2nd Century

Many in the First Century Church believed that Christ would return very soon — within their lifetimes. Little emphasis was placed on doing anything of permanence, because folks really believed every day could be their last. But as the Church passed its 100th birthday, it became obvious that the Second Coming was not happening soon. Enter the pastors and writers of the young Church; we call them the Early Church Fathers. You'll find many of their names in this Century. They wrote prolifically — public letters, sermons and commentaries. Now that the original disciples were all dead, these writings were necessary to instruct and comfort the Church and keep it focused on Christ. Without the Church Fathers, we'd know very little about the early Church and its beliefs.


Ignatius is led to Rome and martyred.  When Ignatius was a child in the faith, he was a student of John the Apostle. Later he became a prolific author, and today seven of his letters still survive. In his older days Ignatius was finally arrested for being a Christian and transported to Rome for trial. There were no surprises at Ignatius' trial, and he was killed by lions in the Colosseum. Today we count him among the Apostolic Fathers of the Christian Church.    [Read more ...]


Marcion's canon defines an abbreviated Bible.  Marcion was the son of a bishop and well-known for his devotion and generous contributions to the Church. He took parts of Scripture and came up with his own brand of Christianity, teaching that Christ only appeared to be human. To make this work, he made a Bible that was missing the entire Old Testament and the gospels of Matthew, Mark and John. When he presented his ideas to a Church council, they were so upset that they called him a heretic and gave him back his contributions. (Ouch!)    [Read more ...]


Justin Martyr writes his First Apology.  Here the word "apology" actually means "defense", and Justin Martyr was the first person to write a defense of the Christian movement, its beliefs and its rituals. He particularly attempted to show that one could indeed be both a Christian and a good citizen of the Empire. A few years later he wrote his Second Apology, supposedly as a continuation of his 1st.    [Read more ...]

Individual writings of the apostles are collected together.  It is the beginning of the development of the New Testament canon — deciding which books got into the Bible, and which didn't. Paul's Epistles had long been circulating as a single group, and the 4 gospels were logically grouped together too. Coming up with a firm listing of inspired Bible books was important in keeping others from adding or removing Scripture. [See 144]    [Read more ...]


Polycarp dies as a martyr.  Tradition has it that Polycarp was personally discipled by the apostle John and was appointed as bishop of Smyrna by several of the original apostles. You can still read "Letter to the Philippians" [Read it], which he authored. According to an account from the day, he died as a martyr — bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him. Polycarp is regarded as one of three chief Apostolic Fathers.    [Read more ...]


Marcus Aurelius becomes emperor and begins the 4th Persecution.  (Note the Church is barely 130 years old, and we're already up to the 4th persecution.) Marcus Aurelius was an excellent leader, but when it came to Christians he was sharp and fierce. Under his watch, thousands were accused, tried, convicted and executed in any number of gruesome ways.    [Read more ...]


The Diatesseron is written by Tatian.  Tatian was the first person to combine all the textual material found in the four gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John — into a single coherent narrative of Jesus's life and death.  [Read it]  In doing so, he changed the order of some New Testament events, and did some "creative editing" to make each gospel's account of events read identical. Nonetheless this book was highly regarded in the early Church.    [Read more ...]


Irenaeus writes the book "Against Heresies".  Irenaeus wrote a number of books, but this is the most important one that survives today. Actually, "Against Heresies" is a group of 5 volumes. It's main purpose was to refute the teachings of various Gnostic groups who taught that the material world was the accidental creation of an evil god. Although very little is know about his death, Irenaeus is celebrated as a martyr in both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.    [Read more ...]