This week we continue our journey through the history of the church specifically Andrew looks at the time of the Apostles and their ministry through to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
1. Beginning of the Way
•The Apostles Mission
Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
-Early church: Followed Jewish teachings along with 2 additional Ordinances-Communion & Baptism (Still attended temple worship)
-Consisted of Palestinian & Hellenist Jews
-1st Church Crisis: The Support of Widows & Orphans (Acts 6)
Acts 6:1 ESV
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
-7 Deacons are elected from the Hellenists (The Apostles were all Hebrew Jews)
-The Faith continued to spread and with it false rumors about the Christian Faith
-Stephen’s Defense of the Christian faith will lead to his execution (around 36 AD)
• Persecution in Jerusalem
-The Hellenistic Jews Christians are forced to flee Jerusalem Palestinian Jews do Not (while some would be arrested there commitment to the tenants of Judaism protected them)
-Saul Tracks down Hellenist Jews for Persecution
-Hellenists move the faith beyond the walls of Jerusalem to other Jewish communities in the empire
Acts 8:4 ESV
Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
2. Expansion of a Movement
• Samaria & the God fearers (Acts 8 & 10)
-Philip (the Deacon) Goes to Samaria and Preaches the gospel and many come to faith
-Philip is then led by the Spirit to minister and preach the Gospel to an Ethiopian Eunuch on His way Home from Jerusalem.
-Peter Ministers to Cornelius a Roman Centurion (who feared God)
-Peter receives a vision reminding him of the words Christ told him before that the gospel is for all nations
Acts 10:45 ESV
And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.
Acts 11:18 ESV
When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”
• Antioch (Acts 11:19-30) & the Birth of Missions (Acts 13-28)
-Antioch (3rd largest city in the Empire)
-Believers there given the name” Christian.”
-The Lord Calls Saul & Barnabas to the Work of reaching the Gentiles
Acts 13:9 ESV
But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him
-Their missions reaches Jews and Gentiles
– Paul was the perfect man for the work
-Well Educated in Judaism,
– A Roman Citizen,
-Versed in both Greek & Roman literature, thought, and language.
-Churches are planted and the faith spreads to every corner of the Empire, the Gentile Population grows causing a conflict : Jewish traditions vs Christian Liberty
• A Return to Jerusalem (Acts 15)
-A Church Council is Called in Jerusalem to handle the Gentile Question (48/49AD)
-James the Brother of Jesus is the head of the church in Jerusalem at this time
-James of Zebedee murdered by Herod’s men (the 1st Apostle Martyred)
-Peter & John had Fled and begin ministering in other regions
-Gentiles accepted as part of the church with no ceremonial requirements
Acts 15:28–29 ESV
For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”
-Paul will continue to reach out into Gentile Lands proclaiming the Gospel
-Christianity initially granted the same protections as Judaism in the Empire (though kicked out of the city in the days of Claudius-52AD)
-Paul would end up ministering in the city of Rome (this is where the book of Acts ends)
Acts 28:28–31 ESV
Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen.” He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
-Peter would also Find his place in Rome with the assistance of Mark
-Persecution officially breaks out in the city of Rome against Christinas in AD 64 after Rome is burned
-Nero blames the Christinas for this event and mass arrests and executions take place
History of the Christian Church § 37. The Roman Conflagration and the Neronian Persecution
A “vast multitude” of Christians was put to death in the most shocking manner. Some were crucified, probably in mockery of the punishment of Christ, some sewed up in the skins of wild beasts and exposed to the voracity of mad dogs in the arena. The satanic tragedy reached its climax at night in the imperial gardens on the slope of the Vatican (which embraced, it is supposed, the present site of the place and church of St. Peter): Christian men and women, covered with pitch or oil or resin, and nailed to posts of pine, were lighted and burned as torches for the amusement of the mob; while Nero, in fantastical dress, figured in a horse race, and displayed his art as charioteer. Burning alive was the ordinary punishment of incendiaries; but only the cruel ingenuity of this imperial monster, under the inspiration of the devil, could invent such a horrible system of illumination.
-Persecution is Limited to the city but sees the death of Both Paul and Peter
-30yrs later persecution will break out again under Domitian for a short period (but will then reach the whole empire)
3. A New Home for Christianity
• The Jewish War (66-73AD)
–The Zealot Party seize popular support and control (during an internal civil war)and lead a rebellion against Roman rule in Jerusalem and Palestine (supported by the Essenes- who wished to bring about the end times)
-Nero sent his great General Vespasian to end the rebellion in 67AD. (He was unable to completed the task for Nero had killed himself and through as series of events the next 3 quickly died or were Killed)
-Vespasian would be declared Emperor in Rome in 69AD restoring Order in the capital and sending out his own Son and General Titus to complete the task of ending the Jewish rebellion
-Christians in Jerusalem headed the warning of Christ and fled:
Mark 13:1–2 ESV
And as he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
Luke 21:20–24 ESV
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written. Alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! For there will be great distress upon the earth and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
-Titus Sacks the city of Jerusalem in July of 70 AD and Burns the temple mount to the ground
History of the Christian Church § 38. The Jewish War and the Destruction of Jerusalem. A.D. 70
The Romans planted their eagles on the shapeless ruins, over against the eastern gate, offered their sacrifices to them, and proclaimed Titus Imperator with the greatest acclamations of joy. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy concerning the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place.”
• Result of the War
-All Synagogues in Palestine are burned
-Christianity’s ties to Jerusalem are severed (the Remaining Palestinian jews several any remnant of a connection to the Christian Jews for their refusal to protect the City)
-Judaism moves southwards and establishes a temporary home it Jamnia, where a pharisaical school was still in practice. (with the destruction of Jerusalem on the Pharisaical order remained with any pull along with their hostility to Christ and Christian interpretations of the scriptures.)
-Antioch will become the major head of the Christian Church with the destruction of Jerusalem, soon to be followed by Alexandria in Egypt.