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   Justin Martyr and Early Christian Apologetics
   Acts 17
Wednesday Evening Service,  August 25, 2010
This lesson looks at the life and writings of Justin Martyr, one of the most important early Christian apologists and theologians. After looking at defenses of the faith within Scripture, we show how Justin Martyr defended the faith. One of the important differences between our time and his was his ability to point to the holy lives of Christians as evidence of the genuineness of Christianity. He also illustrates how attempts to harmonize Christian thought with non-Christian thought and philosophy can at times lead to puzzling conclusions and the distortion of Christian doctrines.

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   The Concept of the Family in the Early Church
   1 Peter 2:4-5, Matthew 12:46-50, 1 Timothy 3:4-5, 12, 15; 5:1-2
Wednesday Evening Service,  August 18, 2010
The idea of the church as a household is ubiquitous in the New Testament. In fact, the metaphor originates with Jesus Himself (Matt. 12:46-50). But it is one thing for us to say that our church ought to be like a family and another thing to know what the family looked like in the ancient world. It does us little good, and may even mislead us, to insist that the church is a household if we are not able to appreciate what the Greco-Roman household was like, what its purpose was, who were its members and what were their responsibilities. In this session we will look at the shape and significance of the ancient household so that we are able to see how the idea of family was employed as a metaphor for the church by the New Testament writers.

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   The Martyrdom of Polycarp
   Hebrews 11:33 - 12:2
Wednesday Evening Service,  August 11, 2010
This is a short history of Polycarp's last days, his testimony, and his martyrdom. The lesson also includes implications for modern day Christians.

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   The Epistle to Diognetus and the Doctrine of the Atonement
   Galatians 3:13
Wednesday Evening Service,  August 4, 2010
The anonymous Epistle to Diognetus is an early Christian writing that may be classified as an apology or defense of the faith. In it, we see how early Christians defended the faith in the face of opposition. Of particular benefit to us is the epistle's articulation of the doctrine of the vicarious atonement of Christ. This lesson discusses these things and also explores the New Testament's teaching on the atonement, as well as other extra-Biblical Christian statements articulating this doctrine.

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   Barnabas and Early Christian Interpretation
   Luke 24:44-45
Wednesday Evening Service,  July 21, 2010
The Epistle of Barnabas contains some fanciful understandings of the Old Testament, but it provides a good opportunity to discuss talk about interpretation in the New Testament and early church.

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   The Elements of Early Christian Worship
   Various Texts
Wednesday Evening Service,  July 14, 2010
Earlier in our series we looked at what it was like to assemble as the church in the first century. Tonight we will move beyond the details of that primitive meeting to examine the basic elements that were consistent between all churches in the first and second centuries. We will begin by considering the testimony of some second-century writers, then we will review the elements of worship present in the New Testament. Finally, we will analyze two specific elements of worship in the early church, namely singing and the Lord’s Table, returning to our discussion of the Didache from two weeks earlier.

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   2 Clement and Early Christian Sermons
   2 Timothy 4:1-2
Wednesday Evening Service,  July 7, 2010
2 Clement shows us the importance of sermons in the early church. Though the author wrongly emphasizes works as a way of earning God's favor, his (at best) careless call for perseverance may have been the result of profound sin among the congregants. This lesson reminds us the promise of God's acceptance only on the righteousness of Christ. We also look at some other early Christian sermons by Clement of Alexandria and Melito of Sardis.

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   The Didache and the Early Church
   Psalm 1
Wednesday Evening Service,  June 30, 2010
When we read “The Teachings of the Twelve Apostles,” or the Didache, we are reading what is probably the oldest writing in the church outside of the NT documents themselves. The Didache is an unpretentious collection of (1) doctrines for new believers that they must affirm subsequent to their baptism into the church, (2) instructions concerning baptism, fasting, and the Lord’s Table, (3) general church policies, and (4) a brief section on the end times. This fascinating document allows us to glimpse what was important to the early church and to see how the church originally interpreted and applied apostolic teaching. In this session we will look at the Didache in general, its contents, and teachings of special interest.

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   Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians: A Study of the Importance of the Bible in the Early Church
   Various Texts
Wednesday Evening Service,  June 16, 2010
Polycarp’s name means “Much Fruit,” and it is obvious when we read of his life and his death that the Lord used him to bear much fruit in the early church. One of the fascinating observations we can make from his one surviving letter is his reverent regard for the Word of God and that he was already, like others of the church fathers, recognizing the NT writings of the apostles to be the Holy Scriptures that they are. The purpose of this session is to introduce you to Polycarp, particularly with respect to his understanding of the Word.

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   Ignatius: Docetism and Other Christological Heresies
   1 John 4:13
Wednesday Evening Service,  June 9, 2010
On route to his looming martyrdom, Ignatius uses highly metaphorical language to urge his recipients to adhere to orthodox teaching as represented by their overseers (bishops). As he attacks the early heresy docetism, we are reminded of other heresies concerning Christ that developed in the early centuries after the apostles and their writings in the New Testament.

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   1 Clement: Church Government in the Early Church
   Acts 20:17, 28
Wednesday Evening Service,  June 2, 2010
Clement of Rome encourages the church in Corinth to be unified and not yield to schisms. In Clement, we see that the earliest Christians called their leaders elders or overseers (bishops), and that the church chose or elected their leaders in accordance with the New Testament.

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   Whatever Happened to the Apostles?
   Various Texts
Wednesday Evening Service,  May 26, 2010
In order to study the apostolic fathers, we must first appreciate the apostles themselves. These are men who played one of the most essential roles in the ministry of Jesus and in the life of the early church and of whom little is really known apart from the NT documents. In this session we will briefly address three questions about the apostles.

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   Life in the Early Christian Church
   Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 16; Romans 16
Wednesday Evening Service,  May 19, 2010
So often when we read the Scriptures we recast events in our minds so that they align with our own experience. When it comes to the gathering of the church, we may imagine a large assembly of people sitting in rows looking at a pastor. But the original gathering of local churches is far removed from how the western church normally meets today. The purpose of this session is to inform our appreciation of the NT by discovering the way the first churches gathered in the ancient world.

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   Following Our Examples
   Philippians 3:17
Wednesday Evening Service,  May 12, 2010
When you begin to study the history of the church, there is in some a tendency to wonder why. The New Testament alone is our authority for faith and practice. We don’t want the apostolic fathers to be our authority, and they should not be so. These were men like you and me; they made mistakes and said foolish things, just like you and me. But I believe that we have a compelling reason to spend a season looking at their lives and writings. One such reason is found in Philippians 3:17.

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