A Glimpse at Early Christian Church Life

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In this selection, from The Soul , Tertullian gives a rare glimpse of charismatic experience in worship. Since we acknowledge spiritual charismata , or gifts, we too have merited the attainment of the prophetic gift, although coming after John [the Baptist]. Whether in the reading of the Scriptures, or in the chanting of psalms, or in the preaching of sermons, or in the offering up of prayers, in all these religious services matter and opportunity are afforded her of seeing visions.

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After the people are dismissed at the conclusion of the sacred services, she is in the regular habit of reporting to us whatever she may have seen in vision for all her communications are examined with the most scrupulous care, in order that their truth may be probed. Hippolytus, who died as a martyr around A. His Apostolic Tradition , written c. And when he has been made bishop, all shall offer the kiss of peace, greeting him because he has been made worthy.

Then the deacons shall present the offering to him; and he, laying his hands on it with all the presbytery, shall give thanks, saying:. And then he shall continue; thus: We render thanks to you, O God, through your beloved child Jesus Christ, whom in the last times you sent to us as savior and redeemer and angel of your will; who is your inseparable Word, through whom you made all things, and in whom you were well pleased. Fulfilling your will and gaining for you a holy people, he stretched out his hands when he should suffer, that he might release from suffering those who have believed in you.

Remembering therefore his death and resurrection, we offer to you the bread and the cup, giving you thanks because you have held us worthy to stand before you and minister to you. And we ask that you would send your Holy Spirit upon the offering of your holy church; that gathering them into one, you would grant to all who partake of the holy things to partake for the fullness of the Holy Spirit for the strengthening of faith in truth; and that we may praise and glorify you through your child Jesus Christ, through whom be glory and honor to you, with the Holy Spirit, in your holy church, both now and to the ages of ages.

And when he breaks the bread, in distributing fragments to each, he shall say: The bread of heaven in Christ Jesus. And if there are not enough presbyters, the deacons also shall hold the cups, and stand by in good order and reverence: first, he who holds the water; second, the milk; third, the wine.

And they who receive shall taste of each thrice, he who gives it saying: In God the Father Almighty. And he who receives shall say: Amen.

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When these things have been done, each one shall hasten to do good works and to please God and to conduct himself rightly, being zealous for the church, doing what he has learned and advancing in piety. Let every faithful man and woman, when they have risen from sleep in the morning, before they touch any work at all, wash their hands and pray to God, and so go to their work. But if instruction in the Word of God is given, each one should choose to go to that place, reckoning in his heart that it is God whom he hears in the instructor. For he who prays in the church will be able to pass by the wickedness of the day.

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He who is pious should think it a great evil if he does not go to the place where instruction is given and especially if he can read, or if a teacher comes. Let none of you be late in the church, the place where teaching is given. Then it shall be given to the speaker to say what is useful to each one; you will hear things which you do not think of, and profit from things which the Holy Spirit will give you through the instructor. In this way your faith will be strengthened about the things you will have heard. You will also be told in that place what you ought to do at home.

Therefore let each one be diligent in coming to the church, the place where the Holy Spirit flourishes. If there is a day when there is no instruction, let each one, when he is at home, take up a holy book and read in it sufficiently what seems to him to bring profit. Cyprian, a prominent bishop of Carthage near modern Tunis , wrote this stern warning to a fellow bishop c. In offering the cup, the tradition of the Lord must be observed, and we must do nothing but what the Lord first did on our behalf: the cup which is offered in remembrance of him must be offered mixed with wine.

Nor can his blood, by which we are redeemed and quickened, appear to be in the cup when in the cup there is no wine to signify the blood of Christ, as is declared by the sacrament and testimony of all the Scriptures. Some may be nervous in our morning sacrifices, lest by tasting wine their breath may smell of the blood of Christ. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem, delivered a series of addresses to candidates for baptism, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher around A.

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Attached to this series is a shorter set of addresses by Cyril or his successor titled On the Mysteries. These explain the Eucharist to the newly baptized. The meaning of the Eucharist was deliberately concealed from the unbaptized.

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It is not so; this kiss binds souls one to another, and solicits for them entire forgiveness Then after sanctifying ourselves by these spiritual hymns, we call upon the merciful God to send forth his Holy Spirit upon the gifts lying before him, that he may make the bread the body of Christ and the wine the blood of Christ; for whatever the Holy Spirit has touched is surely sanctified and changed. Then after the completion of the spiritual sacrifice, the bloodless service, over that sacrifice of propitiation, we call upon God for the common peace of the church, for the well-being of the world In a word, for all who stand in need of succor, we all pray and offer this sacrifice.

Then we commemorate also those who have fallen asleep before us, first, patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs. Then wait for the prayer, and give thanks to God who has accounted you worthy of such great mysteries. Your donations support the continuation of this ministry. After this was done, their custom was to depart, and to meet again to take food, but ordinary and harmless food. Concerning the Eucharist [or thanksgiving], give thanks thus, first concerning the cup: We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of your servant David, which you made known to us through your servant Jesus.

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A Glimpse Into A First Century Church Meeting

Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD 5. Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Explore Now. Buy As Gift. Overview One of the most popular themes in science fiction today is time travel. Probably all of us have at one time or another yearned to be able to travel back in time to visit a century long removed from our own.

But, as of yet, no one has invented a time machine. So the closest thing we have to time travel is reading the works of persons who lived in a different era from our own. This book equips you to take a glimpse at church life around A. It is not some fanciful, largely fictitious account of how the early Christians lived and worshipped in the early centuries. Instead, it is a collection of five of Tertullian's sermons and tracts that honestly reveal many of the customs, beliefs, worship practices, controversies, and lifestyles of the early Christians.

Tertullian, a church elder who lived in Carthage, North Africa, composed these works between A. As you will see from reading these writings, when Christianity was young, church life extended far beyond the walls of the meeting house. It touched personal prayer, entertainment, work, dress, and every other aspect of a Christian's life. Through his writings, Tertullian gives us insight into the complete sphere of Christian life in the early centuries of Christianity.

However, we are not publishing these works simply to satisfy the reader's intellectual curiosity or to help a person gain knowledge about church history. Rather, we hope these works will challenge Christians everywhere to return to the holiness and uncompromising obedience of the early Christians. Product Details.

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