Establishment of the Church
Intro to the Early Church
Acts 1:1 - 6:7
This week we look at the establishment of the church in Jerusalem and its initial growth and struggles. The book of Acts shows how the lives of early Christians mirrored the life of Jesus in many ways, including miracles, evangelism, and persecution, as we'll soon see.
People & Places
A Greek doctor and most likely a gentile, Luke worked closely with Paul establishing early churches together. He authored a fourth of the New Testament including Acts, which serves as 'part two' to the Gospel of Luke. He writes from the perspective of an academic and historian.
An apostle originally named Simon, he was a fisherman and one of the first called by Jesus to be a “fisher of men”. In Acts we see this unfold as he develops in to an evangelist and brings people to Christ. This was the disciple who stepped out of his boat to walk with Jesus on the water. He was also the one who denied knowing Jesus at the crucifixion.
Jesus referred to John along with his brother James as the “Sons of Thunder” and that energy served him well in evangelism and the establishing of churches. John would later go on to write the book of Revelations.
This was the popular social-political group of the day, having been around for about 200 years at the time. The group would dissolve not long after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by Rome in the year 70.
Roman historian Pliny the Elder described Jerusalem as "the most famous city in the East, not just in Judea". At this time, the city had a population of around 50,000 people. Roman architecture had made its way to the Jerusalem in the form of both an amphitheater and a hippodrome for horse racing. What set Jerusalem apart from other roman cities was a lack of temples to roman gods or statues of emperors. The city sits at close to the same latitude as El Paso, Texas.
Recreation of Jerusalem and the Second Temple as it would have appeared around this time.
Around the years AD 30 - 35:
Emperor Tiberius, a former general, rules the Roman Empire for twenty-two years. Currently, the empire includes about six million citizens.
Rome struggles with an economic recession wrecking land values.
The Han Dynasty, which would last 200 years, was being established. Massive battles are being fought on the Yangtze River.