New Testament Churches
INTRODUCTION

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What was the primary cause of New Testament churches forming soon after the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Which cities were they located in? Who started these fellowships?

What made each New Testament church unique? Did they meet in Jewish synagogues, or in buildings specifically erected for believers to gather and worship God, or in some other place? This map series will explore the churches, in the New Testament, that existed in and near the Roman Empire.

The New Testament reveals one of the primary reasons Jesus came to earth was to start building his church, his ekklesia (Strong's Concordance #G1577). His ekklesia is a spiritual community of believers built on faith in Him that He would personally lead (Matthew 16:18, Ephesians 5:23).

The means by which God, in the New Testament, would achieve his goal of starting churches would be through His spirit. His Holy Spirit would teach believers what they need to know and then lead them to tell others or "witness" about Christ and what he taught (Acts 1:7 - 8).

Cities visited by Apostle Paul
Roman Empire in first century map
Did Jesus laugh during his ministry?

The birth of the New Testament church Christ spoke about began on the Day of Pentecost in 30 A.D. God first gave His spirit to 120 disciples who had heard Jesus speak during his ministry, then he inspired Peter to give a powerful message that led to the conversion of at least 3,000 others (Acts 1:15, 2:41).

Scripture states that on this special Feast day there were people in Jerusalem visiting who lived in Asia, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Persia (Elamites), Media, Egypt, Libya, Judea, Arabia and Crete, as well as the Roman provinces of Cappadocia, Pontus, Phrygia and Pamphylia (Acts 2:9 - 11). There were even Jews and proselytes from Rome who came to keep this Holy Day and were among the first to hear the gospel from his followers (verse 10).

These converted people took God's truth back to their homelands and became the seeds from which a new fellowship could sprout. It did not take long before Christian churches began to spring up like wildfire around the known world.

"After Jesus' death and resurrection, the Gospel exploded out of little Palestine and swept the known world like a quickly spreading flame . . . In a few brief decades, between the A.D. 30s and 60s, churches were established in most of the major population centers of the Roman Empire, including Rome itself" (Bible Reader's Companion, comments on John 21).


Who starts churches?

Not only did well-known New Testament leaders like the apostles or Paul begin churches but also those who the Bible does not individually name. In fact, the first MASS conversion of Gentiles (non-Jews) delineated in Scripture did NOT occur through any apostle but through zealous believers from Africa and the island of Cyprus!

20. But certain men among them who were Cypriots and Cyrenians came to Antioch and spoke to the Greeks, preaching the gospel of the Lord Jesus. 21. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord (Acts 11:20 - 21).

It was only after a body of believers existed in Syrian Antioch that the "mother" church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to find out what was happening! He then sought out Paul to help teach the new believers who were gathering BEFORE they arrived (Acts 11:25 - 26).

Map notes

Maps used in this series do not show all possible cities where early Christians lived or where all fellowships existed during the period of the New Testament. This is because the Bible sometimes records believers living in general areas of the Roman world and does not specify an exact location. For example, although Scripture states churches existed in the areas of Judea, Galilee and Samaria (Acts 9:31) it does not provide a detailed city list.

Additional Study Materials
Paul's First Missionary Journey
Was Rome the greatest world empire?
Who can preach the Gospel?
Importance of the Jerusalem Conference
New Testament Churches
 
Seven Churches of Revelation
(Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira,
Sardis, Philadelphia, Laodicea)

Series Primary Sources

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
1913 Catholic Encyclopedia
Complete Book of When and Where in the Bible
Easton's Illustrated Bible Dictionary
Holman Bible Dictionary
Holy Bible a Faithful Version (HBFV)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Life and Epistles of Apostle Paul
Parsons Bible Maps
Parsons Bible Atlas
Wikipedia


This series
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