I have decided to take a break from my Genesis series, and start this new 20 sermon series on the history of the Church.
In this series I will focus on a whole century of church history in each sermon, and so today we will focus on the very first century.
A.D. 1 was a very special year and of great importance to the church of God: It was the year in which our Lord Jesus Christ was born, and without Him there would surely be no church.
Also in that first year John the Baptist was born.
A lot of the history that we shall study today you will find in the Gospels and in the Acts, and as I have only a sermon’s length to discuss this weighty subject, I recommend that you read diligently those books of the Bible, as they will more fully expound what I am attempting to teach this day!
Years 1 – 30 A.D.
There is very little known about these years, when our Lord Jesus Christ was in His youth. We know that Christ did never sin, and I am certain that He never wasted any time, so those early days must have been very important, yet because there is so little said about them in the Scriptures, it seems that the events that happened, if told, would not be of so much benefit to us.
There are however apocryphal books about Jesus first 30 years which are generally termed “the Infancy Gospels”, the most well known being The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, where Jesus does a number of miracles and instead of being taught by His teachers, He teaches them. Doubtless a lot of what is written in these infancy Gospels is true, but as we have not been given them in our Bible, it probably means that God did not see them as profitable for our souls.
John the Baptist started his ministry in the later part of this period.
Years 31 – 33 A.D.
These years are the years of our Lord Jesus Christ’s ministry on this earth. These 3 years are the foundation of all Christianity and our most holy faith!
You can read about these years in the four infallible Gospels of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Here is a brief outline:
Jesus calls 12 disciples near the beginning of His ministry, the most important of these being Peter, James, and John.
Then Jesus begins to preach and to do many miracles.
Then the last week Of Jesus life is what we call the Passion of Christ. Jesus is betrayed by his own Disciple, one of the 12, Judas Iscariot. Jesus dies upon a cross to atone for our sins. And 2 days later Jesus rises from the grave, and lives again.
After the resurrection, Jesus was on the earth for about 40 to 50 days, and in that time He did many more miracles.
Then our Lord leaves this world and ascends up into Heaven.
Then on the 50th day after the Resurrection of our Lord, not long after His ascension, The disciples were meeting for praise and prayer in the city of Jerusalem, and the Holy Spirit comes down upon them all, and anoints them to preach.
The Spreading of the Gospel
The Disciples begin to spread the Gospel to the Jews that live in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas.
It seems that at first the Disciples thought that the good news about Jesus was only to be given to the Jews, as it had always been before the birth of Christ. But it was shown to the Disciples that they should also preach to the gentiles also and that the whole world should know about Jesus and what He has done for us on the cross.
The ministries of the 12 Disciples
Judas Iscariot had no ministry as he was the traitor of our Lord and after he betrayed Jesus, he became very remorseful and went out and hanged himself.
Peter was the First Disciple to preach and he preached to a very large congregation after that he was anointed by the Holy Spirit.
After that Peter preached mainly to the Jews, but apparently spent a bit of time in Rome, where tradition tells us that he was crucified.
Tradition tells us that Andrew was a missionary and may have even got as far as Scotland, where he was made the patron Saint. The Scottish flag is the flag of Saint Andrew.
Tradition also states that Andrew, like his brother Peter was crucified.
There is an apocryphal book called “the Acts of Andrew” which tells of the miracles and preaching of Andrew, although many people doubt the truth of that book.
James was the very first of the Apostles to be martyred. His murder is told in the book of Acts, where Herod orders for him to be killed with a sword.
John was the disciple beloved by Jesus, and his mission was mostly to the Mediterranean area.
John wrote 3 letters which we have in our Bibles.
And he also wrote the book of the Revelation, which he wrote which he was in prison on the island of Patmos (in the Mediterranean).
John lived to a very old age. Tradition tells us that he died a natural death in Ephesus. If this is true he may well of served with Timothy who was an Elder at the Church at Ephesus.
Not much is known of Phillip, who is not the Phillip mentioned in Acts 8. ( I will tell of him later)
Tradition tells us that he was either crucified upside down or beheaded. His tomb has recently been found, in a town in modern Turkey. http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/07/27/tomb-st-philip-apostle-discovered-in-turkey/?test=latestnews
Barnabas (aka Nathaniel)
Barnabas Traditionally is said to have gone as a missionary to India. And like every other Apostle, it is said that Barnabas was martyred.
Matthew is best known as the author of the Gospel of Matthew. He is reported to have died as a martyr.
Thomas who is often called “doubting Thomas” went as a missionary to India. There is an apocryphal book entitles “The Acts of Thomas” which tells of Thomas’s mission to India.
James (brother of Jude)
Very little is known of the apostle James, but it is believed that he wrote the Epistle of James.
Thaddeus (aka Lebbaeus aka Jude)
Again best known for his Epistle: the book of Jude.
Simon the Zealot
Very little is known of this disciple and seems to take the place of the smallest, but we know that God will always exalt those who take the lowest place.
Other major figures at this time
Paul was and is the best ever known missionary, and all servants of God aspire to be like him.
Paul went on 4 main missionary journeys which we read about in the book of Acts.
He was the main influence in the life of Timothy.
Tradition tells that Paul was martyred in a Roman amphitheatre.
Barnabas also travelled as a missionary with Paul for the first part of his ministry. They split up as a result of an argument.
Silas was Paul’s companion after Barnabas had left him.
Philip the Evangelist
Philip is who we read about in acts 8 where he preaches to the Ethiopian Eunuch.
The Ethiopian church is still alive to this day, and is the source of a lot of our apocryphal works including the long lost book of Enoch.
Timothy travelled with Paul, and learned from him. He became an Elder in Ephesus.
Make disciples of all nations
The words of Jesus in the end of Matthew chapter 28 tell of the great commission. It tells the disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of every nation. This the disciples did, and within 100 years, the gospel had spread to every known corner of the world. And you know what was so amazing about that? They weren’t allowed to, the world was against them, yet they still went to the entire world, the majority of them were even murdered for it yet they spread the Gospel.
Now look at yourself, there are no laws against telling people about Jesus, we even have laws that say you have freedom of belief. So tell me where have you spread the Gospel? If the Apostles could spread the Gospel so much under persecution, how much better should we do, who have complete freedom of religion?
Well, I hope that this sermon has been informative. In our next sermon we will look at the 2nd century and how the Gospel advanced in that time.
I pray that the Lord will add His blessing on what has been said today, and that something will remain to the benefit of your soul.