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Confusion, darkness and the emergence of Catholicism.
With the destruction of Jerusalem, "the overthrow of the visible centre", a period
which J. B. Lightfoot describes as "shrouded in darkness" (with respect to Church
government) ensued. It was not until early in the second century that the episcopal office
became established, and the first signs of Catholicism arose. But that it was very
different from anything which the Apostle Paul envisaged, is manifest from a reading of
the writings of "The Fathers". Even Lightfoot has to admit:
"The magnitude of the change effected during this period may be measured by the
difference in the constitution and conception of the Christian Church as presented in the
Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul and the letters of St. Ignatius respectively" (The Christian
So began the long years of confusion and darkness when the truth became buried
under an accumulating mass of tradition and error. This however goes beyond the
present subject and the interested reader is referred to the articles on The Early Centuries
and the Truth by S. Allen (The Berean Expositor, Vols. 44: and 45:).
With this concluding article in the series The Background to the New Testament, is
sent forth the prayer that it may have helped some to catch the environment of the Acts
period, and so appreciate better the situation at that time with its hopes and failures, and
the hope of the present calling outlined first by the Apostle Paul, the "prisoner of Christ
Jesus for you Gentiles" (Eph. 3: 1).