Who Are The Christians?

The following description of a peculiar people comes from a book written in the second century, entitled, Epistola ad Diognetum. It is quoted by John T. Christian in his History of the Baptists, in a description of what the people of God looked like in their environment. Can it be said of you and I that we are so distinctive in our towns?

The Christians are not distinguished from other men by country, by language, nor by civil institutions. For they neither dwell in cities by themselves, nor use a peculiar tongue, nor lead a singular mode of life. They dwell in the Grecian or barbarian cities, as the case may be; they follow the usages of the country in dress, food, and the other affairs of life. Yet they present a wonderful and confessedly paradoxical conduct They dwell in their own native lands, but as strangers. They take part in all things, as citizens; and they suffer all things, as foreigners. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every native land is a foreign. They marry, like all others; they have children; but they do not cast away their offsprings. They have the table in common, but not wives. They are in the flesh, but do not live after the flesh. They live upon the earth, but are citizens of heaven. They obey the existing laws, and excel the laws by their lives. They love all, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown, and yet they are condemned. They are killed and made alive. They are poor and make many rich. They lack all things, and in all things abound. They are reproached, and glory in their reproaches. They are calumniated, and are justified. They are cursed, and they bless. They receive scorn, and they give honor. They do good, and are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice, as being made alive. By the Jews they are attacked as aliens, and by the Greeks persecuted; and the cause of the enmity their enemies cannot tell. In short, what the soul is to the body, the Christians are in the world. The soul is diffused through all the members of the body, and the Christians are spread through the cities of the world. The soul dwells in the body, but it is not of the body; so the Christians dwell in the world, but are not of the world. The soul, invisible, keeps watch in the visible body; so also the Christians are seen to live in the world, for their piety is invisible. The flesh hates and wars against the soul; suffering no wrong from it, but because it resists fleshly pleasures; and the world hates the Christians with no reason, but they resist its pleasures. The soul loves the flesh and members, by which it is hated; so the Christians love their haters. The soul is enclosed in the body. but holds the body together; so the Christians are detained in the world as in a prison; but they contain the world. Immortal, the soul dwells in the mortal body; so the Christians dwell in the corruptible, but look for incorruption in heaven. The soul is the better for restriction in food and drink; and the Christians increase, though daily punished. This lot God has assigned to the Christians in the world; and it cannot be taken from them. 

(Epist. Ad Diognetum, C. 5 and 6 p.69 sq. Otto. Lips., 1852).

6 thoughts on “Who Are The Christians?

  1. Every time I read this book, I find this picture painted on the pages and I am thrilled and convicted. More of Christ Jesus and His Word, illuminated by His Spirit; less and less of me and my opinions.

    Something came to mind years ago when I was confronted with Rick Warren’s theology: Truth offends man; half-truth offends God.

    Let us be good stewards of God’s Truth, seeking to please Him above all, including self.

    Like

  2. Thanks Manfred. I appreciate the point made that we are to be in the world; actively, interactively, ministerially, etc, but not of them. As a pastor in a “conservative” church, I see too often a mindset of being afraid of the world, of wanting to disengage them, like that is what separation is. Salt and light have no value if the bushel basket is over the top of it.

    Word of the day “calumniate,” “to make false and defamatory statements about.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: For ever changed by spiritual experience | From guestwriters

Tell us what you think:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s