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…

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 2B: Issues in Corinth

The first epistle to the Corinthians 1 Corinthians follows the typical epistolary structure. The first chapter contains sender, recipient, greeting, and encouragement. In the last chapter, Paul discusses his future plans to visit, gives personal greetings, and writes a benediction in his own handwriting (like a signature). In the main part of the epistle, Paul…

Church History 1B: The Early Church

What is the church? The English word church goes back to the Greek ekklesia kyriake, “assembly of the Lord”. By using the word ekklesia, the New Testament reminds us of the assembly of Israelites in the Wilderness under Moses. Just as Moses gathered these ancient believers and led them to the Promised Land, so Jesus…