Before Rome was an empire it was a Republic. By 264 BC Rome was already the most powerful state in the Mediterranean. The Republic was replaced by the Roman Empire in 40 BC. Julius Caesar declared himself to be a perpetual dictator over the senate in 44 BC, but was assassinated by the other Senators. By 27 BC, the senate had changed its mind and declared Octavian to be Emperor, or Augustus.
The first 200 years of the Empire was unprecedented peace which is known as the Pax Romana. Conquests of other surrounding regions continued during this time as Rome grew more powerful. The Roman Empire reached its strongest around 200 AD. Some of the Emperor’s during that time were good rulers but some were cruel and power hungry. Despite persecution from some Emperors, Christianity spread rapidly across the Empire.
Jesus was born in 3 AD and crucified in 33 AD. After the resurrection, The Apostle’s continued their ministry and spread the gospel. Christianity spread rapidly across the first century AD despite persecution from Nero and other emperors. By the third century, Christianity had become a dominant religion in the Roman Empire. It wasn’t until 312 AD that persecution of Christians had officially stopped.
One feature of the early church was Monasticism. The first recorded monk was St. Anthony. The Monastic lifestyle became a widespread ideal, and a communal system where monks could support each other. The study of the Church Fathers is called Patristics. Clement, Polycarp and Ignatius were the 3 Apostolic Fathers and were said to have been taught to from the 12 Apostles themselves.
Polycarp was a Christian Bishop. Polycarp was Martyred. They tried burning him at the stake but when the fire didn’t touch Polycarp’s body they stabbed him. Clement was a Pope. He is considered to be the first Apostolic father. He died in 99 AD. Jerome was a Catholic priest. He is known for his translation of the Bible to Latin and his commentaries on the Gospels.
The first recorded council was in Acts 15. The debate is over whether converted Gentiles should be circumcised and become Jews. The council decided it wasn’t necessary but did outline several imperatives for new concerts to follow. Similar councils where difficult subjects were addressed and decided on, have been held in the church ever since. Sometimes particularly heretical doctrines are combatted by a creed that is released by the council.
A creed is an organized succinct way to convey the most crucial truths of what you believe. Well known examples are the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed. We don’t have proof that the Apostle’s Creed was written by the Apostle’s, but it did originate around their time. It outlines the basic, undeniably important truths of Christianity, like the existence of the Godhead and Christ’s atoning work for sins.