Home | Archives | Guest Book | Links | churches of Christ | Contact Us
Plan of Salvation
 | Correspondence Course | Daily Bible Reading | Store
Gospel Gazette Online logo

Serving an international
readership with the
Old Jerusalem Gospel
via the Internet.

Vol.  9  No. 6 June 2007  Page 12
powered by FreeFind
Current Issue: Go to Page 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20

The Early Church

By Paul R. Mobley

    The early church at Rome gives us a glimpse into some of the things going on for Christians. Catacombs outside the city were started by Christians for burial places, and were quickly expanded into a maze of rooms, and tunnels, and stairs between levels. The Christians refused to be cremated as was common among the poor Romans who could not afford a burial place, or a funeral.

    As we know, Nero was infamous for blaming Christians for everything imaginable, and persecuting them. He was not the only one however.

    To avoid persecution, and find safety, Christians would resort to the catacombs for refuge. The catacombs thus became both a burial place and under the deadly dangers of persecution, they could meet everyday with each other, but where worship by the whole congregation was likely one day a week in order to avoid being discovered. However, persecution did come even into the catacombs and the Christians had to close existing entrances and dig new ones known only to them to maintain secrecy.

    Further information comes from Pliny the Younger, governor of Bithynia, who wrote the Emperor asking what he should do with the Christians in his area. In his letter, reportedly, he described the guilt of the Christians, as “to assemble on a certain day before daybreak, and sing a hymn to Christ as God, and to reaffirm that they would not enter into any wickedness, or alter their work or fail the trusts committed to them.” Thus seen is that there was no reason to persecute Christians, but, that such persecution had come anyway. The church meeting daily, or two or three times a week, would have brought more and more persecution. The result was that Christians likely met as the church one day a week for worship. The writer of Hebrews Chapter 10:25 is thus likely referring to that Sunday service, where some failed to come to the service because of persecution.

    It was also discovered in the catacombs outside Rome from writings, objects and pictures on walls that some Christians had begun to return to the pagan religious ways, mixing those ways as part of the church ways. Hebrews may also be addressing these Christians, hoping to bring them back to the true church beliefs and actions.

    Clement of Rome, likely an elder in the church at Rome, died in AD 101 by being martyred. He had been taught by and knew some of the apostles. It is quite probable that after his death the church began to stray, lacking that strong leadership that restrained Christians to follow God’s Word. Another was Polycarp, who resided at Hierapolis, and died by AD 155. He also had been instructed by the apostles, probably had conversed with a number who had seen Jesus and was a contemporary of the apostle John.

    Because of the loss of men like Clement and Polycarp, the apostles and political religious persecution, Christians and congregations began to stray. The church at Sardis seems to illustrate what was happening partly for the above reasons, and others (Revelation 3:1‑6), where Christ said, “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy” (4). Only a few of the congregation pleased Christ at that time. We then can also understand Paul’s almost continual warnings about false teachers, idolatry and other temptations to stray from the truth of God.

    Those who strayed tended to forget that Jesus was among them, as was the Holy Spirit. It is a mystery how the abiding presence of Christ can be in the midst of even two or three who are gathered in his name (Matthew 18:20; John 14:23), and certainly also to wonder how the Holy Spirit acts among and in Christians (Acts 2:38; Romans 8:9, 11, 16). Certain, however, is that he was there and knew everything that went on with each individual and each congregation as he is today.

    Notice the freedom that Christians of that day had from Christ. Except for Roman persecutions, each Christian Jew was freed of the 565 rules that some Pharisees had imposed on them. Gentile Christians were freed from the rituals and demands of the pagan gods. Each Christian could live with a mind like that of Christ, free of men’s ways, able to worship one day a week when the church gathered, able to practice brotherly love for each other and for the needs of people in the community, and able to teach the untaught. When the Christian Jews were scattered from Jerusalem, they went everywhere taking and teaching the Word of God.

    Christ knows those who know the voice of the Shepherd and obey his voice (John 10:3-4).  His voice today is the Bible. And his knowledge of the Christian is perfect and complete, and our knowledge of him and his teachings should be as complete as possible, and then we must follow it. Church Bible study classes can be instrumental in providing knowledge and understanding from and of the whole Bible.

Current Issue: Go to Page 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20