Early Christianity


December 6, 2021

Early Christianity (also the early church, the ancient church), refers to the oldest period of Christianity, from the time of the apostles and the New Testament until about the year 325 with the First Council of Nicaea, where a unified confession was adopted. This happened at the same time as Christianity under Christian Emperor Constantine the Great was officially allowed religion, and the persecution of Christians in general ceased temporarily. The first time in the ancient church is reproduced in the Acts of the Apostles and to some extent in the letters of the New Testament.


The earliest Christianity, sometimes called the early church, refers to the very first period of Christianity, up to around the year 50, and especially then the church life described in the Acts of the Apostles. From Jerusalem, faith in Jesus as the Messiah spread throughout the Roman Empire. The first believers in Jesus were Jews, but soon the new doctrine spread to non-Jews as well, and it was in Greek-speaking Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians (Acts 11:26) after Christ (the Greek name for the Messiah). In the Roman Empire, Christians were persecuted, before the Roman Empire was finally Christianized in the 4th century. "Historical churches" is a common term for the Christian churches that claim an unbroken historical tradition back to Jesus and the apostles. These churches have thus not arisen through any Reformation. These churches include, for example, the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Eritrean Orthodox Church.

Historical documents

Since the 19th century, historians have increasingly learned about the early Christian communities, when neither liturgy, New Testament texts, nor dogmatics were fully established or uniform in the Roman Empire. Early texts of great importance include the Didache (The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles, from the 100th century) and other writings of the Apostolic Fathers and Church Fathers. Especially early are the writings of Polycarp and the First Epistle to Clemens. 'Hermas Herden from about 140 provides information about the church's organization. The Syrian Orthodox Church in particular claims that they have faithfully preserved the traditions of the Apostolic Fathers. The "New Testament apocrypha" (one) (compare the apocrypha) has controversial content but reflects part of the life of the Old Church. The Gospel of Thomas (in two writings dated between 200 and 340), a controversial collection of "quotations of Jesus" that is no longer considered a Gnostic script, despite being found in a Gnostic context, the Nag Hammadi Library. Already during the time of the apostles, there were schisms within the church, various preachers who spread doctrines that were contrary to what was a tradition among the bishops. Lay people also preached in the ancient church, which was encouraged in the New Testament. However, this was abused by some and created confusion and division, or just their own wild groups as in Montanism. The Novatians were another group with strict requirements for priests, like the Cathars. To alleviate the chaos, the church organized a structure with authorized offices for those who were allowed to perform special chores. To remedy disagreements between bishops and priests on important Christological and soteriological issues, especially discussed around Gnosticism, Docetism, Arianism, and Modalism, the leaders of the First Council of Nicaea gathered in 325 to discuss and reject such teachings, and to form the Nicene Creed. . Only those who adhered to this orthodoxy would then be allowed to hold offices in the Church.

Parish life

According to the New Testament, worship usually took place in homes, with communion and a common agape meal. Prayer could be offered together in the temple in Jerusalem and teaching in a larger rented room. The congregation in Jerusalem is said to have lived in community of property so that everyone was provided with the common resources. In other places spoon

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