Our God Jesus Christ Testimonies from Early Church Fathers
By Dan Barkman
In our last few segments we saw how Jesus understood Himself to be a divine person and that the authors of the New Testament held that same conviction. But is it possible that we have misunderstood what the apostles actually believed about Jesus? Could it be that the modern church is confused as to what it was that the apostles actually taught? To answer this question we will turn to the writings of the early Church Fathers (Christian writers writing shortly after the time of the apostles) to see how they understood the apostles’ teachings on the identity of Jesus Christ.
The first Christian witness that we will look at is Clement of Rome. Clement was a leader in the church of Rome in the last decade of the 1st century. In a letter written by Clement to the church at Corinth in about 95 A.D., Clement speaks of Jesus in the same manner that He is referred to by the apostles, “On account of the Love he bore us, Jesus Christ our Lord gave His blood for us by the will of God; His flesh for our flesh, and His soul for our souls” (Clement of Rome, 1st Clement, 49). Several early sources (Oregin, Clement of Alexandria, and Irenaeus) note that Clement was a disciple of the apostles-a fact that lends support to the idea that Clement was passing on apostolic teachings in his letter.
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Ignatius of Antioch was a contemporary of the Apostle John and was a bishop of a city that had been visited by the apostles Peter and Paul (Acts 15:22; Galatians 2:11-13). So presumably, both Ignatius and his congregation were familiar with the teachings of the apostles. Ignatius wrote several letters to various churches while being transported to his execution in Rome in approximately 110 A.D. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Ignatius writes, “Let my spirit be counted as nothing for the sake of the cross, which is a stumbling-block to those that do not believe, but to us salvation and life eternal. “Where is the wise man? where the disputer?” Where is the boasting of those who are styled prudent? For our God, Jesus Christ, was, according to the appointment of God, conceived in the womb by Mary, of the seed of David, but by the Holy Ghost” (Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians, 18). In the Introduction of his letter to the church at Rome, Ignatius writes…
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