6: CHURCH HISTORY BEGINS

I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Revelation 1:9

Inspired history concludes and Church history commences with a suffering church.

The apostolic age is nearing its end. The men charged with laying the foundations of the New Testament Church are laying down their lives one by one. It is widely believed that John, the youngest of the disciples was the last to die. Our last sight of the beloved disciple is on the Greek island of Patmos, imprisoned for the sake of the gospel.

It is at this juncture inspired history intersects with uninspired history.

Our final historic sight of Paul in Scripture is in a Roman prison as he penned his Second Epistle to Timothy. As Paul died at the hands of Nero in 65 AD, almost thirty years had elapsed by the time John received his visions on Patmos. Church history, therefore, is interested in the Roman Emperors, the prevailing culture of the second half of the 1st Century with the terrible persecutions that were inflicted upon the people of God.

The title of these short devotional histories now becomes so very real, ‘Burning but not Consumed’. Not only did the Church of Christ survive the onslaught but she outlasted the Romans and every other civilisation in the history of the world; as St Paul promised ‘more than conquerors’.

Onward, Christian soldiers, 
marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus
going on before!
Christ, the royal Master,
leads against the foe;
Forward into battle,
see his banner go!

S. Baring-Gould

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