Apostles' Creed in the Early Church

The notion that the apostles gathered before beginning their mission and composed this creed, each suggesting a clause, is pure fiction. The truth is that its basic text was put together, probably in Rome, around the year 150. Due to its use in Rome, the ancient form of the Apostles’ Creed is called “R” by scholars. At the time, however, it was called “the symbol of the faith.” The word symbol in this context did not mean what it does to us today; rather, it meant “a means of recognition,” such as a token that a general gave to a messenger, so that the recipient could recognize a true messenger. Likewise, the “symbol” put together in Rome was a means whereby Christians could distinguish true believers from those who followed the various heresies circulating at the time, particularly Gnosticism and Marcionism. Any who could affirm this creed were neither Gnostics nor Marcionites.

One of the main uses of this “symbol” was in baptism,...

 

Gonzalez, Justo L. (2014-11-25). The Story of Christianity: Volume 1 (Kindle Locations 1496-1503). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Gnostic Feminism

In many Gnostic circles women had a prominence they did not have in society at large. Part of the reason for this was that, since it is the spirit and not the body that is important, the shape of one’s body has little to do with eternal realities.

 

Gonzalez, Justo L. (2014-11-25). The Story of Christianity: Volume 1 (Kindle Locations 1406-1408). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Irenaeus and the Rank of Angels

The angels are above us only provisionally. When the divine purpose is fulfilled in the human creature, we shall be above the angels; for our communion with God will be closer than theirs. The function of angels is similar to that of a tutor guiding the first steps of a prince. Although the tutor is temporarily in charge of the prince, eventually the prince will rule even the tutor.

 

Gonzalez, Justo L. (2014-11-25). The Story of Christianity: Volume 1 (Kindle Locations 1626-1629). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Jesus and the Parisees

...one must take care not to exaggerate the opposition of Jesus and the early Christians to the Pharisees. A great deal of the friction between Christians and Pharisees was due to the similarity of their views, rather than to their difference.

 

Gonzalez, Justo L. (2014-11-25). The Story of Christianity: Volume 1 (Kindle Locations 426-427). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Early Church Rumors

...Christians gathered every week to celebrate what they called a “love feast.” This was done in private, and only the initiates (those who had been baptized) were admitted. Furthermore, Christians called each other “brother” and “sister,” and there were many who spoke of their spouses as their “sister” or “brother.” Joining these known facts, non-Christians imagined Christian worship as an orgiastic celebration filled with Christians eating and drinking to excess, then extinguishing the candles, and venting their lusts in indiscriminate and even incestuous unions.

Communion also gave rise to another rumor. Since Christians spoke of being nourished by the body and blood of Christ, and since they also spoke of him as a little child, some came to the conclusion that, as an initiation rite, Christians concealed a newborn in a loaf of bread, and then ordered the neophyte to cut the loaf. When this was done, they all joined in eating the warm flesh of the infant. The new initiate, who had unwittingly become the main perpetrator of the crime, was thus forced to remain silent. Such rumors were made more credible because it was commonly known that when Christians found an abandoned infant they would pick it up and take it home with them.

Some even claimed that Christians worshiped an ass. This was an old rumor about Judaism that was now extended to include Christians, and make them an object of mockery.

 

Gonzalez, Justo L. (2014-11-25). The Story of Christianity: Volume 1 (Kindle Locations 1140-1151). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Reproducing the Image of the Resurrected Christ

The Reformed tradition defines justification as the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and the acquittal of sin’s guilt. The Spirit imputes Christ’s active and passive obedience to his people by faith alone. And therefore, by justification, God’s people share in Christ’s righteousness, one facet of the glory of the resurrected Christ. Adoption and sanctification also contribute to moving believers from one degree of glory to another. In adoption, believers are received into the family of God and become heirs according to promise. Through sanctification, the power of sin is broken, and they are set apart as holy to the Lord. Throughout the rest of their earthly lives, the Spirit applies the death and resurrection of Christ to them, making them die increasingly to sin and raising them to newness of life. These distinct salvific benefits contribute in particular ways to reproducing the image of the resurrected Christ in each individual believer.

 


The Premiere Event of Glorification

Bodily resurrection also marks the revealing of the sons of glory and consummates adoption through the redemption of the body (Rom 8:23). Furthermore, sanctification is completed when believers are finally redeemed. They are no longer subject to the struggles of the flesh and are finally and completely confirmed in righteousness. Each of these benefits brings increasing glory to God as his elect progressively take on the form of the man of heaven. They are being conformed to his image, reflecting his glory increasingly as the Spirit applies Christ’s death and resurrection to them. To isolate and quarantine this progress of glory within the bodily resurrection truncates the eschatological glory-dimension of each salvific benefit. Still, bodily resurrection is the premiere event of glorification; it is its capstone.

 


The Beginning of the General Resurrection of the Saints

As for Paul, his attitude in regard to this matter was from the outset determined by the fact, that he views the resurrection of Christ as the beginning of the general resurrection of the saints. The general resurrection of the saints being an eschatological event, indeed constituting together with the judgment the main content of the eschatological program, it follows that to Paul in this one point at least the eschatological course of events had already been set in motion, an integral piece of “the last things” has become an accomplished fact.

 

Geerhardus Vos, Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos, ed. Richard B. Gaffin Jr. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2001), 92-93.

Indwelling of Christ in our hearts

that joining together of Head and members, that indwelling of Christ in our hearts—in short, that mystical union—are accorded by us the highest degree of importance, so that Christ, having been made ours, makes us sharers with him in the gifts with which he has been endowed. We do not, therefore, contemplate him outside ourselves from afar in order that his righteousness may be imputed to us but because we put on Christ and are engrafted into his body—in short, because he deigns to make us one with him. For this reason, we glory that we have fellowship of righteousness with him.

 

John Calvin, Inst 3.11.10