“Who Were The First Christians …Really?”
Another Patton Associates S-M-A-R-TBriefing™
Jesus’ early Followers for many years were devout, practising, religious Jews. Most of them believed Jesus was their Messiah …but not their God… history records.
THE MESSIANIC JEWISH BIBLE
The early Followers of Jesus continued to practice the core tenets of Judaism. They followed “The Torah of Moses”, plus the Hebrew Temple traditions, and dietary customs. They outlined their practise of these Hebrew rituals in their late First Century text called, “The Didache”.
The Didache documents clearly confirm what these Jewish Followers of Jesus believed. It clearly says that they continued to be as confused regarding what the God-man Yeshua (Jesus), humankind’s Saviour who was miraculously fully-man, yet fully-God, came for. Nor did they, like their teachers, “The Twelve Disciples (Learners)”, yet understand what Jesus had really accomplished by his death in AD 30.
The Bible makes clear that Jesus’, core Team while He was on earth, The Twelve Disciples, and therefore, their early Jewish Learners, were unclear about what was Jesus’ true role on earth. This is biblically confirmed for the periods both before his death, and even after they spent time during forty days with the resurrected Jesus. They were confused despite them being His First Apostles (Sent-Out-Ones) as Mark, one of them, recounts:
“9. Now when Jesus rose [from His grave] early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10. She went and told those who had been with Him [His Disciples], as they mourned and wept.
11. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
12. After these things, He appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
14. Afterward Jesus appeared to the [core Disciples] themselves as they were reclining at table, and He rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw Him after he had risen.” (Mark 16:9-14, ESV)
UNDISCLOSED BUT DOCUMENTED TRUTH
From the pulpits of our traditional churches, most Christians today will not hear preached clearly the documented, historical realities about whom were Jesus Early Followers and, more importantly, what they truly believed. One can only wonder why?
But, the Didache is an undisputed, documented reality of what Jesus’ early Followers, probably including The Twelve who were also all Jews, believed for many, many years after the authentic Jesus died on His cross and was resurrected from His grave. It was not until AD 40 that Peter, the first Leader of The Twelve, baptized the Roman soldier, Cornelius, a non-Jewish Believer in Jesus. (Acts 10) It would be many more decades after that before followership of Jesus spread among non-Jews in the MIddle East plus Greece, Macedonia, and Italy, in Europe.
A careful reading of “The Acts of The Apostles” plus “The Epistles” in Jesus’ New Covenant clearly documents the above which is not normally taught in modern Catholic or Protestant churches. In those Books of the Bible, one can discover that the pre-Paul Apostles (Sent-Out Ones) of Jesus’ ‘Gospel’ (“Good News”) did not initially attest to the saving nature of King Jesus’ death, i.e., that by His death He fully absorbed our Holy God’s anger at humankind’s sin nature and our many sins.
THE FIRST DISCIPLES INITIALLY MISSED “THE WAY”
The earliest Apostles, however, did not clearly and truly understand this eternal truth until after Holy Spirit’s reclarification of humankind’s ‘Way’ to salvation. Jesus is “The Only Way, NOT One Way, to Be Reconciled with Almighty God”. Jesus had confirmed that He was that only Way in John 14:6. That Bible book was written later by a First Disciple.
But all Jesus’ First Disciples, including John, initially missed what Jesus really meant. Modern Christians can know they missed it because the New Covenant clarifies that The Twelve, plus all other early Jewish Followers of Jesus, heard God The Son’s words through Jewish ears. Their Jewish ears were conditioned to believe that their Messiah would be a “Warrior King”, like the Hebrew King David of about BC 1,000. The Saviour they were conditioned to believe in would violently overthrow Israel’s oppressors that came in a steady stream after King David. The current oppressor by Jesus’ time was the cruel and harsh Roman Empire.
A humble servant who was crucified, raised from the dead, and then returned to heaven did not fit with what all Jews, including the early Jewish Followers of Jesus, had believed about their Messiah. So the early Jewish Followers, waited, for Yeshua’s promised return. They waited, and they waited. And they waited!
THE EARLY DISCIPLES WONDERED WHAT WAS HAPPENING
Until at least 50 years after Jesus’ death, His First Disciples and their Learners were still waiting patiently for Jesus to return, as He had promised, to change their world. And by then, their world had been turned upside down, and what they believed about Messiah, had been badly rocked by the Romans’ destruction, in AD 70, of Jerusalem, plus the sacred Temple of Worship of the Jewish Disciples and all Jews. Within a very few years after that event, the Roman Emperor banished most of the Jewish race to the ends of the known world.
Judaism, as it had existed for thousands of years, was finished. The early Jewish Followers , therefore, were forced by “God The Father” to change their initial beliefs about the right Way!
Eventually, but not until the AD 80s, did it become clearer to the Jewish, and the emerging non-Jewish, Learners, plus all those who would follow them up to the present, that not only the ‘right’, but ‘only’, Way was through Jesus’ death and resurrection. That Way, which Jesus had provided to personally connect with “The One Living God”, the New Covenant revealed for the first time. It also revealed for the first time that our God has always existed in three personalities, “God The Father”, “God The Son”, and “God The Holy Spirit”. The later Apostle, Paul, clarifies most succinctly that God’s Son, Jesus, is the only Way to salvation from our awful sin nature and many sins in one of the many Books of the Bible which he wrote. He did so in Romans 10:8-13.
It is not the good behaviour, or the works, of any person that the clarified Scriptures say is effective in giving us abundant life, now, plus saving us from eternal separation from God in the hereafter. “Salvation By Grace-Driven Love …Not Because Of What We Do” is the only Way we can get to heaven.
And Holy Spirit reclarified this through the Jewish, religious leader, Saul of Tarsus, not The Twelve.
THE FULL “GOOD NEWS” CLARIFIED
The New Covenant outlines how Jesus, “God, The One And Only”, transformed Saul into the Apostle Paul, on his way to Damascus. He had been going there to persecute Jewish Jesus Followers as outlined in the New Covenant:
“1. But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2. and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to The Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
3. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’
5. And he said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And [the Spirit] said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.’
7. The men who were traveling with Saul stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.” (Acts 9:1-8, English Standard Version, ESV)
The First Century Followers of Jesus practised what the Bible calls, not Christianity, but “The Way”. This is clear in verse 2 above, and also in verse 9 of the passage immediately below.
Orthodox Jews disputed what Paul shared about the true ‘Way’:
“9. But when some [Jews] became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the [synagogue] congregation, Paul withdrew from them and took his disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus [in Ephesus]. 10. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia [Minor] heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:9-10, ESV)
The term Christianity is used only twice in the entire New Covenant. Both times it is used sarcastically by non-Followers of Jesus!
The Biblical Archaeology Review article, “The Origins of Christianity”, provides a fuller explanation of the full facts regarding the First Followers of Jesus and the evolution of what eventually became Christianity.
Please let me have your questions and comments below about what you’d add to, or disagree with, about the above. Also, let me know how else I might be useful to you in any way?
Blessings in Jesus all …’till next we interact!
© Copyright 2015 04 26 gfp ‘ 42™ under a “Creative Commons 3.0 License” for your not-for-profit use as you wish.