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Title: Apostolic Church Fathers The Church from 100-300AD


1
Apostolic Church FathersThe Church from 100-300AD
  • Mike Buehrer
  • Blacksburg Christian Fellowship
  • Sept. 8, 2002

2
Overview
  • Christian History
  • Overview of Period (100A.D. 300 A.D.)
  • From Apostolic age to Constantine
  • Age of the Martyrs
  • Also called the Ante-Nicene period
  • Apostolic Fathers
  • Polycarp
  • Ignatius
  • Persecution of the Church
  • The blood of the martyrs ? seed of the church
  • Lessons for today

3
Church History
  • Christian faith is rooted in history
  • Resurrection of Christ was preached as an
    historical event
  • Story of Jesus, his disciples, the apostolic
    fathers, and the rest of the early church is
    recorded in many documents
  • New Testament literature
  • Literature of the apostolic fathers
  • Writings of Roman historians
  • Writings of Church fathers (after Constantine)
  • History tells us how doctrine was formed, how
    heresies were combated, and demonstrates the
    incredible faith of the early church
  • Nothing is new many things which we face have
    been faced before

4
Timeline 100 300 A.D.
100 A.D.
200 A.D.
300 A.D.
150 A.D.
250 A.D.
Marcus Aurelius
Decius
Hadrian
Trajan
Gallus
Valerian
Polycarp
Diocletian
Origen
Tertullian
Cyprian
Ignatius
Justin
St. Anthony
Christian Persecution
Tolerance
Local Persecutions
Intense Persecution
5
Spread of the Gospel
6
Spread of the Gospel
Churches in 100 A.D.
7
Spread of the Gospel
Churches in 200 A.D.
8
Spread of the Gospel
Churches in 300 A.D.
9
Early Church Leaders
  • Ignatius (55 A.D. 115 A.D.) - Bishop of
    Antioch
  • Possibly a disciple of one John
  • Polycarp (70-156A.D.) - Bishop of Smyrna
  • Disciple of John
  • Justin Martyr (150 A.D.) Philosopher First
    of the apologists
  • Wrote Apology to the Emperor Antonius Pius
  • Irenaeus (177 A.D.) - Bishop of Lyons
  • Disciple of Polycarp
  • Wrote Against Heresies to combat Gnosticism
  • Tertullian (196 A.D.) powerful thinker,
    philosopher in Carthage helped formalize the
    Trinity
  • Origen (185A.D. 254 A.D.) - perhaps the
    greatest scholar of early church
  • Cyprian (250A.D.) - wrote The Unity of the
    Church
  • St. Anthony (270) started monastic living

10
Early Church Leaders
11
Ignatius
  • Bishop of Antioch (Syria)
  • Possibly was a disciple of John
  • Martyred in Rome in 115A.D. under the Emperor
    Trajan
  • Wrote 7 letters during his trip from Antioch to
    Rome to churches at Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles,
    Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna and to Polycarp
  • Strongly argued that each congregation needed a
    bishop to maintain correct doctrine and prevent
    splits
  • Fought Docetism (The belief that Christ was a
    spirit being and only appeared to be a man.)
  • Emphasized the Eucharist since it stressed the
    reality of Christs humanity
  • Welcomed his sacrifice for Christ

12
Ignatius
  • Emperor Trajan visited Antioch in 115 A.D. and
    heard about the Christians there and their Bishop
    Ignatius.
  • Trajan decided that he wanted to meet him.
  • Trajan There you are, wicked devil, deceiver of
    men!
  • Ignatius Not an evil spirit, but I have Jesus
    Christ in my heart.
  • Trajan Jesus Christ within you? Do you mean
    him who was crucified by Pontius Pilate?
  • Ignatius Yes, he was crucified for my sins
  • The Emperor immediately sentenced him to be
    transferred to Rome and to be thrown to the wild
    beasts.

13
Ignatius Trip to Rome
He was martyred in Rome
Ignatius was arrested in Antioch where he was
bishop
Known route Conjectured route
14
Typical Leadership Structure after A.D.
100 Bishop Presbyter Presbyter
Deacons Deacons Deacons
15
Polycarp
  • 70A.D. - 156 A.D.
  • Disciple of the Apostle John
  • Bishop of Smyrna
  • Martyred in Smyrna
  • His letter to Philippians has been preserved
  • Story of his martyrdom preserved in The
    Martyrdom of Polycarp written by Smyrnaean
    church
  • Burned at the stake for refusing to worship
    Caesar and deny Christ

16
Polycarp
  • Letter to the Philippians
  • Quoted freely from the gospels, Pauls epistles,
    and I Peter.
  • While officially the New Testament was not
    canonized, certain writings were recognized as
    authentic and authoritative.
  • Not particularly scholarly or original, but held
    fast to the teachings of the apostles.
  • Also fought with Marcion over Docetism and
    Gnosticism.
  • Contemporary and friend of Ignatius
  • Visited with him on his trip to Rome for
    execution.

17
The Canon of the New Testament
  • What Books Belong in the Bible?
  • Robert C. Newman

18
The Term Canon
  • Derived from the Greek Kanon
  • Early meaning a measuring rod
  • Later meanings
  • A standard by which something is judged
  • A list
  • Our interest here
  • The list of books that belong in the Bible

19
Various Views on the Extent of the Canon
  • Traditional Protestant View
  • OT 39 books
  • Matching the traditional Jewish view
  • NT 27 books
  • Matching the traditional Christian view

20
Various Views on the Extent of the Canon
  • Larger Canons
  • Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox add books to
    the Old Testament
  • The Apocrypha
  • Mormons accept three additional collections
    besides the Bible
  • Book of Mormon
  • Doctrines Covenants
  • Pearl of Great Price

21
Various Views on the Extent of the Canon
  • Smaller Canons
  • Marcion c150 AD
  • Only Luke 10 Letters of Paul
  • Swedenborgians
  • NT only 4 Gospels Revelation
  • OT only 29 books
  • Theological Liberalism
  • A canon within the canon

22
Divergent Views of the Basis of Canon
  • Recognition by a church council
  • Old books are canonical
  • Valuable books are canonical
  • Books which agree with previous revelation
  • God-inspired books are canonical

23
The Recognition of Canon
  • The importance of time-perspective
  • Information is lost with the passage of time.
  • So later people (typically) have less information
    on which to make a judgment.
  • An important distinction exists between
    recognition
  • Soon after writing
  • Long after writing.

24
Recognition of a Work Recently Written
  • How recognize inspiration?
  • Use arbitrary principles?
  • Use God-given principles?
  • God-given tests for inspiration
  • Connection with supernatural phenomena
  • Connection with earlier inspired books
  • Agreement with earlier inspired books

25
A Bible Survey of the Application of These Tests
  • Mosaic period
  • Old covenant established
  • Prophetic period
  • Old covenant developed
  • Ministry of Christ
  • New covenant established
  • Ministry of Apostles
  • New covenant developed

26
Connection with Supernatural
  • Mosaic period
  • Moses gives signs to Pharaoh Israel
  • Plagues, exodus, Sinai
  • Prophetic period
  • Prophets attested by miracles short-term
    prophecies
  • Ministry of Christ
  • Miracles, short-term prophecy
  • Ministry of Apostles
  • Miracles, short-term prophecy

27
Connection with Earlier Revelation
  • Moses
  • Rescue predicted to Abraham (Gen 1513)
  • Prophets
  • Prophets predicted by Moses (Deut 18)
  • Christ
  • Predicted by prophets (e.g., Isa 53)
  • Apostles
  • Chosen by Jesus

28
Connection with Earlier Revelation
  • Who is expected now?
  • Jesus at his return
  • The two witnesses
  • The Antichrist
  • False prophets false Christs

29
Agreement with Earlier Revelation
  • Cannot contradict
  • See Deut 131-3 no other gods
  • See Acts 1711 responsibility to test
  • See Gal 18-9 no other gospel
  • Can explain and clarify
  • Otherwise, why more revelation?
  • Looks like book of Revelation designed to close
    the canon.

30
Revelation to close canon?
  • Like a blimp, the Bible closes off on the back
    end as it opens on the front
  • Creation
  • Sin death
  • Tree of life
  • Garden
  • God dwelling

31
Recognition of a Work Written Long Ago
  • We cannot easily re-do what was done long ago.
  • We suggest the following as a check that the
    Bible is what it claims to be
  • Christian evidences point to Christ and to
    salvation through Him.
  • Christ endorses the Bible
  • OT explicitly
  • NT implicitly

32
Jesus believedDivine Inspiration of
ScriptureHe said to them, "How is it then that
David, inspired by the Spirit, calls him Lord,
saying,'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my
right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy
feet'?Matthew 2243,44
33
Jesus foretold the accuracy of the New
Testament Christ promised the apostles the
Holy Spirit - who should bring all things to
their remembrance, and render them infallible in
teaching (John 1416, 26 John 1526). Jesus
told them it is not you who speak but the Spirit
of my Father who speaks in you. Whoever hears
you, hears me (Luke 1016). This promise came
true on Pentecost.
34
Recognition of a Work Written Long Ago
  • Canonicity then reduces to two historical
    questions
  • What writings had Palestinian Jews come to
    recognize as Scripture at Jesus time?
  • OT canon
  • What Christian writings did Christians come to
    recognize as Scripture in the few centuries after
    Jesus time?
  • NT canon

35
New Testament Canon
  • Stimuli to recognize NT Scripture
  • NT evidence for preparation recognition of
    Scripture
  • Indications of recognition in
  • The Apostolic Fathers (95-130 AD)
  • Early Heretical Writers (before 150)
  • Late 2nd Century (to 200)
  • Towards formal recognition (to 400)

36
Stimuli to Recognize Scripture
  • Need for revelation
  • Problem of persecution
  • Priorities of translation
  • Threat of heresy

37
New Testament Evidence
  • Selection of materials for inclusion
  • Protection from error
  • Public reading in the churches
  • Circulation among the churches
  • Collection
  • Quotation as authoritative

38
New Testament Evidence
  • Quotation as authoritative
  • 2 Peter 315-16 Distort Pauls letters as they
    do the rest of Scripture
  • 1 Timothy 518 refers to OT and NT (Luke 107)
    under the heading Scripture says.
  • Judes citation of 2 Peter 2 3
  • Concept of Scripture applied to NT by NT itself

39
Recognition in the Apostolic Fathers
  • Many allusions to NT writings
  • Three explicit references to NT as Scripture
  • 1 Clement 47 (c95) to 1 Corinthians
  • Polycarp (c110) to Ephesians 426
  • Pseudo-Barnabas (c130) to Matthew 2214

40
1 Clement 47
Take up the epistle of the blessed Paul the
Apostle. What did he write first to you in the
beginning of the Gospel? Of a truth he charged
in the Spirit concerning himself and Cephas and
Apollos, because even of that you made factions.
41
Polycarp to Philippians 12
For I am persuaded that you are well-trained in
the sacred writings, and nothing is hidden from
you. But to myself this is not granted, only, as
it is said in these scriptures, Be ye angry and
sin not, and Let not the sun set on your wrath
Eph 426
42
Pseudo-Barnabas 4
  • Very allegorical
  • In an exhortation, the author quotes Matthew
    2214 many called, but few chosen, under the
    heading, As it is written.

43
Recognition in the Early Heretical Writers
  • Basilides
  • Ophites
  • Marcion
  • Valentinus
  • Summary
  • They applied concept of Scripture to NT
  • Cite all Gospels but Mark, all Pauline epistles
    but Pastorals

44
Recognition in the Late Second Century
  • Justin Martyr
  • Irenaeus
  • Muratorian Canon
  • Tertullian
  • Clement of Alexandria
  • Some problem books
  • Hebrews
  • Revelation

45
Towards Formal Recognition
  • Origen (230) two categories
  • Eusebius (325) four categories
  • Athanasius (369) Festal Letter
  • Decisions of Church Councils
  • Synod of Laodicea (365)
  • Synod of Rome (382)
  • Synod of Hippo (393)
  • Synod of Carthage (397)

46
Summary on Canon
  • Final details seem to have been providential, as
    with OT Canon.
  • The early scholars and councils seem to have made
    good use of historical information.
  • Questions were raised for Hebrews, Revelation and
    a few of the shortest books.
  • Category of Scripture applied to NT writings
    already in apostolic period.
  • Nearly all the NT canon seen as authoritative in
    early 2nd century.

47
Summary on Canon
  • We dont have all the information we would like
  • but it is clear that these books came to be
    recognized as Scripture.
  • God has retained control of history in His hands.
  • He will carry out His word whether we believe it
    or not.
  • So we might as well trust Him and seek to be on
    His side rather than on the other.

48
The End
  • We need not fear that God has botched up the
    choice of books to go into the Bible.

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