The Second Century Church, part one
In 1988, the Holy Spirit placed a quest in my heart to find out what happened to the Church after all of the apostles went to heaven. I wondered, "Did the believers of the second century continue to believe and practice the same truths that the first century Church did?" I also wondered how the leaders of the second century church interpreted the Scriptures on various subjects. This quest took me on an amazing journey of research as I learned more and more about the interesting life and times of the Church of A. D. 100 - A. D. 200. I found out that the same Christians who preserved the Scriptures for us down through the Scriptures also preserved many of the writings of Christians who lived between A. D. 100-200. Those writings give us a good description of what the Church of that day was like.
I learned that the Church of the second century was one filled with power, love, and sound wisdom. We see this in the letters and books of the Christian leaders of the second century. Let me share with you a few passages from their writings.
First, let's begin reading about the love of the Christians of the second century. Writing about A. D. 125, the Christian philosopher Aristides described the love of the second century Christians: “they do not despise the widow, nor oppress the orphan. He who has, gives ungrudgingly for the maintenance of him who has not.”
“. . . If they see a stranger, they take him under their roof, and rejoice over him as a brother, for they call themselves brethren, not after the flesh, but after the spirit. Whenever one of their poor passes from the world, each one of them according to his ability gives . . . and carefully sees to his burial.”
“If they hear that a fellow church member is imprisoned or afflicted on account of the name of their Messiah, all of them minister to his needs, and if it is possible to redeem him, they set him free. And if there is among them any who are poor and needy and the others have no spare food, they fast two or three days in order to supply to the needy their lack of food.”
“They know God, the Creator and Fashioner of all things through the only begotten Son and the Holy Spirit; and besides Him they worship no other." (This quotation is found in Polycarp, Disciple of the Apostle John and the Second Century Church on pages 113-114.) In our next devotional, we will take a closer look at the love of God that was strong in the first century Church and continued in the second century.