Summary of Church History in Plain Language Chapters 1-2

Church History in Plain Language was written by Bruce L. Shelley. In his book, we find a discussion on eight ages of church history. The first two chapters cover the age of Jesus and the apostles. History may be defined as ‘His Story’. It is the story of God. He is the author of all history. The Bible is the primary book of History. It tells the story of God. Church History, however, is a major part of the overall history directed by God Himself. Church History began with Jesus Himself and with the apostles who followed Jesus. The first two chapters of Church History in Plain Language give a great overview of the age of Christ and the apostles and the foundation of the church.
Chapter one begins with a very profound statement, which reads, “Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central event the humiliation of God.” The crucifixion of Christ is the central part of all history and the foundation of the church. Chapter one deals with the involvement of Jesus in church history as the author describes the following: Jesus and the church, Palestine in Jesus’ day, Jesus’ ministry, Jesus’ message, the last week, the new covenant, and the trial and death. It may be said that the church was founded when the disciples began to follow Jesus. The disciples followed Jesus in the land of Palestine which consisted of major political and religious parties. Among these groups were the Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, and the Essenes; all of which were under Roman rule. Jesus grew in popularity during this time as He began His ministry. Jesus was busy preaching in the synagogues and ministering to the sick and the poor. Through His miracles, He gained such a following that He was beginning to be viewed as a threat to the major political and religious parties. The message of Jesus was the message of the Kingdom of God and of repentance of sin. He was viewed as such a threat that His enemies sought to kill Him. The last week of Jesus proved to be very eventful as Jesus went from riding into Jerusalem with crowds of people worshipping Him to being arrested and beaten and lead away to be crucified. His death on the cross ushered in a New Covenant, in which, all who believe in Him will be adopted into the family of God. After His resurrection and ascension, the followers of Jesus began to preach the truth of Jesus to the world.
In chapter two we find how the church is officially born. It began at the day of Pentecost, which is recorder in Acts chapter two. For a time there was a union between the followers of Christ and the Jews, however, their differences became obvious and a more clear division occurred. Shelley deals with the following topics in chapter two: Christianity and Judaism, Pentecost, The first community, The Hellenists, The Apostle Paul, and the decline of Jerusalem. This apostolic age was a time of tremendous growth for the church. Many people came to know Christ during this time and local churches sprang up all over the region. At the end of chapter two we find the decline of Jerusalem. It was during this time, at the end of the apostolic age, that the message of Christ spread abroad and the enemies of Christ imposed harsh persecution upon the apostles and the followers of Christ. However, due to the faithfulness of the church, over time, Christianity became the dominant faith in the Roman Empire.
The age of Christ and the apostles was an exciting time of new birth. The church age is now here and the gospel is soon to be spread to the world. With the age of Christ and the apostles, the history of the church has begun.

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