APOSTOLIC INSIGHT ~ What can the Apostles and Church Fathers tell us about our times? What advice do they have for our problems? Here are some of their thoughts ~
Forty years ago at least 50% of the public were in a church every Sunday. Today that number has fallen to less that 30%. Today serious questions exist about public morality and the lack of truthfulness in politics. The Roman Catholic Church is fighting for its life around the world because of sexual abuse scandals. Once called Protestant mainline denominations have now become sidelined. Congregations continue to struggle and many are disconnected from historic denominations.
How can contemporary Christians view this situation? We need help from the first Church Fathers to keep the struggle in perspective. Here are some examples of how they endured when the ancient church was first beginning.
MEET PARMENAS ~ In a time more burdensome and troubled than our own. Parmenas stood up to teach about the importance of enduring under difficult condition. Never heard of him? Let me introduce you to the man they called Apostle Parmenas.
Parmenas was one of the original seventy deacons chosen by the Twelve Apostles to meet the needs of the Church of Jerusalem. After the fall of Jerusalem to the Romans in A.D. 70, history did not remember well how the Mother Church in Jerusalem had existed. James, the brother of Jesus, led that congregation and was considered the first leader of the Church. Peter was the leader of the Apostles and James directed the larger Church. Acts 15 has the story of Paul and the Gentiles coming for the first conference on church rules and procedures.
Parmenas was part of all of these incidents and issues. In Luke’s Gospel, chapter 10, Parmenas was one of the seventy sent out by Jesus. They came back saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name.” Jesus gave them authority over all adversaries
The Orthodox Church has saved the record of Parmenas’ ministry. For years, he preached in Asia Minor before he settled down in Macedonia. In the writings of Hippolytus, we learn that Parmenas was the Bishop of Soli.
In the year 98 AD, he was martyred in Philippi, Macedonia. The Roman Emperor Trajan issued an empire wide persecution of the Christians and Parmenas was caught in this sweep of the various countries. His fidelity to the death reminds the 21st century that endurance eventually and inevitably overcomes all obstacles. Stay firm and endure!