Summary: he Church is made up of God’s people. This was true from the beginning and is true today. But who were those people who made up the earliest church?
The Notables of the Early Church
1. Following Jesus Christ has never meant deserting the human race and living in seclusion -- or putting on an image of otherly-worldness -- if there is such a word. True, some Christians have chosen to live this way, like the Amish. But most have not.
2. In the early third century, Tertullian defended Christians to their critics as follows:
"We sail with you, and fight with you, and till the ground with you; and in like manner we unite with you in your traffickings—even in the various arts we make public property of our works for your benefit. How it is we seem useless in your ordinary business, living with you and by you as we do, I am not able to understand."
3. An even earlier statement puts it this way:
“For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practice an extraordinary kind of life. Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are. But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow the native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvellous, and confessedly contradicts expectation.” (Epistle to Diognetus, II-III c.)
Main Idea: The Church is made up of God’s people. This was true from the beginning and is true today.
I. WHO: The Notable People Who Made Up the Earliest Church (13)
• From verse 11, we can note that they were all from Galilee
• According to vs. 15, there were 120 people total
• Many more believers (we know that over 500 saw the risen Lord at once), but only 120 in Jerusalem for Pentecost.
As we briefly look at some of the people in the very, very early church, you may be struck with the following:
1. They were sinners who sometimes failed;
2. Most of them knew one another before they had ever followed Jesus;
3. They were all from the same region of Israel -- the general area where Jesus grew up
4. I tell you this because sometimes we are guilty of getting unrealistic about those who have died or those who founded the church as though they were somehow "other worldly" or "larger than life."
A. The APOSTLES
1. The "inner circle," Peter, James, and John
--Peter was the starter, the initiator who would get the church going
A native of Bethsaida who moved to Capernaum
he was married, so he had a mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14); wife later traveled in ministry (I Cor. 9:5)
His original name was Simon, probably a contraction of Simeon...Jesus changed it to Cephas (Aramaic) or Greek, "Peter" meaning a stone....
Peter was a great initiator, the strongest leader in the group...
(1) bold confession --Matt. 16:15-18
"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And 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
(2) bold blunder--Matt. 16:21-23
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"
Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."
• The Jews referred to Abraham as a rock, because his faith was an example to future generations. Jesus referred to Peter as a rock because his confession of faith, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" is the prototype belief of every true Christian.
• James was the first martyr, beheaded for his faith
• John was the youngest and last apostle, wrote the last book of the NT
2. The other 8 Apostles
• Peter and Andrew were brothers
• James and John were brothers and business partners with Peter & Andrew (fishing)