Christians Follow the Way of Jesus Christ,
Crucified and Risen from the Dead
Our knowledge of the early Christians comes from the description of their community in the Book of Acts, and the letters to the early congregations, most of which were written by Paul.
Paul's letters are clearly replies to questions raised by the congregations in Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, Galatia, Rome, Thessolonica, and Colossae. Unfortunately we do not have their letters to him, which might cast more light on how the members of those congregations lived out Jesus' teachings.
The early Christians followed what they called The Way of Jesus Christ. They listened to Jesus at the ascension and took their belief in him to the end of the known world, which at that time was Rome.
The Romans not only honored their emperors as rulers, but they also worshiped them as gods. Worshiping the One God only was a central part of the lives of the early Christians, and the Romans were confused by the Christians' behavior.
Some of the Roman rulers persecuted the early Christians brutally, but others, like Herod Agrippa II speaking to Paul in Acts 26, were bemused.
Pliny the Younger, the Roman proconsul of Bithynia and Pontus in the years 111 - 112, describes the Christians like this:
They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before sunrise and reciting an antiphonal hymn to Christ as God, and binding themselves with an oath - not to commit any crime, but to abstain from all acts of theft, robbery, and adultery, from breaches of faith, from denying a trust when called upon to honor it. After this, they went on, it was their custom to separate, and then meet again to partake of food, but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.
Pliny continues in deeper confusion:
Nor has this contagious superstition spread through the cities only, but also through the villages and the countryside.
The early Christians believed that their community was built by the Holy Spirit. They won converts by their kindness and compassion for one another. People wanted to live the same way the Christians did. Can we say the same about ourselves, the modern Christians?
In later times Christians became know for their health and longevity, because they took care of their sick during plagues and epidemics, while the pagan peoples left their friends and families to die because they were afraid of catching their diseases. The first hospitals for both physically and mentally ill people were established by Christians.
Antiphonal hymns are sung in call and response form - have your class sing Listen, God Is Calling (With One Voice 712).

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