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Quotes from early Christians that still hit today

Amma Theodora
Amma Theodora

A Christian from 2,000 years ago might have a hard time recognizing many aspects present in the church today. In many ways, the church has grown in understanding and evolved in theory and practice over the millennia. But today’s Chrisitans can also learn a great deal for our own theory and practice by looking at the thoughts and practices of the early Christians. 

Let’s glean some profound thoughts on peaceful and just living from some early Christian leaders. These early believers had much to say about unity, justice, poverty and compassion.

First Epistle of Clement, 30 (written near the end of the 1st century CE)

“Let our praise be in God and not from ourselves, for God hates those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers.”

The Didache (Written in 1st or 2nd century CE)

“You shall not turn away from him that is in need, but you shall share all things with your brother and shall not say that they are your own. For if you share what is immortal, how much more things which are temporary?”

Athenagoras (133 – 190CE)


“We Christians cannot endure to see a man being put to death, even justly.”


Tertullian (160 – 220CE)

“It is absolutely forbidden to repay evil with evil.”

“The Christian does not hurt even his enemy.”

“Only without the sword can the Christian wage war: the Lord has abolished the sword.”

Theophilus of Antioch (died around 185CE)

“Say to those that hate and curse you, You are our brothers!”

Minucius Felix (160 - 230CE)

“The mind is lulled to sleep by luxury, but it is strengthened by frugality.”

Origen (185AD – 254CE)

“To those who ask us whence we have come or whom we have for a leader, we say that we have come in accordance with the counsels of Jesus to cut down our warlike and arrogant swords of argument into plowshares, and we convert into sickles the spears we formerly used in fighting.”

“We have become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader.”

Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus (late 2nd Century CE)

“[Christians] love all people, and are persecuted by all;…they are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and are respectful.”

Athanasius of Alexandria (293AD – 373AD)

“Christians, instead of arming themselves with swords, extend their hands in prayer.”

Amma Syncletica of Alexandria (died around 250CE):

“In the beginning there is struggle and a lot of work for those who come near to God. But after that there is indescribable joy. It is just like building a fire: at first it is smoky and your eyes water, but later you get the desired result. Thus we ought to light the divine fire in ourselves with tears and effort.”

Saint Basil the Great (330–379CE):

“Fling wide your doors; give your wealth free passage everywhere! As a great river flows by a thousand channels through fertile country, so let your wealth run through many conduits to the homes of the poor. Wells that are drawn from flow the better; left unused, they go foul…Money kept standing idle is worthless; but moving and changing hands it benefits the community and brings increase…”

Macarius of Egypt (300 – 391CE)

“If you are stirred to anger when you want to reprove someone, you are gratifying your own passions. Do not lose yourself in order to save another.”

Saint John Chrysostom (347–407CE):

“If a poor man comes to you asking for bread, there is no end of complaints and reproaches and charges of idleness; you upbraid him, insult him, jeer at him. You fail to realize that you too are idle and yet God grants you gifts.”

Amma Sarah of the Desert (5th Century CE)

“If I prayed God that all people should approve of my conduct, I should find myself a penitent at the door of each one, but I shall rather pray that my heart may be pure toward all.”

Evagrius Ponticus (345-399 CE)

“Cut the desire for many things out of your heart and so prevent your mind being dispersed and your stillness lost.”

Early baptismal creed

“You are all children of God:

There is no Jew or Greek;

There is no slave or free;

There is no male and female;

For you are all one.”


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