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Meeting with the Early Church – Conclusion

Posted by on Mar 19, 2008 in church history, gathering | 2 comments

As we’ve looked through many early writings, we’ve seen various descriptions of early church meetings. Each author had their own reason for writing about church gatherings.

Some writers focused on the activities that occurred during the meeting: reading Scripture, singing songs, instructing and exhorting one another, collecting and distributing to those in need, eating a meal together.

Some writers focused on the reasons for believers to gather together: protection from the works of Satan, protections from sin, discussing things that lead to mutual benefit.

Many of the writers encouraged frequent meetings and harmony between brothers and sisters who come together.

Some of the writers seemed to indicate mutual service while others placed more responsibility in the hands of one or more believers (the bishop, the presbyters, or the president).

What do we make of all of these different descriptions of early church meetings? First, we should recognize that different groups of believers met in different ways. Second, we should recognize that we should return to Scripture to determine how believers should meet together. While these early writings help us understand the history of the early church, they were not and should not now be accepted as Scripture. Yes, some were thought to be Scripture early on, but they were generally accepted only by some groups of believers but not accepted universally.

So, as we continue to study church meetings, we should study this historical records, and then compare them to Scripture. What does Scripture say about activities during the meeting of the church? What does Scripture say about the purpose of the meeting of the church? Who does Scripture say is responsible for the meeting of the church?

In the next week or so I will be working on a series to discuss these questions. Since I have examined different writers concerning their view and descriptions of early church meetings, I plan to balance those views by looking at the passages of Scripture that discuss or describe the meeting of the church. We should be able to compare and contrast the scriptural view of the meeting of the church both with the views of these early church writers as well as our own views.

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Meeting with the Early Church Series
1. Introduction
2. Pliny’s Letter
3. The Didache
4. Ignatius’ Letters
5. Clement of Rome
6. Epistle of Barnabas
7. Justin Martyr
8. Conclusion


2 Comments

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  1. 3-31-2008

    Alan,

    This has been an interesting study for me. Do you have any theories as to how these early church leaders got sidetracked from biblical teaching on such questions as church leadership so quickly?

  2. 4-1-2008

    David,

    I do have a theory. I think that there were various views of leadership – i.e. Ignatius vs. Didache/Polycarp which I’ve talked about before. Eventually, Ignatius’ view won out.

    -Alan