Lifestyles of the Early Christians

  • 6:59 PM Kevin Rossen – Tonight’s title was “Early Christian Life” but Chris renamed it “Lifestyles of the Early Christians”
  • 7:07 PM Kevin Rossen – Updated note from last week: 25% of world population was within Rome’s borders, not 75%.
  • 7:09 PM Kevin Rossen – For the church’s first 300 years, life and Christianity was nothing like we experience today.
  • 7:12 PM Kevin Rossen – Chris wrote some of the notes for tonight’s handout while he was overseeing detention at his school. He said, “I was half distracted because I was making students copy from the dictionary. I love detention.”
  • 7:13 PM Kevin Rossen – What we know today about early Christian life is put together from scattered bits of information and a few archeological clues.
  • 7:13 PM Kevin Rossen – Three social classes in the Roman Empire:
    – Elite: very wealthy. Less than 2%.
    – More Humble: Free men & women. Farmers, laborers, shopkeepers, and soldiers. Approximately 65%.
    – Slaves: Very poor. 33%.
  • 7:18 PM Kevin Rossen – Celsus, Greek philosopher, wrote that Christians were ignorant people who came from the lowest levels of society. This has truth to it, because Christianity has thrived among the poor and outcasts.
    Read about Celsus:
  • 7:20 PM Kevin Rossen – The NT supports this in a few ways. Jesus said the it’s easier for the rich to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter heaven. Paul wrote a letter to Philemon, a slave. Jesus said that the first shall be last and the last shall be first.
  • 7:23 PM Kevin Rossen – Though the claim that Christianity as whole was based on superstitious beliefs is false, there were some who held a superstitious view of Jesus as seen writings such as the Gospel of Thomas.
  • 7:26 PM Kevin Rossen – Most of early Christianity was centered around poor people and slaves. There were some influential authors, but for the most part churches had average, everyday citizens.
  • 7:28 PM Kevin Rossen – Our thoughts of God today would mirror those of the common Christians than the influential authors, but all we really have today are the writings.
  • 7:33 PM Kevin Rossen – The biggest change that church made to how they worshiped was that they changed the day of worship to the first day of the week (Sunday). It was a normal workday for Rome, so the church had to meet for worship REALLY EARLY in the morning.
  • 7:35 PM Kevin Rossen – A main practice of worship for the church involved the Lord’s Supper. Communion service focused primarily on the resurrection, not the death, of Christ.

    Chris recommends the book “Come to the Table” to read more about the Lord’s Supper:

  • 7:39 PM Kevin Rossen – The main focus of worship was “to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the promises of which that resurrection was the seal”
  • 7:41 PM Kevin Rossen – Another practice during worship was the reading of a portion of Scripture. Most Christians did not own any portion of the Bible, so this was the primary way that most Christians would have learned the Bible.
  • 7:42 PM Kevin Rossen – The Churches of Christ are probably right that the early church did not use instruments, but it was probably not for theological reasons but practical ones. There was the threat of persecution, so drawing extra attention to itself was not desired. Also, they tended to meet in people’s homes or the temple courts, so it would have been difficult to get the instruments to the location, unless the owner of the home had one.
  • 7:43 PM Kevin Rossen – All the praying, reading, and singing were leading up to the time for communion, that is that worship would end with it.
  • 7:50 PM Kevin Rossen – When we’re baptized we’re connected to Christ. We normally accept this without really thinking about it much. If the water started glowing after we’re baptized we’d be better able to grasp this, but when you really think about this connection it’s really profound.
  • 7:51 PM Kevin Rossen – The first church building that has been found is thought to have been from around 256 AD. It was likely that this was originally a home that was converted into a building for worship.
  • 7:52 PM Kevin Rossen – A lot of us focus way too much on the need for property and a church building. In its history, the church has grown the most when it has face persecution and the government was against what the church was doing. That said, having buildings today are still a blessing.
  • 8:00 PM Kevin Rossen – Churches today, because of their size, have to do things differently. You can’t just tell people today “the elementary kids meet down the hall in Suzie’s room.”
  • 8:01 PM Kevin Rossen – Part of the weekly practice of church life was to fast on Fridays in recognition of Christ’s crucifixion taking place that day.
  • 8:04 PM Kevin Rossen – Baptisms typically took place on Easter. Candidates would fast Friday and Saturday then baptized early on Sunday morning. They were baptized naked then were given a white robe to wear after they came out of the water.
  • 8:04 PM Kevin Rossen – Chris: “There’s no way I’m getting baptized naked. I don’t care if you separate the men and women.”
  • 8:05 PM Kevin Rossen – This practice of being baptized naked was probably not a mandate of how it had to be done, but was more likely how the church chose to do it then but we’re not compelled to do so today.
  • 8:10 PM Kevin Rossen – There seemed to be two or three distinct positions: bishop, presbyter/elder, and deacon. It’s likely that the terms bishop, presbyter, and elder were terms that were used interchangeably to describe the same position.
  • 8:16 PM Kevin Rossen – There were very few dedicated missionaries as we think of them today. This might be primarily because of practical reasons. The church was by and large very poor, so it would not have been able to financially support full-time missionaries.
  • 8:16 PM Kevin Rossen – Most of Christianity was spread by either people on business trips, which would last months at a time, or by slaves who would be moved from household to household.
  • 8:18 PM kevin –

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