What was the Catholic church called before it was called Catholic?

The Catholic church wasn’t always called Catholic, what was the name of it before it was called Catholic.

Believers in Christ were called Christians in the NT.

Jewish. Or, more specifically, a Jewish fringe movement.

This is why the very early Christian Church was not persecuted by the Romans. The Roman Empire had an agreement with the Jews to tolerate their practices. The very early Christian Church was viewed as a Jewish faction, and thus protected by this agreement.

And, indeed, the earliest Christians (who were all Jews) observed the customary Jewish Sabbath and Temple practices, but celebrated Mass on Sunday. It was not until the Christians began to distance themselves from the Jews that they were regarded as a separate movement.

It was called “The Way,” and the people were called Christians. In about 107 It was called the Catholic Church, meaning Universal, (for the whole world). It was Christ’s Church. He founded it. God Bless. Memaw

Also, I read on another thread that the word “Roman” was added by early Anglicans as a way to differentiate us from them and that it was used in a condesending tone.

None of them were Gentiles? :confused:

It was actually called the Catholic Church WELL before 107AD. Take a look at the reference in the Letter to the Smyrnaeans written by Ignatius of Antioch.

“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.”

Note something VERY important in this passage. Ignatius simply refers to the “Catholic Church” in a very short, direct way, with NO explanation of what he means by this term. And he is NOT the bishop of Smyrna. He is bishop of Antioch. The two cities are considerable travel from each other, so the Christians in Smyrna did NOT hear him preach/speak often if at all, and his writings to them would have been sparse.

So the Christians of Smyrna already knew what Ignatius meant by this term. He didn’t need to explain it. He simply wrote it down. So they knew the meaning, and it was universally understood by everyone. That means the term had to have been in use for at LEAST a couple of decades by then.

So my personal best guess, at the latest the Church was known as the Catholic Church by the mid to late first century.

You can also see a possible reference in the Acts 9:31 ἐκκλησία καθ’ ὅλης (ekklēsia kath oles) “church throughout all.”

I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that the “Catholic” Church = the “Universal” Church. There was no need for that distinction until dissident breakaway groups started popping up; necessitating the need to refer to Christ’s Church as the “Universal” Church. Or, “Katholikos” in Greek - “Catholic” in English.

You are correct that ALL believers in Christ are CHRISTIANS.

What was the Baptist church called before it was Baptist?
What was the Congregational church called before it was Congregational?
What was the Presbyterian church called before it was Presbyterian?

Do YOU happen to fall into one of these categories? I know your profile says that you’re “Protestant”, but what is YOUR church called? The Episcopal church? The Lutheran church? Joe’s Main Street Bible Meeting House? What were THEY called in the NT?

It was first called The Way, or The Way of the Lord, see Acts 9:

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

St IgnatiusBp of Antioch, ~69 a.d. - ~107 a.d., ordained by apostles, disciple of St John the apostle, called the Church the Catholic Church; Epistle to the Smyrnæansof which schismatics won’t be going to heaven

The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

Chapter 8. Let nothing be done without the bishop

See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper 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. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

Well…according to Acts 9:31 in the Greek it seems that even the New Testament uses the name Catholic before anyone else did.


[FONT=Georgia]ἐκκλησία καθ’ ὅλης[/FONT] (ecclessia kath olos) is translated as “the church throughout all” , which is by definition the same as universal.

Bishop St. Ignatius of Antioch, (note that he was in the same city where we were first called Christians) who was martyred in the very early 2nd century used it first in his letter to the church at Smyrna. (See CHAP. VIII.–LET NOTHING BE DONE WITHOUT THE BISHOP. As Pablope quoted above.:thumbsup:)

Believers in Christ were indeed called Christians in the New Testament but not at the very beginning. They weren’t called Christians until after the faith had spread to Antioch. See Acts 11:26. This suggests that not everything touching on the faith was set in stone at the very beginning.

Jesus Christ gave his Church a universal or catholic mandate to preach the Gospel to all nations. See Matthew 27:19. Is it really so surprising that once that mandate started to be realized and the faith spread to more and more nations that Christ’s Church started calling itself the Catholic Church?

Actually according to Vol. I of the “Faith of the Early Church Fathers”, by William Jurgens. It was in the year 110 AD that St. Ignatius of Antioch first called the Church Catholic. He heard the Apostle John preach. The letter to the Smyrnaeans was written in 110.He was the 3rd Bishop of Antioch. God Bless, Memaw

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