Discovering the Early Church



© Religious Supply Center, 2008. All Rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the publisher. Photos © 2008 Leon Mauldin. Used by permission. Selected ClipArt from Corel Draw; Broderbund Clickart; Logos; Nova Art Explosion. Copyright © 2008 Religious Supply Center, Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Maps © 2008 S. Scott Richardson, Impressive Image Production, Russellville, Alabama. And Oak Tree Software, Orlando, FL. Used by permission. Unless otherwise stated, scriptures taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. Scriptures designated by “NIV” taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society. Scriptures designated by “ESV” are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Scriptures designated by “NKJV” are from The New King James Bible, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. IT IS ILLEGAL AND UNETHICAL TO DUPLICATE COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. The material in this book represents a sizable investment in time and finances on the part of the publisher. If lessons from this book are photocopied and distributed to avoid buying a book for each class member, the publisher does not sell enough copies to continue publication. Printed in the United States of America.

Discovering the Early Church
Written by Joshua Creel
Robert Harkrider Arline Harkrider


Layout & Design:
Lauren Mayeux

Leon Mauldin

Special Thanks:
George Hudgins

S. Scott Richardson Oak Tree Software
Published by:


Religious Supply Center, Inc 4001 Preston Highway Louisville, KY 40213


Discovery #1: What is the church? .....................................................1 Discovery #2: When was the church established? ..............................6 Discovery #3: How was the church established? ..............................11 Discovery #4: What was the purpose of miracles? ............................17 Discovery #5: Who did the early church try to please? .....................22 Discovery #6: How did the early Christians care for each other? ......28 Discovery #7: How did the early church deal with problems? ..........33 Discovery #8: How did the early church respond to persecution? ....38 Discovery #9: How did the early church grow? ................................43 Discovery #10: Is there a place for everyone in the church? .............49 Discovery #11: How did Gentiles become part of the church? .........55 Discovery #12: Does God really care about the church? ..................61 Discovery #13: Reviewing what you have discovered ......................66

Discovery #1

“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Matthew 16:18)

The central theme of the Bible is the story of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament prepares us for the coming of Jesus, revealing in prophesy why Christ would come and what He would do. Before He ascended into heaven, Jesus explained to the apostles that He came to fulfill all the prophecies of the Old Testament: “all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). The first four books of the New Testament tell the story of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. We call these books “the gospels” because they The word tell the good news “gospel” means about Jesus who Peter “good news.” confessed to be “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). The book of Acts is the continuation of the story of Jesus. It records how Jesus kept His promise to build His church and how the church spread across the world. Before we discover how these events occurred we must first understand what the church is. Let’s search the Scriptures and discover what they say about the church.

What Does “Church” Mean To You?
Instructions: Brainstorm and write 5 things that come to your mind when you think about “church.” When you come to class you can see how your ideas compare to those of your class mates and teacher.

What “Church” Means To Me:
1. _______________________________________________________________ 2. _______________________________________________________________ 3. _______________________________________________________________ 4. _______________________________________________________________ 5. _______________________________________________________________
Discovery #1: What is the Church?


The Church Is...
A “CALLED OUT” PEOPLE Our word “church” is taken from the Greek word ekklesia and was used to describe public gatherings where people would be called out of their homes to attend the assembly. So, ekklesia literally means “called out.” The church is made up of people who have left the things of the world to follow Christ. • Read 1 Peter 2:9. Christians are called out of ________________ and called into His marvelous ___________. • According to 2 Thessalonians 2:14 we are called by the __________________.

THE BODY OF CHRIST Your body has a head containing a brain which controls everything your body does. According to Ephesians 1:22-23 the church is the body of Christ. Jesus is the head, so the church must obey Him. • Read Ephesians 4:4. How many bodies does Christ have? ______________. • According to 1 Timothy 3:15 the purpose of the church is to be the “pillar and support of the __________.” THE KINGDOM For a kingdom to exist there must be a king who rules. The United States is not a kingdom; instead, it is ruled by elected officials, not a king. However, according to John 18:33-37 Jesus testified to Pilate that He is a King. If Jesus is a King, He must have a Kingdom! • Jesus told Pilate that His Kingdom is not of this _______________. • Where does Jesus now sit and what did God place under His feet? (Ephesians 1:20-23) _________________________________________ _________________________________________
2 Acts: Discovering the Early Church

“And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Eph 1:22-23)

“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm... You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”” (John 18:36-37)

• Does the Kingdom of Jesus now exist? (Colossians 1:13) __________________ • Jesus is head of the church, meaning He rules over it. Does this mean that the church and the Kingdom are the same thing? ______________________________

THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD The word “household” emphasizes the inhabitants of a house, not the physical structure. Your family might live in a house, but the “household” is composed of the people who belong to your family. The church is the household of God. God is the Father of the family and everyone else in the family are His children. • How does someone become a child of God? (Galatians 3:26-27) ______________________________________________ ______________________________________________ THE TEMPLE OF GOD The Old Testament records how the Israelites built a tabernacle while they were at Mt. Sinai, and King Solomon built a temple for God much later. The glory of the Lord filled both of these structures, showing that God dwelt with His people (Exodus 20:24; 2 Chron. 6:18-21). Jesus said there would be a time when God’s people would no longer worship in Jerusalem (the site of the temple) but would worship “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Jesus never commanded Christians to build tabernacles or temples because the church is the temple of God! •In the Old Testament the temple was where God dwelt with His people. Where does God now dwell with His people? (1 Cor. 3:16) ____________________ ______________________________________________

“I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Tim 3:15)

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Eph 2:19-22)

Discovery #1: What is the Church?


Section 2: Putting It All Together
will divide your class into three teams and each team will answer one of the sections below and then report what they have discovered to the class.

APPRECIATING THE CHURCH This is a team project. Your teacher

SECTION 1: The church is made up of people who have been called out of darkness and into the light. Answer the following questions using these passages: Eph. 4:17-23; 1 John 1:5-7; 2 Peter 2:20-22. 1. How are Christians commanded NOT to walk?__________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 2. What happens to our relationship with God when we walk in darkness? ____________________________________________________________________ 3. How does the Bible describe one who turns from light back to darkness? ____________________________________________________________________ SECTION 2: The church is described as both the body of Christ and His kingdom. The body serves the will of the head just as the Kingdom serves the will of the King. Answer the following questions using these passages: Matt. 28:18; Col. 3:17; John 12:48. 1. How much authority does Jesus have? _________________________________ 2. What should be done by the authority of Jesus (in His name)? ______________ ____________________________________________________________________ 3. How will Christ judge us? ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ SECTION 3: The church is described as the household of God. God is the Father and all Christians are His children. Answer the following questions using these passages: Romans 5:8-10; 1 John 3:1; 5:14-15; Gal. 4:7. 1. How do we know the Father loves us? _________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 2. What confidence do children of God have? ____________________________ ____________________________________________________________________ 3. If we are children of God, we are also ________________________________.
4 Acts: Discovering the Early Church

What Have You Discovered?
First, answer if the following statements are True or False. Then, tell which passage of Scripture gives the answer. _____ 1. Jesus said His Kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. _____________________ _____ 2. Jesus is head of the nation of Israel. _______________________________ _____ 3. We become children of God through faith and baptism. _____________ _____ 4. Jesus’ kingdom does not exist yet. ________________________________ _____ 5. The church is the household of God. ______________________________ _____ 6. Jesus is head of the church. _____________________________________ _____ 7. We are called out of darkness by the gospel. _______________________ _____ 8. Jesus has many bodies (churches). ________________________________ _____ 9. God now dwells in a temple in Jerusalem. _________________________ _____10. We are called out of light and into darkness. ______________________

Thinking About The Discovery
PART 1: Take a few minutes and review what you wrote on the first page of this lesson: “What ‘Church’ Means To Me”. Has your idea of the “church” changed at all? How?_____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ PART 2: Review what you’ve studied in this lesson. In your own words, write what you think it means to be a member of Jesus’ Kingdom, the church. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________
Discovery #1: What is the Church? 5

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