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Overview of the Apostolic Fathers

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About Overview of the Apostolic Fathers

The Apostolic Fathers were a group of early Christian writers who lived in the first and second centuries AD and were believed to have direct or indirect connections to the apostles, the original twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. Their writings hold significant importance in church history as they provide valuable insights into the development of Christian doctrine, the organization of early Christian communities, and the challenges faced by the early Church.

The Apostolic Fathers include prominent figures such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, and Polycarp of Smyrna. Their writings, which consist of letters, epistles, and theological treatises, offer a glimpse into the post-apostolic period, shedding light on the practices, beliefs, and concerns of the early Christian communities.

One of the key themes in the writings of the Apostolic Fathers is the preservation of apostolic tradition and the defense against emerging heresies. They emphasized the importance of maintaining doctrinal purity and unity within the Christian communities, often providing guidance on issues such as ecclesiastical order, moral conduct, and the proper interpretation of scripture.

Additionally, the Apostolic Fathers played a crucial role in shaping the structure of the early Christian Church. Their writings reflect the establishment of a hierarchical order, with bishops, presbyters (priests), and deacons emerging as distinct roles within the Christian communities. The development of the episcopal structure, along with the emphasis on apostolic succession, became foundational elements in the organization of the Church.ere...

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"The Didache," also known as "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles," provides a valuable lesson from the early Christian era. This ancient Christian text, likely composed in the first century AD, offers practical guidance on various aspects of Christian living and community organization. The lesson from "The Didache" emphasizes the importance of ethical behavior, communal harmony, and faithful adherence to Christian teachings. It outlines instructions for ethical conduct, including guidelines for morality, worship, and church leadership. Through its teachings, "The Didache" underscores the significance of living a life of integrity, righteousness, and mutual support within the Christian community. Furthermore, "The Didache" highlights the early Christian emphasis on simplicity, humility, and communal sharing. It encourages believers to live modestly, to care for one another's needs, and to foster a sense of unity and fellowship among members of the Christian community. In studying "The Didache," modern Christians can gain insights into the foundational principles of their faith and discover practical guidance for navigating contemporary challenges. By embracing the lessons of ethical living, communal solidarity, and faithful discipleship found in "The Didache," believers can deepen their understanding of Christian virtues and strive to embody them in their lives today.

Ignatius of Antioch, also known as Ignatius Theophorus, was an influential early Christian leader and theologian who lived during the first century AD. Born around 35-50 AD, he became the Bishop of Antioch, one of the most prominent Christian communities of the time. Ignatius is believed to have been a disciple of the apostle John and a contemporary of other early church figures like Polycarp and Clement of Rome. Ignatius is renowned for his profound theological insights and his fervent defense of orthodox Christian doctrine amidst various theological controversies of his time. He is particularly remembered for his strong emphasis on the importance of unity within the church and for his advocacy of episcopal authority. One of the key teachings of Ignatius was his advocacy for the hierarchical structure of the church, with bishops, presbyters (elders), and deacons serving distinct roles in church governance. He emphasized the authority of bishops as successors to the apostles, stressing the need for obedience and respect toward them within the Christian community. Ignatius also emphasized the centrality of the Eucharist (Communion) in Christian worship and community life, viewing it as a symbol of unity and a means of spiritual nourishment for believers. He wrote extensively about the significance of the Eucharist in his letters, urging Christians to participate in it regularly and to recognize its importance in strengthening their faith and fostering communion with Christ and one another.

The Ante-Nicene Fathers refer to the early Christian theologians and leaders who lived and wrote before the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. This period is marked by significant theological developments and debates as the Christian community sought to define and articulate its beliefs amidst various challenges and controversies. One prominent figure among the Ante-Nicene Fathers is Polycarp of Smyrna, who lived in the second century AD. As a disciple of the apostle John, Polycarp played a crucial role in preserving and transmitting the apostolic tradition to subsequent generations. His writings and teachings offer valuable insights into the early Christian community's beliefs and practices. Polycarp's life exemplifies the virtues of faithfulness, resilience, and unwavering commitment to Christ. He steadfastly resisted attempts to compromise the integrity of the Christian faith, particularly in the face of persecution and doctrinal deviations. His martyrdom, around 155-167 AD, further underscores his steadfast devotion to Christ, as he chose to endure death rather than renounce his faith. One of the key lessons from Polycarp's life is the importance of preserving and upholding the apostolic tradition in the face of external pressures and internal divisions within the Christian community. His unwavering commitment to orthodoxy serves as a model for subsequent generations of believers, inspiring them to remain faithful to the teachings of Christ and his apostles amidst changing circumstances and challenges.

About the Teacher

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Bishop Lewter is a native of Brooklyn, NY with an undergraduate degree in Religion from Oberlin College in Oberlin, OH. He holds a Masters of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA (1979) and a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH (1994).

He is a founding bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship where he has served as a state bishop, General Overseer, Director of Christian Education and currently serves as the fellowship's Historian.

He brings to his teaching a substantial amount of pastoral experience having served the Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church of Ossining, NY (1978-1985), the Oakley Full Gospel Baptist Church (1985-2005), the Hollywood Full Gospel Baptist Cathedral of Amityville, NY (2006-present) and the Queens Ministry of New York City (2014-present)

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