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At first all Christians were Jews nationally and culturally. They believed their community to be the new Israel of God and the natural successor of God’s way. The primitive Church was a Jewish institution, centered in Jerusalem, whose leadership was exclusively Jewish and whose members were Jews by birth.

The two major divisions of Jewish Christianity were the Nazarenes and the Ebionites but there were small dissident groups as well. Later through gentilization Christianity became a religion in its own right with the emergence of Greco-Roman Christianity. Outwardly, the early Christian community appeared typically Jewish in heritage, membership, leadership, opinions and doctrines. When Jews accepted Jesus of Nazareth (Yeshúa Ha-Notsri) as the Messiah, they did not cease to be Jews. In fact, all of the early members of the Church of God were Jews.

They were Jews who acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah. They adhered to certain Jewish norms of praxis—they kept the Ten Commandments, used the Hebrew Scriptures, met in synagogues, and organized their local ministry after the organization of the traditional Jewish synagogue. They rejected halakat and held that the covenant with Israel—the Mosaic Covenant—ceased with Jesus death. The apostles appear too have come to that understanding quite early and presumably before the conversion of the Gentile Cornelius.

At first numbering only a few hundred, these Judeo-Christians, led by the apostle Peter and the other eleven apostles, increased to many thousands. The story did not end there. The church was to grow in grace and knowledge, so over the apostolic age the qehal’el learned new doctrines. These they credited to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Doctrinal understanding matured as the Church matured and the apostles came to understand more of God’s plan for the redemption of humankind.


Page last edited: 02/02/06 08:19 PM


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