EARLY CHRISTIANITY

 

 

 

Ante-Nicene Age - Nicene Creed

 

The Ante-Nicene Age spans from the 2nd century to 325 in the 4th century when the first Nicene Creed was adopted. This era had a significant impact on the unity of Christian doctrine and the spread of faith to a greater world. 

 

During this time of the Roman Empire, early Christian bishops traveled to the town of Nicaea at the direction of emperior Constantine the Great. 

 

Today, the town is called Iznik in the provence of Bursa, Turkey. It's located in a fertile basin at the eastern edge of Lake Ascanius and surrounded by hills.

 

Constantine called the clerics together to unify the 4th century church in the face of growing theological disputes, primarily over the nature and divinity of Jesus 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." 

 

The dispute began when a bishop of early Christianity, by the name of Arius, preached that Christ was a creation of God. This horrified many clerics. Among them was Alexander, who argued that Christ co-existed eternally with God. Eusebius of Nicomedia defended Airus, attempting to prove that Jesus was a created being.

 

Those who opposed Arius snatched his speech from his hands and tore it apart. These bishops had suffered greatly for Christ in persecutions by the Romans and weren't about to hear the Lord blasphemed.

 

Constantine immediately 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.

 

The issues at Nicaea in early Christianity came down to this: If Christ is not God, then how can he overcome the infinite gap between God and man? A creed reflecting both views was written and signed by most of the bishops in the summer of 325.

 

But disagreement over the meaning of Scripture on the deity of Christ continued for more than fifty years, until another council of bishops met in Constantinople and adopted an expanded form of the earlier creed, which is known today as the Nicene Creed.

 

The creed embraced in 381 AD 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.

 

Those who reject the doctrine of the Trinity today argue that it was neither taught by Jesus nor part of the early church, but rather was imposed by Constantine on the bishops who gathered at Nicaea.

 

This was not the case.

 

The doctrine is at the heart of Christ's Great Commission, which tells believers to ". . . go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. . . ." (Matt. 28:19)

 

The doctrine was a widely held belief before the council met. Among the leading church fathers who defended the doctrine were Polycarp, Justin, Martyr, Ignatius, Tertullian, and Origen. 

 

 

What We Learn from the Early Church

Tim Keller of the Gospel Coaliton  Read HERE

 

 

What Really Happened at Nicaea?

Christian Research Institute  Read HERE

 

 

 

Selected Reading Resources

 

Nicaea and its Legacy, by Lewis Ayres

 

Reading the Early Church Fathers, by James Papaandrea

 

The Making of the New Testament, by Arthur G. Patzia

 

The Canon of the New Testament, by Bruce Metzger

 

The Story of Christianity, Volume 1, by Justo L.Gonzalez

 

Christianity: Transformation of the Book, by Anthony Grafton

 

The Early Christians in Their Own Words, by Eberhard Arnold

 

Christians as the Romans Saw Them, by Robert Louis Wilken

 

The Rise of Christianity, by Rodney Stark

 

Eusebius: The Church History, by Paul Maier

 

Nicene Creed: Illustrated and Instructed for Kids, by Joey Fitzgerald

 

Retrieving the Tradition and Renewing Evangelicalism, by D. H. Williams

 

Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church, by Stuart Hall

 

Constantine and Eusebius, by Timothy D. Barnes

 

The Didache: A Window on the Earliest Christians, by Thomas O'Laughlin

 

From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation, by Craig Evans

 

Early History of Christian Church, by Louis Duchesne

 

Christianity at the Crossroads, by Michael Kruger

 

Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity, by Edmond Gallaher

 

From Nicaea to Chalcedon, by Frances Young and Andrew Teal

 

Early Christian Creeds, by J.H.D. Kelly

 

Quest for the Historical Apostles, by W. Brian Shelton 

 

 

 

Early Christianity Websites

 

 

Christian Classics Ethereal Library

 

Christian History Institute

 

Early Christian Writings

 

Centre for the Study of Christian Origins

 

Patristics-Writings of Ancient World

 

Christianity Today: Early Church

 

Early Church Fathers

 

EarlyChurch (uk)

 

Codex Sinciticus (British Library)

 

 

Early Christianity Blogs

 

 

Michael Kruger

 

Larry Hurtado

 

Michael Bird

 

Ryan Reeves

 

Early Christians

 

Patristics Society News

 

History of the Early Church Podcast 

 

 

 

Early Christianity Articles

 

Click HERE to view all articles: 

 

 

The Road to Nicaea

 

A Marriage Made in Byzantium

 

Constantine and the Bishops

 

Athanasius: Defense of Orthodoxy

 

Eusebius: Father of Church History

 

Why do we need the Nicene Creed?

 

The Christian Codex

 

Ancient Versions of New Testament

 

Life and Times of Early Christianity

 

Persecution of Early Christians

 

How Early Christians Worshiped

 

Liturgy of the Early Church

 

How we got the Bible

 

What Happened to the 12 Apostles?

 

 

 

Early Christianity and the New Testament Canon

Explore Orthodoxy, Heresy, and Canon in Early Church  Read HERE

 

 

What Do Earliest Christian Manuscripts Tell Us About Their Readers?

Dr. Larry Hurtado of the University of Edinburgh  Read HERE

 

 

A Survey of Church History, Part 1 A.D. 100 to 600 (Video Series)

Dr. Robert Godfrey of Ligonier Ministries  Read HERE

 

 

Submerged Church Honoring Council of Nicaea in AD 325 Discovered

Associates for Biblical Research  Read HERE

 

 

 

 

Someone has said, "knowing Christ died--that's history. Believing He died for me--that's salvation."

 

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: 

 

First, 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.

 

Second, 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.

 

Third, personally 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)

 

 

 

A Greek doctor named Lucanus penned a personal account of the life of Jesus Christ and his apostles in the first century A.D. Scribes convert the doctor's papyrus scrolls into a single codex, which he then takes on a perilous mission to visit Christian exiles in ancient Bithynia of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

 

Along the way, the valuable codex falls into the hands of Jews who had fled Jerusalem when Roman legions sacked the city in the year 70. But the Christian book--to be known as the Nicaea Codex--is mysteriously lost and becomes the object of a relentless quest over time and place by people who are determined to possess it at all costs.

 

What finally happens to the priceless codex is revealed in the novel's epilogue that will surpise you. The Nicaea Trilogy is a sprawling saga told in three novellas under one cover. It unfolds against a backdrop of persecution and war during the Roman Empire.

 

And then comes hope with the crowning of the first Christian emperor, Constantine the Great, and the adoption of a new statement of faith called the Nicene Creed. 

 

Read a Sample Chapter of the Nicaea Trilogy

 

 

 

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Contact us at:  warren@earlychristians.net

 

Warren Lamb

Faithful Journey Publishing

 

 

 

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