In this blog, I primarily talk about the church as described in the New Testament. However, it is also important to consider how different believers thought about the church through history. In this series, I plan to look at various non-canonical texts from 1st and 2nd century AD that describe the meeting of the church.
These texts are important to help us understand what the author thought about many aspects of the church and of theology in particular. However, since I am studying the meeting of the church, that will be the focus of my examination. Primarily, I will try to answer the following question: What can we learn about the meeting of the church from this particular text?
Obviously, this brief series will not be exhaustive. In some cases, I will not even be able to exhaust everything that a particular author said about the meeting of the church. However, even if I cannot list or discuss every text, I will attempt to at least mention or summarize the texts that I am not able to discuss fully.
Also, I do not plan to list texts that only agree with my position. While that would be a great way of defending my position historically, and a method that is often used today, it would not be honest to the historical data. I plan to discuss several texts in which the author presents a picture of the meeting of the church that if different from the way that I think the church meets.
Finally, I do not plan to make judgment calls about the various authors. Instead, I intend this to simply be a historical survey for various perspectives of the meeting of the church. I will not even attempt to compare what we read with scriptural references to the meeting of the church. That is an important exercise, but it is outside the scope of this study.
Here are some of the texts/authors that I will discuss: 1) one of Pliny’s letter to Trajan, 2) the Didache, 3) Ignatius, 4) Clement of Rome, 5) Justin Martyr, and 6) the Epistle of Barnabas. I hope that through this study we can learn something about the meetings of the church in the first 200 years after Pentecost.