For a couple of years I have been reading the early church fathers to find clear gospel presentations that boil away all other concerns and speak directly to the need of repentance from sin and faith in Christ. It has been a wonderful search. So far, I have found clear gospel presentations in the First, Second, Third, Fourth and Eleventh centuries. The one that started me on this path was this one from the second century.
Second Century Gospel Presentation
(perhaps as early as A.D. 130)
The following comes from one of the ante-Nicene fathers, specifically, The Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus. Mathetes is the Greek word for disciple. Thus, the brother did not give his name, but preferred to remain anonymous.
There is great beauty in his words. You can feel both his passion for Christ and the humility of his own heart as he writes about the great exchange of our wickedness for the righteousness of Christ.
“When our wickedness had reached its height, and it had been clearly shown that its reward—punishment and death—was impending over us …. God himself took on Him the burden of our iniquities. He gave His own Son as a ransom for us, the holy One for transgressors, the blameless One for the wicked, the righteous One for the unrighteous, the incorruptible One for the corruptible, the immortal One for them that are mortal.
For what other thing was capable of covering our sins than His righteousness? By what other one was it possible that we, the wicked and ungodly, could be justified, than by the only Son of God?
O sweet exchange! O unsearchable operation! O benefits surpassing all expectation! that the wickedness of many should be hid in a single righteous One, and that the righteousness of One should justify many transgressors!“
To God be the glory, great things he has done.
You can find gospel presentations from the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 11th centuries here on the blog. I am hunting down one from each century.
Here’s a link to the First Century post.
Schaff, Philip, and David Schley Schaff. History of the Christian Church. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.