College Notes
Church History
Lecture 7

Polycrates/Justin Martyr/Iranaeus/Clemet of Rome

Ch. Hist.
Tertullian/Origen at glance


Simon (Magus) 40's
Linus 79
Cletus 91
Clemet 100
Anicetus 168
Victor 202
Silvester I 335
Sixtus III 440
Leo I  
Gregory I 604
Ignatius 110
Papius 115
Justin Martyr 167
Irenaeus 200
Tertulian 220
Origen 254
Eusebius 340
John Chrysostom 407
Jerome 430
Augustine 430


Paul 68
Peter 68
James 62
Polycarp 156
Polycrates 210

A. Bishops in the East:
    1. May have been in the true church.
    2. Considered Catholic-by-Catholic church.
    3. Possibly all students of John.
    4. Resisted what was happening at Rome.
B. Apostolic fathers.
    1. Probably not in the church.
    2. Had contact with bishops in the East.
C. Sunday worship and Easter creeps in about the time of Justin Martyr.

A. Simeon -???-107 A.D.
    1. Brother of Christ who succeeded James in Jerusalem as the Bishop.
    2. Prominent in the church with Jude.
    3. Persecuted and finally killed by Trajan in 107 A.D.

From The History of the Church we read:

"...There is a firm tradition that persecution broke out against us sporadically in one city at a time as a result of popular risings. In the course of it Symeon, son of Clopas, the second to be appointed Bishop of Jerusalem, as already stated, is known to have ended his life by martyrdom... Some of these [heretics] charged Simon son of Clopas with being a descendant of David and a Christian; as a result he suffered martyrdom at the age of 120, when Trajan was emperor and Atticus consular governor... And it would be reasonable to suggest that Symeon was an eyewitness and ear witness of the Lord, having regard to the length of his life and the reference in the gospel narrative to Mary, wife of the Clopas whose son he was, as explained in an earlier section. The same historian tells us that other descendants of one of the 'brothers' of the Saviour named Jude lived on into the same reign, after bravely declaring their faith in Christ, as already recorded, before Domitian himself. He writes: Consequently they came and presided over every church, as being martyrs and members of the Lord's uncle, the aforesaid Simon son of Clopas, was similarly informed against by the heretical sects and brought up on the same charge before Atticus, the provincial governor. Tortured for days on end, he bore a martyr's witness, so that all, including the governor, were astounded that at the age of 120 he could endure it; and he was ordered to be crucified."

B. Polycrates - 29O - 31O
    1. General:
        a. May have known John as bishop of Ephesus
        b. Lived about 100 years through about 200 A.D.
    2. Late in 2nd century went to Rome with Ignatius and had confrontation w/ Bishop of Rome (Victor I).
    3. Led Bishops of Asia.
    4. He was 8th in the line of 7 bishops
    5. Possibly in true church.

John Ignatius Dollinger, in The First Age of Christianity and the Church, says:

"Polycrates was thirty-eight years old when Polycarp died, about 167 A.D."
Henry Melvill Gwatkin, in Early Church History to A.D. 313, says:
"Polycrates was likely to have been a man of some rank in the world because seven of his relatives had been bishops."

From The History of the Church we read:

"... All the Asian diocese thought that in accordance with ancient tradition they ought to observe the fourteenth day of the lunar month as the beginning of the Paschal festival -- the day on which the Jews had been commanded to sacrifice the lamb: on that day, no matter which day of the week it might be, they must without fail bring the fast to an end. But nowhere else in the world was it customary to arrange their celebrations in that way:
In accordance with apostolic tradition, they preserved the view, which till prevails, that it was improper to end the fast on any day other than that of our Saviour's resurrection. "The Asian bishops who insisted that they must observe the custom transmitted to them long ago were headed by Polycrates, who in the letter which he wrote to Victor and the Roman church sets out in the following terms the tradition that he had received:
We for our part keep the day scrupulously, without addition or subtraction. For in Asia great luminaries sleep who shall rise again on the day of the Lord's advent, when He is coming with glory from heaven and shall search out all His saints -- such as Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who sleeps in Hierapolis with two of his daughters, who remained unmarried to the end of their days, while his other daughter lived in the Holy Spirit and rests in Ephesus. Again there is John, who leant back on the Lord's breast, and who became a sacrificing priest wearing the mitre, a martyr, and a teacher; he too sleeps in Ephesus. Then in Smyrna there is Polycarp, bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, the bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who also sleeps in Smyrna. Need I mention Sagaris, bishop and martyr, who sleeps in Laodicea, or blessed Papirius, or the eunuch, who lived entirely in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis waiting for the visitation from heaven when he shall rise from the dead? All of these kept the fourteenth day of the month as the beginning of the Paschal festival, in accordance with the Gospel, not deviating in the least but following the rule of the Faith. Last of all I too, Polycrates, the least of you all, act according to the tradition of my family, some members of which I have actually followed; for seven of them were bishops and I am the eighth, and my family have always kept the day when the people put away the leaven. So I, my friends, after spending sixty-five years in the Lord's service and conversing with Christians from all parts of the world, and going carefully through all Holy Scripture, am not scared of threats. Better people than I have said: 'We must obey God rather than men.'" p. 232

C. Papius
    1. He had contact with Polycarp
    2. He was bishop in western Asia Minor
    3. He suffered martyrdom

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, says:

"PAPIAS, of Hierapolis in Phrygia, one of the 'Apostolic Fathers'. His EXPOSITION OF THE LORD'S ORACLES, the prime early authority as to the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, is known only through fragments in later writers, chiefly Eusebius of Caesarea. The latter had a bias against Papias on account of the influence, which his work had in perpetuating, through Iranaeus and others, belief in a millennial reign of Christ upon earth. He calls him a man of small mental capacity, who took the figurative language of apostolic traditions for literal fact.... we have the witness of Iranaeus that he was 'a companion of Polycarp,' who was born not later than A.D. 69.... the fact that Irenaeus thought of him as Polycarp's contemporary and 'a man of the old time', together with the affinity between the religious tendencies described in Papias's Preface...all point to his having flourished in the first quarter of the 2nd century."

D. Hadrian - 117-138 A.D.
    1. Persecuted Christians, but in moderation. The 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica says:

"HADRIAN, Roman emperor A.D. 117-138 was born on the 24th of January A.D. 76, at Italica in Hispania Baetica (according to others, at Rome).... On his father's death in 85 or 86 he was placed under the guardianship of two fellow-countrymen.... About 95 he was military tribune in lower Moesia. In 97 he was sent to upper Germany to convey the congratulations of the army to Trajan on his adoption by Nerva; and, in January of the following year, he hastened to announce the death of Nerva to Trajan at Cologne. Trajan, who had been set against Hadrian by reports of his extravagance, soon took him into favour again, chiefly owing to the goodwill of the empress Plotina, who brought about the marriage of Hadrian with (Vibia) Sabina, Trajan's great-niece.... When Trajan, owing to a severe illness, decided to return home from the East, he left Hadrian in command of the army and governor of Syria. On the 9th of August 117, Hadrian, at Antioch, was informed of his adoption by Trajan, and, on the 11th, of the death of the latter at Selinius in Cilicia. According to Dio Cassius the adoption was entirely fictitious, the work of Plotina and Attianus, by whom Trajan's death was concealed for a few days in order to facilitate the elevation of Hadrian. Whichever may have been the truth; the army and the senate confirmed his succession.... He was without doubt one of the most capable emperors who ever occupied the throne, and devoted his great and varied talents to the interests of the state."

E. Clemet of Rome - 91-100 A.D.
    1. Late part of first century.
    2. Bishop of Rome - now on Cath. Pope's list.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, says:

"Clement I, generally known as Clement of Rome, or CLEMENS ROMANUS, was one of the 'Apostolic Fathers,' and in the lists of bishops of Rome is given the third or fourth place--Peter, Linus, (Anencletus), Clement. There is no ground for identifying him with the Clement of Phil. IV. 3. He may have been a freedman of T. Flavius Clemens, who was consul with his cousin, the Emperor Domitian, in A.D. 95. A 9th-century traditions says he was martyred in the Crimea in 102...Whilst being on our guard against reading later ideas into the title 'bishop' as applied to Clement, there is no reason to doubt that he was one of the chief personalities in the Christian community at Rome, where since the time of Paul the separate house congregations had been united into one church officered by presbyters and deacons."

    3. Wrote a letter to the Corinthian church in the name of the Catholic Church. In Eusebius' History of the Church, we read:

" Clement has left us one recognized epistle, long an wonderful, which he composed in the name of the church at Rome and sent to the church at Coring, where dissension had recently occurred. I have evidence that in many churches this epistle was read aloud to the assembled worshippers in early days, as it is in our own. That it was in Clements's time that the dissension at Corinth broke out is plain from the testimony of Hegesippus." p. 124-125

    4. At death...
        a. Made a saint
        b. Strange story - tossed in sea with anchor around his neck - walls of the sea rolled back and the people saw a shrine in the sea made for his body

F. Pliny -???-??? A.D.
    1. Wrote a letter to Trajan (quoted).
        a. Saw Christianity in 2nd century growing and having an impact on the Empire The Britannica, 11th edition, says:

"PLINY, THE YOUNGER. Latin author of the LETTERS and the PANEGYRIC ON TRAJAN, was the second son of Lucius Caecillius Cilo, by Plinia, the sister of the Elder Pliny... It was probably in 104, and again in 106, that he was retained for the defense of a governor of Bithynia, thus becoming familiar with the affairs of a province, which needed a thorough reorganization. Accordingly, about 111, he was selected by Trajan as governor of Bithynia, under the special title of 'legate proprietor with consular power....' In his LETTERS Pliny presents us with a picture of the varied interests of a cultivated Roman gentleman. The etiquette of the imperial circle, scenes from the law-courts and the recitation-room, the reunions of dilettanti and philosophers, the busy life of the capital or of the municipal town, the recreations of the seaside and of the country--all these he brings vividly before our eyes...Pliny's CORRESPONDENCE WITH TRAJAN supplies us with many interesting details as to the government of Bithynia, and as to the relations between the governor and the central authority. It reflects the greatest credit on the strict and almost punctilious conscientiousness of the governor, and on the assiduity and the high principle which animated the emperor."

G. Justin Martyr - 100-167 A.D. 
    1. Born about the time John dies.
        a. Not of Christian birth
    2. Educated in the Platonic philosophies.

From Vol.VI of The Fathers of the Church, by Thomas B. Falls, we read:

"Justin Martyr's conversion took place around 130 A.D. apparently in the city of Ephesus. He was a Samaritan by birth and categorized himself with the Gentiles to whom the Gospel was revealed when the House of Israel rejected it. Prior to his conversion he had gained quite an extensive education in Greek philosophy of the day. He studied in schools of the Stoics, the Perepatetics, the Pythagoreans and finally the Platonists where he remained, finding temporary peace until his conversion."P.350.

Justin continued
    3. Began to pick up writings of true church.
    5. Converted to Christianity (Catholicism) at age 30.
    6. Taught school of Christianity and philosophy.

From L. W. Barnard's Justin Martyr--His Life and Thought, we read:

"...He retained his philosopher's cloak, the distinctive badge of the wandering professional teacher of philosophy, and went about from place to place discussing the truths of Christianity in hope of bringing educated pagans, as he himself had been brought, through philosophy to Christ."p. 21-22.

    7. Known for his writings - Three Major Works: 
        a. First Apology - refutes heresy
        b. Second Apology - refutes heresy
        c. Dialogue with Trypho - condemns Judaism

From L. W. Barnard's Justin Martyr--His Life and Thought, we read:

"There is proof that he wrote three books and very likely that he wrote more. The FIRST APOLOGY and SECOND APOLOGY deal defending Christians from accusations made by Romans. The DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO is basically a conversation Justin had with a Jew concerning different aspects of Christianity. "The FIRST APOLOGY was addressed to Emperor Antonius Pius around 10 A.D. This work of seventy-one chapters, Justin justifies Christians against three accusations: atheism, immorality, and disloyalty. The SECOND APOLOGY seems to be a continuation of the first. This piece deals with two objectives to Christians. They are: Why don't the kill themselves if they are so willing to accept martyrdom? And why doesn't God protect them? Justin answers the first by saying that God's creation is good and to kill themselves would prevent the gospel from be preached. The reply to the second question is those who have followed have always been persecuted. Christians use this as proof of their right religion. The DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO talks of moral decency, Old Testament prophecies of Christ and conversion of Gentiles."pp. 12-21.

        d. Believed in the resurrection and millennial reign.
        e. Also showed that they knew Christ the word of the Old Testament. From A.W.F.

Blunt's The Apologies of Justin Martyr, we read:

"The Logos proceeded from the Father and His mission images had been to interpret the Father to man. Thus, the Testament manifest at were given by the Logos." p. xxi

Justin Martyr continued
    8. Condemned Simon Magus and Gnosticism.
    9. Gives his view of human nature and angelic beings.
    10. Believed doctrine of eternal punishment in hell-fire.
    11. Christianity in 150's: 
        a. Sunday worship entering
        b. Heavy influence of Catholic thought
        c. Mass taken in church services
        d. Tithing no longer taken; donations accepted 
        e. Evidence of Greek philosophy
    12. Died a martyr's death at Rome.

H. Iranaeus - 130-200 A.D. 
    1. May have been a student of Polycarp and Papius.
    2. Had contact with Bishops at Rome.
    3. Did not continue in the teachings of the East 
    4. Known chiefly for writings against Gnosticism and Simon.
    5. Not part of true church though had contact with members.
    6. Pro-Easter.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, says:

"Very little is known of his early history. His childhood was spent in Asia Minor, probably at or near Layma; for he himself tells us (Adv. haer. iii. 3, 4, and Euseb. ill Eccl. v. 20) that as a child he heard the preaching of Polycarp, the aged bishop of Smyrna (d. Feb. 22, 156). But we do not know when this was. He can hardly have been born very long after 130, for later on he frequently mentions having met certain Christian presbyters who had actually seen John, disciple of our Lord. "He was the cause of the wide spread of Christianity in Lyons and its neighborhood. He devoted particular attention to trying to reconcile the numerous sects, which menaced the existence of the church. In the dispute of the question of Easter, which for a long time disturbed the Christian church in both the East and West, he endeavored by means of any letters to effect a compromise, and in particular to exercise a moderation influence on Victor, the bishop of Rome, and his unyielding attitude towards the dissentient churches of Africa, us justifying his name of 'peacemaker' (Eirenaios). The date of his death is unknown. His martyrdom under Septimius Severus is related by Gregory of Tours but by no earlier writer. "He himself was especially influenced by John and Paul. Before him the Fourth Gospel did not seem to exist for the Church; Irenaeus made it a living force."

Irenaeus continued
    7. Famous work - Against Heresies.
    8. Beginnings of "Mary" worship.
    9. Against the development of heresy, Gnosticism, and Simon Magus.
    10. Beginning of Trinity Concept

The encyclopedia article continues:

"Only toward the end of the second century was greater clarity introduced into the doctrine of God. Of importance here was, first of all, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons. In his doctrine of God two basic features are evident. First, he spoke of God's inner being, and, second, of his progressive self-disclosure in the history of salvation. Sometimes Irenaeus emphasizes the unity of God so strongly that he does not shrink from using expressions, which showed modalistic, as is Son and Spirit were only appearances of the one God. In his PROOF OF THE APOSTOLIC PREACHING he says, 'Thus God is shown to be one according to the essence of His being and power' even though 'as the administrator of the economy of our redemption, He is both Father and Son....' In this way Irenaeus hoped to avoid every pluralistic expression with reference to God. He knew, of course, how to differentiate between God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit... [But] In this way Irenaeus developed the basic features of a doctrine of the Trinity. It is, in fact, the most fully developed doctrine of the Trinity during the first and second centuries. Its characteristic feature is that it does not begin with three co-eternal persons, as does the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity in the fourth century, but with the person of the Father who has with and beside himself his Word and his Wisdom...."

I. Tertullian - 160-220 A.D.
    1. From Carthage (N. Africa). 
    2. Called "Father of Latin Christianity".
    3. Roman lawyer.
    4. Came into the church, but seems to have later blended back into Gnosticism.
        a. Had problems with Catholic authority
        b. Heavily influenced by Catholic thought and Stoic philosophy - later blended back into Montaism (off-shoot of Simon Magus), thus breaking from true church
        c. Influenced by Plato
        d. Development of asceticism, monastic orders and 
        e. He is noted for solidifying the trinity doctrine and fixing it in the church

    5. A number of his writings available.

The Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th edition, says:

TERTULLIAN (c. 155-c. 222), whose full name was QUINTUS SEPTIMIUS FLORENS TERTULLIANUS, is the earliest and after Augustine the greatest of the ancient church writers of the West... Tertullian in fact created Christian Latin literature; one might almost say that that literature sprang from him full-grown, alike in form and substance, as Athena from the head of Zeus...His writings in tone and character are always alike 'rich in thought and destitute of form, passionate and hair-splitting, eloquent and pithy in expression, energetic and condensed to the point of obscurity...What he was he was with his whole being. Once a Christian, he was determined to be so with all his soul, and to shake himself free of all half measures and compromises with the world... he struggled for years to reconcile things that were in themselves irreconcilable... It is easy to convict him of having failed to control the glowing passion that was in him... Not only was he master of the contents of the Bible: he also read carefully the works of Hermas, Justin, Tatian, Miliades, Melito, Irenaeus, Proculus, Clement, as well as many Gnostic treatises, the writings of Marcion in particular... His special gift lay in the power to make what had been traditionally received impressive, to give to it its proper form, and to gain for it new currency... It was his desire to unite the enthusiasm of primitive Christianity with intelligent thought, the original demands of the Gospel with every letter of the Scriptures and with the practice of the Roman church, the sayings of the Paraclete with the authority of the bishops, the law of the churches with the freedom of the inspired...After having done battle with heathens, Jews, Marcionites, Gnostics, Monarchians, and the Catholics, he died an old man, carrying with him to the grave the last remains of primitive Christianity in the West, but at the same time in conflict with himself. His activity as a Christian fall between 190 and 220, a period of very great moment in the history of the Catholic church; for within it the struggle with Gnosticism was brought to a victorious close, the New Testament established a firm footing within the churches, the 'apostolic' rules which thenceforward regulated all the affairs of the church were called into existence, and the ecclesiastical priesthood came to be developed." pp. 661-663

Tertullian continued
From The Importance of Tertullian in the Development of Christian Dogma, by James Morgan, we read:

'It is the right of every individual,' says Tertullian, 'to choose his own religion. It is not a religious act to force men into religion.'

Morgan, quoting Tertullian, says:
"God is great when little."
"Lie to be true."
"And the Son of God died; it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd."
"He was buried, and rose again; the fact is certain, because it is impossible."

J. Origen - 185-254 A.D.
    1. Catholic writer and scholar.

From Euripus' History of the Church, we read:

"When the flames of persecution were fanned to great blaze and untold numbers were being wreathed with martyrs' crowns, such a longing for martyrdom possessed the soul of Origen, boy as he was, that his one ambition was to come to grips with danger and charge headlong into the conflict...when the news that his father had been arrested and imprisoned filled his whole being with a craving for martyrdom...(but when his mother saw that he was more) determined than ever, she hid all his clothing and compelled him to stay at home...This may serve as the first evidence of Origen's boyish sagacity and the perfect sincerity of his devotion to God. For already he had laid firm foundations for the understanding of the Faith, trained, as he was from early childhood in the divine Scriptures. He had toiled at these assiduously, his father insisting that in addition to the normal curriculum he should pursue the study of Holy Writ with equal vigor. He constantly urged him not to give any time to secular subjects till he had steeped himself in religious studies, and every day required him to learn passages by heart and repeat them aloud. This was not at all distasteful to the boy: indeed, he gave himself up too completely to these tasks and, not content to read the sacred words in their simple and natural sense, looked for something more, and young as he was devoted himself to profounder investigation; so that he worried his father with questions as to the meaning and intention that underlay the inspired Scripture." pp. 240 241

Origen continued
    2. Known as the "Founder of Biblical Criticism".
    3. Many works (6,000 attributed to him) - most learned of church fathers.
        a. We learn history of Catholic Church from him
        b. Embraced trinity, Easter, Sunday, and Mary worship
        c. Blended Christian thought with thoughts of Plato
        d. Ascetic nature

Eusebius' Church History says:

"For very many years he persisted in this philosophic way of life, putting away from him all inducements to youthful lusts, and at all times of the day disciplining himself by performing strenuous tasks, while he devoted most of the night to the study of Holy Scripture. He went to the limit in practicing a life given up to philosophy; sometimes he trained himself by periods of fasting, sometimes by restricting the hours of sleep, which he insisted on taking never in bed, always on the floor. Above all, he felt that he must keep the gospel sayings of the Saviour urging us not to carry two coats or wear shoes and never to be worried by anxiety about the future. He displayed an enthusiasm beyond his years, and patiently enduring cold and nakedness went to the furthest limit of poverty, to the utter amazement of his pupils and the distress of the countless friends, who begged him to share their possessions in recognition of the labors that they saw him bestow on his religious teaching. Not once did his determination weaken; it is said that for several years he went about on foot without any shoes at all, and for a much longer period abstained from wine and all else beyond the minimum of food, so that he ran the risk of upsetting and even ruining his construction." p. 244

    4. From Alexandria, Egypt.
    5. Tortured to death

From Eusebius' Church History, we read:

"About the same time, while responsible for the instruction at Alexandria, Origen did a thing that provided the fullest proof of a mind youthful and immature, but at the same time of faith and self-mastery. The saying 'there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake' he took in an absurdly literal sense, and he was eager both to fulfill the Saviour's words and at the same time to rule out any suspicion of vile imputations on the part of unbelievers. For in spite of his youth he discussed religious problems before a mixed audience. So he lost no time in carrying out the Saviour's word, endeavoring to do it unnoticed by the bulk of his pupils." p. 247

K. Sylvester I 335
    1. He was the first real Pope
    2. Constine became converted in his time 
    3. Persecutions end in his time - 313 
    4. Roman empire divided in 395 
        a. Eastern capital is Constantinople
        b. Western capital is Rome 

L. Sixtus III
    1. He was concurrent with Augustine
    2. The doctrine of the "Universal Church Empire" Conceived.
    3. The word Catholic was truly catholic 

M. Leo I
    1. Concept of the Bishop at Rome preeminent starts 

N. Simplicius
    1. Bishop of Rome during its fall

Index | Lecture 6 | Lecture 8