the early church


Can anyone explain to me, or point me to (not lengthy) articles about how the early church was set up? This is an offshoot of the “invisible church” thread, which has some great info, but I need more.
Some early letters are way to long for me to read with children to take care of :o , but any quotes about the liturgy, heirarchy, and explanations of how the church/papacy had to change over the years as civilization changed would be good.
I read somewhere that the papacy needed to be somewhat hidden (probably not the best word) before the legalization of Christianity by Constantine, but the protestants charge that the papacy was invented at this point.
Any help is appreciated.


There’s a couple of fast-read books that will give you a good insight.

For the early Mass: “The Mass of the Early Christians” by Mike Aquilina is a great read.

For the early Church: “The Four Witnesses” by Rob Bennett is wonderful, as well as a great testament to the courage of the early Church spokesmen.

Was the Pope kept low-key for the early Church? The first 30 popes of the Church were martyred by our Roman friends. You can do the math.

But, if you read St. Clement’s letter to the Corinthians, you’ll get a good clue to the respect and the authority of the Papacy even in the first century.

St. Ignatius’ letter’s to seven churches as he was being led in chains to Rome to be fed to the lions is a must read (they are summarized very well in “the Four Witnesses” mentioned above) for the early Church structure.


As for web-sites, Corunum has a good summary of some of the early Church writings on the structure of the Church here:

The Early Church Fathers has a complete reading, and a shorter version of all of Ignatius’ letters here:

Good Luck!!!


Its there in the bible:

You can read the letters Peter wrote. He was in Rome, but referred to Rome as Babylon so as the authorities would not know he was there.

Paul’s letters are good, especially 1 Tim.

Acts of the Apostles reads more like a story.

The letters are pretty short reads, Acts takes a little longer.


Try Mr. Aquilina’s blog, too, for a daily dose. It’s called ‘The Way of the Fathers’. You can Google it out.


Here’s Mike Aquilina’s blog.

This website has a section dedicated to what the Church Fathers said about specific topics. It’s well organized and the articles aren’t lengthy at all. They’re a real good introduction to the Fathers. Hopefully it will compel you to read the Fathers in full.


There is also a great book by Rod Bennett - Four Witnesses - that really helped me understand the early Church Hierarchy. It is written by someone like us - we are not scholars or theologians but average men and women looking to learn more about our Church and our Faith.

From that beginning I was able to go a little deeper and into more challenging works. He gave me a good foundation.

closed #8

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit