.
16:1 Watch for your life's sake. 16:2 Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, 16:3 for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come. 16:4 But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: 16:5 for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time. 16:6 For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; 16:7 for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, 16:8 and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, 16:9 and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, 16:10 and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. 16:11 Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; 16:12 but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. 16:13 And then shall appear the signs of the truth: 16:14 first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead –16:15 yet not of all, but as it is said: 10:16 "The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him." 16:17 Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.
Write in your journal. Reflect on and respond to the following:
AUGUSTINE’S CONFESSIONS, READING 2
5. Who shall bring me to rest in you? Who will send you into my heart so to overwhelm it that my sins shall be blotted out and I may embrace you, my only good? What are you to me? Have mercy that I may speak. What am I to you that you should command me to love you, and if I do it not, art angry and threaten vast misery? Is it, then, a trifling sorrow not to love you? It is not so to me. Tell me, by your mercy, O Lord, my God, what you are to me. Say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” So speak that I may hear. Behold, the ears of my heart are before you, O Lord; open them and say to my soul, “I am your salvation.” I will hasten after that voice, and I will lay hold upon you. Hide not your face from me . . .
6. The house of my soul is too narrow for you to come into me; let it be enlarged by you. It is in ruins; do you restore it. There is much about it that must offend your eyes; I confess and know it. But who will cleanse it? Or, to whom shall I cry but to you? “Cleanse you me from my secret faults,” O Lord, “and keep back your servant from strange sins.” “I believe, and therefore do I speak.” But you, O Lord, you know. Have I not confessed my transgressions unto you, O my God; and hast you not put away the iniquity of my heart? I do not contend in judgment with you, who are truth itself; and I would not deceive myself, lest my iniquity lie even to itself. I do not, therefore, contend in judgment with you, for “if you, Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?”
CHAPTER XII 19.
But in this time of childhood . . . I had no love of learning, and hated to be driven to it. Yet I was driven to it just the same, and good was done for me, even though I did not do it well, for I would not have learned if I had not been forced to it. For no man does well against his will, even if what he does is a good thing. Neither did they who forced me do well, but the good that was done me came from you, my God. For they did not care about the way in which I would use what they forced me to learn, and took it for granted that it was to satisfy the inordinate desires of a rich beggary and a shameful glory. But you, Lord, by whom the hairs of our head are numbered, did use for my good the error of all who pushed me on to study: . . . And I—though so small a boy yet so great a sinner— was not punished without warrant. Thus by the instrumentality of those who did not do well, you did well for me; and by my own sin you did justly punish me. For it is even as you have ordained: that every inordinate affection brings on its own punishment.
Assignment to be done before class
Email your response paragraphs to firstname.lastname@example.org by the Sunday before the class session.
A. Read: Shelley, Church History in Plain Language, chapters 4, 5 and 9
Write a big idea paragraph on your reading in Shelly.
B. Read the following articles and give a one paragraph answer to the question asked.
3. The Apostolic Fathers
What was the theology in relation to sanctification?
C. Write in your journal. Reflect on and respond to the following:
AUGUSTINE’S CONFESSIONS, READING `2
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