What Happened to the Jewish Church?
What Happened to the Jewish Church?
1. What Do You Mean "Gentile Believers"?
     One of the most staggering truths I have discovered from God's word, the Bible, is that the origin of the Church of Jesus Christ was totally Jewish. That lesson is derived from a very close reading of Acts chapter 10, which focuses on a major change in the Apostle Peter's life, in his understanding of God's plan of salvation. Peter, who dwelt in Joppa, had experienced a vision revealing to him that the things God had made clean (in the vision, certain unclean animals Jews were not allowed to eat), Peter should no longer call "unclean".
     Shortly after receiving this vision, Peter was sent for by Gentiles who lived in Caesarea, to come to them and preach the good news. Peter went to Caesarea and shared the Gospel of salvation in Yeshua with the Gentiles who received his word and were baptized in the Holy Ghost while he was yet preaching!. My reading then took me to verse-
Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. (KJV)
     What this scripture reveals is that the Jewish believers in Messiah ("they of the circumcision" that accompanied Peter to Caesarea), were stunned at learning that Yeshua's salvation would also be extended to the Gentiles! This was the first time that the totally Jewish church had witnessed the Gentiles come to salvation. What this indicates is that the astonishment of the Jewish Church could only mean that the Church that was born or empowered at Pentecost- must have been totally Jewish in nature.
2. What Do You Mean "Jewish Believers"?
(1,950 Years Later...)
     In the days when the BBS's ruled (personal computer bulletinboards), I once wrote an email message to a brother in the LORD, explaining to him how blessed I was at my recent visit with a Messianic Jewish Congregation. I told him about the vibrant praise to a living King that I had witnessed there, among the Jewish believers in Christ. That quieted the message traffic for a season, afterwhich this brother responded to me with a question;
"Excuse me, but what do you mean, 'Jewish believers'"?
     My reaction to that question was that of wonder, not criticism. I was bewildered that this person had no idea that there were thousands of Jewish people who have received Yeshua, as their Messiah. This experience led me to ask a major question of history. The question is this:
"How did the Church of Jesus Christ get the astonishment of the Jews recorded in Acts 10:45, when seeing that Gentiles too, were partakers in God's salvation plan, to this last days Church which is surprised to hear of a Jewish person who believes in Yeshua (Jesus) as Lord?"
     The answer to that question lies in an investigation of the historic record of the period between these two events. It is difficult subject matter, but one I know holds a blessing for those seeking absolute truth about the unity of the body of Christ. I say that because absolute truth is where God dwells and what He is, therefore discovering truth will draw us closer to Him.

3. Church Origin
     A starting point for this investigation is the Church born at Pentecost. We read in Acts chapter two of the 120 on whom the Baptism of the Holy Ghost fell that day. The startling point is that all 120 of these disciples of Yeshua were Jewish. Every one of the disciples, Mary, the mother of Yeshua and the rest, were children of the promise, born of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
     Not only is that number of souls in Acts chapter two entirely Jewish, but another number associated with that day "three thousand souls" (verse 41) were also Jewish. The term "Christian", is completely legitimate as it is a Biblical term used by the Apostle Peter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit [1st Peter 4:16], where he wrote the Greek term "christianos". However, it is a keen observation to realize that this term (whomever generated it) was not coined and not used at the time of the day of Pentecost.
     No new religion started that day, but rather a fulfillment of everything believers lent faith to in the Old Testament (Tenakh). The promise of salvation in God's Messiah is present in those writings from start [Genesis 3:15], to finish [Malachi 4:5] which holds the promise of the coming of John, the Baptist, the announcer of the Messiah's coming.
     The approximate 3,120 souls we find trusting in Jesus as Lord by the end of Acts chapter two, believed those promises, and what's more they believed that Yeshua of Nazareth was the fulfillment of those promises and also the fulfillment of the law for righteousness sake. And everyone of these souls were Jewish.

     And there were others, all Jewish without exception who understood, the salvation in Yeshua the Messiah.
  • The shepherds in fields who came to give honor to the newborn King-
  • Simeon who at the Temple at the time of Messiah Yeshua's circumcision praised God that his eyes had seen the Messiah, before His death.
  • In Acts chapter 4, five thousand Jewish people again, at the hearing of the preaching of Peter believed on Yeshua as LORD.
  • And in Acts chapter 8, the Ethiopian eunuch had a burning desire to be baptized in the name of Yeshua, in fact practically demanded it, at the hearing of the good news of the Gospel from Philip.
     The support for this claim that all these added to Messiah's Church were entirely Jewish, lies in those events of Acts chapter 10, crucially important to the understanding of the matter. As mentioned earlier we find Peter again with a new vision from the LORD, showing Him that salvation would be opened to all men. The Gentiles, formerly known as pagans and heathens, to them grace would also be extended. Read Acts 10 closely for a huge blessing.

     What you will find is that under Peter's anointed preaching, that the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles at Caesarea who listened, as Peter, the Jewish Apostle delivered the Gospel to them. Peter's reaction and the reaction of His Jewish brothers and sisters in Messiah [found in Acts 10:45] is the key to understanding that this was the first occasion of the Gentiles being brought into the Church.

     We Gentiles today should not be shocked at hearing today, that we indeed have brothers and sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ that are Jewish, after all they are the way the Church began. Let's embrace them! Let's extend a hand to them in fellowship, and in fulfillment of Messiah Yeshua's prayer of John 17:20,21. Let's be a blessing to them, and them to us. Because their faith in Yeshua, God's Messiah, is our faith.

4. Church Leadership
     After Acts 10 we have the entire salvation by grace plan of the Gospel revealed for both Jews and Gentiles. They were one, brothers and sisters all- in the risen Saviour. But I wish to indicate that the leadership of this Church was of the Jews. Is there any question of this?
  • In Acts 2:42 we see the Church continuing steadfastly in the Apostle's doctrine, yet uncorrupted by the evil one.
  • In Acts 9 we see one of the most fervent Jews of the time period, chosen by God to be a minister to the Gentiles, Paul (Rabbi Sha'ul) the Apostle.
  • In Acts 15:1-6 we see the Apostles sought after to settle a huge question in the Church.
  • In 1st John chapter one we see John, a Jew, speaking from the authority of the Apostles as one who writes to the Church under the qualifications of those who "have heard", who "have seen with our eyes", who "have looked upon", who "our hands have handled" the actual Messiah who is Yeshua of Nazareth.
     This was the reality of the Jewish leadership of a Church that was one in Spirit- a Church who shared all things in common. This was the Church- who both Jew and Gentile, received God's promised Messiah of Israel.
     But even in during Jude's time, we hear Jude give warning to cling to the doctrine of the Apostles, and to beware of the corruption that was to come...
3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (KJV)
Part II


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 Web Author:Michael Stevenson Updated: 12/16/2004 7:31PM