- Written by Tim Harris
In early 2009, I began a personal Bible study regarding the practices of the early church.
At the time, I was inspired to begin this study by perceived differences between what I read in the New Testament and what I saw being practiced at the time—primarily in the church where I was meeting, but also on a broader scale.
I felt I wasn’t benefitting from our church assemblies at the time, so, from the pew, I began to use the sermon time for my private studies.
My initial focus was on what the Bible said about church meetings in the first century.
That topic didn’t take long to complete because the Bible says surprisingly little about the assemblies of the first Christians. (Download my findings here.)
At the time, I knew that there were extra-biblical Christian writings from the first few centuries. However, my focus was elsewhere, so I “filed away” a decision to return to this topic of early church practices when possible.
(The events of 2009 and Q1 2010—which I discussed in this e-book—led to our decision to begin hosting church meetings in our home.)
In 2011, I began reading the early Christian writings. I started by reading a copy of David Bercot’s fantastic book, Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up—the top book I recommend besides the Bible—which discusses differences between modern common beliefs with the views of the first Christians.
I observed that Bercot studied from Philip Schaff’s Ante-Nicene Fathers series as the source for the early Christian writings, so I got a copy. (Here’s a link to vol 1 on Kindle to vol 1 on Kindle, but you can also read the series online starting here.)
In that first volume, I read the following quote from an early Christian called Justin Martyr around 160 A.D. (while speaking with an unbelieving Jew named Trypho):
But I am far from putting reliance in your teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy [king] of the Egyptians is a correct one; and they attempt to frame another. And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders… For you assent to those which I have brought before your attention, except that you contradict the statement, ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive,’ and say it ought to be read, ‘Behold, the young woman shall conceive.’ And I promised to prove that the prophecy referred, not, as you were taught, to Hezekiah, but to this Christ of mine: and now I shall go to the proof.
Page 2 of 2