LISTEN: Ambrose of Milan, Part 2: An Unexpected Election (The History of Christianity Podcast #143)

This is Daniel Whyte III, president of Gospel Light Society International, with the History of Christianity Podcast #143, titled, “Ambrose [AM-BROZE] of Milan [MEE-LAHN] (Part 2): An Unexpected Election.”

Our Scripture for today is Psalm 78:2-4 which reads: “I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done.”

Our History of Christianity quote today is from Tertullian [TER-TUHL-LEE-AHN]. He said: “The more often we are mown down by you, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.”

Today, in the History of Christianity, we are looking at “Ambrose [AM-BROZE] of Milan [MEE-LAHN] (Part 2): An Unexpected Election” from Dr. Justo L. Gonzalez’s fine book, The Story of Christianity (Volume 1).

Although Ambrose [AM-BROZE] had not sought the office of bishop, he felt that it was a responsibility to which he must devote his best efforts. To help him in his administrative chores, he called on his brother, Uranius Satyrus [YUR-AY-NUS SAH-TEER-US], who was governor of another province. (Their sister Marcellina [MAR-CHELL-EE-NAH] was also a devout Christian; she led a semi-monastic life in Rome.) Ambrose [AM-BROZE] also undertook the study of theology with the help of Simplicianus [SIM-PLISH-EE-AH-NUS], a priest who had taught him the basics of Christian doctrine, and whom Ambrose [AM-BROZE] now called to be his tutor in theology. His keen mind aided him in this undertaking. People commented on his ability to read without muttering the words, which was rare at the time. Soon he was one of the best theologians in the Western church, although his work consisted mostly of sermons and other expositions of Scripture, and in making available to the Latin-speaking West the theology of the Greek-speaking East. For this he was exceptionally well qualified, for he had been well versed in the Greek language and an admirer of its literature long before he began studying theology. Along these lines, he contributed to the development of trinitarian theology in the West by popularizing the work of the Cappadocians [KAP-AH-DOH-SHUN] — particularly Basil’s treatise On the Holy Ghost. He also emphasized the centrality of the incarnation, which he discussed in pastoral rather than in speculative terms: “He became a small babe so that you could be fully grown, perfect human beings; He was wrapped in swaddling clothes so that you might be freed from the bonds of death; He came to the manger to bring you to the altar; He was on earth so that you might be in heaven.” Ambrose [AM-BROZE] was also very much involved in the formation of the clergy that would work with him, and to this end wrote Duties of the Clergy, a treatise that was influential in shaping the understanding of Christian ministry long after Ambrose’s [AM-BROZE’s] death.

Next time, we will begin looking at “Ambrose of Milan (Part 3): An Unexpected Election.”

Let’s pray.


Dear friend, simply knowing the facts about Christian history without knowing the One on Whom this faith is based will do you no good. If you do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, may I encourage you to get to know Him today. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can be a part of the church in this life and in the life to come. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Until next time, remember that history is truly His story.