CH101 - The First Century

The Primitive Church - 30 - 100 AD
Post-Apostolic writings

There is another set of early Christian writings that show us this continued movement away from first century Judaism. These writings are referred to as "The Apostolic Fathers." Although a slightly confusing designation, these are documents written by the first generation of Christian leadership after the apostles, thus the term "fathers." These documents give us a glimpse into how the church continued to develop after the account in Acts. For this discussion I will simply pull a few examples and leave the discussion of these writings for another chapter, but the item to notice is the negative attitude directed at the Jews.

The Epistle of Barnabas
The writer of this document (Barnabas of the NT for now) adopts the basic theme of NT Hebrews - everything in the OT has been replaced by something better. Barnabas, however, has a consistent negative slant. Where Hebrews says the new covenant "is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises," Barnabas says,

Tread no more My courts, not though ye bring with you fine flour. Incense is a vain abomination unto Me, and your new moons and sabbaths I cannot endure." He has therefore abolished these things, that the new law of our Lord Jesus Christ [might exist].  - Barnabas II
Other negative comments concerned circumcision, food laws, the Temple, and the Sabbath.

The Letters of Ignatius
Ignatius brings the separation of the Gentile church from the Jerusalem/Jewish church to completion:
If any one celebrates the passover along with the Jews, or receives the emblems of their feast, he is a partaker with those that killed the Lord and His apostles.  - Phil. 14.1

Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace.
  - Mag. 8.1

Ignatius warns against a false teaching that portrays Jesus as not truly having a physical body, but that he only appeared to have a body. This is known as docetism (Greek, dokeo, which means "to appear"). It is unclear if these docetics were the Jews opposed by Ignatius, but it is possible.

The Epistle to Diognetus also speak negatively towards the Jews and Judaism:

...the Christians...disregard the world and despise death, and take no account of those who are regarded as gods by the Greeks, neither observe the superstition of the Jews... - 1:1

But again their scruples concerning meats, and their superstition relating to the sabbath and the vanity of their circumcision and the dissimulation of their fasting and new moons, I do [not] suppose you need to learn from me, are ridiculous and unworthy of any consideration. - 4:1

There will be more discussion on this set of writings, "The Apostolic Fathers," in the second century. For now we will move on in our survey of the first century.

Questions, Comments or Criticisms:
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