Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series II/Volume I/Church History of Eusebius/Book II/Chapter 3
Chapter III.—The Doctrine of Christ soon spread throughout All the World.
1. Thus, under the influence of heavenly power, and with the divine co-operation, the doctrine of the Saviour, like the rays of the sun, quickly illumined the whole world; and straightway, in accordance with the divine Scriptures, the voice of the inspired evangelists and apostles went forth through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
2. In every city and village, churches were quickly established, filled with multitudes of people like a replenished threshing-floor. And those whose minds, in consequence of errors which had descended to them from their forefathers, were fettered by the ancient disease of idolatrous superstition, were, by the power of Christ operating through the teaching and the wonderful works of his disciples, set free, as it were, from terrible masters, and found a release from the most cruel bondage. They renounced with abhorrence every species of demoniacal polytheism, and confessed that there was only one God, the creator of all things, and him they honored with the rites of true piety, through the inspired and rational worship which has been planted by our Saviour among men.
3. But the divine grace being now poured out upon the rest of the nations, Cornelius, of Cæsarea in Palestine, with his whole house, through a divine revelation and the agency of Peter, first received faith in Christ; and after him a multitude of other Greeks in Antioch, to whom those who were scattered by the persecution of Stephen had preached the Gospel. When the church of Antioch was now increasing and abounding, and a multitude of prophets from Jerusalem were on the ground, among them Barnabas and Paul and in addition many other brethren, the name of Christians first sprang up there, as from a fresh and life-giving fountain.
4. And Agabus, one of the prophets who was with them, uttered a prophecy concerning the famine which was about to take place, and Paul and Barnabas were sent to relieve the necessities of the brethren.
- Compare Col. i. 6. That Christianity had already spread over the whole world at this time is, of course, an exaggeration; but the statement is not a mere rhetorical flourish; it was believed as a historical fact. This conception arose originally out of the idea that the second coming of Christ was near, and the whole world must know of him before his coming. The tradition that the apostles preached in all parts of the world is to be traced back to the same cause.
- Ps. xix. 4.
- See Acts x. 1 sq.
- See Acts xi. 20. The Textus Receptus of the New Testament reads at this point ῾Ελληνιστ€ς, a reading which is strongly supported by external testimony and adopted by Westcott and Hort. But the internal evidence seems to demand ῞Ελληνας, and this reading is found in some of the oldest versions and in a few mss., and is adopted by most modern critics, including Tischendorf. Eusebius is a witness for the latter reading. He takes the word ῞Ελληνας in a broad sense to indicate all that are not Jews, as is clear from his insertion of the ἄλλων, “other Greeks,” after speaking of Cornelius, who was not a Greek, but a Roman. Closs accordingly translates Nichtjuden, and Stigloher Heiden.
- See Acts xi. 22 sqq.
- See Acts xi. 26. This name was first given to the disciples by the heathen of Antioch, not by the Jews, to whom the word “Christ” meant too much; nor by the disciples themselves, for the word seldom appears in the New Testament, and nowhere in the mouth of a disciple. The word χριστιανός has a Latin termination, but this does not prove that it was invented by Romans, for Latinisms were common in the Greek of that day. It was probably originally given as a term of contempt, but accepted by the disciples as a term of the highest honor.
- ἀπ᾽ εὐθαλοῦς καὶ γονίμου πηγῆς. Two mss., followed by Stephanus, Valesius, Closs, and Crusè, read γῆς; but all the other mss., together with Rufinus, support the reading πηγῆς, which is adopted by the majority of editors.
- See Acts xi. 28. Agabus is known to us only from this and one other passage of the Acts (xxi. 10), where he foretells the imprisonment of Paul. The famine here referred to took place in the reign of Claudius, where Eusebius puts it when he mentions it again in chap. 8. He cannot therefore be accused, as many accuse him, of putting the famine itself into the reign of Tiberius, and hence of committing a chronological error. He is following the account of the Acts, and mentions the prominent fact of the famine in that connection, without thinking of chronological order. His method is, to be sure, loose, as he does not inform his readers that he is anticipating by a number of years, but leaves them to discover it for themselves when they find the same subject taken up again after a digression of four chapters. Upon the famine itself, see below, chap. 8.
- See Acts xi. 29, 30.