Religion and believers #6 Origin of a church

Origin of the Christian community

Chosen disciples

The Nazarener Jew Jeshua ben Josef, who worshipped the God of Israel (Who is One), in the first century of the common era, chose some talmidim or direct disciples and got several followers. Though the Roman and several Jewish rulers thought the death of that rabbi would end his popularity, they came to see how they had miscounted it. Instead of making an end to the group of enthusiasts for Jesus, his impalement at first resulted in the scattering of his followers, but within a short time lots of people became convinced that he had risen from the dead, and after the Holy Spirit came over those first chosen disciples, those apostles were not anymore afraid to speak about their risen lord.

Those close friends of Jeshua never had doubted their master his position and his God’s sovereignty. It is that coming kingdom of Christ and God they now wanted to be known all over the world. They were convinced that Jesus was the sent one from God who now had taken in the position of High priest at the right hand of God. Him speaking for all people on earth and being a high priest for God, made it that mankind did not anymore have to have a cast of priests.

The talmidim of Jeshua ben Josef saw in that man of flesh and blood not only their great master teacher (or rebbe) but were convinced that he would liberate them from the Roman oppression. When Jesus died they first were very disillusioned but after his resurrection and after having received his Helper (the Holy Spirit on Pentecost) everything that that man had learned to them became clear. In a certain way that day when they dared to go out of their isolation and came to preach in many languages, we can say the movement of followers of Christ really was accelerated or came into being and Christianity was born.

True to Jesus’ instructions, those first-century disciples started their testifying about God and Christ right there in Jerusalem. (Acts 1:8) Taking the lead, at the Festival of Pentecost, the apostle Peter “bore thorough witness” to thousands of Jewish celebrators from many nations. (Acts 2:5-11, 40) Soon the number of believing men alone was about 5,000. (Acts 4:4; 6:7) Later, to the Samaritans, Philip declared

“the good news of the kingdom of God and of the name of Jesus Christ.”—Acts 8:12.

A Greater picture

Instead of wanting to have a liberation of the Romans they now saw the greater picture and found reason to have the hope that their master would soon return to set up the expected Messianic kingdom, and so to accomplish the true work of the anointed of God, the Messiah (cf. Acts i. 6 ff.). They were thus enabled to retain the belief in his Messiahship which his death had threatened to destroy permanently. This belief laid upon them the responsibility of bringing as many of their countrymen as possible to recognise this Nazarene as Messiah, and to prepare themselves by repentance and righteousness for the coming kingdom (cf. Acts ii. 21, 38, iii. 19 sq.). It was with the sense of this responsibility that they gathered again in Jerusalem, the political and religious metropolis of Judaism.

A New movement in Judaism

In Jerusalem the new movement, that originated in the teaching of the Jewish teacher Jeshua (Jesus), had its centre and became known as another Jewish sect, with the name “The Way” because all the time that master teacher had said he was the way. Though they themselves did not consider themselves as a schism group of the Jewish faith.

From Jerusalem, the apostles spread out to form new disciples who, in turn, were to make new followers of Christ. The life of the early Jewish disciples and/or early Christians, so far as we are able to judge from our meagre sources, was very much the same as that of their fellows. They continued faithful to the established synagogue and temple worship (cf. Acts iii. 1), and did not think of founding a new sect, or of separating from the household of Israel (cf. Acts x. 14, xv. 5, xxi. 21 sq.). There is no evidence that their religious or ethical ideals differed in any marked degree from those of the more serious-minded among their countrymen, for the emphasis which they laid upon the need of righteousness was not at all uncommon. In their belief, however, in the Messiahship of Jesus, and their consequent assurance of the speedy establishment by him of the Messianic kingdom, they stood alone.

Need of the hour

The first need of the hour, therefore, was to show that Jesus was the promised Messiah in spite of his impalement, a need that was met chiefly by testimony to the resurrection, which became the burden of the message of the early disciples to their fellow-countrymen (cf. Acts ii. 24 ff., iii. 15 ff., v. 31). It was this need which led also to the development of Messianic prophecy and the ultimate interpretation of the Jewish or Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, as a Christian book [Do not forget that the gospels and letters from the apostles still had to be written, and as such the New Testament did not exist yet.] .

The second need of the hour was to bring the nation to repentance and righteousness in order that the kingdom might come (cf. Acts iii. 19). The specific gospel of Jesus, the gospel of divine fatherhood and human brotherhood, received no attention in the earliest days, so far as our sources enable us to judge.

In those days the preaching of the gospel and of respecting each other as brothers and sisters was (like) new and found more people who wanted to unite with more people they could find around them. The followers of the Nazarene teacher understood how they had to become the salt or seasoning of this world and spread the light Jesus had brought in this world of division and darkness. This way the Jewish movement could grow, but by having also converts in it who were not Jehudi, the Jewish society made problems out of that and did not want those gentiles in their synagogues and temples.

Spreading beyond the confines of Palestine

Meanwhile the new movement spread quite naturally beyond the confines of Palestine and found adherents among the Jews of the dispersion, and at an early day among the Gentiles as well. Many of the latter had already come under the influence of Judaism, and were more or less completely in sympathy with Jewish religious principles.

Apostle Paul – Image processed by Code Carvings Piczard Community Edition

Among the Christians who did most to spread the gospel in the Gentile world was the apostle Paul, whose conversion was the greatest event in the history of the early Church. In his hands Christianity became a new religion, fitted to meet the needs of all the world, and freed entirely of the local and national meaning which had hitherto attached to it.
According to the early disciples Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and had significance only in relation to the expected Messianic kingdom. To establish that kingdom was his one great aim. For the Gentiles he had no message except as they might become members of the family of Israel, assuming the responsibilities and enjoying the privileges of proselytes.

Shakey situation in Jewish group The Way

Paul saw in Jesus not ony the Jewish Messiah, or liberator for the Jehudim. He understood that this Jew had given his body for saving all people from the curse of death. He saw in Christ the man who was sent by God, a prophet to transform the lives of men, all of whom are sinners. Thus Jesus had the same significance for one man as for another, and Christianity was meant as much for Gentiles as for Jews. The kingdom of which the early disciples were talking was interpreted by Paul as righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom. xiv. 17), a new principle of living, not a Jewish state. But Paul taught also, on the basis of a religious experience and of a distinct theory of redemption (see McGiffert’s Apostolic Age, ch. iii.), that the Christian is freed from the obligation to observe all the Jewish laws. He thus did away with the fundamental distinction between Jews and Gentiles. The transformed spiritual life of the believer expresses itself not in the observance of the Jewish law, but in love, purity and peace. This precipitated a very serious conflict, of which we learn something from the Epistle to the Galatians and the Book of Acts (xv. and xxii.). Other fundamental principles of Paul’s failed of comprehension and acceptance, but the belief finally prevailed that the observance of Jewish law and custom was unnecessary, and that in the Christian Church there is no distinction between the circumcised and the uncircumcised. The matter of circumcision or no circumcision brought the first split in the Jewish group The Way. Those Jewish Christians who refused to go with the rest of the others in this matter lived their separate life. Some of them became regarded as a heretical sect known as the Ebionites [from Hebrew אביונים(Ebyonim, the Poor Ones) – Gal. 2,10; Rom. 15,26; Matt. 5]. They continued to regard Jesus as the son of Joseph (Josef) and Mary (or Miriam) and as the true “prophet” mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:1, who at his baptism was also gifted with the Holy Spirit and declared by God as His beloved son. All his life Jesus had obeyed the Jewish Law, and for them, that should also be done by the followers of Jesus. It was important to them to continue to attribute binding power to the Mosaic Law, but they did not recognise Paul as an apostle, thus separating themselves from those members of The Way who did wish to accept him as the apostle of Jesus. The Ebionites lived in Jordan and Syria (Aleppo). Fragments of their gospels, the Hebrew, Nazarene and Ebionite gospels, have been preserved.

The Ebionites were one of several such sects that originated in and around Palestine in the first centuries ad and included the Nazarenes and Elkasites. The name of the sect is from the Hebrew ebyonim, or ebionim (“the poor”); it was not founded, as later Christian writers stated, by a certain Ebion. {Ency. Brit.}

Because of his conversion to the Jewish sect The Way the Jewish leaders, mainly because of their jealousy of Paul’s success, turned against him and even called Saul (Paul) a traitor to the Judaic faith and a government insurrectionist, who was starting a new cult. But also in the ranks of The Way, several followers of Christ did not agree with Paul’s progressive and changing directions in the faith. This made the Bereans also come to turn against him. Though Paul did find a lot of interest by several Jews and by a large number of God-fearing Greeks, so a multi-ethnic was created, which was considered apostate by the main Jewish community. Thessalonian Jews were so aggressively opposed to the new movement that their hostility made Paul very concerned that this new community or church was going to fall apart.  Paul had to flee but instructed his friends, Silas and Timothy, to stay in Berea and help the new ecclesia there, while he travelled 200 miles south to Athens, and then eventually a bit west to Corinth, where he settled for some time and asked his pupil Timothy to bring his letters to the Thessalonicans to read the letters out loud to them because not everyone in the church would be able to read.

+

Next: Religion and believers #7 Independent and organised form of existence of a religion

Preceding

Religion and believers #1 Lots of groups to be taken interest in

Religion and believers #2 Different forms of Truth

Religion and believers #3 From father and mother gods to land and local gods

Religion and believers #4 Order of Nature and Polytheism on the way to monotheism

Religion and believers #5 Transition to Monotheism

Already in the time of Jesus excluding real followers of Christ

++

Additional reading

  1. Jesus begotten Son of God #5 Apostle, High Priest and King
  2. The Atonement in Type and Antitype 1 Sacrifices and High Priests
  3. The Atonement in Type and Antitype 2 Going forth to Jesus
  4. Matthew 12:1-8 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Something Greater than the Temple
  5. Additional readings to Matthew 22:41-46
  6. When you believe Jesus is God, do you think he died?
  7. Imprisonment and execution of Jesus Christ
  8. Matthew 27 – The Final Hours: Trial, Execution and Burial – Bible Students Intro
  9. Matthew 28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Risen Christ appears #3 Matthew 28:5-7 – “Jesus Was Raised Up!”
  10. Matthew 28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Risen Christ appears #4 Matthew 28:8-10 – The Two Marys Met by the Risen Christ
  11. Matthew 28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Risen Christ appears #5 Matthew 28:11-15 – The False Report the Body Was Stolen
  12. Matthew 28 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: The Risen Christ appears #6 Matthew 28:16-19 – The King’s Commission
  13. The Climax of Matthew’s story
  14. Not dragged unwillingly to death
  15. A Ransom for all 3 Seeing Him as He is
  16. Death of Christ and Silent or Black Saturday #2 A son of God and king who died
  17. Death of Christ and Silent or Black Saturday #3 A sincere man or an imposter
  18. Marriage of Jesus 7 Impaled
  19. Why Did Christ Die on the stake
  20. From Jewish Christians to Gentiles and origin of Christianity
  21. Able to celebrate the Passover in all of its prophetic fulfilment
  22. To believe in the liberation of slavery and to repent
  23. Reason to preach #5 Trained to do it God’s way
  24. Today’s Thought “Jesus Greater than Moses” (May 31)
  25. Todays tought (June 2) Repenting whilst eagerly waiting for Christ’s return
  26. Christianity without the Trinity
  27. Fully God Or Only A Part Of God?
  28. “Who is The Most High” ? Who is thee Eternal? Who is Yehovah? Who is God?
  29. Recognising Jehovah’s sovereignty
  30. When you believe Jesus is God: who do you think is the mediator? #2 Firstborn from the dead our advocate
  31. Memorizing wonderfully 52 Acts 7:56: the Son of man standing on the right hand of God
  32. Memorizing wonderfully 72: Colossians 3:1: Christ seated on the right hand of God
  33. Living as a believer in Christ
  34. Certain Catholics claiming that the power of the priest is equal to that of Jesus Christ
  35. To turn the world into a “vessel” receptive of God
  36. Is it a Jewish or Christian faith
+++

Related

  1. Walk with Jesus: Purposeful in the midst of turbulence
  2. The ‘Odes of Solomon’: a Late 1st Century Christian Hymnbook
  3. The Gospels Are Fake  News. The Gospel should supposedly mean Good News. However, it is not the case. All Gospels in the so called New Testament are fake.
  4. The Gnostic Hall of Infamy – Gnosticism Part 7
  5. Podcast: A Vegetarian Saying of Jesus in the Syriac-Aramaic Gospel of Luke, and Other Vegetarian Passages
  6. Why Saul’s Name Was Changed To “Paul”
  7. When does a church become a church? – 2 Thessalonians 1, Part 2
  8. Church Bells, Biblical Bells, and “Redemption”
  9. Why “Lord Jesus Christ” is subversive, and “grace and peace” is more than a greeting – 2 Thessalonians 1, Part 3
  10. Testing Paul “Ephesians”
  11. Ethics – Paul’s Conceptual Basis in the Kingdom of Heaven
  12. Profaning Paul: Livestream Promotion
  13. Under Men, Under the Law or In Christ: I Corinthians 15 – Ephesians 3
  14. Christians, Conspiracy Theories and the end of the world – 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, Preview
  15. When does a church become a church? – 2 Thessalonians 1, Part 2

8 thoughts on “Religion and believers #6 Origin of a church

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.