Instruction Essay Example

Christian Ethics

Instruction

First Christian generation

Introduction

According to Barrett, et al., 2001, Christianity encompasses the religious beliefs and principles based on faith in the holy trinity that includes God the father, Jesus the son and the Holy Spirit. Christianity being a monotheistic religion focuses its teaching on the life and works of Jesus Christ as the son of God. Believers in the religion of Christianity are referred to as Christians1. First Christian generation entails believers in Christ who were among the first to receive and accept the teachings of Jesus and incorporate them in their daily lives. First Christian generation were located in Jerusalem and spread the gospel of Christianity to neighboring lands such as Samaria, Judea, Galilee, Asia Minor and Greece among other cities and places as highlighted in (Acts 1:8). The first Christian generations was first referred as Christians in Antioch and were led by leaders known as Apostles who include John, Peter and James. Primarily, modern Christianity has its original roots from the first Christian generation.

There are particular characteristics, traits and qualities of the first Christian generation which not only were important to them in strengthening their faith but also are of critical significance in shaping the understanding of what ought to be done by present- day Christians and Church. These characteristics are what form the basis of this research which is to identify the characteristics of the first Christian generation and analyze how these characteristics help the church in creating a new identity.

Characteristics of first Christian generation

Communion and fellowship

A characteristic that was distinct to the first Christian generation is spiritual unity and being united in one purpose, which was to spread the true gospel of Jesus Christ. According to Lohfink communion was fundamental in keeping the first Christian generation as one and enhances their faith that they were one in Christ. To illustrate communion and fellowship, we see them join on the upper room where they pray and receive the Holy Spirit2.

In Acts 20:7, it is recorded that on the first day of the week, the disciples, who form part of the first Christian generation came together to break bread and drink from the same cup while in I John 1:6-7, the teachings indicate that they had fellowship with not only Jesus Christ who cleansed their sins, but also, they had fellowship with one another. When Paul was arrested, the first Christian generation met together and prayed in unity for one purpose, for one of their own to be set free. They ate together, worshiped together and persevered together as one.

The characteristic of communion and fellowship of the first Christian generation helps the church today in understanding that victory and accomplishment of the main goals and vision for Christianity and the church lies in unity among Christians and being joined in unity for one purpose. This is essential in helping spread the gospel to all corners of the world and bringing more souls to Christ, which is impossible to do when the church is not united and in fellowship with one another. It is through communion and fellowship within the church and with Christ that the church will transform its image as a divided entity to one body in Christ. The church need to constantly fellowship in faith, encourage one another and support each other just as the first Christian generation did.

Perseverance and Faith in Christ

Perseverance as characteristic was of particular importance to the first Christian generation as it encompassed determination, persistence and being strong willed. Their perseverance quality was coupled with a strong faith in the power of Jesus as Son of God and in his death, resurrection and his reign in heaven as echoed by3. The first Christian generation endured a lot ranging from unbelief from fellow society members and persecutions by the reigning authorities among others. Among Christians of the first generation include the Apostles such as Peter and Paul who endured imprisonment, scorn and others being put to death for their faith in Christ while witnesses such as Stephen who accepted to die instead of betraying his faith in Christ. From perseverance and faith saints were also established.

As Lohfink notes, the crucifixion of Jesus was symbolically meant to indicate that Jesus who was hanged on the cross was cursed by God as written in Deut 21:22-23 on Gentiles’ point of view4. However, his followers despite this devastating actions through perseverance and faith went back to Jerusalem and during Pentecost declared publicly that Jesus had conquered death and that they were witnesses (Acts 5:30-32). They do this out of strong faith and lack of fear for their lives. Despite the challenges they faced, they persevered and had faith and hope in the teachings of Christ and braved pain and death to spread the faith in Christ and principles of Christianity in an environment where the religion or ideology of Christianity have never been had before5.

What the church can learn from the trait of perseverance is that spreading the Gospel of Christ comes with its own price and challenges and the church needs to persevere and have faith in Jesus Christ in order to spread the teachings. This is especially true when spreading the gospel in hostile environment where Christianity is not known or welcomed. Irregardless of the pain and suffering, the church should persist and have faith in order to convince the world of the power of the Holy trinity. Through perseverance and faith more people will be drawn to the purpose of God through Christ.

Prayerfulness

Prayer forms the basis of a fully converted Christian. Prayerfulness was a trait that illustrated a true witness and believer in the teachings of Jesus Christ during the first Christian generation. In (Acts 4:29), the witness are seeking strength and boldness from God to spread the Gospel through prayer while in (Acts 12:5), the witnesses who form part of the first Christian generation, were in constant prayer for Peter when he was imprisoned. Another indication that prayerfulness was a characteristic is a letter written by Apostle Paul to the Church of Thessalonians that they should pray without ceasing (I Thessalonians 5:17). They used this attribute to communicate to God their fears, worries, praise, worship, seeking forgiveness and often when seeking counsel from him. The modern day church can use the characteristic of prayerfulness to change their new identity by relying on prayers as a way to seek penance and present their petitions to their God6.

Obedient to God and empathetic to the needy

The first Christian generation was characterized by utter obedience to the laws and commandments of God which translated to having empathy to the needy. The first Christian generation did exactly what the teachings of Jesus asked of them, by loving the Lord their God with all their hearts, strength, soul and mind and loving others as they loved themselves. This summed up the Ten Commandments written in the Old Testament7.

The first Christian generation preached the gospel to the whole world as obedience to Jesus command for them to spread then good news from Jerusalem to Samaria, Judea, and Galilee and to all the parts of the world. Peter preaches in (Acts 3), Stephen preaches in (Acts 7), Paul preached far and wide and preached through letters to the seven churches. Continuously, they help each other and went to great lengths to do so as illustrated in (Acts 2: 44-46).

In order to renew its identity, the church needs to adopt the characteristic of obedience to God and being empathetic to others by willing to sacrifice to help those in need in the society not only fellow Christians but also non-believers so as the non-believers can believe the gospel of kindness, generosity, gentleness and love that the Church preaches as illustrated in (Peter 3: 27) and (Galatians 6:9).

Conclusion

The first generation Christian was believers in the Holy trinity, the virgin birth, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. As discussed in the report, they had distinct characteristics that made them what they were which are fundamental for modern church in developing a new identity. Although they possessed many characteristics, the main ones include communion and fellowship, perseverance and faith in Christ, prayerfulness, obedient to God and empathetic to the needy.

References

Barrett, et al., 2001. World Christian Encyclopedia. London: Oxford University Press.

Daley, B.E. 1991. The hope of the early church. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Hengel, M., & Barrett, C.K. 1999. Conflicts and challenges in early Christianity. Harrisburg: Trinity press international.

Horbury, W., 1999. Christianity in Ancient Jewish Tradition. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University press.

Hurtado, L.W., 1988. One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism. Philadelphia: Fortress press.

Lohfink, G. 1999. Does God need the Church? Toward a theology of the people of God. Collegeville: The Liturgical press.

The Bible. 1999. King James Version. New York: American Bible Society.

1
Barrett, et al., 2001. World Christian Encyclopedia. London: Oxford University Press.

2 Lohfink, G. 1999. Does God need the Church? Toward a theology of the people of God. Collegeville: The Liturgical press

3 Hengel, M., & Barrett, C.K. 1999. Conflicts and challenges in early Christianity. Harrisburg: Trinity press international

4
Lohfink, G. 1999. Does God need the Church? Toward a theology of the people of God. Collegeville: The Liturgical press.

5 Daley, B.E. 1991. The hope of the early church. New York: Cambridge University Press

6
Hurtado, L.W., 1988. One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism. Philadelphia: Fortress press.

7 Horbury, W., 1999. Christianity in Ancient Jewish Tradition. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University press