Summary: Part 4 of this series describes what the first Christians were like, some of the things they did in Christianity's earliest days, and the spread of Christianity in the region and the world.
This 13-part series of classes has been many years in the making. About 25 years ago I began in earnest to examine the features, character and characteristics of the church as it existed in its earliest years. As I sometimes do, I kept my notes all along the way, and this series of classes is to a large extent the product of those years of on-and-off studying the subject. Several things in my experience contributed to my interest in making this 25-year study which I will mention along the way, and those go much further back.
There may be some difficulty in using the individual parts of this series separately, although viewer are free to do so if it serves their purposes. But to those whose interest is in knowing what the church was like in its earliest years, I recommend starting with Part 1 - Introduction to the Church of the New Testament and proceeding through the parts consecutively.
I have prepared some slides that I used in presenting the series in a classroom setting before adapting it to use as sermons. I have left my cues to advance slides or activate animations in the notes as posted on Sermon Central. If anyone is interested in having the PowerPoint files with the slides, I will be happy to send them. Send me an Email at firstname.lastname@example.org and specify what part(s) you are requesting. Be sure that the word “slide” appears in the subject line. It may take me several days to respond, but I will respond to all requests.
THE CHURCH OF THE NEW TESTAMENT
OUTLINE OF THE STUDY
II. The Origin of the Church
III. What is the church?
IV. The First Christians
V. Authority in the First Century Church
VI. Problems in the New Testament Church
VII. How the Church Functioned
A. Introduction to Functions
B. Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers
C. False Apostles, Prophets, and Teachers & Various Gifts and Functions
D. More Gifts and Functions
E. Evangelists, Preachers, and Ministers, Servants and Deacons
F. Pastors, Elders, Bishops, etc.
VIII. How the Church Worshiped
IV. The First Christians
In this part, we examine what the earliest Christians were like, and what they did.
*Advance to outline slide
A. The first Christians loved one another dearly.
*Advance to “loved one another” slide
Exactly as Jesus commanded – the “New commandment” Jn 13:34, which the apostles often re-iterated:
*Advance slide to list of scriptures
John_13:34 "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
John_15:12 "This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
John_15:17 "This I command you, that you love one another.
Rom_13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
1 Thess_4:9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
1 Pet_1:22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
1 Jn_3:11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another;
1 Jn_3:23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
1 Jn_4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
1 Jn_4:11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 Jn_4:12 No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us.
2 Jn_1:5 Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another.
Secular writers, even some who did not agree with the doctrines of Christian faith, wrote over
and over, “See how they loved one another!”
*Advance to Slide - served
B. They Served Others
Meyer Reinhold was a classicist who wrote textbooks on various periods in ancient history. Asked by an interviewer for his reflections on the period when Christianity was introduced, he answered: “The Christians did something that had never been done before (except in isolated cases). But the Christians made it the centerpiece of their lives, and it worked. ”
“What was it?”
“Living for others.”
*Slide - were of one mind
C. They Were of One Mind
There was no discord or division, but peace, harmony, and mutual respect.