The early church did not descend from heaven on a golden string. Nor did it spring full-grown from the mind of Jesus or the apostles. The church emerged as the result of God's decisive action within a particular people, Israel, their story and their historical context. The focal point of this action was Jesus--his ministry, death and resurrection. But there were challenges, setbacks and conflicts, as well as bursts of understanding, expansion and growth. While the main lines of this story display a remarkable unity, a closer examination also reveals a living diversity of cultures, perspectives and practices. In The Emergence of the Church Arthur G. Patzia explores the story, weighs the issues and traces the contours of the early church's expansion and growth, life and practices, leadership and worship. He offers both a panoramic introduction to the church as it was in the first century and a foundation for considering how it should be in the twenty-first century.
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Arthur G. Patzia (Ph.D., McMaster University) is senior professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary of Northern California. He is also the author of Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon in the New International Bible Commentary series.
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