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16. The early church

16-1 A Taste Of The First Century: The Positive : 16-1-1 " With one accord" || 16-1-2 The Early Church Our Example || 16-1-3 Prayer Meetings || 16-1-4 Christ-centredness || 16-1-5 Radical Preaching || 16-1-6 Women In The Early Church || 16-1-7 The Joy Of Faith || 16-2 A Taste Of The First Century: The Negative: 16-2-1 Division In The Church || 16-2-2 Politics In The Church || 16-3 Unity And Division In The First Century : 16-3-1 Unity And Division In The First Century Church || 16-3-2 Oikonomia And Household Fellowships || 16-3-3 Rich And Poor In The First Century || 16-3-4 Unity In The Church || 16-4 The Obstacles : 16-4-1 The Obstacles To The Growth Of Christianity || 16-4-2 The offence of the cross || 16-4-3 The rejection of Caesar || 16-4-4 Women And Slaves In The First Century || 16-4-5 The Roman Empire And Christianity || 16-4-6 The Attraction Of Judaism || 16-4-7 Other First Century Objections To Christianity || 16-5 How They Succeeded: 16-5-1 Why Christianity Spread In The First Century  || 16-5-2 The Example Of The Community || 16-5-3 House Meetings In The First Century || 16-5-4 Witness In The Workplace || 16-5-5 The Witness Of Christian Unity In The First Century || 16-5-6 The Role Of Women   In The First Century || 16-5-7 Style Of PreachingIn The First Century || 16-5-8 Christian Ethics In The First Century || 16-5-9 The Exclusivity Of Christianity || 16-5-10 Early Christian Doctrine || 16-6 Where Things Went Wrong: 16-6-1 Doctrinal Apostacy || 16-6-2 The Rise Of Traditions || 16-6-3 Legalism In The Church || 16-6-4 Social Tensions In The Church || 16-6-5 Wealth In The Church || 16-6-6 Worldliness In The Church || 16-6-7 Lost Emphasis Upon Grace || 16-6-8 Loss Of Faith In The Church || 16-6-9 Poor Church Leadership || 16-6-10 Dogmatism And Legalists


16-5-1 Why Christianity Spread In The First Century 

In the light of all these obstacles in the path of the progress of Christianity in the first century, there must have been some distinct reasons for its success. We began by saying that the will of God was no stronger for the advancement of His Truth in the first century than at any other time. If the Gospel is indeed “the power of God unto salvation”, then it cannot be that God would add an extra drawing power to it which is present in some centuries but not in others.  It remains, therefore, to be concluded that there was something in the method and message of the early preachers which was so attractive that it somehow over-rode all the obstacles which there were to the acceptance of the message by ordinary people in the first century. One other consideration is that there is no lack of Biblical evidence that the early community saw their whole purpose as being to be a light to the world. Their main leaders (Peter, Paul, Stephen) were first and foremost preachers, rather than theologians or administrators. They used every opportunity to get the message out: when Paul was nearly lynched in Jerusalem, he turned about on the steps of Antonia and addressed the crowd; he took advantage of an illness to preach to the Galatians. He and others like him pressed every eventuality and circumstance into the service of the Gospel.  

Prayer In The First Century

There is no doubt that the early Christians’ emphasis upon prayer was a major reason as to why they succeeded. Luke, both in his Gospel and in the Acts record, lays great emphasis on prayer(1). His Gospel contains far more references to prayer than the others. He records prayer incidents at key points in his narrative, reflecting his observation that prayer was the means by which God granted success.


(1) This feature has been examined in depth in F. Plymale, The Prayer Texts of Luke-Acts (New York: Peter Lang, 1991).