Chapter 1.
The Start of the Christian Church

From Jesus Christ to Clement of Rome
ad 30-100

Important dates in the start of the Christian Church

33 Death and resurrection of Jesus Christ

33 Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost

33-65 The Acts of the Apostles recounts the story and expansion of the Christian church from its birth in Jerusalem, through the empire, all the way to Rome

39 Cornelius, the Gentile, converted by the apostle Peter, signalling the expansion of the Church to the world outside Judaism

42 Persecution of Christians in Palestine under Herod Agrippa

44 Many Christians flee persecution to Antioch; beginning of dispersion of Church; called Christians for the first time; Peter imprisoned

45 Paul the Apostle begins his missionary journeys

49/50 Council of Jerusalem

62 Martyrdom of James the Less

64 Persecution by Nero begins

68 Martyrdom of Peter and Paul

70 Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

95 Persecution by Domitian

100 Death of the apostle John


The first chapter in the two thousand year long story of Christian history covers the period from the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost to the end of the first century.

Many of these events are recorded by the meticulously accurate historian, Dr Luke, in his New Testament book of Acts (Acts of the Apostles). Important events recorded in Acts:

The Jewish response to the Christian message

Non-Jews respond to Christianity

The first Christians face opposition

The martyrdom of Stephen

The conversion of Paul

The spread of the Gospel: from Jerusalem to Rome

Important events recorded outside the New Testament:

The Romans sack Jerusalem, ad 70

Christians persecuted by Emperor Nero

Christians persecuted by Emperor Domitian


Important events in the early church

The writing of the New Testament

The spread of Christianity

Persecution of Christians


Christian leaders in the early church

Peter (?-c. 65)

Paul (c. l-?65)

John (?-c. 100/101)


An historians' overview of the early church

The Miracle of Pentecost and the Birthday of the Christian Church. ad 30

Acts 2:4

"The first Pentecost which the disciples celebrated after the ascension of our Savior, is, next to the appearance of the Son of God on earth, the most significant event. It is the starting-point of the apostolic church and of that new spiritual life in humanity which proceeded from Him, and which since has been spreading and working, and will continue to work until the whole humanity is transformed into the image of Christ."—Neander (Geschichte der Pflanzung und Leitung der christlichen Kirche durch die Apostel., I. 3,4).

The ascension of Christ to heaven was followed ten days afterwards by the descent of the Holy Spirit upon earth and the birth of the Christian Church. The Pentecostal event was the necessary result of the Passover event. It could never have taken place without the preceding resurrection and ascension. It was the first act of the mediatorial reign of the exalted Redeemer in heaven, and the beginning of an unbroken series of manifestations in fulfillment of his promise to be with his people "always, even unto the end of the world." For his ascension was only a withdrawal of his visible local presence, and the beginning of his spiritual omnipresence in the church which is "his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all." The Easter miracle and the Pentecostal miracle are continued and verified by the daily moral miracles of regeneration and sanctification throughout Christendom.

We have but one authentic account of that epoch-making event, in the second chapter of Acts, but in the parting addresses of our Lord to his disciples the promise of the Paraclete who should lead them into the whole truth is very prominent, John 14:6, 26; 15:26; 16:7. The preparatory communication of the Spirit is related in John 20:22. and the entire history of the apostolic church is illuminated and heated by the Pentecostal fire. Comp. especially the classical chapters on the gifts of the Spirit, 1 Cor. 12, 13, and 14, and Rom. 12.

Pentecost was the fiftieth day after the Passover-Sabbath....It was one of the three great annual festivals of the Jews in which all the males were required to appear before the Lord. Passover was the first, and the feast of Tabernacles the third. Pentecost lasted one day, but the foreign Jews, after the period of the captivity, prolonged it to two days. It was the "feast of harvest," or "of the first fruits," and also (according to rabbinical tradition) the anniversary celebration of the Sinaitic legislation, which is supposed to have taken place on the fiftieth day after the Exodus from the land of bondage....

This festival was admirably adapted for the opening event in the history of the apostolic church. It pointed typically to the first Christian harvest, and the establishment of the new theocracy in Christ; as the sacrifice of the paschal lamb and the exodus from Egypt foreshadowed the redemption of the world by the crucifixion of the Lamb of God. On no other day could the effusion of the Spirit of the exalted Redeemer produce such rich results and become at once so widely known. We may trace to this day not only the origin of the mother church at Jerusalem, but also the conversion of visitors from other cities, as Damascus, Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome, who on their return would carry the glad tidings to their distant homes. For the strangers enumerated by Luke as witnesses of the great event, represented nearly all the countries in which Christianity was planted by the labors of the apostles. The list of nations, Acts 2:8-11, gives a bird's eye view of the Roman empire from the East and North southward and westward as far as Rome, and then again eastward to Arabia. Cyprus and Greece are omitted. There were Christians in Damascus before the conversion of Paul (9:2), and a large congregation at Rome long before he wrote his Epistle (Rom. 1:8).

The Pentecost in the year of the Resurrection was the last Jewish (i.e. typical) and the first Christian Pentecost. It became the spiritual harvest feast of redemption from sin, and the birthday of the visible kingdom of Christ on earth. It marks the beginning of the dispensation of the Spirit, the third era in the history of the revelation of the triune God. On this day the Holy Spirit, who had hitherto wrought only sporadically and transiently, took up his permanent abode in mankind as the Spirit of truth and holiness, with the fullness of saving grace, to apply that grace thenceforth to believers, and to reveal and glorify Christ in their hearts, as Christ had revealed and glorified the Father....

The Sinaitic legislation was accompanied by "thunder and lightning, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, and all the people that was in the camp trembled." Exod. 19:16; comp. Hebr. 12:18, 19. The church of the new covenant war, ushered into existence with startling signs which filled the spectators with wonder and fear. It is quite natural, as Neander remarks, that "the greatest miracle in the inner life of mankind should have been accompanied by extraordinary outward phenomena as sensible indications of its presence."

There came a supernatural sound resembling that of a rushing mighty wind. It came down from heaven and filled the whole house in which they were assembled; and tongues like flames of fire, distributed themselves among them, alighting for a while on each head.... It is not said that these phenomena were really wind and fire, they are only compared to these elements. John Lightfoot writes: "as the form which the Holy Spirit assumed at the baptism of Christ is compared to a dove."... These audible and visible signs were appropriate symbols of the purifying, enlightening, and quickening power of the Divine Spirit, and announced a new spiritual creation. The form of tongues referred to the glossolalia, and the apostolic eloquence as a gift of inspiration.

"And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." This is the real inward miracle, the main fact, the central idea of the Pentecostal narrative. To the apostles it was their baptism, confirmation, and ordination, all in one, for they received no other. They were baptized with water by John; but Christian baptism was first administered by them on the day of Pentecost. Christ himself did not baptize, John 4:2. To them it was the great inspiration which enabled them hereafter to be authoritative teachers of the gospel by tongue and pen. Not that it superseded subsequent growth in knowledge, or special revelations on particular points (as Peter received at Joppa, and Paul on several occasions); but they were endowed with such an understanding of Christ's words and plan of salvation as they never had before. What was dark and mysterious became now clear and full of meaning to them. The Spirit revealed to them the person and work of the Redeemer in the light of his resurrection and exaltation, and took full possession of their mind and heart. They were raised, as it were, to the mount of transfiguration, and saw Moses and Elijah and Jesus above them, face to face, swimming in heavenly light.

They had now but one desire to gratify, but one object to live for, namely, to be witnesses of Christ and instruments of the salvation of their fellow-men, that they too might become partakers of their "inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven." 1 Pet. 1:3,4.

But the communication of the Holy Spirit was not confined to the Twelve. It extended to the brethren of the Lord, the mother of Jesus, the pious women who had attended his ministry, and the whole brotherhood of a hundred and twenty souls who were assembled in that chamber. Comp. Acts 1:13, 14. They were "all" filled with the Spirit, and all spoke with tongues; Acts 2:3: "it (a tongue of fire) sat upon each of them." and Peter saw in the event the promised outpouring of the Spirit upon "all flesh," sons and daughters, young men and old men, servants and handmaidens. Acts 2:3, 4, 17, 18.

It is characteristic that in this spring season of the church the women were sitting with the men, not in a separate court as in the temple, nor divided by a partition as in the synagogue and the decayed churches of the East to this day, but in the same room as equal sharers in the spiritual blessings. The beginning was a prophetic anticipation of the end, and a manifestation of the universal priesthood and brotherhood of believers in Christ, in whom all are one, whether Jew or Greek, bond or free, male or female. Gal. 3:28.

This new spiritual life, illuminated, controlled, and directed by the Holy Spirit, manifested itself first in the speaking with tongues towards God, and then in the prophetic testimony towards the people. The former consisted of rapturous prayers and anthems of praise, the latter of sober teaching and exhortation. From the Mount of Transfiguration the disciples, like their Master, descended to the valley below to heal the sick and to call sinners to repentance.

Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church,

Volume I: Apostolic Christianity. ad 1-100


It is easy to observe from a glance at the following outline of the book of Acts how Dr Luke pictures the expansion of Christianity, from being a handful of people in Jerusalem, to its arrival in the city of Rome.

Outline of Acts

  1. Preaching the Gospel "in Jerusalem" and Judea.
    1. Preparation for the work (1:1-26).
    2. Events of Pentecost (2:1-47).
    3. The Church unfolding in miracle and endurance of persecution (3:1-4:37).
    4. The Church unfolding in penal power (5:1-16).
    5. The Church in the second persecution (5:17-42).
    6. The Church forming its economy (6:1-8).
    7. The Church in last struggle and dispersion (6:8-8:4).
  2. Preaching the Gospel "in Samaria" and about Palestine.
    1. The deacon Philip evangelizes Samaria (8:5-25).
    2. The new Apostle of the Gentiles called (9:1-30).
    3. Gentile induction; new Christian center, Gentile Antioch (10:1-11:30).
    4. Desolation of Jerusalem Church by Herod; its avenging (12:1-25).
  3. Preaching the Gospel "in the Uttermost Parts of the Earth".
    1. Paul's first mission from Antioch (13:1-14:28).
    2. Jerusalem Council on Circumcision (15:1-34).
    3. Paul's second mission from Antioch (15:35-18:23).
    4. Paul's third mission from Antioch (18:23-21:17).
    5. Paul in council with James—Arrest—Sent to Caesarea (21:18- 23:35).
    6. Paul's two years at Caesarea (24:1-26:32).
    7. Paul en route for Rome; at Rome (27:1-28:31).

The first expansion (Acts 6-9)

The first century of the Christian Church was characterized by its expansion into the world known at that time.

Early on in the history of the Christian Church the Gospel message is no longer confined to Jerusalem. Soon Jews from Greece joined the Aramaic Jews. The apostles appointed seven men to take care of the Hellenists. Thus the new community of Jews included those from the Diaspora; i.e., those who lived outside the limits of Palestine.

The second expansion (Acts 10-11)

The question soon arose: "Did you need to be a Jew to be Jesus' disciple?" The highly significant story of the conversion of Cornelius and his household answers this question. Through a vision Peter realized that the gospel was for everyone. He saw the Holy Spirit come upon the Roman Centurion Cornelius, who was not a Jew, and he welcomed him into the church without embracing Judaism.

Called "Christians" for the first time

In Antioch the disciples of Christ were first given the name Christians. From then on this would be the name that separated them from other religious groups.

"... and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." Acts 11:26 NIV

Antioch became the starting block for evangelization of the Roman Empire.

Perversions of the apostolic teaching


The heresies of the apostolic age are caricatures of the several types of the true doctrine.

The three fundamental forms of heresy were:

There heresies reappear, with various modifications, in almost every subsequent era of Christian history

1. The Judaizers

The Judaizing tendency is the heretical counterpart of Jewish Christianity. It so insists on the unity of Christianity with Judaism, as to sink the former to the level of the latter, and to make the gospel no more than an improvement or a perfected law. It regards Christ as a mere prophet, a second Moses; and denies, or at least wholly overlooks, his divine nature and his priestly and kingly offices.

The Judaizers were Jews in fact, and Christians only in appearance and in name. They held circumcision and the whole moral and ceremonial law of Moses to be still binding, and the observance of them necessary to salvation. Of Christianity as a new, free, and universal religion, they had no conception. Hence they hated Paul, the liberal apostle of the Gentiles, as a dangerous apostate and revolutionist, impugned his motives, and everywhere, especially in Galatia and Corinth, labored to undermine his authority in the churches. The epistles of Paul, especially that to the Galatians, can never be properly understood, unless their opposition to this false Judaizing Christianity be continually kept in view.

The same heresy, more fully developed, appears in the second century under the name of Ebionism.

Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church,

Volume I: Apostolic Christianity. ad 1-100

Jerusalem Council, ad 49

The problem of the Judaizers is discussed under the leadership of the Apostles in Jerusalem, Acts 15:6,12.

James, Simon Peter, Barnabas and Paul all speak and come to an agreement that Gentiles as well as Jews are free from the Jewish ceremonial law.

However they must be sensitive to their Jewish Christians and stop eating food sacrificed to idols. Leviticus 17:10-14; 19:26; 1 Corinthians 8:7-13

The issue of sexual immorality was also raised because this was a problem with many Greeks.

Thus the first Church council set out the practical outworking of relations between Jewish and Greek Christians. The Jews were cautioned against legalism while the Gentiles were cautioned against immorality. Compassion and sensitivity were set over against legalism and hedonism. A letter and two personal witnesses in the person of Judas and Silas are sent back to Antioch to calm the Church there. Acts 15:22-29. The letter sent from the Jerusalem Council follows:

22Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, two men who were leaders among the brothers. 23With them they sent the following letter: The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. 24We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. 25So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul—26Men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. 28It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: 29You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.
Acts 15:22-29 NIV

2. The Gnostic heresy

The opposite extreme to the Judaizers is a false Gentile Christianity, which may be called the Paganizing or Gnostic heresy. It is as radical and revolutionary as the other is contracted and reactionary. It violently breaks away from the past, while the Judaizing heresies tenaciously and stubbornly cling to it as permanently binding.

It exaggerates the Pauline view of the distinction of Christianity from Judaism, sunders Christianity from its historical basis, resolves the real humanity of the Savior into a Doketistic illusion, and perverts the freedom of the gospel into antinomian licentiousness.

Note on Docetism

Docetism taught that Jesus only appeared to have a body, that he was not really incarnate. The word "docetism" comes from the Greek, word dokeo when means "to seem".

This error developed out of the dualistic philosophy which viewed matter as inherently evil. This heresy taught that God could not be associated with matter, and that God, being perfect and infinite, could not suffer. Therefore, God as the word, could not have become flesh as is stated in John 1:1,14, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" (NASB).

This denial of a true incarnation meant that Jesus did not truly suffer on the cross and that He did not rise from the dead.

The basic principle of Docetism was refuted by the Apostle John in 1 John 4:2-3. "By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world." John also wrote in 2 John 7, "For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist."

The second and third century Christian writers, Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus, and Hippolatus all wrote against this heresy.

Docetism was condemned at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

The author, or first representative of this Gnostic heresy, this baptized heathenism, according to the uniform testimony of Christian antiquity, is Simon Magus, who unquestionably adulterated Christianity with pagan ideas and practices, and gave himself out, in pantheistic style, for an emanation of God.

Plain traces of this error appear in the later epistles of Paul (to the Colossians, to Timothy, and to Titus), the second epistle of Peter, the first two epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the messages of the Apocalypse to the seven churches.

This heresy, in the second century, spread over the whole church, east and west, in the various schools of Gnosticism.

3. Syncretism

As attempts had already been made, before Christ, by Philo, by the Therapeutae and the Essenes, etc., to blend the Jewish religion with heathen philosophy, especially that of Pythagoras and Plato, so now, under the Christian name, there appeared confused combinations of these opposite systems, forming either a Paganizing Judaism, i.e., Gnostic Ebionism, or a Judaizing Paganism i.e., Ebionistic Gnosticism, according as the Jewish or the heathen element prevailed.

This Syncretistic heresy was the caricature of John's theology, which truly reconciled Jewish and Gentile Christianity in the highest conception of the person and work of Christ. The errors combated in the later books of the New Testament are almost all more or less of this mixed sort, and it is often doubtful whether they come from Judaism or from heathenism. They were usually shrouded in a shadowy mysticism and surrounded by the halo of a self-made ascetic holiness, but sometimes degenerated into the opposite extreme of antinomian licentiousness.


Whatever their differences, however, all these three fundamental heresies amount at last to a more or less distinct denial of the central truth of the gospel—the incarnation of the Son of God for the salvation of the world. They make Christ either a mere man, or a mere superhuman phantom; they allow, at all events, no real and abiding union of the divine and human in the person of the Redeemer. This is just what John gives as the mark of antichrist, which existed even in his day in various forms. It plainly undermines the foundation of the church. For if Christ be not God-man, neither is he mediator between God and men; Christianity sinks back into heathenism or Judaism. All turns at last on the answer to that fundamental question: "What think ye of Christ?" The true solution of this question is the radical refutation of every error.

Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church,

Volume I: Apostolic Christianity. ad 1-100

A universal message

As a result of the Council of Jerusalem, it became apparent to the apostles that the Christian faith was no longer tied to Judaism. No one had to be uprooted from their culture to receive the gospel. The early Christians now realized that the Christian message was a global message for the whole world.

Expansion under Paul

Paul carefully planned and led three extensive missionary tours in his quest to spread the

Christian message and to strengthen new believers.

Paul's fourth journey led him back to Jerusalem to give James a collection for the church. In order to prove his faithfulness to Jewish traditions he showed himself in the temple and caused a riot and he was arrested. After two years in prison in Caesarea he appealed to the Roman Emperor and was sent to Rome to serve two more years in prison under house arrest where he preached about the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ quite openly. (Acts 28:30-31)

Dr Luke ends his history of the early church with this scene of the most famous missionary-theologian spreading the message of the Christian faith in the capital of the known world—Rome.

The record of expansion in Acts

The two main leaders of the expansion of the Church in Acts were Peter and Paul.

Barnabas and Silas accompanied Paul, and Mark the Evangelist was a disciple of Peter, while Luke the evangelist was a disciple of Paul. Acts

Timothy and Titus were the leaders in Ephesus and Crete, 1 Timothy, Titus. Stephen's preaching cost him his life. Phillip preached in Samaria (Acts 8:5).

The record of expansion according to tradition

While the record of the expansion of Christianity is totally trustworthy, the record of the preaching activities of the early Christians, according to tradition, is often uncertain.

According to tradition:

The formation of the Christian scriptures

The words and sayings of Jesus are collected and preserved. By the end of the first century the New Testament books are completed.

The twenty-seven New Testament books are:

Historical Books






Thirteen letters written by Paul


1 Corinthians

2 Corinthians





1 Thessalonians

2 Thessalonians

1 Timothy

2 Timothy



Letters not written by Paul



1 Peter

2 Peter

1 John

2 John

3 John



The fall of Jerusalem

When the Jews revolted against Roman authority, which resulted in the sacking of Jerusalem in ad 70 Christians do not join in. Rather, they relocated to Pella in Jordan.


The Christians in the early church endured severe persecutions from the Roman emperors. Some of them may have taken refuge in the underground Catacombs in Rome.

Catacombs of Rome

The Catacombs of Rome are ancient Jewish and Christian underground burial places near Rome, Italy. Christians revived the practice because they did not want to cremate their dead due to their belief in bodily resurrection. Hence they began to bury their dead, first in simple graves and sometimes in burial vaults of pro-Christian patricians.

The first large-scale catacombs were excavated from the 2nd century onwards. Originally they were carved through soft rock outside the boundaries of the city, because Roman law forbade burial places within city limits. At first they were used both for burial and the memorial services and celebrations of the anniversaries of Christian martyrs (following similar Roman customs).

There are forty known subterranean burial chambers in Rome. They were built along Roman roads, like the Via Appia, the Via Ostiense, the Via Labicana, the Via Tiburtina, and the Via Nomentana. Names of the catacombs—like St Calixtus and St Sebastian alongside Via Appia—refer to martyrs that might be buried there.


Dreadful persecutions of Christians were inflicted by the Roman Emperor Nero. He blamed Christians for a devastating fire that ravaged the city in ad 64. He used Christians as human torches to illuminate his gardens.

Nero's persecution of Christians

Nero, Claudius Caesar, was emperor from Oct. 13, 54, to June 9, ad 68. During his early reign Christianity was unmolested and seems to have spread rapidly at Rome. No doubt it received a great impetus from the preaching of St. Paul during the two years after his arrival, probably early in 61. But before long a terrible storm was to burst on the infant church.

Fires in Rome

On the night of July 16, ad 64, a fire broke out in the valley between the Palatine and the Aventine. That part of the city was crowded with humble dwellings and shops full of inflammable contents. The lower parts of the city became a sea of flame. For six days the fire raged till it reached the foot of the Esquiline, where it was stopped by pulling down a number of houses.

Soon after a second fire broke out in the gardens of Tigellinus near the Pincian, and raged for three days in the northern parts of the city. Though the loss of life was less in the second fire, the destruction of temples and public buildings was more serious. By the two fires three of the 14 regions were utterly destroyed, four escaped entirely, in the remaining seven but few houses were left standing.

Nero was at Antium when the fire broke out, and did not return to Rome till it had almost reached the vast edifice he had constructed to connect his palace on the Palatine with the gardens of Maecenas on the Esquiline.

The horrible suspicion that Nero himself was the author of the fire gained strength. Whether well founded or not, and whether, supposing it is true, the emperor's motive was to clear away the crooked, narrow streets of the old town in order to rebuild it on a new and regular plan, or whether it was a freak of madness, need not be discussed here. At any rate Nero found it necessary to divert from himself the rage of the people and put the blame upon the Christians.

Tacitus's account

The only author living near the time of the persecution who gives an account of it is Tacitus.

After describing the origin of Christianity he proceeds:

"...neither human resources, nor imperial generosity, nor appeasement of the gods, eliminated the sinister suspicion that the fire had been deliberately started. To stop the rumor, Nero, made scapegoats—and punished with every refinement the notoriously depraved Christians (as they were popularly called). Their originator, Christ, had been executed in Tiberius' reign by the Procurator of Judaea, Pontius Pilatus (governor from 26 to 36 ad). But in spite of this temporary setback, the deadly superstition had broken out again, not just in Judaea (where the mischief had started) but even in Rome.

First were arrested those who confessed, then on their information a vast multitude was convicted, not so much on the charge of arson as for their hatred of the human race. Their deaths were made more cruel by the mockery that accompanied them. Some were covered with the skins of wild beasts and torn to pieces by dogs; others perished on the cross or in the flames; and others again were burnt after sunset as torches to light up the darkness. Nero himself granted his gardens (on the Vatican) for the show, and gave an exhibition in the circus, and, dressed as a charioteer, mixed with the people or drove his chariot himself. Thus, guilty and deserving the severest punishment as they were, yet they were pitied, as they seemed to be put to death, not for the benefit of the state but to gratify the cruelty of an individual.

Tacitus, The Annals of Imperial Rome, Book XV, chapter 47 (ad 64)

Henry Wace (1836-1924), Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century ad, with an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies

Foxe's Book of Martyrs

John Foxe opens his famous book with a chapter recording the martyrdoms of Stephen, most of the twelve apostles and other early Christians.

His second chapter is entitled, "The ten primitive persecutions." The first of these is devoted to those who died under the persecution of Nero. The second of these "primitive persecutions" gives details of those martyred during Emperor Domitian's reign. Domitian demanded that everyone, including Christians, should worship him as "Lord and God."

Early persecutions in Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Chapter 1

History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions

Under Nero

1. St. Stephen

St. Stephen's death was occasioned by the faithful manner in which he preached the Gospel to the betrayers and murderers of Christ. To such a degree of madness were they excited, that they cast him out of the city and stoned him to death. The time when he suffered is generally supposed to have been at the Passover which succeeded to that of our Lord's crucifixion, and to the era of his ascension, in the following spring.

Upon this a great persecution was raised against all who professed their belief in Christ as the Messiah, or as a prophet. We are immediately told by St. Luke, that "there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem;" and that "they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."

About two thousand Christians, with Nicanor, one of the seven deacons, suffered martyrdom during the "persecution that arose about Stephen."

2. James the Great

The next martyr we meet with, according to St. Luke, in the History of the Apostles' Acts, was James the son of Zebedee, the elder brother of John, and a relative of our Lord; for his mother Salome was cousin-german to the Virgin Mary. It was not until ten years after the death of Stephen that the second martyrdom took place; for no sooner had Herod Agrippa been appointed governor of Judea, than, with a view to ingratiate himself with them, he raised a sharp persecution against the Christians, and determined to make an effectual blow, by striking at their leaders. The account given us by an eminent primitive writer, Clemens Alexandrinus, ought not to be overlooked; that, as James was led to the place of martyrdom, his accuser was brought to repent of his conduct by the apostle's extraordinary courage and undauntedness, and fell down at his feet to request his pardon, professing himself a Christian, and resolving that James should not receive the crown of martyrdom alone. Hence they were both beheaded at the same time. Thus did the first apostolic martyr cheerfully and resolutely receive that cup, which he had told our Savior he was ready to drink. Timon and Parmenas suffered martyrdom about the same time; the one at Philippi, and the other in Macedonia. These events took place ad 44.

3. Philip

Was born at Bethsaida, in Galilee and was first called by the name of "disciple." He labored diligently in Upper Asia, and suffered martyrdom at Heliopolis, in Phrygia. He was scourged, thrown into prison, and afterwards crucified, ad 54.

4. Matthew

Whose occupation was that of a toll-gatherer, was born at Nazareth. He wrote his gospel in Hebrew, which was afterwards translated into Greek by James the Less. The scene of his labors was Parthia, and Ethiopia, in which latter country he suffered martyrdom, being slain with a halberd in the city of Nadabah, 60 ad.

5. James the Less

Is supposed by some to have been the brother of our Lord, by a former wife of Joseph. This is very doubtful, and accords too much with the Catholic superstition, that Mary never had any other children except our Savior. He was elected to the oversight of the churches of Jerusalem; and was the author of the Epistle ascribed to James in the sacred canon. At the age of ninety-four he was beaten and stoned by the Jews; and finally had his brains dashed out with a fuller's club.

6. Matthias

Of whom less is known than of most of the other disciples, was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.

7. Andrew

Was the brother of Peter. He preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations; but on his arrival at Edessa he was taken and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground. Hence the derivation of the term, St. Andrew's Cross.

8. St. Mark

Was born of Jewish parents of the tribe of Levi. He is supposed to have been converted to Christianity by Peter, whom he served as an amanuensis, and under whose inspection he wrote his Gospel in the Greek language. Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria, at the great solemnity of Serapis their idol, ending his life under their merciless hands.

9. Peter

Among many other saints, the blessed apostle Peter was condemned to death, and crucified, as some do write, at Rome; albeit some others, and not without cause, do doubt thereof. Hegesippus saith that Nero sought matter against Peter to put him to death; which, when the people perceived, they entreated Peter with much ado that he would fly the city. Peter, through their importunity at length persuaded, prepared himself to avoid. But, coming to the gate, he saw the Lord Christ come to meet him, to whom he, worshipping, said, "Lord, whither dost Thou go?" To whom He answered and said, "I am come again to be crucified." By this, Peter, perceiving his suffering to be understood, returned into the city. Jerome saith that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.

10. Paul

Paul, the apostle, who before was called Saul, after his great travail and unspeakable labors in promoting the Gospel of Christ, suffered also in this first persecution under Nero. Abdias, declareth that under his execution Nero sent two of his esquires, Ferega and Parthemius, to bring him word of his death. They, coming to Paul instructing the people, desired him to pray for them, that they might believe; who told them that shortly after they should believe and be baptized at His sepulcher. This done, the soldiers came and led him out of the city to the place of execution, where he, after his prayers made, gave his neck to the sword.

11. Jude

The brother of James, was commonly called Thaddeus. He was crucified at Edessa, ad 72.

12. Bartholomew

Preached in several countries, and having translated the Gospel of Matthew into the language of India, he propagated it in that country. He was at length cruelly beaten and then crucified by the impatient idolaters.

13. Thomas

Called Didymus, preached the Gospel in Parthia and India, where exciting the rage of the pagan priests, he was martyred by being thrust through with a spear.

14. Luke

The evangelist, was the author of the Gospel which goes under his name. He traveled with Paul through various countries, and is supposed to have been hanged on an olive tree, by the idolatrous priests of Greece.

15. Simon

Surnamed Zelotes, preached the Gospel in Mauritania, Africa, and even in Britain, in which latter country he was crucified, ad 74.

16. John

The "beloved disciple," was brother to James the Great. The churches of Smyrna, Pergamos, Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea, and Thyatira, were founded by him. From Ephesus he was ordered to be sent to Rome, where it is affirmed he was cast into a cauldron of boiling oil. He escaped by miracle, without injury. Domitian afterwards banished him to the Isle of Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. Nerva, the successor of Domitian, recalled him. He was the only apostle who escaped a violent death.

17. Barnabas

Was of Cyprus, but of Jewish descent, his death is supposed to have taken place about ad 61-63.

And yet, notwithstanding all these continual persecutions and horrible punishments, the Church daily increased, deeply rooted in the doctrine of the apostles and of men apostolical, and watered plenteously with the blood of saints.

Chapter 2

The Ten Primitive Persecutions

The First Persecution, Under Nero, ad 67

The first persecution of the Church took place in the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome. This monarch reigned for the space of five years, with tolerable credit to himself, but then gave way to the greatest extravagancy of temper, and to the most atrocious barbarities. Among other diabolical whims, he ordered that the city of Rome should be set on fire, which order was executed by his officers, guards, and servants. While the imperial city was in flames, he went up to the tower of Macaenas, played upon his harp, sung the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared that 'he wished the ruin of all things before his death.' Besides the noble pile, called the Circus, many other palaces and houses were consumed; several thousands perished in the flames, were smothered in the smoke, or buried beneath the ruins.

This dreadful conflagration continued nine days; when Nero, finding that his conduct was greatly blamed, and a severe odium cast upon him, determined to lay the whole upon the Christians, at once to excuse himself, and have an opportunity of glutting his sight with new cruelties. This was the occasion of the first persecution; and the barbarities exercised on the Christians were such as even excited the commiseration of the Romans themselves. Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that the most infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs until they expired; and others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them. This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred.

To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesians, converted by St Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy.

The Second Persecution, Under Domitian, ad 81

The emperor Domitian, who was naturally inclined to cruelty, first slew his brother, and then raised the second persecution against the Christians. In his rage he put to death some of the Roman senators, some through malice; and others to confiscate their estates. He then commanded all the lineage of David be put to death.

Among the numerous martyrs that suffered during this persecution was:

Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified; and

St. John, who was boiled in oil, and afterward banished to Patmos.

Flavia, the daughter of a Roman senator, was likewise banished to Pontus; and a law was made, "That no Christian, once brought before the tribunal, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing his religion."

A variety of fabricated tales were, during this reign, composed in order to injure the Christians. Such was the infatuation of the pagans, that, if famine, pestilence, or earthquakes afflicted any of the Roman provinces, it was laid upon the Christians. These persecutions among the Christians increased the number of informers and many, for the sake of gain, swore away the lives of the innocent.

Another hardship was, that, when any Christians were brought before the magistrates, a test oath was proposed, when, if they refused to take it, death was pronounced against them; and if they confessed themselves Christians, the sentence was the same.

The following were the most remarkable among the numerous martyrs who suffered during this persecution.

Dionysius, the Areopagite, was an Athenian by birth, and educated in all the useful and ornamental literature of Greece. He then traveled to Egypt to study astronomy, and made very particular observations on the great and supernatural eclipse, which happened at the time of our Savior's crucifixion.

The sanctity of his conversation and the purity of his manners recommended him so strongly to the Christians in general, that he was appointed bishop of Athens.

Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome during the rage of Domitian's persecution.

Protasius and Gervasius were martyred at Milan.

Timothy was the celebrated disciple of St. Paul, and bishop of Ephesus, where he zealously governed the Church until ad 97. At this period, as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later.

John Foxe, Book of Martyrs, edited by Forbush, William Byron, 1868-1927


Peter (?-c. 65)

Paul (c. l-?65)

John (?-c. 100/101)



ad ?-c. 65

Famous for being

The impetuous, courageous follower of Jesus and first leader of the apostolic church

Important writings

Two New Testament letters, 1 Peter and 2 Peter

One of his quotations

"Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death."

Luke 22:33 NIV

The Chief of the Apostles was a native of Galilee like Our Lord. As he was fishing on its large lake he was called by Our Lord to be one of His apostles. Peter was poor and unlearned, but candid, eager, and loving. In his heart, first of all, his conviction grew, and then from his lips came the spontaneous confession: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Our Lord chose him and prepared him to be the Rock on which He would build His Church, His Vicar on earth, the Head and Prince of His Apostles, the center and indispensable bond of the Church's unity, the unique channel of all spiritual powers, the guardian and unerring teacher of His truth.

All Scripture is alive with Saint Peter; his name appears no fewer than 160 times in the New Testament. But it is after Pentecost that he stands out in the full grandeur of his office. He sees to the replacement of the fallen disciple; he admits the Jews by thousands into the fold and in the person of Cornelius, opens it to the Gentiles; he founds and for a time rules the Church at Antioch.

J. Dominguez, M.D.



c. ad 1-?65

Famous for being

Apostle, missionary, teacher of the Christian faith

Important writing

Paul wrote thirteen letters in the New Testament.

One of his quotations

"So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven." Acts 26:19

Paul's life in the words of the New Testament

[The King James Version of the Bible is used in this section about Paul's life.]

Apart from Jesus, there is more about Paul in the New Testament than any other person.

1. Paul's background

• Paul was born into a Jewish family in the capital of Cilicia, Tarsus.

I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city Jerusalem) at the feet of Gamaliel. Acts 22:3

... and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. Acts 5:34-39

• Paul's original name was Saul. Saul is renamed in Acts 13.

Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him... Acts 13:9

• He was a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. Rom 11:1

• He kept the laws of Moses perfectly

Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. Phil. 3:6

• Paul was a Pharisee, a son of a Pharisee.

But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. Acts 23:6

• He was a tent maker by trade.

And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. Acts 18:3

2. Saul the persecutor of Christians

• Saul, the Pharisee, persecuted the early Christians and was responsible for having some of them put to death.

And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women. Acts 22:4

And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, Acts 9:1

• Saul's reputation for persecuting Christians went before him.

Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. Acts 9:13-14

• Saul silently supported the martyrdom of Stephen. This is the first time Saul is mentioned in the New Testament.

And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man's feet, whose name was Saul. Acts 7:58

• Paul, later in life, recalls this incident with great remorse.

And when the blood of thy martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting unto his death, and kept the raiment of them that slew him. Acts 22:20

3. Saul sees the light

Paul's conversion is recounted three times in Acts.

• On his way to harass the Christians in Damascus Saul is overcome by a seeing a great light.

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: Acts 9:3

And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. Acts 22:6

• Saul was blinded.

And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. Acts 9:8-9

• Jesus rebukes Saul.

And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Acts 9:4-5

And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And I answered, Who art thou, Lord? And he said unto me, I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest. Acts 22:7-8

• Jesus tells Saul to go to Damascus.

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. Acts 9:6

• In Damascus Saul fasts, and prays.

And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. Acts 9:9

• Ananias is used to restore Saul's sight.

And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. Acts 9:17-18

4. The persecutor Saul becomes the preacher Paul

• Saul is baptized and starts to preach the Christian message.

And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. Acts 9:20

• Paul goes to Arabia

Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Galatians 1:17

• Paul visits Jerusalem.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. Galatians 1:18

• Paul goes to Antioch.

And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. Acts 11:26

5. Paul's three missionary journeys

• Paul's first missionary journey

And when they (Paul & Barnabas) were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. Acts 13:5

And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. Acts 14:26

• Paul's second missionary journey

And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches. Acts 15:41

And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. Acts 18:22

• Paul's third missionary journey

And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples. Acts 18:23

And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. Acts 21:8

6. House arrest

The last picture Luke gives us of Paul depicts him under house arrest, preaching the Christian message to all who visited him, in the most important town of the day—Rome.

See Acts 28:30-31

From sources outside the Bible we learn Paul was released from his house arrest and then visited Spain. He was again arrested and executed by Nero in ad 67.

Clement records the martyrdom of apostles Peter and Paul


The Letter of the Church in Rome to the Church in Corinth is probably the earliest text in Christian literature after the New Testament. Tradition attributes it to Clement, leader of the church in Rome in ad 95.

Peter's death

Through jealousy and envy the greatest and most righteous pillars of the church were persecuted and contended to their deaths. Let us set before our eyes the good apostles: Peter, who because of unjust jealousy suffered not one or two but many trials, and having thus given his testimony went to the glorious place which was his due.

Paul's death

By reason of jealousy and strife, Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached in the East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith, having taught righteousness unto the whole world, and having reached the farthest bounds of the West and when he had done his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance.

Clement, Letter of the Church in Rome to the Church in Corinth 5.

The tombs of Peter and Paul in Rome

[The Christian historian, Eusebius, alludes to Peter and Paul's tombs.]

They say that in the reign of Nero Paul was beheaded at Rome itself, and that Peter likewise was crucified, and this story is confirmed by the association of the names of Peter and Paul with the cemeteries there, which has lasted to this day. That is also affirmed by a churchman called Gaius, who lived in the time of Zephyrinus (ad 199-217), Bishop of the Romans. When discoursing in writing with Proclus, the head of the sect of the Phrygians, Gaius in fact said this of the places where the sacred tabernacles of the said apostles were laid: 'But I myself can point out the trophies of the apostles. For if it is your will to go to the Vatican or to the Ostian way, you will find the trophies of those who founded the church.

Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, II, 25,5-7.



ad-c. 100/101

Famous for being

"The apostle of love," "the beloved disciple," Jesus' close friend

Important writings

The Gospel that bears his name, three New Testament letters and the book of Revelation

One of his quotations

"Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another."

1 John 4:11

John the Apostle (Theologian)

With Peter and James, St. John belonged to the inner circle of disciples who witnessed such events as the Transfiguration and who fell asleep in the garden of Gesthemane. Thought to have been the youngest of the twelve apostles, John was the son of Zebedee and of Salome, one of the women who went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus.

John was a disciple of John the Baptist before being called, with his brother James, to follow Jesus, who gave them the name Boanerges. Many speculations why the two are called sons of thunder exist: the name may refer to their tempers or to the force of their faith.

The gospel of St. John records that John (the disciple whom Jesus loved) stood at the foot of the cross [and was entrusted with the safe-keeping of Jesus' mother, Mary: "When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother.' From that time on, this disciple took her into his home." John 19:26-27.]

After the Pentecost, John and Peter worked together in the community at Jerusalem. John was a participant in the Council of Jerusalem, at which the church determined that Gentiles are not subject to Mosaic practices.

John is thought to have left Jerusalem after this event to preach in Asia Minor. Polycarp of Smyrna is said to have told Irenaeus that John lived in Ephesus until the reign of Trajan. C. ad 95, during the reign of Domitian, John was taken to Rome to stand trial for his faith.

Legends recount that John was sentenced to death by being placed in boiling oil, and that he miraculously escaped.

Domitian exiled John to Patmos, where he had the vision described in the book of Revelation. In addition to his Gospel, John also wrote the three letters, 1 John, 2, John, and 3 John.

According to tradition, when Domitian died in 96, John was released and allowed to return to Ephesus, where he became bishop.

John died c. ad 99 or 100. He was the last of the apostles to die and the only one to have died a natural death.

Copyright © 1998, Karen Rae Keck

John's last words

St. John lived until he was about one hundred years old. In the end he was at last so weak that he could not walk into the church; so he was carried in, and used to say continually to his hearers, "Little children, love one another." Some of them, after a time, began to be tired of hearing this, and asked him why he repeated the words so often, and said nothing else to them. The Apostle answered, "Because it is the Lord's commandment, and if this be done it is enough."

Robertson, J. C., Canon of Canterbury, Sketches of Church History, from 33 ad to the Reformation

Other leading Christians in the apostolic age






Apostle and evangelist.

Matthew, the author of the Gospel that bears his name, is spoken of five times in the New Testament; first in Matthew 9:9, when called by Jesus to follow Him, and then four times in the list of the Apostles, where he is mentioned in the seventh (Luke 6:15, and Mark 3:18), and again in the eighth place (Matthew 10:3, and Acts 1:13). The man designated in

Matthew 9:9, as "sitting in the custom house", and "named Matthew" is the same as Levi, recorded in Mark 2:14, and Luke 5:27, as "sitting at the receipt of custom".

The account in the three Synoptics is identical, the vocation of Matthew-Levi being alluded to in the same terms. Hence Levi was the original name of the man who was subsequently called Matthew; the Maththaios legomenos of Matthew 9:9, would indicate this. The fact of one man having two names is of frequent occurrence among the Jews. It is probable that Mattija, "gift of Iaveh", was the name conferred upon the tax-gatherer by Jesus Christ when He called him to the Apostolate, and by it he was thenceforth known among his Christian brethren, Levi being his original name.

Matthew, the son of Alpheus (Mark 2:14) was a Galilean, although Eusebius informs us that he was a Syrian. As tax-collector at Capharnaum, he collected custom duties for Herod Antipas, and, although a Jew, was despised by the Pharisees, who hated all publicans.

When summoned by Jesus, Matthew arose and followed Him and laid on a feast in his house, where tax-collectors and sinners sat at table with Christ and His disciples. The Pharisees protested about this. But they were rebuked by Jesus with these consoling words: "I came not to call the just, but sinners". No further allusion is made to Matthew in the Gospels, except in the list of the Apostles. As a disciple and an Apostle he then followed Christ, accompanying Him up to the tune of His Passion and, in Galilee, was one of the witnesses of His Resurrection. He was also amongst the Apostles who were present at the Ascension, and afterwards withdrew to an upper room, in Jerusalem, praying with Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and with his brethren (Acts 1:10 and 1:14).

Of Matthew's subsequent career we have only inaccurate or legendary data. St. Irenaeus tells us that Matthew preached the Gospel among the Hebrews, St. Clement of Alexandria claiming that he did this for fifteen years, and Eusebius maintains that, before going into other countries, he gave them his Gospel in the mother tongue. Ancient writers are not as one as to the countries evangelized by Matthew, but almost all mention Ethiopia to the south of the Caspian Sea (not Ethiopia in Africa).

E. Jacquier, Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 10


Luke the Evangelist

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Luke wrote what has been acclaimed: "the most beautiful book in the world."

In the third Gospel we have the setting of Christ's life in the Roman world, and historical data is given which links our Lord's life with the society in which He lived. Most of the information that we have of the birth and early years of Jesus are in Luke's record. He it is also who depicts our Master in the home and family life of His day. The religious trend of the first century was to keep women and children in a place of inferiority and it is mainly Luke who showed that Jesus ignored the fashion. He emphasizes the place of the gentle and simple things in the purpose of God. All this gives evidence of Luke's wide sympathies, which extend still further when consideration is given to the parables and miracles that are peculiar to his record.

He was interested in the poor and despised, and our Lord's appearance in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4) is an appropriate opening for His ministry. But for Luke's pen we should not have had the great illustrations of compassion given in our Lord's parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son. He too retold the striking contrasts between Pharisee and Tax Collector praying in the Temple and the real life study of Simon and the "sinful woman". Luke recognized the evil of racial and class distinction in the parable of the "rich fool" and Dives and Lazarus, and of Jesus' tolerance towards the Samaritans.

As a medical doctor he would be intimately acquainted with human suffering, and his method of recording miracles of healing reflects his knowledge and his sympathy. This is apparent in his description of "a man full of leprosy" in Luke 5.12. In writing of the woman in the crowd who touched the hem of Jesus' garment (Luke 8. 46) he uses a more professional term for the word "virtue" than Mark although this is not clear from the English version. His reference to Peter's mother-in-law as having a "great fever" is similarly the distinguishing mark of a physician. His delicate and restrained treatment of our Lord's experience in Gethsemane is masterly and again there is a singularly professional reference to the "drops of blood" (Luke 22:44).

However he was not only a scientist and historian; he had great interest in the devotional aspect of the Christian life, and he has been called the first Christian hymnologist. The remarkable poems of Mary in the Magnificat, and of Zachariah at the birth of John the Baptist are a tribute to Luke's diligence. The third Gospel provides us with the greatest insight into our Lord's prayer life, recording some of His prayers and teaching upon the subject. Several of these were at critical points in His ministry, for example when He spent all night in prayer prior to selecting the disciples. In narrating the Transfiguration on the mount, Luke alone informs us that Jesus was praying. Finally, on the cross, the prayer of forgiveness was a precious reflection of our Savior preserved only by Luke.

Bible Fellowship Union


First Christian Martyr. Deacon. Preacher.

All we know of him is related in the Acts of the Apostles. While preaching the Gospel in the streets, angry Jews who believed his message to be blasphemy dragged him outside the city, and stoned him to death. In the crowd, on the side of the mob, was a man who would later be known as Saint Paul.

The love that brought Christ from heaven to earth raised Stephen from earth to heaven; shown first in the king, it later shone forth in his soldier. His love of God kept him from yielding to the ferocious mob; his love for his neighbor made him pray for those who were stoning him. Love inspired him to reprove those who erred, to make them amend; love led him to pray for those who stoned him, to save them from punishment.

Love, indeed, is the source of all good things; it is an impregnable defense, and the way that leads to heaven. He who walks in love can neither go astray nor be afraid: love guides him, protects him, and brings him to his journey's end.

My brothers, Christ made love the stairway that would enable all Christians to climb to heaven. Hold fast to it, therefore, in all sincerity, give one another practical proof of it, and by your progress in it, make your ascent together.

Saint Fulgentius of Ruspe, from one of his sermons

John Chrysostom on Stephen's martyrdom

"He mentions the cause of his angelic appearance: 'But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And when he said, "I see the heavens opened, they stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord.' And yet in what respect are these things deserving of accusation? 'Upon him,' the man who has wrought such miracles, the man who has prevailed over all in speech, the man who can hold such discourse! As if they had got the very thing they wanted, they straightway gave full scope to their rage. 'And the witnesses,' he says, 'laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man, whose name was Saul. Observe how particularly he relates what concerns Paul, to show thee that the Power which wrought in him was of God. But after all these things, not only did he not believe, but also aimed at Him with a thousand hands: for this is why it says, 'And Saul was consenting unto his death.' And this blessed man does not simply pray, but does it with earnestness: 'having kneeled down.' Mark his divine death! So long only the Lord permitted the soul to remain in him 'And having said this, he fell asleep.'"

John Chrysostom



Clement was bishop of Rome during the last decade of the first century ad. Because he wrote during the apostolic era and may well have personally known St. Peter and St. Paul,. Clement is known as one of the Apostolic Fathers.

Clement is counted as the third bishop of Rome (after the apostles). His predecessors are Linus and Cletus (or Anacletus, or Anencletus), about whom almost nothing is known. They are simply names on a list. Clement is a little more than this, chiefly because he wrote a letter to the Corinthians, which was highly valued by the early church, and has been preserved to the present day. The letter itself does not carry his name, but is merely addressed from the congregation at Rome to the congregation at Corinth. However, a letter from Corinth to Rome a few decades later refers to "the letter we received from your bishop Clement, which we still read regularly." Other early writers are unanimous in attributing the letter to Clement. Perhaps because this letter made his name familiar, he has had an early anonymous sermon (commonly called II Clement) attributed to him, and is a character in some early religious romances (e.g. the Clementine Recognitions).

One story about Clement is that he was put to death by being tied to an anchor and thrown into the sea. Accordingly, he is often depicted with an anchor, and many churches in port towns intended to minister chiefly to mariners are named for him.

The Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians (also called I Clement) is commonly dated around 96 ad. The letter is occasioned by the fact that a group of Christians at Corinth had banded together against their leaders and had deposed them from office. Clement writes to tell them that they have behaved badly, and to remind them of the importance of Christian unity and love. He speaks at length of the way in which each kind of official in the church has his own function for the good of the whole. The letter is an important witness to the early Christian understanding of Church government, but an ambiguous witness in that we are never told precisely why the Corinthians had deposed their leaders, and therefore the letter can be read as saying that presbyters ought not to be deposed without reasonable grounds, or as saying that they cannot be deposed on any grounds at all.

James Kiefer

Classic Christian devotional books from the start of the Christian Church

The Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians

The Didache

Extracts from Classic Christian devotional books from the start of the Christian Church

The Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians: Chapters 16-19

The Didache

The Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians

Chapter 17

The Saints as Examples of Humility

17:1 Let us be imitators also of them which went about in goatskins and sheepskins, preaching the coming of Christ.

17:2 We mean Elijah and Elisha and likewise Ezekiel, the prophets, and besides them those men also that obtained a good report.

17:3 Abraham obtained an exceeding good report and was called the friend of God;

17:4 and looking stedfastly on the glory of God, he saith in lowliness of mind, {But I am dust and ashes}.

17:5 Moreover concerning Job also it is thus written;

17:6 {And Job was righteous and unblameable, one that was true and honored God and abstained from all evil}.

17:7 Yet he himself accuseth himself saying, {No man is clean from filth;

17:8 no, not though his life be but for a day}.

17:9 Moses was called {faithful in all His house}, and through his ministration God judged Egypt with the plagues and the torments which befell them.

17:10 Howbeit he also, though greatly glorified, yet spake no proud words, but said, when an oracle was given to him at the bush, {Who am I, that Thou sendest me?

17:11 Nay, I am feeble of speech and slow of tongue}.

17:12 And again he saith, {But I am smoke from the pot}.

Chapter 18

David as an Example of Humility

18:1 But what must we say of David that obtained a good report?

18:2 of whom God said, {I have found a man after My heart, David the son of Jesse:

18:3 with eternal mercy have I anointed him}.

18:4 Yet he too saith unto God;

18:5 {Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy great mercy and according to the multitude of Thy compassions, blot out mine iniquity.

18:6 Wash me yet more from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

18:7 For I acknowledge mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me.

18:8 Against Thee only did I sin, and I wrought evil in Thy sight;

18:9 that Thou mayest be justified in Thy words, and mayest conquer in Thy pleading.

18:10 For behold, in iniquities was I conceived, and in sins did my mother bear me.

18:11 For behold Thou hast loved truth the dark and hidden things of Thy wisdom hast Thou showed unto me.

18:12 Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean.

18:13 Thou shalt wash me, and I shall become whiter than snow.

18:14 Thou shalt make me to hear of joy and gladness.

18:15 The bones which have been humbled shall rejoice.

18:16 Turn away Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

18:17 Make a clean heart within me, O God, and renew a right spirit in mine innermost parts.

18:18 Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.

18:19 Restore unto me the joy of The salvation, and strengthen me with a princely spirit.

18:20 I will teach sinners Thy ways, and godless men shall be converted unto Thee. 18:21 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation. 18:22 My tongue shall rejoice in Thy righteousness.

18:23 Lord, Thou shalt open my mouth, and my lips shall declare Thy praise. 18:24 For, if Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would have given it: 18:25 in whole burnt offerings Thou wilt have no pleasure.

18:26 A sacrifice unto God is a contrite spirit, a contrite and humbled heart God will not despise}.

Chapter 19

Imitating These Examples, Let Us Seek After Peace

19:1 The humility therefore and the submissiveness of so many and so great men,

19:2 who have thus obtained a good report, hath through obedience made better not only us but also the generations which were before us, even them that received His oracles in fear and truth.

19:3 Seeing then that we have been partakers of many great and glorious doings, let us hasten to return unto the goal of peace which hath been handed down to us from the beginning,

19:4 and let us look stedfastly unto the Father and Maker of the whole world, and cleave unto His splendid and excellent gifts of peace and benefits.

19:5 Let us behold Him in our mind, and let us look with the eyes of our soul unto His longsuffering will.

19:6 Let us note how free from anger He is towards all His creatures.

The Epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians

Translated and edited, J. B. Lightfoot

The Didache

Alternate title: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles


No document of the early church has proved so bewildering to scholars as this apparently innocent tract which was discovered by Philotheos Byrennios in 1873. The Didache (Teaching") is the common name of a brief early Christian treatise (c. 50-160). Some scholars date its writing to as early as 60 ad and so place it as the oldest surviving extant piece of non-canonical literature. Other scholars believe that it was written in Egypt or Syria early in the second century.

It is not so much a letter as a handbook for new Christian converts, consisting of instructions derived directly from the teachings of Jesus. The book can be divided into three sections—the first six chapters consist of catechetical lessons; the next four give descrip- tions of the liturgy, including baptism, fasting and communion; and the last six outline the church organization.

The famous church historian, Phillip Schaff, ranks the Didache as first among the works of the post-apostolic age.

The Didache


1:1 There are two paths, one of life and one of death, and the difference is great between the two paths.

1:2 Now the path of life is this—first, thou shalt love the God who made thee, thy neighbor as thyself, and all things that thou wouldest not should be done unto thee, do not thou unto another.

1:3 And the doctrine of these maxims is as follows. Bless them that curse you, and pray for your enemies. Fast on behalf of those that persecute you; for what thank is there if ye love them that love you? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? But do ye love them that hate you, and ye will not have an enemy.

1:4 Abstain from fleshly and worldly lusts. If any one give thee a blow on thy right cheek, turn unto him the other also, and thou shalt be perfect; if any one compel thee to go a mile, go with him two; if a man take away thy cloak, give him thy coat also; if a man take from thee what is thine, ask not for it again, for neither art thou able to do so.

1:5 Give to every one that asketh of thee, and ask not again; for the Father wishes that from his own gifts there should be given to all. Blessed is he who giveth according to the commandment, for he is free from guilt; but woe unto him that receiveth. For if a man receive being in need, he shall be free from guilt; but he who receiveth when not in need, shall pay a penalty as to why he received and for what purpose; and when he is in tribulation he shall be examined concerning the things that he has done, and shall not depart thence until he has paid the last farthing.

1:6 For of a truth it has been said on these matters, let thy almsgiving abide in thy hands until thou knowest to whom thou hast given.


2:1 But the second commandment of the teaching is this.

2:2 Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not corrupt youth; thou shalt not commit fornication; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not use soothsaying; thou shalt not practice sorcery; thou shalt not kill a child by abortion, neither shalt thou slay it when born; thou shalt not covet the goods of thy neighbor;

2:3 thou shalt not commit perjury; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not speak evil; thou shalt not bear malice;

2:4 thou shalt not be double-minded or double-tongued, for to be double tongued is the snare of death.

2:5 Thy speech shall not be false or empty, but concerned with action.

2:6 Thou shalt not be covetous, or rapacious, or hypocritical, or malicious, or proud; thou shalt not take up an evil design against thy neighbor;

2:7 thou shalt not hate any man, but some thou shalt confute, concerning some thou shalt pray, and some thou shalt love beyond thine own soul.


3:1 My child, fly from everything that is evil, and from everything that is like to it.

3:2 Be not wrathful, for wrath leadeth unto slaughter; be not jealous, or contentious, or quarrelsome, for from all these things slaughter ensues.

3:3 My child, be not lustful, for lust leadeth unto fornication; be not a filthy talker; be not a lifter up of the eye, for from all these things come adulteries.

3:4 My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leadeth to idolatry, nor a user of spells, nor an astrologer, nor a traveling purifier, nor wish to see these things, for from all these things idolatry ariseth.

3:5 My child, be not a liar, for lying leadeth unto theft; be not covetous or conceited, for from all these things thefts arise.

3:6 My child, be not a murmurer, since it leadeth unto blasphemy; be not self-willed or evil-minded, for from all these things blasphemies are produced;

3:7 but be thou meek, for the meek shall inherit the earth;

3:8 be thou longsuffering, and compassionate, and harmless, and peaceable, and good, and fearing alway the words that thou hast heard.

3:9 Thou shalt not exalt thyself, neither shalt thou put boldness into thy soul. Thy soul shall not be joined unto the lofty, but thou shalt walk with the just and humble.

3:10 Accept the things that happen to thee as good, knowing that without God nothing happens.


4:1 My child, thou shalt remember both night and day him that speaketh unto thee the Word of God; thou shalt honor him as thou dost the Lord, for where the teaching of the Lord is given, there is the Lord;

4:2 thou shalt seek out day by day the favor of the saints, that thou mayest rest in their words;

4:3 thou shalt not desire schism, but shalt set at peace them that contend; thou shalt judge righteously; thou shalt not accept the person of any one to convict him of transgression;

4:4 thou shalt not doubt whether a thing shall be or not.

4:5 Be not a stretcher out of thy hand to receive, and a drawer of it back in giving.

4:6 If thou hast, give by means of thy hands a redemption for thy sins.

4:7 Thou shalt not doubt to give, neither shalt thou murmur when giving; for thou shouldest know who is the fair recompenser of the reward.

4:8 Thou shalt not turn away from him that is in need, but shalt share with thy brother in all things, and shalt not say that things are thine own; for if ye are partners in what is immortal, how much more in what is mortal?

4:9 Thou shalt not remove thine heart from thy son or from thy daughter, but from their youth shalt teach them the fear of God.

4:10 Thou shalt not command with bitterness thy servant or thy handmaid, who hope in the same God as thyself, lest they fear not in consequence the God who is over both; for he cometh not to call with respect of persons, but those whom the Spirit hath prepared.

4:11 And do ye servants submit yourselves to your masters with reverence and fear, as being the type of God.

4:12 Thou shalt hate all hypocrisy and everything that is not pleasing to God;

4:13 thou shalt not abandon the commandments of the Lord, but shalt guard that which thou hast received, neither adding thereto nor taking therefrom;

4:14 thou shalt confess thy transgressions in the Church, and shalt not come unto prayer with an evil conscience. This is the path of life.


5:1 But the path of death is this. First of all, it is evil, and full of cursing; there are found murders, adulteries, lusts, fornication, thefts, idolatries, soothsaying, sorceries, robberies, false witnessings, hypocrisies, double-mindedness, craft, pride, malice, self-will, covetousness, filthy talking, jealousy, audacity, pride, arrogance;

5:2 there are they who persecute the good—lovers of a lie, not knowing the reward of righteousness, not cleaving to the good nor to righteous judgment, watching not for the good but for the bad, from whom meekness and patience are afar off, loving things that are vain, following after recompense, having no compassion on the needy, nor laboring for him that is in trouble, not knowing him that made them, murderers of children, corrupters of the image of God, who turn away from him that is in need, who oppress him that is in trouble, unjust judges of the poor, erring in all things. From all these, children, may ye be delivered.


6:1 See that no one make thee to err from this path of doctrine, since he who doeth so teacheth thee apart from God.

6:2 If thou art able to bear the whole yoke of the Lord, thou wilt be perfect; but if thou art not able, what thou art able, that do.

6:3 But concerning meat, bear that which thou art able to do. But keep with care from things sacrificed to idols, for it is the worship of the infernal deities.


7:1 But concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: having first recited all these precepts, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in running water;

7:2 but if thou hast not running water, baptize in some other water, and if thou canst not baptize in cold, in warm water;

7:3 but if thou hast neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

7:4 But before the baptism, let him who baptizeth and him who is baptized fast previously, and any others who may be able. And thou shalt command him who is baptized to fast one or two days before.


8:1 But as for your fasts, let them not be with the hypocrites, for they fast on the second and fifth days of the week, but do ye fast on the fourth and sixth days.

8:2 Neither pray ye as the hypocrites, but as the Lord hath commanded in his gospel so pray ye: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done as in heaven so on earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debt, as we also forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil: for thine is the power, and the glory, for ever.

8:3 Thrice a day pray ye in this fashion.


9:1 But concerning the Eucharist, after this fashion give ye thanks.

9:2 First, concerning the cup. We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine, David thy Son, which thou hast made known unto us through Jesus Christ thy Son; to thee be the glory for ever.

9:3 And concerning the broken bread. We thank thee, our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou hast made known unto us through Jesus thy Son; to thee be the glory for ever.

9:4 As this broken bread was once scattered on the mountains, and after it had been brought together became one, so may thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth unto thy kingdom; for thine is the glory, and the power, through Jesus Christ, for ever.

9:5 And let none eat or drink of your Eucharist but such as have been baptized into the name of the Lord, for of a truth the Lord hath said concerning this, Give not that which is holy unto dogs.


10:1 But after it has been completed, so pray ye.

10:2 We thank thee, holy Father, for thy holy name, which thou hast caused to dwell in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which thou hast made known unto us through Jesus thy Son; to thee be the glory for ever.

10:3 Thou, Almighty Master, didst create all things for the sake of thy name, and hast given both meat and drink, for men to enjoy, that we might give thanks unto thee, but to us thou hast given spiritual meat and drink, and life everlasting, through thy Son.

10:4 Above all, we thank thee that thou art able to save; to thee be the glory for ever.

10:5 Remember, Lord, thy Church, to redeem it from every evil, and to perfect it in thy love, and gather it together from the four winds, even that which has been sanctified for thy kingdom which thou hast prepared for it; for thine is the kingdom and the glory for ever.

10:6 Let grace come, and let this world pass away. Hosanna to the Son of David. If any one is holy let him come (to the Eucharist); if any one is not, let him repent. Maranatha. Amen.

10:7 But charge the prophets to give thanks, so far as they are willing to do so.


11:1 Whosoever, therefore, shall come and teach you all these things aforesaid, him do ye receive;

11:2 but if the teacher himself turn and teach another doctrine with a view to subvert you, hearken not to him; but if he come to add to your righteousness, and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord.

11:3 But concerning the apostles and prophets, thus do ye according to the doctrine of the Gospel.

11:4 Let every apostle who cometh unto you be received as the Lord.

11:5 He will remain one day, and if it be necessary, a second; but if he remain three days, he is a false prophet.

11:6 And let the apostle when departing take nothing but bread until he arrive at his resting-place; but if he ask for money, he is a false prophet.

11:7 And ye shall not tempt or dispute with any prophet who speaketh in the spirit; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven.

11:8 But not every one who speaketh in the spirit is a prophet, but he is so who hath the disposition of the Lord; by their dispositions they therefore shall be known, the false prophet and the prophet.

11:9 And every prophet who ordereth in the spirit that a table shall be laid, shall not eat of it himself, but if he do otherwise, he is a false prophet;

11:10 and every prophet who teacheth the truth, if he do not what he teacheth is a false prophet;

11:11 and every prophet who is approved and true, and ministering in the visible mystery of the Church, but who teacheth not others to do the things that he doth himself, shall not be judged of you, for with God lieth his judgment, for in this manner also did the ancient prophets.

11:12 But whoever shall say in the spirit, Give me money, or things of that kind, listen not to him; but if he tell you concerning others that are in need that ye should give unto them, let no one judge him.


12:1 Let every one that cometh in the name of the Lord be received, but afterwards ye shall examine him and know his character, for ye have knowledge both of good and evil.

12:2 If the person who cometh be a wayfarer, assist him so far as ye are able; but he will not remain with you more than two or three days, unless there be a necessity.

12:3 But if he wish to settle with you, being a craftsman, let him work, and so eat;

12:4 but if he know not any craft, provide ye according to you own discretion, that a Christian may not live idle among you;

12:5 but if he be not willing to do so, he is a trafficker in Christ. From such keep aloof.


13:1 But every true prophet who is willing to dwell among you is worthy of his meat,

13:2 likewise a true teacher is himself worthy of his meat, even as is a laborer.

13:3 Thou shalt, therefore, take the firstfruits of every produce of the wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and sheep, and shalt give it to the prophets, for they are your chief priests;

13:4 but if ye have not a prophet, give it unto the poor.

13:5 If thou makest a feast, take and give the firstfruits according to the commandment;

13:6 in like manner when thou openest a jar of wine or of oil, take the firstfruits and give it to the prophets;

13:7 take also the firstfruits of money, of clothes, and of every possession, as it shall seem good unto thee, and give it according to the commandment.


14:1 But on the Lord's day, after that ye have assembled together, break bread and give thanks, having in addition confessed your sins, that your sacrifice may be pure.

14:2 But let not any one who hath a quarrel with his companion join with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be polluted,

14:3 for it is that which is spoken of by the Lord. In every place and time offer unto me a pure sacrifice, for I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the Gentiles.


15:1 Elect, therefore, for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men who are meek and not covetous, and true and approved, for they perform for you the service of prophets and teachers.

15:2 Do not, therefore, despise them, for they are those who are honored among you, together with the prophets and teachers.

15:3 Rebuke one another, not in wrath but peaceably, as ye have commandment in the Gospel; and, but let no one speak to any one who walketh disorderly with regard to his neighbor, neither let him be heard by you until he repent.

15:4 But your prayers and your almsgivings and all your deeds so do, as ye have commandment in the Gospel of our Lord.


16:1 Watch concerning your life; let not your lamps be quenched or your loins be loosed, but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour at which our Lord cometh.

16:2 But be ye gathered together frequently, seeking what is suitable for your souls; for the whole time of your faith shall profit you not, unless ye be found perfect in the last time.

16:3 For in the last days false prophets and seducers shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate;

16:4 and because iniquity aboundeth they shall hate each other, and persecute each other, and deliver each other up; and then shall the Deceiver of the world appear as the Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands; and he shall do unlawful things, such as have never happened since the beginning of the world.

16:5 Then shall the creation of man come to the fiery trial of proof, and many shall be offended and shall perish; but they who remain in their faith shall be saved by the rock of offence itself.

16:6 And then shall appear the signs of the truth; first the sign of the appearance in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet, and thirdly the resurrection of the dead

16:7—not of all, but as it has been said, The Lord shall come and all his saints with him;

16:8 then shall the world behold the Lord coming on the clouds of heaven.

Didache, translated by Charles H. Hoole