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The Age of the Fathers

By Jeremy Cagle

The story is told of two monks who were looking at a large cathedral in Rome. After pondering its gold and marble and beautiful architecture, one turned to the other and said, “No more can we say with Peter, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’” The other monk nodded his head in agreement and then stood in quiet meditation for a while. After a few moments of silence, he said: “Yes but neither can we say, ‘In the name of Jesus, stand up and walk.’”

Money can be a very dangerous thing. It can destroy the power of God. It is not evil in and of itself, but it can bring a whole host of evils with it. I mention this because the early church had none of it. It was poor. It lived a very meager existence, yet it took over the known world.

Consider what Acts 2:44-45 said about the First Century Church:

And all those who believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need . . .

Why did they share their property with anyone who might have need? Because there were a lot of Christians who had need. They had nothing at all, so other Christians shared with them. But notice what verse 47 says about them: “And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

In other words, they had power. They had tremendous influence over their community. They could say, “In the name of Jesus, stand up and walk.”

Acts 4:32-33 gives another example of this.

And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.

Why were all things common property to them? Because some people had no property at all. They were destitute. They were penniless. So other Christians shared with them, and the Lord blessed it with abundant grace.

All of this is to say that God does not use man’s methods. Today there is a push for bigger buildings, bigger budgets, and bigger staff in the church but that is not always the way that God works. Sometimes He works through smaller things. Sometimes He grows His church through the poor as was seen in the Age of the Fathers.

It is difficult for us to understand how poor these early Christians were but consider what some of their contemporaries said about them. Celsus, an outspoken critic, said:

[The aim of the Christians] is to convince only worthless and contemptible people, idiots, slaves, poor women, and children . . . These are the only ones whom they manage to turn into believers.1

Lucian, another critic, said:

It is incredible to see the ardor with which the people of that religion [Christianity] help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. Their first legislator has put into their heads that they are all brethren.2

Ignatius (an ancient bishop) said to Polycarp (another ancient bishop):

Despise not slaves, whether male or female. Yet let them not be puffed up, but let them serve them more faithfully to the glory of God, that they may obtain a better freedom from God.3

Why did Ignatius write that? Because the church was full of slaves. Why were Celsus and Lucian so critical of the early Christians? Because they had nothing.

Philip Schaff, a modern historian, says that this even impacted where they met for worship.

Let us glance first at the places of public worship. Until about the close of the second century the Christians held their worship mostly in private houses, or in desert places, at the graves of martyrs, and in the crypts of the catacombs. This arose from their poverty, their oppressed and outlawed condition, their love of silence and solitude, and their aversion to all heathen art.4

Jesus had no place to lay His head,5 and His early followers had no place to lay theirs. They were chased around from one place to place until finally they decided to meet in graveyards where they could be left alone.

However, they grew. Their poverty did not stop their power. They did incredible things for the kingdom of God, and it is the purpose of this article to relate what those things were. Hebrews 13:7 gives us this reminder:

Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.

Let us do that now with some lessons from the Church Fathers. Let us remember them.

I. THEY WITHSTOOD PERSECUTION

The term “Church Fathers” refers to the church leaders “immediately succeeding the New Testament period.”6 It refers to the men who led the church from the Second Century through the Fifth. Men like Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Ignatius, Tertulllian, Origen, Athanasius, Augustine, and Jerome. The reason they are so significant is because they wrote under terrible persecution and yet their writings are still with us today. Most of them died a violent death and yet we can still study their books in the 21st Century.

Describing this persecution, the Roman Historian Tacitus wrote:

To kill the rumors [that he burnt Rome], Nero charged and tortured some people hated for their evil practices – the group popularly known as “Christians” . . . Their deadly superstition had been suppressed temporarily, but was beginning to spring up again . . .

First those who confessed to being Christians were arrested. Then, on information obtained from them, hundreds were convicted, more for their anti-social beliefs than for fire-raising.

In their deaths they were made a mockery. They were covered in the skins of wild animals, torn to death by dogs, crucified or set on fire – so that when darkness fell they burned like torches in the night. Nero opened up his own gardens for this spectacle . . . As a result, although they were guilty of being Christians and deserved death, people began to feel sorry for them. For they realized that they were being massacred not for the public good but to satisfy one man’s mania.7

Nero was a monster on many levels but the interesting thing about him is that every Roman Emperor repeated his behavior. Caligula, Claudius, Domitian, Tiberius, and Marcus Aurelius all persecuted Christians or allowed others to do so. This is one of the reasons why Christianity largely appealed to the poorer classes: the rich had too much to lose.

In fact, the persecution became so bad that it led to what some called “Martyr Fever” or religious suicide. Tertullian tells of a group of Christians in Ephesus who begged the governor to kill them so they could be “martyred.” In reply, the governor said, “Miserable creatures, if you really wish to die, you have precipices or halters enough.”8 In other words, “Go throw yourselves off a cliff!”

For a better of example of this, we could mention Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna. Polycarp was martyred but not because he pursued it; rather, it pursued him.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs says that, after the Roman soldiers had arrested him and tied him to a stake in the amphitheater, Polycarp was told to renounce Christ. The 86 year-old man replied:

Eighty and six years have I served him, and he never once wronged me; how then shall I blaspheme my King, Who hath saved me?9

The Romans then threatened to burn him alive, to which Polycarp replied:

You threaten me with fire, which burns for an hour, and is soon extinguished; but the fire of the future judgment, and of eternal punishment reserved for the ungodly, you are ignorant of. But why do you delay? Do whatever you please.10

And they did. They lit the fire and, when it would not burn, they plunged a sword into his breast. At this point, Polycarp died and the church “gathered up his bones – more precious than gold and jewels – and deposited them in a proper place.”11

This is just one story amidst thousands to show how the early church grew despite tremendous oppression. The Empire tried to wipe it off of the face of the earth but it could not succeed. Christianity grew and grew and grew as Tertullian mockingly pointed out to a Roman governor:

Go on, rack, torture, grind us to powder: our numbers increase in proportion as you mow us down. The blood of Christians is their harvest seed.12

Jesus promised that the gates of Hades would not triumph over His church13 and the early church proved Him right. They showed us that Christianity will stand no matter what gets thrown against it, which should be a great encouragement to us today. We have nothing to fear. We have nothing to worry about. If the church could grow in the Second, Third, and Fourth Centuries, then it could grow at any time.

II. THEY WITHSTOOD HERESY

However, not only did the Church Fathers stand against persecution, but they also stood against heresy. They stood against dangers from without and they stood against dangers from within.

It did not take long for Christians to distort the message of the Gospel. In fact, they started doing it as the Gospel was first being preached. Galatians 1:6 says:

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel.

The church was only a few decades old in the Book of Galatians and Christians were already chasing after a different gospel. They were already deserting “Him who called you,” which blew Paul away. He could not believe they could do it so quickly. Unfortunately, this problem did not stop in Galatians; it continued on into the Age of the Fathers.

The first big heresy that they came across was taught by a travelling preacher from Rome named Marcion. Marcion said that the Old Testament was not inspired. According to him, the New Testament was the Word of God but, now that it had come to us, the Old Testament was no longer necessary as Bruce Metzger explains:

The main points of Marcion’s teaching were the rejection of the Old Testament and a distinction between the Supreme God of goodness and an inferior God of justice, who was the Creator and God of the Jews. He regarded Christ as the messenger of the Supreme God. The Old and New Testaments, Marcion argued, cannot be reconciled to each other . . . Moses enforced the Jewish Sabbath and Law; Christ has freed believers from both.14

The church eventually threw Marcion out but, before it did, several Church Fathers confronted him. Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Justin Martyr all wrote major books alerting the church to his error. Even Polycarp joined in on the fight. In his book Against Heresies, Irenaeus gives the following account of an interview between Polycarp and Marcion:

And Polycarp replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Does thou know me” “I do know thee, the first-born of Satan.”15

While most Christians today would cringe at the thought of calling someone “the first-born of Satan,” Polycarp did remind us what was at stake here. If you reject part of Scripture, that is the same as rejecting all of it. If you reject the Old Testament as the Word of God, then there is nothing to keep you from rejecting all of it. You cannot say you like the New but not the Old. You cannot pick and choose which portions of the Bible you will believe.

A second heretic whose name sounds very similar to that of Marcion was Montanus. Montanus taught that he was the paraclete in John’s Gospel.16 Another travelling preacher, this time in Asia Minor, he said that it was his job to usher in the end of the world. In the words of one of his followers, “After me, there will be no more prophecy, but the End.”17

To accomplish this, Montanus persuaded his followers that the final apocalypse would happen in Pepuzza, a village in modern-day Turkey. Bruce Metzger again tells us:

Such pronouncements were made still more impressive by the manner in which they were presented. According to Epiphanius, a ceremony was held frequently in the churches of Pepuza when seven virgins, dressed in white and carrying torches, entered and proceeded to deliver oracles to the congregation. He comments that “they manifest a kind of enthusiasm that dupes those who are present, and provokes them to tears, leading to repentance.”18

Montanus disappeared some time in the Second Century, so there was no reason to confront him in print, but he was confronted in person. Eusibius tells us that, at one of Montanus’ church services, several Church Fathers came together to address his teachings.

Of those that happened then to be present, and to hear these spurious oracles, some being indignant, rebuked [Montanus] as one under the influence of demons and the spirit of delusion, and who was only exciting disturbances among the multitude. These bore in mind the distinction and the warning given by our Lord, when he cautioned them to be vigilantly on their guard against false prophets.19

Again, notice the bluntness here. The church fathers told Montanus that he was under the influence of demons and the spirit of delusion. They remind us of John’s words in Second John 10-11:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

Or the words of Jude 22-23:

And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garments polluted by the flesh.

You cannot mess around with heresy. You cannot play with fire. It must be confronted head-on and the early church gave us a wonderful example of how to do that. Throughout all of the doctrinal controversies in the early years, the Body of Christ held firm. Whether it was the teaching of Marcion, Montanus, Arius, Origen, Apollinaris, or Pelagius, these poor Christians withstood them and confronted them boldly.

They serve as a wonderful example for us today. Acts 5:29 says that “we must obey God rather than men.” Our allegiance is to Scripture, no matter who it offends. No matter what it costs.

III. THEY CANONIZED THE BIBLE

One reason the church was able to stand so bravely during those turbulent years is because it canonized the Bible. Canonization refers to the process of determining which books belong in the Bible and which books do not. The Greek word kanon refers to “a measuring rod”20 and it was during these early years that the Scriptures were “measured out” by the church.

The Word of God did not come to them in the nice, neat leather-bound Bibles that we have today. Instead, it came as a bunch of letters scattered all over the known world, and it was the job of the Church Fathers to put those letters together. Or, to be more specific, it was their job to put the New Testament together, as the Old Testament was already put together by the Jews.

So how did they do this?

First, they wrote about it. They quoted extensively from the New Testament in personal letters that they sent back and forth to each other. For example, in the letters of Polycarp, we read quotations from the Gospels of Matthew and John, First Peter, and First and Second John. In the letters of Justin Martyr, we see references to all of the Gospels plus Revelation, and Irenaeus mentions lines from every New Testament book except Philemon, James, Second Peter, and Third John.

Second, they picked which books they would die for. As the persecution increased and the authorities came to confiscate their Scriptures, the Church Fathers had to determine which ones they would suffer for. Would they suffer for Paul’s Letter to the Romans or Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians? Would they go to jail over the Gospel of John or the Gospel of Thomas?

Third, they put these books into categories. In his Ecclesiastical History, Eusibius says that persecution led the Fathers to place the books into three separate categories:21

1). Homologoumena – books that were unanimously accepted. This list included the Gospels, Acts, the Letters of Paul, Hebrews, First John, First Peter, and Revelation.

2). Antilegomena – books that were disputed. This list included James, Jude, Second Peter, and Second and Third John.

3). Notha – books that were not accepted. This list included the Acts of Paul, the Shepherd of Hermes, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Letter of Barnabas.

Fourth, they met in councils. When the persecution finally abated, the church was able to meet in councils and come to an official decision concerning the canon. As they did so, they looked through Eusibius’ categories and it became obvious which books truly belonged in Scripture. Athanasius tells us:

Again it is not tedious to speak of the books of the New Testament. These are, the four gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles, seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude.

In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans, then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus, and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.22

Does that sound familiar? It should. That is our current New Testament. The church in the Fourth Century canonized it for us.

All of this is to say that you should have confidence in your Bible. It is the Word of God. It is not merely the word of men. The church affirmed that more than a thousand years ago.

To say it another way, the Bible was canonized by martyrs. They defended it with their blood. The words of Hebrews 11:37-38 could apply to them:

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.

Why did they do that? So they could bring you the Word of God. Why did they suffer? So they could give you the Bible. Do not take their sacrifice lightly. Read it. Study it. Memorize it. Cherish it. These early saints died so that you could do that. You are holding a book stained with the blood of the saints.

IV. THEY BATTLED BAD HERMENEUTICS

This brings us to another lesson we learn from the Church Fathers: how to interpret the Bible correctly. As they began to canonize the Bible, the Church Fathers also began to interpret it,23 which led to the formation of two very different schools of thought.

One was the Alexandrian School, which interpreted the Bible allegorically. Based in Alexandria, Egypt, these men were influenced by Greek philosophy and the need to reconcile it with Christianity, so they changed the natural sense for an unnatural one. They found a meaning in the Bible that was not there.

Origen, the most famous Alexandrian writer, says:

Now a “spiritual” interpretation is of this nature: when one is able to point out what are the heavenly things of which these serve as the patterns and shadow.24

In other words, a “spiritual” interpretation is one of patterns and shadows. It ignores the straightforward meaning of Scripture. Concerning this approach, Roy B. Zuck writes:

In Origen’s allegorizing he taught that Noah’s ark pictured the church and that Noah represented Christ. Rebekah’s drawing water at the well for Abraham’s servant means we must daily come to the Scriptures to meet Christ. In Jesus’ triumphal entry the donkey represented the Old Testament, its colt depicted the New Testament, and the two apostles pictured the moral and mystic senses of Scripture.

Origen so ignored the literal, normal meaning of Scripture that his allegorizing became unusually excessive. As one writer stated, it was “fantasy unlimited.”25

Over against this school of thought stood the School of Antioch, which interpreted the Bible literally. Located in Antioch, Syria where “the disciples were first called Christians,”26 it followed the pattern of the Apostles and taught that the Bible means what it says. There is no secret sense. There are no patterns and shadows.27 History should be interpreted historically, poetry should be interpreted poetically, and prophecy should be interpreted prophetically.

The School of Antioch produced several famous preachers, the most notable being John Chrysostom. One historian writes about him:

John Chrysostom lived [to understand] the Holy Scriptures; and a prudent method of interpretation, on logical and grammatical principles, kept him in the right track in deriving the spirit . . . of the sacred volume.28

To help understand what this looked like, here is part of a sermon John Chrysostom preached on Romans 1:26-27:

All these affections were vile, but chiefly the mad lust after males. . . But if you say, and whence came this intensity of lust? It was from the desertion of God . . . They made a business of the sin, and not only a business, but even one zealously followed up . . . Whence then were these evils born? Of luxury; of not knowing God. For so soon as any have cast out the fear of Him, all that is good straightway goes to ruin.29

Compare this to Origen and the differences are staggering. Chrysostom preached straight from the text. He changed nothing. Romans 1 says that God will give men over to the depravity of their minds and that is exactly what he told his congregation.

These two approaches essentially sum up the way people approach the Bible today. On the one hand, some approach it with “fantasy unlimited.” They say that the Bible means whatever they want it to mean. History does not mean history, poetry does not mean poetry, and prophecy does not mean prophecy. They can change all of that. They believe that their interpretation takes precedence over the clear meaning of Scripture.

On the other hand, there are those who say that the clear meaning of Scripture takes precedence over any interpretation given by man. They believe that the words of Second Peter 1:20 are true: “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation” and they would agree with this statement from New Testament Scholar, Robert Thomas:

Interpret each statement in light of the principles of grammar and the facts of history. Take each statement in its plain sense if it matches common sense, and do not look for another sense.30

After all, they argue, if the Bible does not mean what it says it means, then what does it mean? If it is to be interpreted allegorically, then who interprets the allegory? Who can ever know what it means? To approach the Bible like the Alexandrian School is to drown in a sea of subjectivity.

We need to remember that lesson from the past and interpret the Bible the way the Antioch Christians did. We need to interpret it literally.

V. THEY STAYED WITH THE CHURCH

As mentioned earlier, the term “Church Fathers” refers to the men who led the church from the Second Century through the Fifth Century A. D.31 It refers to the Christians who lived from the death of the Apostle John up until the fall of the Roman Empire, which means that some of these Christians saw the persecutions come to a close. Some of them experienced a time of tremendous wealth and material blessing for the church.

Constantine became the emperor of Rome in A. D. 306 and he made Christianity the official religion of his empire, bringing a whole new set of problems into the Christian community as Justo Gonzalez explains:

What would happen when those who called themselves servants of a carpenter, and whose great heroes were fisherfolk, slaves, and criminals condemned to death by the state, suddenly saw themselves surrounded by imperial pomp and power? Would they remain firm in their faith? Or would it be that those who had stood before tortures and before beasts would give way to the temptations of an easy life and of social prestige?32

To answer that question, some Christians left the church for the caves. That was how they responded to the pomp and the power. They ran away from it. With the influx of worldliness into the church, they abandoned it to go into the deserts and to the mountains. They fled to the wilderness and lonely places where they indulged in strange behavior.

For example, one monk named Simeon Stylite spent 37 years living on top of a 10-story pillar. He thought that the earth was sinful and the way to overcome it was to live above it, so he did that for nearly 40 years. We could also mention Paul the Simple who said three hundred prayers a day, which he counted with pebbles that he kept inside his shirt.

And they were not alone. Philip Schaff describes other strange characters this way:

In Mesopotamia there was a peculiar class of anchorets [hermits], who lived on grass, spending the greater part of the day in prayer and singing, and then turning out like wild beasts upon the mountain. Theodoret relates of the much lauded Akepsismas, in Cyprus, that he spent sixty years in the same cell, without seeing or speaking to any one, and looked so wild and shaggy, that he was once actually taken for a wolf by a shepherd, who assailed him with stones, till he discovered his error, and then worshipped the hermit as a saint.33

Others chose to take a different approach, however. They chose to stick with the Body of Christ. They chose to stay in the church.

A good example of this is found in Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, North Africa. A converted philosopher, Augustine combined learning and humility in a way that has rarely been seen in church history. Some consider him to be the greatest Christian thinker from the time of the Paul until the time of John Calvin.

Yet his journey to spiritual leadership was not an ordinary one. After he was converted and recognized as a popular Christian author, Augustine had yet to join a local church until he was forcefully asked to do so. In the words of one Historian:

On the day of his arrival [in Hippo], Augustine went at once to the basilica . . . Mixed in with the congregation, Augustine was listening when suddenly those around him pointed him out, saying, “It is Augustine, the sage of Tagaste, the wise and pious Augustine!”

He was immediately surrounded by a great crowd, which pushed and dragged him before the bishop, as the cries grew louder and louder. All he could hear was: “Augustine – a priest!”

Augustine tried to free himself, to escape, to flee, but he could not. In those days when the Christian people designated a worthy man to the bishop, the prelate had to make the man a priest. It was a custom that could not be broken.34

Despite his efforts to run away from office, Augustine submitted to their request and he poured himself passionately into the North African church. He organized several major councils, continued writing books, and defended the need for Christians to stick together despite all of their problems.

In his own words, he said:

Unflaggingly, let us love the Lord our God and let us love his Church. Let us love Him as the Lord and the Church as his handmaid.

No one can offend the one and still be pleasing to the other. What does it avail you if you do not directly offend the Father but do offend the mother?35

At another time, he said:

God is one, and the Church is a unity . . . The Church is united by the gathering of [many] people together into one . . . to serve the Lord.36

While it is probably not best to call the church “mother,” the point here is simply that there were some in the Age of the Fathers who did not abandon the church. They chose to stay with it. While the influx of money made it more and more worldly, they argued that that was no reason to leave the church behind.

Hebrews 10:23-25 states:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together . . .

The Church Fathers remind us not to forsake meeting together. Even when the world creeps into the church, we do not need to flee into the wilderness.

In fact, Jesus encouraged His disciples to “Take courage; I have overcome the world.”37 That means the world everywhere. It means the world inside the church. Jesus has overcome it. He has defeated it once and for all.

CONCLUSION

There are many lessons that we can learn from the Church Fathers because, despite their poverty, they did great things. For one thing, they teach us how to suffer well. Nearly all of them died a violent death and they did it with dignity and with grace.

They also teach us how to fight heresy. They show us how to fight bad doctrine and rebuke it.

They show us how to respect the Bible and interpret it correctly. They give us a new appreciation for the Word of God.

And, finally, they remind us to stick with the church, even when it becomes worldly. Even when it becomes rich.

The American church today is rich. No one can deny that. It looks eerily similar to how it did at the end of the Age of the Fathers. According to the Francis Schaeffer Institute:

In 2000, American evangelicals collectively made $2.66 trillion in income . . . which is nearly half of the world’s Christian income.

Over the next 50 years, it is predicted that between $41 trillion and $136 trillion will pass from older Americans to younger generations, suggesting that roughly $1 trillion to $3 trillion in wealth will change hands every year.38

This does not mean that the American church is wrong; it simply means that we are under great temptation. We could easily go down a terrible path because “it is hard for the rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven.”39 Jesus does not say that it is impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven; He says that is hard for them to.

To say this another way, God does not give power to the rich in spirit but to the poor in spirit.40 He does not use the methods of man to accomplish His purposes. He does not always bless the church with the biggest budget or the biggest building or the biggest staff. He blesses the church with the biggest character. He blesses the church with the biggest humility.41

So let us pray for humility here in America. Let us pray that our money will not take away our power. Let us pay close attention to these words from First Corinthians 1:26-30:

Consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.

Let us remember the Age of the Fathers.

  1. Quoted in Bruce Shelley’s Church History in Plain Language, Third Edition (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson, 2008) 33. []
  2. Quoted in Philip Schaff’s History of the Christian Church, Volume 2 (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002, ed.)  375. []
  3. Quoted in J. G. Davies’ The Early Christian Church (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1965) 110. []
  4. Schaff, 199. []
  5. Matt 8:20. []
  6. The Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. by E. A. Livingstone (Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 1977) 30. []
  7. Quoted in Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1977) 71. []
  8. Quoted in Schaff, 77. []
  9. Quoted in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, ed. by W. Grinton Berry (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company, 2003 ed.) 22. []
  10. Quoted in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, 23. []
  11. Ibid., 25. []
  12. Quoted in Schaff, 76. []
  13. Matthew 16:18 says, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” []
  14. Bruce Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 2009 ed.) 91-92. []
  15. The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1 (Boston, Mass.: The Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1885) 416. []
  16. See Jn 14:15-17; 17:7-15. Paraclete is another name for “Holy Spirit.” []
  17. Quoted in Metzger, 101. []
  18. Ibid. []
  19. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Trans. by C. F. Cruse (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998 ed.) 170. []
  20. F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments: How We Got Our English Bible (Fleming H. Revell Company, 1984) 86. []
  21. Eusibius, 67-68, 91-92. This was not decided in an official meeting but rather it was the overall view of the early Christians. In other words, this list evolved but was not actually decided on. The decision was officially reached later at the Council of Hippo in A. D. 393 and the Council of Carthage A. D. 397. []
  22. Quoted in Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix’s A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1971) 192. []
  23. Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms, Third Edition (Greenville, S. C.: Ambassador Emerald International, 2002) 207. The word “hermeneutics” refers to “the science of Bible interpretation.” []
  24. Fathers of the Third Century in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume IV (Boston, Mass.: The Christian Literature Publishing Company, 1885) 361. []
  25. Roy B. Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation (Colorado Springs, Col.: Cook Communications Ministries, 1991) 36-37. []
  26. Acts 11:26. []
  27. To be more specific, the School of Antioch taught that there are patterns and shadows in Scripture but only when Scripture tells us. For example, Romans 5:14 says that Adam is a type or symbol of Christ. Adam was sinless just as Jesus is sinless; therefore, he reminds us of Jesus. That is clearly laid out for us in Scripture. However, to say that Noah is a type of Christ (as Origen did) is taking it too far. Nowhere does Scripture say that. []
  28. August Neander quoted in Milton S. Terry’s Biblical Hermeneutics (Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1999 ed.) 39. []
  29. Quoted in James B. De Young’s Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publicaitons, 2000) 269-272. []
  30. Robert L. Thomas, Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2002) 155. []
  31. Not every scholar would give this date to the Age of the Fathers. For example, Bruce Shelley refers to A. D. 70-312 as “the Age of Catholic Christianity” and 312-590 as “the Age of the Christian Roman Empire” (Shelley, ix-x). Earle Cairns places 5 B.C. – A. D. 590 under the title of “Ancient Church History” (Cairns, 6). Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity places A. D. 1-325 under the heading “Beginnings” and A. D. 325-600 under the heading “Acceptance and Conquest” (Eerdmans’ Handbook to the History of Christianity, ii). []
  32. Justo Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 1 (San Francisco, Cal.: Harper Collins Publishers, 1984) 108. []
  33. Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Volume 3 (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002 ed.) 167. []
  34. Jacques Chabannes, Saint Augustine, trans. by Julie Kernan (Doubleday & Company, Inc.: Garden City, N. Y.: 1962) 125. []
  35. Quoted in John E. Rotelle’s Augustine Day by Day: Minute Meditations for Every Day Taken from the Writings of Saint Augustine (New York: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1986) 14. []
  36. Augustine, Exposition of the Psalms 99-120, ed. by Maria Boulding (New York: New City Press, n. d.) 68-69. []
  37. Jn 16:33. []
  38. Statistical Research on Stewardship at www.biblicalstewardship.net. []
  39. Lk 18:24 NIV Translation. []
  40. Matthew 5:3 says: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” []
  41. Micah 6:8 says: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” []