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The Rise of
Christendom
The early Church
You will be my witnesses…to the
ends of the earth
Acts 1:8
[Jesus said,] “But you will receive power
when the Holy Spirit ...
Final Request
When did Jesus say this?
He said it after his resurrection.
They were the very last words he
spoke to the...
The Coming of the Holy Spirit
When would the Holy Spirit come to
them? What happened at that event?
The Holy Spirit came...
ἀπόστολος
He gave them a job to do. What
was it?
They were to be his witnesses
out into the world.
The word “apostle” m...
Peter’s “Gentile Conversion”
Read Acts 10:9-16, 28, 34-48
What had been the Jewish attitude
(and God’s Law for the Jews ...
Death of Stephen
Acts 7:55-59, 8:1-4
What began to
happen with the
death of Stephen?
Summary so far
 God no longer made the nation of Israel the place where
He would focus His Word and blessings.
 Jerusale...
God Gets Serious
Matthew 23:37, 24:1-2
[Jesus said,] “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the
prophets and stone those se...
Specifics Fulfilled
 When was this prophecy, recorded in all three of the
synoptic Gospels, fulfilled?
 Jerusalem was de...
Jerusalem’s Destruction
 In 66 A.D. things started to escalate to the point that the
Romans lost an entire legion to guer...
Judaism Redefined
 July 17th, 70 A.D., was the last time sacrifices would ever
be made in the temple. According to both J...
Change in Makeup of the Church
Previous to the fall of Jerusalem,
Jewish Christianity dominated the
Church.
After 70 A.D...
Roman AttitudesToward
Christians
 With the exception of Nero’s blaming the Christians for burning
Rome, the Empire in gen...
Christian “Sedition”
One reason Christians were considered troublemakers was because
they refused to offer sacrifices to t...
DomesticTrouble
 Christians also could not be trusted because they caused
so much domestic trouble.
 Read Matthew 10:34-...
No PR Agency…
 Most of the Christian communities were communes. Just as
most such tight societies are held with suspicion...
“The Word is unbound”
 With those kinds of rumors, it’s easy to see
why Christians were easy targets.
 Regardless, the G...
The Pax Romana Fails
 When the 4th century began, the Roman
Empire had been split into four pieces, each
lead by an “empe...
The Rise of Constantine
 After distinguishing himself in Britain, Constantine became a
Caesar when his father died. He ma...
In Search of Faith
 The Roman gods had increasingly shown to be impotent, and
Constantine was now the Emperor of a fractu...
Christianity Becomes “Official”
 Therefore, even though Christianity was very much a minority
religion in the Empire and ...
A Different Kind of
Empire
 Shortly after unifying the Empire, he built a new city closer
to the center of the Empire and...
Defining Orthodoxy
 Shortly after consolidating his power and declaring Christianity to be
the religion of the Empire, Co...
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01. The Rise Of Christendom - old

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Overview of the early years of the spread of the Christian Church.

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Transcript of "01. The Rise Of Christendom - old"

  1. 1. The Rise of Christendom The early Church
  2. 2. You will be my witnesses…to the ends of the earth Acts 1:8 [Jesus said,] “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
  3. 3. Final Request When did Jesus say this? He said it after his resurrection. They were the very last words he spoke to the disciples.
  4. 4. The Coming of the Holy Spirit When would the Holy Spirit come to them? What happened at that event? The Holy Spirit came to them at Pentecost, where the disciples preached and the Spirit brought thousands in Jerusalem to faith.
  5. 5. ἀπόστολος He gave them a job to do. What was it? They were to be his witnesses out into the world. The word “apostle” means, literally, “sent out”/ “messenger”
  6. 6. Peter’s “Gentile Conversion” Read Acts 10:9-16, 28, 34-48 What had been the Jewish attitude (and God’s Law for the Jews regarding the Gentiles)?
  7. 7. Death of Stephen Acts 7:55-59, 8:1-4 What began to happen with the death of Stephen?
  8. 8. Summary so far  God no longer made the nation of Israel the place where He would focus His Word and blessings.  Jerusalem had committed the ultimate act of treason by killing the Son.  While there were missionaries like Paul doing major missionary work in the decades following the Resurrection, He wanted to force the believers out into Gentile lands
  9. 9. God Gets Serious Matthew 23:37, 24:1-2 [Jesus said,] “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”… Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
  10. 10. Specifics Fulfilled  When was this prophecy, recorded in all three of the synoptic Gospels, fulfilled?  Jerusalem was destroyed in the summer of 70 A.D., less than forty years (within a generation) of Jesus’ prophesy.  It’s worth paying close attention to the level of detail Jesus gave in Matthew 24; it saved much of the Christian Church still in Jerusalem when they saw the signs and fled because of them.
  11. 11. Jerusalem’s Destruction  In 66 A.D. things started to escalate to the point that the Romans lost an entire legion to guerilla warfare.  In the years following, Roman legions systematically and brutally crushed all opposition in the region. When they got to Jerusalem they utterly destroyed it.  As was their practice when trying to make a very clear point that the power of Rome was not to be disputed, they burned everything that would burn, demolished the major buildings that did not burn, and salted the fields so that nothing could grow in them.
  12. 12. Judaism Redefined  July 17th, 70 A.D., was the last time sacrifices would ever be made in the temple. According to both Jewish and Roman historians, around a million Jews died in the war.  For the next two thousand years the Jews would no longer have a homeland.  A new center of Judaism was established near modern-day Tel Aviv, where Jewish scholars began writing theTalmud and redefining Judaism outside of the covenants and rituals of the OldTestament.
  13. 13. Change in Makeup of the Church Previous to the fall of Jerusalem, Jewish Christianity dominated the Church. After 70 A.D. it became predominately made up of – and led by – Gentiles.
  14. 14. Roman AttitudesToward Christians  With the exception of Nero’s blaming the Christians for burning Rome, the Empire in general didn’t really care about the Christians until the middle of the 3rd century, under the reign of Caesar Decius.  250 A.D. was the very worst Christian persecution in all of Rome’s history.  There was basic religious freedom, and most pagans didn’t even see saying that Jesus was God was all that unusual.  Mythology is full of part human, part divine people: “demigods.” Hercules is just one famous example.  Until that time, persecution was primarily a local thing. Christians were seen as troublemakers and not to be trusted.
  15. 15. Christian “Sedition” One reason Christians were considered troublemakers was because they refused to offer sacrifices to the Roman gods. By-and-large, you could practice whatever religion you liked, but as Roman citizens you were expected to honor the gods that had made Rome great.  It was very much like the Roman version of saying the Pledge of Allegiance. For most people, it was a “whatever” kind of thing, and they just did it to get that part of their duties as Roman citizens over with.  When Christians refused, it was seen as being an act of sedition against the state.  One of the more familiar examples of this kind of thing is Daniel 3.
  16. 16. DomesticTrouble  Christians also could not be trusted because they caused so much domestic trouble.  Read Matthew 10:34-36 for Jesus’ own words on the matter.  Rebuffed friends and family became extremely suspicious.  Think about how you’d react if your sister suddenly stopped doing all the stuff that you know she enjoys, joined some cult, sold all of her possessions, and started talking about how you’d be damned to eternal torture if you didn’t do the same.
  17. 17. No PR Agency…  Most of the Christian communities were communes. Just as most such tight societies are held with suspicion these days, they were held in the same way then.  It didn’t help that the Christians referred to each other as “brother” and “sister,” gave each other ritual kisses (the “holy kiss” referred to many times by Paul), participated in “love feasts” (another name for the Lord’s Supper, cf. Jude 1:12), ate the body and blood of a man (“This is my body…”), met primarily at night, etc.  We know from many letters of that time that the common perception was that the Christians participated in incest, orgies, and cannibalism.
  18. 18. “The Word is unbound”  With those kinds of rumors, it’s easy to see why Christians were easy targets.  Regardless, the Gospel was still preached, and the Holy Spirit continued to do His work.  The size of the early Church continued to grow.
  19. 19. The Pax Romana Fails  When the 4th century began, the Roman Empire had been split into four pieces, each lead by an “emperor.”  This time period, with some of the worst persecutions in Roman history, became the biggest turning point in the Church’s history since the first century until the sixteenth century…
  20. 20. The Rise of Constantine  After distinguishing himself in Britain, Constantine became a Caesar when his father died. He made it illegal to persecute Christians, and tried to get the other emperors to do the same (with mixed results on all sides).  According to tradition, on his way to conquer Rome he received a vision of the Chi-Rho and the words “In hoc signo vinces” (“In this sign, conquer”). He has his soldiers put this sign on the standards of his army (shields, flags, etc.). He then routed an army four times his in number (though not nearly as experienced) at the battle of Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D., and clinched his military control of the Empire.
  21. 21. In Search of Faith  The Roman gods had increasingly shown to be impotent, and Constantine was now the Emperor of a fractured and failing empire.  He knew from almost three hundred years of persecution that Christianity was a faith that powerfully drew people together, and produced some of the best citizens that Rome had.  Constantine became a Christian, though the tension between being a disciple of Christ and the realities of being a Roman Emperor was a constant battle that usually came out on the “Emperor” side. He was baptized just before his death.
  22. 22. Christianity Becomes “Official”  Therefore, even though Christianity was very much a minority religion in the Empire and he personally was still very much a pagan, he granted Christianity the position of being the official religion of the Empire.  Though religious toleration was still very much (officially) still in effect, over the years it became more and more “advantageous” to be associated with the Christian Church rather than another religion.  Unfortunately – as with anything else that granted political or social advantage – a lot of people became “Christian” because they wanted those advantages, not because of religious conviction.  This lead to a great deal political intrigue inside the church, which would curse her from that time on.
  23. 23. A Different Kind of Empire  Shortly after unifying the Empire, he built a new city closer to the center of the Empire and called it Constantinople. That became the new capitol of the Empire.  A forged document, claiming to have been written by Constantine celebrating his baptism, made the bishop of Rome the Pope and gave him the city of Rome.  The document acted as a primary justification for Papal authority until it was proven to be a fake, but by then “possession being nine tenths of the law” in both land and power, it was a moot point.
  24. 24. Defining Orthodoxy  Shortly after consolidating his power and declaring Christianity to be the religion of the Empire, Constantine called for the Council of Nicaea. The purpose of the Council was to unify Christendom.  As part of that effort he also commissioned St. Jerome to compile the books of the Bible together and translate them into Latin.  Constantine needed a united Christian Church to help unify his Empire; the Church Fathers needed a united Church and an official statement of faith from her in order to fight heresy.  It was Nicaea that defined “orthodoxy,” and therefore made “heresy” possible. Obviously, groups like the Gnostics held heretical beliefs, but it was one thing to break an “unwritten rule,” but quite different to go against a clear statement of faith.
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