Lynn Cohick remarks on the diversity of the early church.
The early Christians tried, as best they could, I guess, to live out this calling that Jesus laid before them, this love of enemies. Part of it, I think, is giving the message of the love of God, the gospel message, to anyone who would listen. This was not a message just for the wealthy, or just for the socially connected. And I think it’s important for people to realise, as the gospel message then spread to communities around the Mediterranean, in these cities, these Christian groups, as they met together, they would include people from the whole spectrum of the social world.
You would have maybe 20 per cent of the community being slaves, and some people in the community having resources. Now all of them needed to treat each other as equals – which meant those higher up on the social ladder lost prestige, their families may have turned against them. In other words, it cost Christians – especially those that had things, it cost them something to be part of the church and to stand with those who had nothing. And so I think in that way, the Christians – now they’re not their enemies, right? But in social terms, these were people you didn’t associate with. And the church really tried to live out the gospel message and say no, they actually are my family.