Luke Wilson | | General Articles, Early Church | 0 comments
2 November
Nov 2
2nd November 2018

Take a journey through the first 400 years of Church History in only 40 days! "40 Days with the Fathers" is a daily reading plan/devotional spread out over forty days; and over the course of this reading plan you will read extracts and commentary on 23 different early Church texts from a selection of some of the most influential Church Fathers, such as: Didache, Diognetus, Polycarp, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose of Milan, and Leo the Great. These people who came before us, those great men of faith, many of whom suffered persecution and martyrdom to preserve the Church and Christ's mission, bridge the gap between the Bible and the present day. They fill the void we sometimes wonder about when we get to the end of reading Acts or the Epistles and think, “what happened next?” or “what happened to the Ephesian church after Paul left?” — well now you can read for yourself and see how God continued to grow His Church! Revised Edition includes: a chronological timeline of the Early Church texts, a map displaying where the New Testament and early texts were written and sent, plus a map of Ignatius’ journey to martyrdom in Rome. As a small added bonus, at the end of each chapter there is now a "Notes" section so you can jot down any thoughts you have whilst doing your daily reading. Available Now From: Download a free sample chapter! Preview Photos      ...

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13 November
Nov 13
13th November 2018

Free Early Church Resources I've created a few resources to aid with your studies or interest in the Early Church. The below maps are converted from the appendices in my book. I'll also soon add some hi-res versions as A3 poster size to purchase as well. Below the maps is an interactive chronological timeline of when the New Testament and Early Church texts were written. At the time of writing, I have covered most of the Ante-Nicene (pre-325 AD) period. Geographical Locations of Early Church Texts Approximate locations of where the NT and Ante-Nicene texts were written (or sent). Blue book icons represent the New Testament books, the red crosses are a selection of the Early Church Fathers texts. Zoom in and click on the icons for more details.   Journey of Ignatius to his Martyrdom The whole journey covers about 1524 miles (2454 km)! Blue pins are the known route that Ignatius took Green pins are where he stopped to write his epistles (zoom in and click the pins for info) Red pins are the conjectured route   Chronological Timeline of the New Testament and other Early Church Texts and Events A timeline of when the New Testament and other early Patristic works were written*, plus significant historical events which may have influenced certain writings. KEY:Orange = New TestamentDark Green = Apostolic Fathers (c.70 - c.150 AD)Light Green = Ante-Nicene Fathers (pre-325 AD)Light Orange = Post-Nicene FathersBlue = Significant Historical EventsBlack = Major Time PeriodsTeal = First Seven Ecumenical CouncilsRed = Widespread PersecutionsLight Red = Localised/Regional PersecutionsGrey = Disputed FactsYellow = Major Schisms * Much of the dating and research has been taken from the works of Schaff, Lightfoot, Harmer et al. Powered by Time.Graphics  ...

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11 October
Oct 11
11th October 2018

The Apostle's creed — what is it and why is it called that? Outside of the New Testament, this is one of the oldest creeds we have, dating back to the sixth – eighth century in its current form that is commonly known today, but having its origins much earlier — as far back as the second century in a shorter form known simply as the “Old Roman Creed”. The Apostles creed is also sometimes referred to as the “Rule of Faith” as it is a summary of the Gospel and is the basis for pretty much all modern theology. The points of the creed cover all the major pillars of the Christian faith which aims to safeguard what is true orthodoxy (right belief), which one must agree and adhere to in order to be counted amongst the Christians. Most often, the need for creeds arose in opposition to heresy so that the Church could point to what was historically taught by Christ and the Apostles to show what was ancient and true, as opposed to new and “novel” doctrines. The Old Roman Creed The text of the Old Roman Creed survives in a letter from a bishop Marcellus of Ancyra, which was sent to Julius, the bishop of Rome, dating back to around 340–360 AD where it was mainly used as a baptismal text in the Roman church. Roughly 50 years later, Tyrannius Rufinus (an Italian monk) wrote a commentary on this creed whilst translating it into Latin, where he made a note about the view and belief that this creed had been originally written or determined by the Apostles themselves shortly after Pentecost and before they left Jerusalem, hence the name this creed eventually came to be known as. I mentioned last week in my introductory post to this series, that there’s a handful of creedal statements within the New Testament, and one in particular in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 is similar in structure to the Apostle’s Creed, though not necessarily in wording. Let's take a look at the Old Roman Creed and the Apostle’s Creed side by side to have a look at what developed and was expanded on later in time, and also to see the Apostolic link to this creedal statement from Scripture: Old Roman Creed The Apostle’s Creed Scripture I believe in God the Father almighty; I believe in God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth; Genesis 1:1; Genesis 17:1; Exodus 20:11; Isaiah 40:28; and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord, And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Matthew 14:33; Matthew 16:16; Mark 3:11; Luke 1:32; John 1:34; John 1:49; Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 1:9; Hebrews 1:5; 1 John 5:20; Who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born from the Virgin Mary, Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:34-35; Galatians 4:4 Who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead and buried, Matthew 27:1-2; Matthew 27:24; Matthew 27:57-59; Mark 15:15; Acts 4:27; 1 Timothy 6:13   descended into the grave (Gk. hades), Acts 2:31; Ephesians 4:9; 1 Peter 3:18-20 on the third day rose again from the dead, on the third day rose again from the dead, Matthew 28:5-7; Mark 16:5-6; Luke 24:5-7; John 20:8-9; Acts 2:31; Ephesians 1:20 ascended into heaven, ascended to heaven, John 3:13; John 20:17; Mark 16:19; Acts 1:9; Ephesians 4:8,10 sits at the right hand of the Father, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty, Matthew 26:64; Mark 12:36; Mark 14:62; Mark 16:19; Luke 20:41-43; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:25; Acts 2:33-34; Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22 whence he will come to judge the living and the dead; thence He will come to judge the living and the dead; Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 10:42; Romans 14:9; 2 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 4:5; Revelation 20:11 and in the Holy Spirit, I believe in the Holy Spirit, Matthew 3:1...

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29 September
Sep 29
29th September 2018

I’m starting a new four part series over the coming weeks which will be looking at the different historical creeds of the Church which have been recited, used and handed down for two millennia, beginning with the very first formal creed: the Apostles Creed. This series will be a mixture of historical background plus a commentary on the creed itself to see where each statement is based in Scripture, and why we can trust them to accurately portray the Faith. What are creeds and why should we accept them? The word “creed” comes from the Old English crēda, and from Latin crēdo meaning “I believe”. A creed is basically a set of beliefs which you profess; a statement of faith. Many non-creedal (or non-denominational) churches have a ‘statement of faith’ on their websites to highlight and specify where they stand on certain doctrines – which is essentially just stating their own type of creed instead of listing an ancient and historically accepted one. Even those who declare “no creed but Christ”, or “I just believe the Bible”, are ironically making a creed, albeit a short one with no solid definition. The Church has been declaring creeds for as long as it has existed, despite the sometimes common accusation that creeds are “unbiblical” or “non-biblical”; statements which couldn’t be further from the truth! Even in the Apostles time they were making statements of faith in short creedal formats, and a few of them are preserved in the New Testament, primarily in Paul's letters. One of the longer examples can be found in the first letter to the Corinthians, and has a similar form and wording to what came to be known as the Apostle’s Creed: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8For I passed on to you as most important what I also received:that Christ died for our sinsaccording to the Scriptures,that He was buried,that He was raised on the third dayaccording to the Scriptures,and that He appeared to Cephas,then to the Twelve.Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time;most of them are still alive,but some have fallen asleep.Then He appeared to James,then to all the apostles.Last of all, as to one abnormally born,He also appeared to me. That places this creed well within the first 20-30 years after the crucifixion and resurrection, and is thus one of the earliest examples of orthodoxy and eye-witness accounts we have, possibly pre-dating the writing of the New Testament itself. The way Paul begins this passage with the “I passed on what I received” formula shows that this was an already existing set of established beliefs which were passed onto him, and which he now passes onto the Corinthians. Paul wasn’t just making this up, or summarising what he believed – no, this was, and is, a great example of the faith of the Early Church most likely passed around as oral history, which was handed to them by the eye-witness Apostles themselves. These creeds were eventually used in the daily liturgy and worship of the Church as part of baptisms and hymns, and were also expected to be committed to memory by new converts to the faith. Another well-known example of what could be arguably a creed of sorts, is found in Galatians 3:28 which, upon further inspection, appears to contradict and oppose the more popular expressions and "blessings" that were used by Greeks and Jews of his day. Contrast Paul's wording to the Galatians... "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Apostle Paul, Gal 3:28) With that of the Greek and Jewish sayings: “There are three blessings for which I am grateful to fortune: First, that I was born a human being and not one of the brutes; Next, that I was born a man and not a woman; Thirdly, a Greek and not a barbarian” (A quote attributed to Socrates or Thales; Diogenes Laertius, Thales 1.33). “Blessed are you, Lord, our God, ruler of the universe who has not cr...

| | Theology, Gifts of the Spirit | 0 comments
22 May
May 22
22nd May 2018

Often in any discussion on the gifts of the Spirit and whether they are still active today (Cessationism vs Continuationism), the topic of Apostles comes up and whether the gift/office is still active today in the Church. Detractors of the Continuationist position will often quip that ‘if there were modern-day apostles, they would be world famous!’ – though I’m not sure why. Even the original Twelve weren’t “world famous” in the sense that they mean. But I digress. This isn't a question of practice, or opinion, but to examine the Scriptures to see what they say about the gift. Scripture gives us an indication that this gift, or role, wasn’t just for the original Twelve, and it also says how long we should expect the gifts (all of them) to be in operation within the Church. Paul writes about this to the Ephesus church in his letter: Ephesians 4:11-13 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. (emphasis mine) This is sometimes called the “Five Fold Ministry”. Compare this with 1 Cor 13:8-12, which parallels this thought using sightly different words about coming to maturity and being fully grown, and of seeing Jesus “face to face”. To put it simply, these gifts don’t end until we meet Jesus face to face, either in death or at The Resurrection, which makes complete sense if these five major roles are to “to equip the saints” and for “building up the body of Christ”. So if these five gifts are for the continued benefit of the whole Church body, then it makes sense that we should see others who possess them, and the apostolic gift is often the most controversial one (along with prophet). So let's see how many apostles there were in the pages of the New Testament: Acts 1:13 When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. Acts 1:26 Then they cast lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias. So he was numbered with the 11 apostles.   That's 12 so far. Romans 1:1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle and singled out for God’s good news   Now we have 13. Some contend that Paul was the true replacement for Judas, but even if he was (which I don’t believe) and there were no more than twelve apostles, then we wouldn’t see any others – but we do. So let's continue counting: James, the half brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church—Galatians 1:19 Barnabas – Acts 14:14 Apollos – 1 Corinthians 4:6-9 ("...us apostles..." v.9) Timothy and Silvanus – 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2:7 Epaphroditus – Philippians 2:25.  While some Bibles translate the word as “messenger”, the Greek word apostolon is actually “apostle” (as in other places – see endnote). Two unnamed apostles – 2 Corinthians 8:23 Again, this is translating apostolon as "messenger" rather than “apostle”. This should make around 21 apostles now, including the Twelve and Paul. (22 if you count Judas as an original apostle before his betrayal). There are then potentially two more in Romans 16:7, Andronicus and Junias, who are called "prominent among the apostles". Scholars debate the meaning of the phrase here as whether that means they were "prominent apostles" or that the apostles considered them "prominent" in their work. If we include them, it makes the count 23 so far. And if we include Jesus, "the apostle and high priest of our confession" (Hebrews 3:1), then we have 24 apostles mentioned throughout the NT (or 25 if we include Judas in the count). Now, obviously the initial Twelve were special i...

| | General Articles, Easter | 0 comments
1 April
Apr 1
1st April 2018

Today we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ! What a wonderful day to remember and praise, but not just because Jesus was raised to new life, but because in that moment it sealed the promise of our own hope in God. Through Jesus' death and resurrection, we can now be partakers in that new, eternal life! 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” "Where, O death, is your sting?" Paul writes, showing the fulfillment of this prophecy in Christ. This should now be our battle cry as we go forward in Christian life; death has no hold over us who are sealed by the Holy Spirit through baptism, raised to new life in Christ. I won't go into this topic too much now, as I've written on it plenty before here and here. I just wanted to focus our minds on the victory we have because of Jesus and what he did for us this day, centuries ago. I'll close with this worship song which celebrates the resurrection, which I really like. Focus on the words of the song and praise God for Jesus! Happy Easter, everyone. ...

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