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EVANGELISM IN THE FIRST CENTURY
- Definition of evangelism: spreading the good news
- 30—Pentecost, 200 – end of century of intense persecution. Will begin with Acts/NT, then move into 2nd C.
- Matthew 28: Every people, not every nation (in the modern sense of the term)
- Mission & purpose (Luke 10:20; Matthew 22:37-40).
- I have 2 impressions on reading Acts: (1) evangelism was not particularly organized, yet (2) it was vibrant.
- Natural: Acts 2 – root (v.42) v. fruit (vv.43-47). Acts 8 – word preached publicly by principal leaders, privately by others. Acts 2:47, 4:4 – little interest in counting. Acts 21 – yet terrific growth (myriads = tens of thousands?)
- Vibrant: Acts 4, 5 – couldn’t help speaking! Acts 8 – Spirit working with them, coincidence of Isaiah 53.
Beyond Acts (outside Bible lands)
- India (Thomas), 52 AD+
- Syria-Persia-China (Thaddaeus and Church of the East)
- Britain (some archaeological evidence)
- Spain (Paul, Romans 15: see Isaiah 66)
Further considerations: Challenges
- False teachers (Judaizers, Docetists [Gnostics])
- Slander (cannibalism, incest, lawbreaking)
- Countercultural – yet this also made evangelism more clear-cut, since Christianity clearly stood out as an alternative lifestyle.
Further considerations: What helped them
- Counter-cultural (adopted children, sold themselves into slaver, bribed prison guards, forgave enemies...)
- Homes as centers of evangelism. First church buildings about 230 AD. Hospitality – essential for overseers, since presumably they headed up the groups that met in their homes.
- Preached a person, not a system (2 Corinthians 4:5)
Next podcast: Part II of Evangelism in the Early Church, 30-200 AD, which covers the 2nd century.