Stephen Whitsett BA
The works of the Early Church fathers (33 AD through 300 AD) reveal the many ideas and thought of the men who first established the church in the midst of persecution by the Roman world. As a resource we come to understand how they thought and believed about the gospel message. Many quoted passages from the Bible which indicates what they accepted as the cannon of
Scriptures. They also included historical facts that relay events of their time and their significance and more importantly they quoted works from men who were alive at that time but their
writings are now lost to us. These writings are never considered "inspired" but informative in revealing the minds of the people of that time.
The Didache is a document written about 100 AD that is the first known letter written by an unknown author BUT
possibly an Apostle, giving instructions to the church. Included in their is instructions for baptism and for communion, it also included the belief in a future second coming post 70 AD.
A creed is a condensed version of what people believed of the Bible and the essential message of the gospel. These creeds were formed to declare what the church believed to be truth that makes a person Christina and it is called "Orthodoxy" or right beliefs. They were never meant to replace
Scriptures but are another way in expressing what they believed
Scriptures taught and should be seen as correct as they merely restate in different word the thought and ideas of what the Bible teaches. The earliest known creed was written out and accepted as the Apostles creed which for emphasis includes a statement of a Bodily physical resurrection. The Nicene creed which was formulized by 300 AD also stated a future second coming of Christ as a sound doctrine to be a test for Orthodox Christianity. This creed was accepted by every known church and the standard for truth in which to measure heresy against.
Clement of Rome (? -112 AD) Letter to the
Chapter 23 ...You perceive how in a little time the fruit of a tree comes to maturity. Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scripture also bears witness, saying,
Speedily will He come, and will not tarry; and, The Lord shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Holy One, for whom you look. Malachi 3:1.
Chapter 24 ....Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising Him from the dead.
It was said some fifteen hundred years ago by Tertullian in his treaty, on Resurrection.
“Chapter 20 Figurative Senses Have Their Foundation in Literal Fact. Besides, the Allegorical Style is by No Means the Only One Found in the Prophetic Scriptures, as Alleged by the Heretics.
Now, to upset all conceits of this sort, let me dispel at once the preliminary idea on which they rest— their assertion that the prophets make all their announcements in figures of speech. Now, if this was the case, the figures themselves could not possibly have been distinguished, inasmuch as the verities would not have been declared, out of which the figurative language is stretched. And, indeed, if all are figures, where will be that of which they are the figures? How can you hold up a mirror for your face, if the face nowhere exists? But, in truth, all are not figures, but there are also literal statements; nor are all shadows, but there are bodies too: so that we have prophecies about the Lord Himself even, which are clearer than the day. For it was not figuratively that the Virgin did not conceive in her womb; nor in a trope did she bear Emmanuel, that is, Jesus, God with us. Even granting that He was figuratively to take the power of Damascus and the spoils of Samaria, Isaiah 8:4 still it was literally that He was to enter into judgment with the elders and princes of the people. Isaiah 3:13 for in the person of Pilate the heathen raged, and in the person of Israel the people imagined vain things; the kings of the earth in Herod, and the rulers in Annas and Caiaphas, were gathered together against the Lord, and against His anointed. He, again, was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a sheep before the shearer, that is, Herod, is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. Isaiah 53:7 He gave His back to scourges, and His cheeks to blows, not turning His face even from the shame of spitting. He was numbered with the transgressors; Isaiah 53:12 He was pierced in His hands and His feet; they cast lots for his raiment; they gave Him gall, and made Him drink vinegar; they shook their heads, and mocked Him; He was appraised by the traitor in thirty pieces of silver. Zechariah 11:12 what figures of speech does Isaiah here give us? What tropes do David? What allegory does Jeremiah? Not even of His mighty works have they used parabolic language.” Tertullian (c. AD 160-220) “On Resurrection of the flesh”.
The ECF all believed in a bodily Resurrection.
Giving an orthodox apologetic answer for Eschatology