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Update: Myth of Black Athanasius
See ancient maps of "Africa". Was Athanasius an "African" bishop? We must be careful to read history AS IS rather than making history fit our modern world.

CH101 - The Second Century

The Persecuted Church, 90 - 202 A.D.

Outline:
Persecution of Roman Empire
The Apostolic Fathers
The Spirit of Martyrdom
Second Repentance
Second Century Heresies
The Apologists
New Testament Canon, Part 3
New Testament Canon, Part 4
Summary and Applications
Key People:
Clement of Rome
Ignatius of Antioch
Polycarp
Marcion
Justin Martyr
Irenaeus of Lyons
Clement of Alexandria
Tertullian
Key Documents:
1 and 2 Clement
Didache
Epistle of Barnabas
The Letters of Ignatius
Martyrdom of Polycarp
The Shepherd of Hermas

The Spirit of Martyrdom
From the time when "godly men buried Stephen" after he was executed by the Jews, martyrs were treated with great respect. Martyrs, or "confessors," were believed to have a greater degree of grace from God. There were reports (although some might be considered questionable) that miracles were performed through martyrs: bones (relics) could be used for healing, confessors sitting in prison were reported to have heavenly visions and personal audience with the risen Lord - these could offer prayers of special power, and could even grant confirmation of God's forgiveness.

By the middle of the second century pockets of the Church had followers desiring martyrdom to the point of throwing themselves in the way of Roman officials, hoping to be selected for the "perfecting" of their faith, execution. This careless attitude had become commonplace enough that Clement of Alexandria urges believers not to offer themselves to their persecutors, but to flee.

Bishops of the second century found their authority being challenged by imprisoned confessors. People were flocking to imprisoned saints seeking empowered prayer and forgiveness for sins. During times of intense persecution many believers "lapsed" into various levels of their former sinful lives, then wanted to come back to the church. Each region had its own method of repentance, which typically depending on the local bishop. When lapsed believers started approaching, and gaining forgiveness through imprisoned confessors the authority of the bishop suffered.

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1st Century | 2nd Century | 3rd Century | 4th Century | Resources | Podcasts | Survey | Site Map
Second Century Church History
Second Century Church History
Roman Persecution of Christians
Early Church Martyrs - Roman Empire
Second Repentance - Hermas, Tertullian
Apostolic Fathers - Justin, Ignatius, Barnabas
1 Clement, Didache, Barnabas, Ignatius, Polycarp
Second Century Christians and Heresies
Heresies: Docetism, Marcion, Montanus
Gnosticism - Nag Hammadi Texts
Intro to Gnostic Writings
Gnostic Writings - Nag Hammadi
New Testament Canon - NT Canon
Apostolic Fathers and Heresies
Early Church Heresies
Second Century Christian Apologists
Irenaeus Tertullian Justin Martyr
Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria,
Questions 2nd Century Church History
How the NT was Formed
New Testament Canon, Canonized
Questions regarding Christian Issues
Early Church Heresies
First Century Persecution
1st Century Persecution of Christians
Gnosticism in the 1st Century Early Church
Early Church History of Galations
Early Christianity War and Conflict
Early Christianity Constantine and War
Important Issues in Early Christianity