The Actors and Witnesses of the Two First Centuries of the Church,
Setting Out From the Death of St Paul

Taken from The Holy Scriptures By François Samuel Robert Louis Gaussen

 

 

FIRST CENTURY

Emperors of Rome. Fathers of whom Authentic Works are Extant Enemies of the Church Persecutions Apologist Fathers

NERO,

54 - 68

JAMES was dead in 61; PAUL and PETER between 64 and 68; JUDE much later; JOHN only in 103.

From the apostolic times, besides the Nicolaitans, (Rev. ii. 6,) the Balaamites, (ver. 14,) the disciples of SIMON, (Acts vii 13,) and of MENANDER, (Iren. Hĉres., i. 21,) those of PHYGELLUS and HERMOGENES, (2 Tim. i. 15, ii, 17,) of HYMENEUS and PHILETUS,—all sects of whom there remains nothing, and of whom we shall not speak,—the Church was harassed, from the days of John, by two numerous sects of heretics, the Ebionites and the Gnostics,

The first, under NERO, from 64 to 68

 

VESPASIAN,

69 - 79

CLEMENT, the companion, it is believed, of Paul, (Phil. iv. 3,) and bishop of Rome nine years, (from 91 to 101 according to Eusebius, from 68 to 77 according to Jerome,) has left one beautiful epistle to the Corinthians.

   
TITUS,

79 - 81

   
DOMITIAN,

81 - 96

IGNATIUS, a hearer of the apostle John, bishop of Antioch in 68, martyr in 107, (others say in 116,) has left seven authentic epistles according to some, three according to others, (to the Romans, to the Ephesians, and to Polycarp,) and we have a contemporary account of his martyrdom,

The Ebionites comprised various Judaising sects, who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. The Fathers attributed the name, some to the Hebrew epithet Ebion, (poor,) which theyhad taken or had been given to them; others to the proper name of an unknown leader, whom Lardner believes to have been a disciple of CERINTHUS.

 

The Gnostics, or men of Gnosis, (science “falsely so called,” St Paul says, 1 Tim. vi. 20,) were almost all Docetĉ or Phantasiasts, (i. e., pretending that Christ did not assume a real body, and suffered only in appearance.) They considered revelation insufficient, mixed their philosophy with it, and pretended to possess alone the true Gnosis, (science,) either by direct and immediate intuition, or by a tradition going back to the creation.

The second, under  DOMITIAN, from 93-96

 
NERVA,

96 - 98

Letter to Diognetus—The author unknown: calls himself a disciple of the apostles, (xi) It is very beautiful, and very probably was written before the year 70. Yet others refer it to the reign of Trajan.

   
TRAJAN,

98 - 100

TACITUS, PLINY, PLUTARCH, and SUETONIUS were living writers

POLYCARP. Born in 71, suffered martyrdom in 166; had known St John. He has left one epistle to the Philippians; and we have a beautiful circular epistle of the church at Smyrna, giving an account of his martyrdom to the contemporary churches.

CERINTHUS, a Jewish philosopher, after having studied in Egypt, betook himself to Asia Minor, where he impugned the divinity of Jesus Christ, being in that respect an Ebionite. According to Irenĉus, John wrote the introduction of his Gospel to refute him.

   

SECOND CENTURY

Emperors of Rome. Fathers of whom Authentic Works are Extant Enemies of the Church Persecutions Apologist Fathers
TRAJAN,

(continued)

100 - 117

JUSTIN MARTYR, born in Samaria,at Shechem, about the year 103, a philosopher, converted in 133, came (at the beginning of the reign of Antoninus) to Rome, though he did not suffer martyrdom till 167, under Marcus Aurelius. We have his Two Apologies, a treatise on the Monarchy of God, and a Dialogue with Trypho the Jew. He composed other works, such as an Exposition of the Apocalypse, which are now lost.

GNOSTICS.

BASILIDES of Alexandria, a disciple of Menander, was one of the principal. Born in the1st century, and died in 130; he taught his magical doctrine under Trajan and Hadrian, ISIDORE, his son, added other reveries, and formed a sect.

 

CERDO came from Asia Minor toteach at Rome in 132, and was excommunicated by Pope Hyginus about 140,

 

MARCION, born at Sinope, where his father was bishop ; became a disciple of Basilides; taught. at Alexandria in 117; wrote twenty-four books of commentaries on the Gospels, of which Clement and Epiphanius have preserved some fragments, He came to join Cerdo at Rome about 140; he was there as well as Valentine and Cerdo, in the time of Justin Martyr, under Antoninus Pius.

The third under TRAJAN, from 107 to 117; under HADRIAN, to 136

 
HADRIAN,

117 - 138

THEOPHILUS, bishop of Antioch, born in 110, converted in 150, died in 170, has left an Apology for Christianity, and some other writings.

  QUADRATUS,  bishop of Athens, presented an Apology to Hadrian in 131. We have only a fragment of it in Eusebius.

 

ARISTIDES, the same, 175. He was a converted philosopher.

ANTONINUS PIUS,

138 - 161

IRENĈUS, born in Asia or Greece in the year 120, came into. Gaul in 177, and was martyred (it is said) in 202. His principal work, Against Heresies, is in five books. Of allthe ancient Fathers, one of the firmest and purest; he represents most faithfully the real beliefs of the Church,

VALENTINUS of Egypt came also to teach to Rome under Popes Hyginus and Anicetus, (from 139 to 157,) and ended his career in Cyprus, He imagined thirty ĉons, or inferior gods. He sent out numerous disciples, who formed themselves into a sect: among others Colobarsa; Ptolemy in 140; Heracleon, Tatian, who at least adopted his ĉons; Bardesanes the Syrian, who lived at Edessa in 172, and who ended in opposing him, He wrote much and ably.

 

JUSTIN MARTYR  pre-sented two, which we still have — one to Antoninus in 139, the other to Marcus Aurelius in 163.

 

THEOPHILUS, bishop of

Antioch, also presented one at the same time,

MARCUS AURELIUS,

161 - 180

ATHENAGORAS, a Platonic philosopher born at Athens; he became a Christian; fixed himself at Alexandria; addressed an Apology for Christianity to Marcus Aurelius and his son COMMODUS. We also have a treatise of his on the Resurrection.

CARPOCRATES of Egypt, and his son EPIPHANIUS. He taught under Hadrian a mystic and licentious Antinomianism.

The fourth, under MARCUS AURELIUS, from 160, because the Christians would not take part in the solemnities of his triumph.

APOLLINARIS, bishop of Hierapolis, the same, during the persecution of Marcus Aurelius in 169,

COMMODUS,

180 - 193

CLEMENT of Alexandria, a converted Platonic philosopher; born about the year 150, and died in 217. His writings are numerous, (Stromata, Exhortation to the Gentiles, &c.) Jerome and Theoderet estimate him highly for his knowledge and genius. TATIAN, born in Mesopotamia, at first an orator and Pagan philosopher, came to Rome, and was converted to the profession of Christianity. Having heard Justin Martyr, he became his disciple for a long time, and composed a Discourse against the Greeks, and died in 178. But he fell into the Gnostic errors, and in the East, put himself at the head of the sect of the Encratites, Besides many other writings, he composed a Harmony of the Four Evangelists, which was extant in the time of Eusebius. He is believed to have made a Latin translation of the Apocrypha.   MELITO, bishop of Sardis, presented an Apology in172. This also is lost.
SEPTIMUS SEVERUS,

193 - 200

TERTULLIAN, (the most ancient of the Latin Fathers ;) born at Carthage in 160, converted from Paganism about 185. He afterwards repaired to Rome; but, dissatisfied with the Roman clergy, he returned to Africa, where he embraced Montanist views on Church-discipline. He died about the year 220. We have a great number of his writings, (Apologeticus, Five Books against Marcion, &e.)

EBIONITE-GNOSTIC SECTS.

 

THEODOTUS, a tanner of Byzantium, came to Rome in 192, where he was excommunicated by Victor in 194. He said that Jesus Christ was created by the Father, but before the creation of the world.

 

ARTEMON, his disciple, who has been accused of expunging the passage in 1 John v. 7.

 

PAGAN OPPONENTS OF CHRISTIANITY.

 

CELSUS, (Kelsos,) an Epicurean philosopher under Trajan and his successors. A violent enemy of Christianity, he assailed it with the weapons of argument and ridicule in his Logos Alethes, of which nothing remains but the fragments preserved in Origen’s Refutation.

 

LUCIAN of Samosata, born about 120, wrote satiric dialogues in which he attacked Christianity. He dedicated his False Prophet to Celsus.

The fifth, under SEPTIMUS SEVERUS, from 202, throughout the Empire.

TATIAN, before his de-fection, composed a Discourse against the Greeks.

 

ATHENAGORAS, a  philo-sopher of Athens, taught at Alexandriain 177. Presented an Apology to Marcus Aurelius, entitled, A Deputation concerning the Christians; he wrote a treatise on the Resurrection, which is also apologetical, They are still extant.

THIRD CENTURY

Emperors of Rome. Fathers of whom Authentic Works are Extant Enemies of the Church Persecutions Apologist Fathers
SEPTIMUS SEVERUS,

(continued)

200 - 211

ORIGEN, born at Alexandria in 185, witnessed his father’s martyrdom in 202, succeeded Clement of Alexandria in his school, traveled much, accomplished immense labours, and died in 253.

MANES, born in Persia, founder of Manichacism, which he borrowed in part from Zoroaster. It is said he was flayed alive in Persia in 271.

 

AMMONIUS SACCAS, (or Saccophorus,) a philosopher, founder of Ecleeticism,  composed, at the beginning of the century, a work on the agreement of Moses and Jesus Christ. It is entirely lost.

CARACALLA,

211 - 217

 

HELIOGABALUS,

218-222

HIPPOLYTUS, at first bishop in Arabia, (according to Eusebius,) an intimate friend of Origen, a distinguished Greek theologian, historian, and mathematician, came afterwards to Italy about the year 222, and suffered martyrdom about 235 or 240.

PORPHYBY, (Malchus,) a neo-platonic philosopher, born at Tyre in 2338, educated at Athens under Longinus and Plotinus, and a mystic philosopher at Rome, where he died in 304. He composed fifteen books against the Christians. Theodosius burnt them, but there are fragments in Eusebius and Jerome. In the first book he has collected the apparent contradictions of Scripture; in the fourth he attacked Moses; in the thirteenth Daniel.

 

ALEXANDER SEVERUS,

222 - 235

 

MAXIMIN,

235 - 237

JULIUS AFRICANUS, Greek historian and chronologist, converted to Christianity about. the year 231. A friend of Origen. He wrote a Commentary on the New Testament, of which we have only fragments in Eusebius.

The sixth, under MAXIMIN, in 235.

TERTULLIAN wrote his beautiful Apologeticus in Latin, in 202.

GORDIAN,

237 - 244

DIONYSIUS of Alexandria, bishop in 232, died in 247. His numerous writings are lost; put Eusebius often quotes from them.

AMELIUS, a Tuscan, a disciple of Plotinus from 246; did not leave him till 270, when he went to live at Assamea. Like Porphyry, he was an enemy of Christianity.

 

MINUTIUS FELIX, an African orator, wrote his Apology at Rome in 220, in the form of a dialogue, entitled Octavius. It is still extant.

PHILIP,

244-249

CAIUS, presbyter of Rome in 210. There are only fragments of his writings in Eusebius.

 

   
DECIUS,

249-251

CYPRIAN, born at Carthage in 202, bishop in 248, died in 258. His works, which are in Latin, (sole clariova, says Jerome,) form a large volume.

 

The seventh, under DECIUS, from 250 to 253.  
     

The eighth, under VALERIAN, in 257.

 

The ninth, under AURELIAN, from 272 to 275.

 

The tenth, in the fourth century, from the year 308, throughout the Empire.

 

N.B.—Observe, that though in this Table we have endeavoured to arrange everything correctly as far as relates to the heretics of the second century, we must acknowledge that (as Cave and other historians complain) their chronology presents great confusion,