Questions about the early Church

My mom is married to a Protestant man (in the Catholic Church) who really never attended church on a regular basis during his adult life before they were married. Since they have been married, she has really ignited a love for God and Jesus in him and they attend church every Sunday, just not Catholic church. My Mom’s reasoning is that she wants to worship with her husband and she doesn’t think God is going to hold it against her or be hurt because she’s not attending mass. They go to a church that they both love and my Mom still prays the rosary most days and is honestly one of the best people I have ever known and loves God with her whole heart.

Anyway, that’s not really what this thread is about…that’s just background.

We were talking earlier today, and my mom said that the only Catholic among the Apostles and early biblical writers was Peter, and that Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc. all broke off and taught their own interpretations of what Christ taught. Basically, she read or heard that they never really had a set hierarchy or dogma, that they didn’t really meet to discuss doctrine, etc. My understanding was that they all went and had churches elsewhere, but that Peter was the head of the Church and they all basically followed his lead as the first Catholic priests.

Does anyone know any real details about the structure of the early church? Any unbiased sources or info I can pass along?

Jesus established only one Church. In the Acts of the Apostles this Church was called “the way”. The title Catholic came into use in the first century. All of the apostles and all of their successors were members of this one Church, whether they established communities in Corinth, or Antioch, or Galatia, or Rome. The rudiments of the Church hierachy can be seen in the Book of Acts. Would this count as an unbiased source?

The Church has been likened to a mighty oak tree…the tree may look different now than it did years ago…but it has the same genes and properties as the acorn.

To compare the Church’s “structure” today noting or focusing on dissimilarities with what can be seen in Acts is sort of a foolish exercise. But there are still some interesting parallels and similarities.

Yes all the Apostles and those in the earliest days of the Church were Catholics. The name that they were called changed within the first years…and the first century…or was expanded upon…but there was but one Church that Jesus founded and which existed in various local places…with Peter as the Chief Shepherd etc…

Those who followed Jesus…were first called “the disciples”…

Later in time we find them in Acts called followers of “the way” …and it seems “Nazarenes”

then at Antioch we started being called Christians…(as can be seen in Acts)

Later in the first century the Church started to be called “Catholic” (see St. Ignatius --again at Antioch --use around the year 100)…

So in time Christians began to be also called Catholics.

And as various heresies arose in the next few centuries…which claimed to be Christian …the word was used to differentiate Christians from the others who claimed to be Christians…(such as those who rejected the Divinity of Christ etc) …was Catholic…

Of course we still called ourselves Christians…but also we use the term Catholic.

Nowadays we have many sorts of Christians --who are indeed Christians and our brothers…(though we are unhappily not yet in full communion…).

Catholics are Christians who in full communion with the successor of Peter…etc

Jesus …he gathered 12 men …his Apostles and gave them authority with Peter being given a very special mission and office and authority…Jesus founded one Church…and in time …various names got used within the first years…and by the end of the First Century…the term Catholic was used for this same Church…so yes the Apostles…and the other early Christians with them …were Catholics…even if that name was not yet used when some of them where martyred…

just as the Deacon Stephen was a Christian

even though he was martyred before that name was used for the Disciples…as we discover in the pages of Acts.

Thank you all! Is there anywhere in the Bible that shows that the apostles and/or gospel writers were all a part of the same church, communicating with each other and following Peter’s directives as a part of a single church, etc.? Evidence that would show them to be in communion with each other and collaborating on doctrines, etc? Evidence that shows that they didn’t just take what Jesus said and then go off and do their own things/start their own churches, etc? I’m pretty sure there is, but I’m no Bible scholar :slight_smile:

These audiences are wonderful:

and in them you will find some of what you seek…got to go to bed now…

They continue here:

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution23 of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper24 Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smryrnaeans 8:1-2 AD 107 (Saint Peter appointed Ignatius Bishop of Antioch)

**Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. ** St Clement of Rome, Letter to the Corinthians 44:1-2 C. AD 80 (St. Clement, 4th Pope, worked with St. Paul the apostle.)

As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1,10,2, C.AD 190 (Martyr, Father of the Church, Bishop of Lyons, Instructed by Saint Polycarp, a disciple of Saint John the apostle.)

They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Smryrnaeans 7:1 AD 107 (Saint Peter appointed Ignatius Bishop of Antioch)

Your mother is being led astray. The early Church is very Catholic. One of the important things you mother is missing is the spiritual food in the Eucharist. John 6:53-58 makes it clear that we must partake of this meal. Luke 22:19, Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22. Jesus said, “This is My body.” He didn’t say, “this is a symbol of my body”. Jesus said , “Do this in remembrance of Me.” This is the only thing He ever ask us to do for Him.

Here’s another indication of the importance of the Church: This Paul speaking to Timothy, "1Ti 3:15 But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.

The Word of God is a person, Jesus Christ. The New Testament is a person, Jesus Christ. The Church is the body of Christ.

Christ established a Church, and the Catholic Church gave the Bible to the world.

I don’t think you understand fully the Catholic Church. Concatenating a long set of conditions like you have and asking if it’s all in the Bible is wrong headed.

The Church was founded and was given the Holy Spirit to guide it. One act that it did (out of many), under the Holy Spirit’s guidance was to close the canon of the Bible. The Bible itself, as a closed intact, sequenced work is therefore a product of the Catholic Church. The authority given by Jesus to the leaders was exercised, giving us the Bible.

So using the Bible as the starting point to see whether there’s a “Catholic church in there” so to speak is not logical. Instead, you can look at the Bible and say does the Catholic Church anywhere violate anything in the Bible, in toto.

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