Church History 5A: The Eastern Church

The Byzantine Empire After the Fall of Rome (476 AD), the Western part of the Empire crumbled. It was a time of unrest, war and poverty. Meanwhile, the East (Greece, Turkey, Syria, Arabia, Egypt) flourished, especially in the sixth and seventh centuries. From this time onward, the Eastern Roman Empire is usually called Byzantine empire.…

Church History 4D: Augustine

The life of Augustine Aurelius Augustine was born in 354 AD in Tagaste, North-Africa, as son of a heathen father (Patricius) and a devout Christian mother (Monica). He received a good education. During his wild high school years in Carthage, Augustine went in search of redemption. This led him to the Manicheans (see below). After…

Covenantal and Experiential Preaching

In my essay on redemptive-historical preaching, the focus was on the content of the sermon. Now I will focus on the recipients of the sermon: who are addressed and in what way? A first answer is found in the Canons of Dort, 2.5. “Th[e] promise [of the gospel] ought to be announced and proclaimed universally…

Redemptive-Historical Preaching

This article addresses a focus in preaching that is practiced in the Reformed churches, and which I also much utilize in my own sermon-writing. Redemptive-historical preaching is neither a preaching style nor a homiletical method. The adjective “redemptive-historical” expresses the homiletical and exegetical concern that full justice must be done to God’s great plan that…

Church History 4C: Church Organization

Offices in the New Testament Already in the New Testament we find various offices or designated functions in the Christian church. The apostles chosen by Jesus himself formed a unique group of leaders. When they established churches, they appointed overseers, which are also called elders, to have positions of leadership and teaching. So-called servants would…

Church History 4B: “Who Is Jesus?”

Constantine the Great The situation of the Christian church changed greatly in the early 300s. When Constantine I (“the Great”) became Roman emperor, he issued the Edict of Milan (313 AD) declaring freedom of religion. Soon after, he made Christianity the state religion. In just two decades, Christianity changed from being severely persecuted to being…

Church History 4A: Persecution and Heresy

Growth of the early church In the first centuries of its existence, the Christian church grew rapidly. At the end of the second century, we find churches all around the Mediterranean Sea. In the next few hundred years, churches are found in Britain, Spain, and India. Initially the church consisted of Jews and “God-fearers” who…

Church History 3C: Apocalypse

The apocalyptic genre Apocalypse (Gr.) = revelation. We use the term apocalyptic for a genre of text found in the Bible and in other Jewish and Christian sources. In apocalyptic literature, the author describes a dream or vision sent from God. Often, there is a heavenly guide (angel) who gives some explanations. This vision shows…

Church History 3B: Dealing with False Teachers

The general epistles After the 13 Pauline epistles and Hebrews, the New Testament contains seven general epistles (also called catholic epistles). The authors are Jesus’ disciples Peter and John; and Jesus’ brothers James and Jude. In Biblical scholarship, questions have been raised about authorship. For instance, why do 1 Peter and 2 Peter differ so…