This historical review will be a great valuable resource, to those who are interested in major people and events that have shaped the history of the Christian Church.
This two thousand year period is both enlightening and challenging.
At the time of the death of Paul and the other Apostles, the Church entered a time of great persecution.
On July 19th, 64 A.D. Rome burned for seven days and was totally destroyed by fire.
Nero deflected the blame from himself upon the Christians and many of them were martyred. Their bodies lined the Roman roads as human torches. They were dressed in animal skins to be mauled and killed by ferocious animals.
In Jerusalem, the Jews openly rebelled against Rome. Jerusalem was destroyed, the Temple was burned and thousands of Jews were crucified and killed. Over six thousand Roman Soldiers were killed. The Roman Emperor Titus, finally declared complete victory over Jerusalem. Josephus the Jewish Historian records more historical information about these events.
Over the next two thousand years, God raised up some phenomenal men and woman who would play a vital role in Church History, namely:
As a young Philosopher he accepted Christ and studied the teachings of Paul. He was one of the first Apologists, defending the Gospel and traveling extensively contending for the Christian Faith. In 165 on one of his trips to Rome, he was arrested and beheaded with six other Christians. From that time he was referred to as Justin Martyr.
Polycarp became the Bishop of the Church of Smyrna in 116. He had been a student of the Apostle John. While the Christians were quietly and secretly worshiping in homes, they were being hunted down, to be put to death in the Arena. Polycarp was arrested and the Proconsul pleaded with him to recant his faith in Christ so that he could be released. Polycarp stood firm and said;
"Eighty-six years have I served Him, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who has saved me?"
He was tied to a stake and burned alive as a martyr in 156.
He was born in 125 and was a pupil of Polycarp. He became Bishop of Lyons in 177. Many heresies arose in the Church including one called Gnosticism. He became a defender of the faith and wrote great apologetic writings. He set forth a standard for Church Theology by writing a study titled "Against Heresies." This dealt a deadly blow to Gnosticism. In his writings he quotes scriptures from most of the New Testament Books as we know them today.
He was born in Carthage and studied literary classics, speech making and the law. In 196 he applied his great intellectual abilities to writing Christian Books. In his writings there are over 1800 quotations from the original manuscripts of the New Testament
He was born in 185 to wonderful Christian Parents. His Father Leonidas, suffered Martyrdom in 201. At eighteen years of age he became President of a Christian Bible School and embarked on a career of studying, teaching and writing. He was a prolific writer and with the help of seven secretaries, produced over 2000 books and commentaries. Over two thirds of the New Testament can be found quoted in his writings. He accepted the Authenticity and Divine Inspiration of all of the 27 New Testament Books as we know them today. He was arrested, persecuted and died of poor health in 251.
Was born in 264 and became the Bishop of the Church in Caesarea. It was during the time of the Diocletian Persecution, that Bibles were confiscated and burned in public places. It became Rome's mission to blot out Christianity. He became King Constantine's chief religious advisor. He ordered Eusebius to constitute and prepare 50 Bibles.
He was born in 200 and was a wealthy man. He testified of being born again, became a teacher and an eloquent speaker, rising quickly through the ranks of the Church. In 248, he became the Bishop of the Church at Carthage. He worked to bring about the unity of the Church. Cyprian was beheaded under the persecution of Emperor Valerian in 258.
The conversion of Constantine
In 306 Constantine was proclaimed, Ruler of Rome by his loyal soldiers. He claimed to have seen a cross of light in the sky during his most decisive battle, which he won. In 324 he attained sovereign power and immediately the Church prospered. He organized the church taking an active interest in the Christian Faith.
He called an empire-wide Council at the city of Nicea where major theological issues were debated and a creed established.
During his reign, the Church experienced great growth throughout the world.
He was converted in 387 and became Bishop of a North African city called Hippo in 391. He challenged heresies with hundreds of letters and commentaries.
In 398 he was appointed Bishop of the Church in Constantinople. Because of his strong preaching against sin he was exiled and died in 407.
In 385 he moved to Bethlehem in Israel, where he began translating the Bible into Latin from the original Hebrew language and produced the "Vulgate" version.
After studying in a Monastery in France, he went to Ireland in 432. So successful was his Ministry that he established over 300 churches and baptized over 120,000 people. He died in 460.
He was born in 521. In 563 with twelve companions, he sailed and set feet in Scotland. They successfully evangelized Scotland and Northern England. From there Evangelists were sent throughout Europe.
The dark ages of the Christian Church
From about the 5th century, great apostasy crept into the Church. A spiritual darkness settled and continued until the 13th century. Many false teachers arose causing confusion and those who opposed it, were severely persecuted. During this time few people but Priests and Monks possessed Bibles.
- He studied and graduated from Oxford University.
- He was a leading scholar of his time and respected for his wisdom.
- In 1377 his writings were banned and burned.
- He translated the first complete English Bible.
- He believed that everyone was entitled to read the Bible in their own language.
- He initiated the Bible translating period.
- John Wycliffe died in 1384.
He translated the Bible into the Early Modern English of his day. In 1535, Tyndale was arrested, jailed in a castle outside Brussels, Belgium for more than a year. He was tried for heresy and treason, then strangled and burnt at the stake.
In 1535 he published the first complete English Bible.
- In 1401 he was ordained as a Priest and continued teaching and preaching. He became popular with the people and the Queen, but the Religious Leaders opposed him.
- In 1415 he was condemned and executed.
He invented the first printing press and was able to print over 200 copies of the Vulgate at a fraction of the cost. He started a printing revolution. By 1483 every major European Country, had its own printing press, to print spiritual books and Bibles. They became easily available to everyone. This started a spiritual revival that spread across the known world.
The 15th century saw the Renaissance of Christianity flourishing. His preaching was dynamic and crowds flocked to hear him. He opposed the Pope and was excommunicated in 1497. He was later burned at the stake.
- The Church was rife with corruption and the sale of indulgences. Indulgences were the payment of money to the Priests for forgiveness of sin.
- In 1515 Martin Luther began teaching at Wittenberg.
He continuously pondered the teachings of the Apostle Paul. He spoke out against corruption and the selling of indulgences. He nailed his 95-point thesis to the door of the church in Wittenberg.
- In 1520, he was condemned by the Pope, excommunicated from the Church and his writings banned. His brave and righteous leadership attracted a following of thousands of people. The Lutheran Church takes its roots from here.
- In 1519 he became Pastor of a Church in Zurich, Switzerland.
- In 1529 he came together with Martin Luther.
- They agreed on 14 doctrinal issues. His preaching was evangelistic and very successful. His reform took hold in Switzerland.
A group of Christians wanted the Church to return to the 1st century type of church. They baptized each other and after that were called the Anabaptists. Many of them were martyred by fire or drowning.
- In 1533 he was converted. He was a Pastor of a church at St Pierre.
- His writings contained the doctrines of Predestination, Election and the Sovereignty of God. They received much attention and they were called or labeled "Calvinism." He created a church order based on his teachings.
- He became one of Calvin's most ardent students.
- In 1559 he wrote many more teachings and in 1560 the Scottish Parliament adopted a Calvinistic Profession of Faith.
- He gave strong leadership and direction to the Presbyterian faith.
- He continued preaching from his church pulpit in St. Giles in Edinburgh.
The King James Bible
In 1607 King James ordered 54 scholars in groups of 7 or 8 to translate a New Bible. It was completed and published in 1611 and is one of the most accurate Bible versions ever translated, until today.
- A Pastor called Isaac Watt's decided that his people needed new Christian Songs to sing.
- In 1709 he published a collection called "Hymns and Spiritual Songs."
- Other collections followed including hymns like "When I survey the Wondrous Cross."
- His more than 600 Hymns have had an amazing impact upon the Church.
The Moravian Awakening
On August 13th, 1727, the Moravian Brethren were meeting after a time of confession of sin, prayer and Bible study. There services experienced a mighty Holy Spirit visitation and this experience lasted in the Church for over 100 years. Many thousands were saved and many launched out in Missionary activities all over the World.
In 1630 the Pilgrim Puritans established a Christian Community in Plymouth and Massachusetts. In 1729 Jonathan Edwards became the sole Pastor of a Church in Northampton. In 1734 they began experiencing an extraordinary presence of God in their Church and City. This led to a great spiritual awakening.
On May 24th, 1738 while attending a Moravian meeting he was born again, three days after Charles Wesley. They took the message of Grace and Salvation wherever they went. John Wesley traveled over 250,000 miles on horseback throughout England and Scotland. The Methodist Church came about as a result of their ministry.
George Whitefield was also saved at this time.
Together with John and Charles Wesley, they led England and America into Revival.
He was a great writer of Christian Hymns and wrote "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."
What he started as an experiment in 1783 became a resounding success. It was called Sunday School. He reached out to problem children and within 50 years they were ministering to almost 2 million children, worldwide.
William Carey began preaching about the need to reach and save the heathen on Mission Fields. In 1800 he moved to India with his family. He had great success and translated the Bible into 44 foreign languages or dialects and started several Schools. He died in 1834.
He was a Lawyer and lived in New York. In 1824 he was converted and later ordained into the Ministry. In 1830 he began to conduct powerful revivals and thousands were saved. His very presence caused people to repent and get saved. After nights of prayer, Church Services were conducted. There were mighty and amazing manifestations of the Holy Spirit. He died in 1875.
At the age of 17 he was called by God to go to China. He worked for 6 years in Shanghai and then returned to England in 1860. He stirred up an enthusiasm for Chinese Missions and took back 16 new Missionaries with him in 1866. When he died in 1905, there were 205 Mission Stations, 849 Missionaries and over 125,000 Chinese Christians.
- Spurgeon was saved at the age of 16 and at 19 he began to preach at the prestigious New Park Street Chapel, in London.
- He became the Pastor and remained there for almost 40 years.
- The Church eventually rented, the 12,000 seating Surrey Music Hall and it was packed with over 10,000 people waiting outside.
- He published over 140 books, founded a Pastors College and Orphanage that cared for over 500 children.
- He became President of a Bible Distribution Society and travelled and preached extensively.
Dwight L Moody
- On April 21st 1855 he was converted and became a Sunday School Teacher.
- He then began to minister to young people at the YMCA.
- In 1873 he went to England to preach with great success.
- Two years later he returned as a preaching celebrity to the United States.
- He was invited to preach in many cities.
- In 1879 he turned his attention to Education establishing a learning institution today known as The Moody Bible Institute.
- He was a forerunner of Billy Sunday.
- He felt a strong calling for Missionary work and joined Robert Moffat in Africa in 1841. He worked for 10 years amongst the Tswana People. In 1852 he traveled from the east coast to the west coast of Africa and reached it in 1854.
- He had three things in mind:
- Missionary work,
- Commerce and
- The eradication of Slavery.
- He embarked on numerous expeditions and made many geographical discoveries in Africa.
- When he died in 1873, he was found on his knees in a primitive hut in Botswana.
- He was concerned about the plight of the poor in London and established a Ministry in a humble tent. He created an organization that was like the military.
- In 1878 it was called the Salvation Army.
- They fed the hungry and cared for the homeless and it spread throughout the World.
- He traveled 5 million miles preaching 60,000 sermons and died in 1912.
Azusa Street Revival
- On April 18, 1906 the Holy Spirit uniquely visited the Apostolic Faith Mission on Azusa Street in Los Angeles.
- The black Pastor, William J. Seymour and Congregation were baptized in the Holy Spirit. Many Christians spoke in Tongues as the Disciples did on the Day of Pentecost.
- The following people had similar experiences prior to this event:
- William F. Bryant had a similar experience, in North Carolina in 1896.
- Charles Parham had a similar experience, in 1903 in Texas.
- Evan Roberts also had a similar experience in Wales in 1904.
Out of this move of God several Pentecostal Churches were born, namely:
The Assemblies of God
The Church of God
The Church of God in Christ
First Christian Radio Broadcast
In 1921 Paul Rader began preaching on Radio Station KDKA in Pittsburgh. By 1928 there were over 60 Religious Radio Stations in the USA.
The 1948 Move of God
Around about this time, the Holy Spirit launched several Ministries, and they were:
He was regarded a Prophet, with mighty Miracles taking place during his services.
He was known as one of the greatest healing Evangelists of all time. He ministered to millions in large tents and stadiums around the world. He founded the Oral Roberts University, one of the largest Christian Universities worldwide.
He is regarded the greatest of all preaching Evangelists of all time and has preached to over 100 million people in person. Millions have been saved through his ministry.
He was used by the Lord to introduce mass Evangelism in a new way. His crusades around the world attracted large crowds. His Ministry was unique in that, during a mass prayer, thousands would be miraculously healed and delivered.
The Charismatic Renewal
In 1960 the Holy Spirit began to move outside the Pentecostal Churches in Traditional Churches.
David Du Plessis was used by God to reach out to the Traditional Churches to introduce them to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Derek Prince was used by the Holy Spirit as a Teacher, to teach sound Bible doctrine and revitalize the deliverance ministry.
Demos Shakarian was used by the Lord to reach Christian Businessmen through the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship.
The TBN Television network
One of the greatest Media Ministries of all time, TBN was founded by Paul and Jan Crouch and continues to have an incredible impact on nations all over the World. Millions of people have been saved, healed, delivered and spiritually edified as a result of this global outreach. It no doubt is one of the most effective Christian outreaches of all time.
The rise of other Ministries
Kenneth Hagin was used by God to start Rhema Bible College and the Rhema Ministries around the World.
Cathryn Khulman was used by God to phase in a special demonstration of Miracles and the Anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Bennie Hinn similarly has been used by God, with great miracles, signs, wonders and special Holy Spirit Manifestations. He has continued to minister to large crowds.
Reinhard Bonnke is a Missionary Evangelist who has preached to some of the largest crowds in history with great miracles, signs, wonders taking place. His services have been graced with a special Holy Spirit Manifestation. After prayer, simultaneously thousands of people are blown over by a supernatural wind and a baptism of the Holy Spirit. He was mainly ministered in Africa.
Many other wonderful Ministries are blessing the Church and world today.
It also remains to be seen what the Holy Spirit has planned and will manifest before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.