EARLY CHRISTIAN HISTORY

 

 

 Icon depicting Emperor Constantine with bishops of the first Council of Nicaea in AD 325

 

 

 

Articles     Creeds     Centuries    Timelines     People     Heresies     Books

 

 

 

What happened at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325?

 

In the early fourth century AD, Christian bishops in the Roman Empire traveled to the ancient town of Nicaea at the direction of Emperor Constantine the Great for the first time as an ecumenical council.

 

Many of the bishops had walked in suffering for their faith during times of persecution, but now they rode in comfort to Nicaea with numerous priests and deacons--all traveling at the emperor's expense. Among the notable bishops was Eusebius of Caesarea, later to be called the 'father of church history.

 

Nicaea is now called Iznik, in modern-day Turkey, and is located in a fertile basin at the eastern edge of Lake Ascanius and surrounded by hills.  

 

Some historians and others have claimed that Constantine's purpose was to control religion in his empire and determine the contents of the New Testament (the canon), but this is not the case at all. The emperor called the council in AD 325 to deal with two issues: the heresy of Arianism and the date of Easter.

 

Constantine called bishops together to unify the 4th-century church in the face of

growing theological disputes over the divinity of Christ.
 

Some 300 bishops gathered in the emperor's grand lakeside palace. In the center of the chamber, on a throne, lay the four gospels. Constantine was dressed in a purple gown and wore a silver diadem. He opened the Council of Nicaea by saying, "I rejoice to see you here, yet I should be more pleased to see unity and affection among you." 

 

Christ co-existed eternally with God.

 

Constantine told the delegates assembled in the Senatus Palace in Nicaea to resolve their differences. Many bishops argued that God the Father created Christ the Son before the beginning of time, while others asserted that Christ had the same divine essence as God the Father.

 

If Christ is not God, how can he overcome the infinite gap between God and man? 

 

The bishops finally voted and approved the first Nicene Creed in 325 AD. But disagreement over the meaning of Scripture on the deity of Christ continued for more than fifty years. Another council of bishops met in Constantinople in 381 AD and adopted an expanded form of the earlier creed.

 

The creed affirms the doctrine of the Trinity: that God is three "persons" (Father, Son, and Spirit) in one nature or essence. Each person is fully divine, yet each is distinct.

 

Read these and other articles . . .

The Road to Nicaea

To us, the first Council of Nicaea is like a mountain in the landscape of the early church. For the protagonists themselves, though, it was more of an emergency meeting to stop an internal religious squabble. 

Constantine and the Bishops

In the year AD 324, the Roman emperor Constantine the Great dispatched his closest advisor to mediate the dispute between the Empire's bishops within the Christian church over the divine nature of Jesus the Christ.

 

Persecution of Christians

Today's growing hostility toward Christianity spans many centuries, beginning of course with Christ himself when he was crucified. His followers, in turn, have been persecuted and even put to death for their beliefs.  

How we got the Bible

We find it almost impossible to think of the Christian faith without the Bible. Few decisions are more basic than those made during the first three centuries surrounding the Bible's formation. 

 

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!

All Thy works shall praise Thy name in earth and sky and sea;

Holy, holy, holy! merciful and mighty!

God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

 

 

The Nicene Creed is the most widely accepted and used brief statement of the Christian Faith. In Liturgical Churches, it is said every Sunday as part of the Liturgy. It is Common Ground to East Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Calvinists, and other Christian denominations. Many Christians who do not have a tradition of using it in their services nevertheless are committed to the doctrines it teaches.

 

Empire of Nicaea after sack of Constantinople during Fourth Crusade in 1204

 

The Empire of Nicaea

 

 

 

Heroes of the Ancient Church

Michael Svigel

 

The Doctrine of the Trinity

Kevin DeYoung

 

Early Christian Centuries 

First Century AD

The 1st century is focused on the formative years of the Christian faith. The earliest followers of Jesus are primarily Jews, which historians refer to as the Jewish community. The apostles left Jerusalem, following the Great Commission of Jesus to spread His teachings to "all nations".

Second Century AD

The 2nd century was mainly the time of the Apostolic Fathers who were the students of the apostles of Jesus, though there is some overlap as John the Apostle may have survived into the 2nd century and Clement of Rome is said to have died at the end of the 1st. 

Third Century AD

The 3rd century was largely the time of the Ante-Nicene Fathers who wrote after the Apostolic Fathers of the 1st and 2nd centuries, but before the First Council of Nicene in 325.

Fourth Century AD

The 4th century was dominated in its early stage by Constantine and the First Council of Nicaea. This was the beginning of the first seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787), and in its late stage by the Edict of Thessalonica of 380, making Nicene Christianity the state church of the Empire. 

 

New Testament Archaeology 

This website is a section of the Bible Archaeology Report and focused on a number of excellent articles concerning New Testament discoveries. Its purpose is to "highlight the historical reliability of the Bible."

 

The Map as History 

This website is the largest collection of animated historical maps. Included are the Bible and History, Ancient Greece, Jerusalem, Rome, and Its Empire, History of Christianity to 15th Century, and more. 

 

Theology on the Web

This website makes "high-quality theological material available freely throughout the world, thus providing Bible teachers and pastors with the resources they need to spread the Gospel in their countries."

 

 

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him, all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church.

 

"He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross."  (Colossians 1:15-23)

 

 

A Personal Relationship with Jesus Christ

 

A personal relationship with Christ begins at the moment of our salvation. Only when we are born spiritually into God's family do we become members of His spiritual kingdom. While we may not know exactly when this new life begins, we can understand the steps we need to begin this new relationship: 

 

  • Admit our lost condition. We come into this world separated from the life of God and absorbed with an interest in finding satisfaction on our own terms.

 

  • Acknowledge what God has done for us. Jesus's death was of infinite value. When He rose from the dead, He proved that He had died in our place to pay the price of all sin--past, present, and future.

 

  • Believe and receive God's gift. No one is saved by trying to be good but by trusting in the Good News of Christ.

 

         (Adapted from our Daily Bread)

 

 

 

Site Map

 

Home

 

Articles

 

Creeds

 

Centuries 

 

Timelines

 

Heresies

 

Books

 

 

 

 

 

Books from Christianbook.com

Early Christians and Nicaea

 

Early Christian History

 

Contact us at:  warren@earlychristians.net

 

Warren Lamb

 

Author of the Nicaea Trilogy: Three Novellas

 

A saga told in a collection of three historical novellas under one cover against a backdrop of persecution and war during early Christianity in the Roman Empire. A priceless ancient book, called the Nicaea Codex, becomes the object of a relentless quest by those determined to possess it.

 

"Entertaining and Illuminating"  -- Rodney Stark, a sociologist of religion and author

"Knows how to spin a story" -- Kathryn Bennett, for Readers' Favorite

"A solid, enjoyable read" -- Historical Novel Society

 

Nicaea Trilogy is available at Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and Thriftbooks.com

 

 

 

Copyright 2021. EarlyChristians.net.  All rights reserved. 

 


E-mail