Saturday, 7 May 2011

Some pieces of very early church tradition preserved in the New Testament

‘Very early’ in this context means predating 60 AD.

1. The original name of the Christian movement: ‘The Way’ (this comes across very clearly in Acts).

2. The foundational creed of the movement: ‘Jesus is Lord’ (1 Cor. 12.3, Phil. 2.11, Rom. 10.9).

3. The earliest longer Christian creed: ‘[Jesus] died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; he was buried and raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; he appeared to Kepha, then to the Twelve, then to Yakov, then to all the apostles’ (1 Cor. 15.3-7, omitting one clause which I suspect may be an interpolation).

4. Another creedal confession: ‘[Jesus] was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness, by resurrection from the dead’ (Rom. 1.3f).

5. The three key titles of Jesus: Messiah (Christ), Son of God and Son of Man (see my discussion here).

6. The original initiation ceremony: baptism by immersion (numerous passages in the gospels, Acts and Paul).

7. The prayer to God the Father: ‘Abba, Father’ - or, in Greek, ‘Abba, ho Pater’ (Gal. 4.6, Rom. 8.15, also Mk. 14.36; the full 'Our Father' prayer was, in my opinion, also in constant use from the lifetime of Jesus onwards).

8. The prayer for the second coming: ‘Come, Lord’ (1 Cor. 16.22; cf. Rev. 22.20).

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