Church History Lesson 2

Constantine

At the onset of the 4th century, Constantine the Great (or Constantine I) ascended the throne. He recognized that the state could use Christianity as an ally. It was under him that the church and state came to terms. He is said to have seen a cross in the sky with the words “in this sign conquer” in Latin, just before he defeated his enemies in the battle over the Tiber river.

On the evening before the battle, so the story goes, Constantine saw a cross above the sun as it was setting in the west. In letters of light the cross bore the words: Hoc Signo Vinces, which means, “In this sign, conquer.”

The next day, October 28 in the year 312, the battle was joined. It was a furious battle. The Prae­torian Guards fought like lions. They never gave ground, but their ranks were cut down where they stood. The army of Maxentius was completely defeated. Maxentius himself, attempting to escape over the Milvian Bridge across the Tiber River, was drowned.

The Edict of Milan Grants Equality

The battle of the Milvian Bridge was one of the great decisive bat­tles in the history of the world. It made Constantine master of the entire western part of the Roman Empire. But it had another and far more important result. Con­stantine felt that he had won the battle because he had received help from the God of the Christians, and he became a Christian. He who had been a worshipper of the sun-god Mithra now embraced the religion of Him who is the true light of the world.

The Edict of Milan put a stop to the persecutions, and proclaimed absolute freedom of conscience. It placed Christianity upon a footing of equality, before the law, with the other religions in the Empire. They declared that both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires would keep a neutral position on all faiths. Constantine the Great even commissioned the construction of several grand cathedrals. For the first time in ancient Rome, Christians could openly practice their religion without fear.

The World Invades the Church

The Edict of Milan proved to have a very definite disadvantage. It was now no longer a shame, but an honor to be a Christian. The Christian name now secured many and great material advantages. The Christian name had become a passport to political, military, and social promotion. As a result, thou­sands upon thousands of heathen joined the Church.

Unfortunately many of these were Christians in name only. The Christianity of Emperor Constan­tine himself was, if not of a doubt­ful, at least not of a very high character. What the Church gained in quantity it lost in quality.

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Lesson 7

Crete

We moved into Titus, getting the background and reading the first chapter. Titus, like Timothy, was a young man, dearly loved by Paul and appointed to pastor the church in Crete. When Paul left Antioch for Jerusalem to discuss the gospel of grace (Acts 15:1f) with the leaders there, he took Titus (a Gentile) with him (Gal 2:1-3) as an example of one accepted by grace without circumcision.   The overriding theme of the epistle is:

To be God’s people in a pagan world, we who are saved

by God’s grace must engage in good deeds

under the authority of the local church.

Chapter 1 deals with the need for godly church leaders, especially their role in refuting false teachers. Chapter 2 stresses the importance of various groups in the church practicing good deeds in their daily lives as a result of salvation. Chapter 3 focuses on the church’s godly behavior in the world as a result of God’s grace. (Ligon Duncan)

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The Pastoral Letters, lesson 5

 

 

Remembering Ephesus | Lucy Dickens 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1 Timothy, chapter 5, Paul has two main themes. First, he instructs Timothy how widows are to be treated. John MacArthur gives us an understanding of the Greek word “widow”.

The English word widow describes a woman whose husband is dead. The Greek word chēra (“widow”) includes that meaning, but is not limited to it. It is an adjective used as a noun, and means “bereft,” “robbed,” “having suffered loss,” or “left alone.” The word does not speak of how a woman was left alone, it merely describes the situation. It is broad enough to encompass those who lost their husbands through death, desertion, divorce, or imprisonment. It could even encompass those cases where a polygamist came to Christ and sent away his extra wives (William Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], 105).3

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The Pastoral Letters, Lesson 4

As we continue in our study of 1 Timothy, we are constantly reminded of the great privilege of being part of a church family, especially a local church family. Paul shows us how God has provided for us, with leaders who are tested, who are required to be of good character, not perfect, but those who put service first. 

In chapter 4 Paul warns not to be surprised by false members and false teachers. There will be many who will profess belief, but will fall away, not because they lose their salvation, but because they were never believers in the first place. John explains this in his first letter.

 

1Jn 2:19  They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

In this chapter Paul is warning about a particular type of heresy which would forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods, something that is not consistent with scripture. He directs to Timothy and to all ministers: six things that have something to say to all of us. Continue reading “The Pastoral Letters, Lesson 4”