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Early Church History




False concepts:  Originally, Christian scholars thought of early Christianity as mainly an emerging Gentile institution which had quickly come out of Jewish roots, almost within five to six years after the founding of the Church in Jerusalem, with the conversion of Paul and his subsequent spreading of the gospel to the Gentiles.  These scholars had ignored almost completely what the early Church of God in Jerusalem was like, as well as what the Judeo-Christians churches were like later on in Asia Minor.  But following World War II, due to the exposure of the huge Nazi atrocities against the Jews in Europe, Christian leaders and historians began to refocus their attention on the early Christian church and specifically its Jewish roots.  Also following World War II a tremendous revival of spiritual fundamentalism and a complimentary explosion of radio and televised evangelism occurred.  Some labeled this the Sunday morning comedy hour, but much of it was real nonetheless, and fundamental evangelical churches and denominations were springing up all over the place.  A hunger developed for the early history of the Christian church, fueled by a sincere spiritual desire to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered" as Jude admonished.  So people were asking, very sincerely, "What was that 'Faith' like?"  Good question.  What was it like?  Honest church and religious scholars, both secular and believing, delved deeper into the past to find answers.  They sought to find out what the early Church of God in Jerusalem had been like, as well as what Judeo-Christianity was like in Asia Minor.  Coupled to this sincere historic research was a virtual knowledge explosion in Middle Eastern archeology, especially as key Middle Eastern countries opened themselves up willingly to outside archeologists.  Even Saddam Hussein welcomed foreign archeological digs in ancient Babylon (Turkey, or ancient Asia Minor was not left out either).  This all contributed to a far more accurate understanding of early Church history, focusing on the early Christian community that subsequently moved out of the Holy Land into Asia Minor during the period between the first and second Jewish wars with Rome (70AD-135AD).  What was the effect of all this new knowledge?  Even in the mid to late 1960s it led to a huge paradigm crash for many Christians.  Why?  Early Christianity was nothing like what they'd been taught or assumed it had been like.  It was Jewish.  Many were stunned.  Close examination of the history showed it was Jewish in Jerusalem, all of Judea, Samaria, Galilee, and then as it spread up into Asia Minor it continued to be Jewish and maintain Jewish days of worship.  Even up into the 300s AD, Asia Minor held in excess of 3 million Judeo-Christians.  Want to learn more? 


An Overview


  1. Early Christianity during the apostolic age under the 12 apostles was developing into a large Judeo-Christian community focused toward Jerusalem.  Most of its members were Jewish, racially.  With the death of the apostles at the end of the 1st century, due to lack of a somewhat centralized apostolic church government to look to in Jerusalem (and later Ephesus under John), Christianity had separated into hundreds of independent groups, small congregations and house churches, and the like.  Judeo-Christianity doesn't die out yet though.  Through Polycarp (disciple of the apostle John) and Policrates (disciple of Polycarp), it survives into the 2nd century. 
  2. During the 2nd and 3rd centuries a "different Christianity" arose within the Gentile Greco-Roman churches which dwelt among the pagan population.
  3. It started to call itself "orthodox", and ended up overpowering the older original Judeo-Christianity, and ultimately crushed Judeo-Christianity out of existence during the 4th century AD.
  4. By the 5th century, this "orthodox" Greco-Roman church had tens millions of adherents, and sought total control of "Christianity".  It determined to and did almost totally succeed in its quest to eliminate all other forms of Christianity, especially, as we shall see, Judeo-Christianity. 




Definition of the word syncretize: 1. Reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion, especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous.

2. linguistics.  This merging of two or more originally different inflectual forms.

[Greek sunkretismos, union, from sunkretizeain, to unite (in the manner of the Cretan cities)]

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content Editor Peter Benson -- no copyright, except where noted.  Please feel free to use this material for instruction and edification
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