A Short History of the Early Church

A Short History of the Early Church

A Short History of the Early Church

A Short History of the Early Church


For readers who want a brief yet reliable introduction to the history of the early church as well as for those who are looking for a quick review of the period, this volume furnishes a concise overview of the key events, figures, controversies, and councils essential for a proper understanding of the first seven centuries of the Christian church.

Harry R. Boer provides background on the world into which the church was born, surveys the life of the church from the ministry of Jesus until 600 A.D., examines the effects of persecution and heresy on the church, explains the role of several key church leaders, and focuses specifically on the church's ongoing struggle to formulate proper doctrines of the Trinity and of Christ. Each chapter is clearly outlined and concludes with several discussion questions that enhance the book's use as a study guide for church groups or as a text in courses on early church history.


The Christian church was born in a world that was already old. Great empires had risen and fallen. The glories of Egypt, Sumer, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, and Greece lay centuries in the past. Now it was Rome, the greatest of the ancient empires, that governed the civilized world. It was almost exclusively in that empire that the Christian church lived the first five centuries of its life. Before beginning a discussion of the history of the church, it is important to note briefly the main characteristics of the world in which it developed. In doing so, mention should be made of the Roman Empire, the Jewish background of the church, the influence of Greek thought, and the various kinds of religion that Christianity found in its environment.


The Christian church was born in the Roman Empire. This great and powerful commonwealth stretched from England to Persia and from the Sahara to northwestern Germany. The Mediterranean Sea was not then, as it is now, a sea touching the shores of many nations. It was rather a great inland waterway uniting the many provinces of the empire that surrounded it on all sides. Hundreds of tribes lived within Rome's borders, and nations with a history far longer than that of Rome were under its control. The center of the empire was the city of Rome, and in Rome all the power of government was in the hands of the emperor.

1. Growth

At the birth of Jesus, Rome was about seven hundred and fifty years old. It had been founded as a small village on the banks of the Tiber River in western Italy. It grew to become a town, a city, and a small state. By means of wars and treaties with neighboring states, it continued to expand.

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