deacons, these were entrusted with a copy of (at least) St. Luke’s Gospel and leadership of the new church. Some months or a year or so later St. Paul would revisit his new churches to ordain as elders those deacons who had remained faithful to their duties of prayer, administration and leadership. (In these earliest years, rather than ordain one of them as a full bishop, he remained their missionary episcopos or ‘supervisor’ himself.) Community prayer was conducted at every third hour, i.e. at dawn and the third, sixth and ninth hour of every day, then at sunset and the third, sixth and ninth hour of every night. (Later the midnight prayer was joined to that of 3 a.m.) This, the Church’s formal and official daily prayer, is called the Divine Office. By the end of the first century the agape was, because of abuses, being celebrated not on Saturday evenings but on Sunday, after Mass. 18
As he and his party systematically travelled and evangelised along the lines of Roman land and sea communications, St. Paul took full advantage of the protection afforded to him by his Roman citizenship. Thus on his first mission (45 to 48) he founded churches in such smaller Hellenistic or Romanised towns as Antioch-in-Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra and Derbe, all in southern Galatia and on the road between Antioch and Ephesus. (Such larger nearby cities as Barada and Laranda, as they were neither Hellenistic nor Romanised, were left to later.) On his second mission (50 to 53) he founded churches in the Roman colony of Philippi in Macedonia, and the Greek city of Thessalonica. Both these cities lay on the Via Egnatia, Rome’s main road across Macedonia and northern Greece. After these he based himself at Corinth, the Greek port for Rome’s sea communications with the East. Finally, on his third mission (54 to 57), St. Paul based himself at Ephesus, the commercial capital and gateway to the Roman province of Asia. 19
As particular problems of doctrine and church order quickly arose in individual churches, St. Paul very soon began to write official letters, called epistles, to deal with these problems. From almost the beginning, he intended that these epistles were to be preserved and used at Mass: ‘this epistle is to be read out to all the brethren.’ Indeed St. Paul’s first five epistles were occasioned by the internal problems of the Galatian churches after his first mission, the Thessalonian church in his second mission, and the Corinthian church during his third mission. 20
In 46 the missionary party, now under St. Paul’s leadership, crossed over to the mainland and made their way up into southern Galatia. Archaeology has found that the ‘Paulli Sergii’ were a leading clan at the Roman colony at Antioch-in-Pisidia, so perhaps it was with letters of introduction from Sergius Paulus, that St. Paul there had begun his mission in earnest. His address to the synagogue of this Antioch was preserved by St. Luke as a summary and typical example of how St. Paul spoke to the Jews when he first attended a synagogue in a new town. St. Luke also recorded the
Published on Nov 29, 2011
This survey of how the New Testament came to be written is also a chronicle of the first 40 years of the history of the Christian Church. It...