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Election of the Apostle Matthias

Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias were the two candidates suggested as possible replacements for Judas Iscariot as an apostle. The lot fell to Matthias. Even though Justus was not chosen, his being considered for the office shows he was a mature disciple of Jesus Christ.—Ac 1:23-26.

(Mat·thi′as) [probably a shortened form of the Heb. Mattithiah, meaning “Gift of Jehovah”].

Judas Hangs Himself

Judas Hangs Himself (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The disciple selected by lot to replace Judas Iscariot as an apostle. After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, Peter, noting that not only had the psalmist David foretold Judas’ deflection (Ps 41:9) but David had also written (Ps 109:8) “his office of oversight let someone else take,” proposed to the approximately 120 disciples gathered together that the vacancy of office be filled. Joseph Barsabbas and Matthias were put up for selection; after prayer, lots were cast, and Matthias was chosen. Occurring just a few days prior to the outpouring of holy spirit, this is the last instance reported in the Bible of the lots being resorted to in determining Jehovah’s choice in a matter.—Ac 1:15-26.

According to Peter’s words (Ac 1:21, 22), Matthias had been a follower of Christ throughout Jesus’ three-and-a-half-year ministry, had been closely associated with the apostles, and was quite likely one of the 70 disciples or evangelists whom Jesus sent out to preach. (Lu 10:1) After his selection, he was “reckoned along with the eleven apostles” by the congregation (Ac 1:26), and when the book of Acts immediately thereafter speaks of “the apostles” or “the twelve,” Matthias was included.—Ac 2:37, 43; 4:33, 36; 5:12, 29; 6:2, 6; 8:1, 14; 9:27; see PAUL.

– it-2 pp. 354-355

+

Though having strong conviction and proofs as to his own apostleship, Paul never included himself among “the twelve.” Prior to Pentecost, as a result of Peter’s Scriptural exhortation, the Christian assembly had sought a replacement for unfaithful Judas Iscariot. Two disciples were selected as candidates, perhaps by vote of the male members of the assembly (Peter having addressed himself to the “Men, brothers”; Ac 1:16). Then they prayed to Jehovah God (compare Ac 1:24 with 1Sa 16:7; Ac 15:7, 8) that He should designate which of the two he had chosen to replace the unfaithful apostle. Following their prayer, they cast lots and “the lot fell upon Matthias.”—Ac 1:15-26; compare Pr 16:33.

There is no reason to doubt that Matthias was God’s own choice. True, once converted, Paul became very prominent and his labors exceeded those of all the other apostles. (1Co 15:9, 10) Yet there is nothing to show that Paul was personally predestinated to an apostleship so that God, in effect, refrained from acting on the prayer of the Christian assembly, held open the place vacated by Judas until Paul’s conversion, and thus made the appointment of Matthias merely an arbitrary action of the Christian assembly. On the contrary, there is sound evidence that Matthias was a divinely appointed replacement.

English: Saint Matthias, who replaced Judas Is...

Saint Matthias, who replaced Judas Iscariot as apostle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At Pentecost the outpouring of holy spirit gave the apostles unique powers; they are the only ones shown to have been able to lay hands on newly baptized ones and communicate to them miraculous gifts of the spirit. (See Apostle [Miraculous powers].) If Matthias were not in reality God’s choice, his inability to do this would have been apparent to all. The record shows this was not the case. Luke, the writer of Acts, was Paul’s traveling companion and associate during certain missions, and the book of Acts therefore undoubtedly reflects and coincides with Paul’s own view of matters. That book refers to “the twelve” as appointing the seven men who were to handle the matter of the food distribution problem. This was after Pentecost of 33 C.E. but before Paul’s conversion. Hence Matthias is here acknowledged as one of “the twelve,” and he shared with the other apostles in laying hands on the seven designates.—Ac 6:1-6.

Whose name then appears among those on the “twelve foundation stones” of the New Jerusalem of John’s vision—Matthias’ or Paul’s? (Re 21:2, 14) One line of reasoning would make it appear that Paul is the more likely one. He contributed so much to the Christian congregation by his ministry and particularly by his writing a large portion of the Christian Greek Scriptures (14 letters being attributed to him). In these respects Paul ‘outshone’ Matthias, who receives no further direct mention after Acts chapter 1.

– it-2 pp. 585-590

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Who replaced Judas Iscariot as a twelfth apostle?

Because of the defection of Judas Iscariot, who died unfaithful, there were only 11 apostles remaining, and during the 40 days from Jesus’ resurrection until his ascension to heaven he made no appointment of a replacement. Sometime during the ten days between Jesus’ ascension and the day of Pentecost it was viewed as necessary that another be selected to fill the vacancy left by Judas, not simply on the basis of his death but, rather, on the basis of his wicked defection, as the Scriptures quoted by Peter indicate. (Ac 1:15-22; Ps 69:25; 109:8; compare Re 3:11.) Thus, by contrast, when the faithful apostle James was put to death, there is no record of any concern to appoint anyone to succeed him in his position of apostle.—Ac 12:2.

It is evident from Peter’s statements that it was then considered that any individual filling the position of an apostle of Jesus Christ must have the qualifications of having been personally conversant with him, having been an eyewitness of his works, his miracles, and particularly his resurrection. In view of this it can be seen that any apostolic succession would in course of time become an impossibility, unless there were divine action to supply these requirements in each individual case. At that particular time before Pentecost, however, there were men meeting these requirements, and two were put forth as suitable for replacing unfaithful Judas. Doubtless having in mind Proverbs 16:33, lots were cast, and Matthias was selected and was thereafter “reckoned along with the eleven apostles.” (Ac 1:23-26) He is thus included among “the twelve” who settled the problem concerning the Greek-speaking disciples (Ac 6:1, 2), and evidently Paul includes him in referring to “the twelve” when speaking of Jesus’ postresurrection appearances at 1 Corinthians 15:4-8. Thus, when Pentecost arrived, there were 12 apostolic foundations on which the spiritual Israel then formed could rest.

The Boppard Room:  Pashal Candle Holder: Saint...

The Boppard Room: Pashal Candle Holder: Saint Matthias (Photo credit: peterjr1961)

Congregational Apostleships.

Matthias was not a mere apostle of the Jerusalem congregation, any more than the remaining 11 apostles were. His case is different from that of the Levite Joseph Barnabas who became an apostle of the congregation of Antioch, Syria. (Ac 13:1-4; 14:4, 14; 1Co 9:4-6) Other men also are referred to as “apostles of congregations” in the sense that they were sent forth by such congregations to represent them. (2Co 8:23) And, in writing to the Philippians, Paul speaks of Epaphroditus as “your envoy [a·po′sto·lon] and private servant for my need.” (Php 2:25) The apostleship of these men was clearly not by virtue of any apostolic succession, nor did they form part of “the twelve” as did Matthias.

The correct understanding of the wider application of the term “apostle” can help to clear away any apparent discrepancy between Acts 9:26, 27 and Galatians 1:17-19, when applied to the same occasion. The first account states that Paul, on arriving in Jerusalem, was led “to the apostles” by Barnabas. In the account in Galatians, however, Paul states that he visited with Peter and adds: “But I saw no one else of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord.” James (not the original apostle James the son of Zebedee nor James the son of Alphaeus, but the half brother of Jesus) was evidently viewed as an “apostle” in the wider sense, namely, as “one sent forth” by the Jerusalem congregation. This would allow for the Acts account to use the title in the plural in saying that Paul was led “to the apostles” (that is, Peter and James).—Compare 1Co 15:5-7; Ga 2:9.

– it-1 pp. 127-130

The Election of Saint Matthias

The Election of Saint Matthias (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

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15 Now during these days Peter rose up in the midst of the brothers and said (the crowd* of persons was all together about one hundred and twenty): 16 “Men, brothers, it was necessary for the scripture to be fulfilled,+ which the holy spirit+ spoke beforehand by David’s mouth about Judas,+ who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus,+ 17 because he had been numbered among us+ and he obtained a share in this ministry.+ 18 (This very man, therefore, purchased+ a field with the wages for unrighteousness,+ and pitching head foremost*+ he noisily burst in his midst and all his intestines were poured out. 19 It also became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that that field was called in their language A·kel′da·ma, that is, Field of Blood.)
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his lodging place become desolate, and let there be no dweller in it,’+ and, ‘His office of oversight* let someone else take.’+ 21 It is therefore necessary that of the men that assembled with us during all the time in which the Lord Jesus went in and out* among us,+ 22 starting with his baptism by John+ and until the day he was received up from us,+ one of these men should become a witness with us of his resurrection.”+

23 So they put up two, Joseph called Bar′sab·bas, who was surnamed Justus, and Mat·thi′as. 24 And they prayed and said: “You, O Jehovah,* who know the hearts of all,+ designate which one of these two men you have chosen, 25 to take the place of this ministry and apostleship,+ from which Judas deviated to go to his own place.” 26 So they cast lots+ over them, and the lot fell upon Mat·thi′as; and he was reckoned along with the eleven+ apostles.

+

Proverbs 16:33

33 Into the lap the lot is cast down,+ but every decision by it is from Jehovah.+

Proverbs 18:18

18 The lot puts even contentions to rest,+ and it separates even the mighty from one another.+

+

Act 6:2:

2 So the twelve called the multitude of the disciples to them and said: “It is not pleasing for us to leave the word of God to distribute [food]* to tables.+ 3 So, brothers, search out+ for yourselves seven certified men from among YOU, full of spirit and wisdom,+ that we may appoint them over this necessary business; 4 but we shall devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”+ 5 And the thing spoken was pleasing to the whole multitude, and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith and holy spirit,+ and Philip+ and Proch′o·rus and Ni·ca′nor and Ti′mon and Par′me·nas and Nic·o·la′us, a proselyte of Antioch; 6 and they placed them before the apostles, and, after having prayed, these laid their hands+ upon them.

Acts 9:26, 27:

26 On arriving in Jerusalem+ he made efforts to join himself to the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe he was a disciple. 27 So Bar′na·bas came to his aid+ and led him to the apostles, and he told them in detail how on the road he had seen the Lord+ and that he had spoken to him,+ and how in Damascus+ he had spoken boldly in the name of Jesus.

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*

 

v 23: Joseph, also called Barsabbas (perhaps a family name or merely an additional name) and surnamed Justus, was a witness of the work, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
A Levite surnamed Barnabas and a native of Cyprus. (Ac 4:36, 37) He was a close associate of the apostle Paul.—See Barnabas.

v 24: Jehovah: “Jehovah.” Heb., יהוה (YHWH or JHVH):

There is evidence that Jesus’ disciples used the Tetragrammaton in their writings. In his work De viris inlustribus [Concerning Illustrious Men], chapter III, Jerome, in the fourth century, wrote the following: “Matthew, who is also Levi, and who from a publican came to be an apostle, first of all composed a Gospel of Christ in Judaea in the Hebrew language and characters for the benefit of those of the circumcision who had believed. Who translated it after that in Greek is not sufficiently ascertained. Moreover, the Hebrew itself is preserved to this day in the library at Caesarea, which the martyr Pamphilus so diligently collected. I also was allowed by the Nazarenes who use this volume in the Syrian city of Beroea to copy it.” (Translation from the Latin text edited by E. C. Richardson and published in the series “Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur,” Vol. 14, Leipzig, 1896, pp. 8, 9.)

Matthew made more than a hundred quotations from the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. Where these quotations included the divine name he would have been obliged faithfully to include the Tetragrammaton in his Hebrew Gospel account. When the Gospel of Matthew was translated into Greek, the Tetragrammaton was left untranslated within the Greek text according to the practice of that time.

Not only Matthew but all the writers of the Christian Greek Scriptures quoted verses from the Hebrew text or from the Septuagint where the divine name appears. For example, in Peter’s speech in Ac 3:22 a quotation is made from De 18:15 where the Tetragrammaton appears in a papyrus fragment of the Septuagint dated to the first century B.C.E. (See App 1C §1.) As a follower of Christ, Peter used God’s name, Jehovah. When Peter’s speech was put on record the Tetragrammaton was here used according to the practice during the first century B.C.E. and the first century C.E.

Sometime during the second or third century C.E. the scribes removed the Tetragrammaton from both the Septuagint and the Christian Greek Scriptures and replaced it with Ky′ri·os, “Lord” or The·os′, “God.”

v 24: who know the hearts of all:

(1 Samuel 16:7): 7 But Jehovah said to Samuel: “Do not look at his appearance and at the height of his stature,+ for I have rejected him. For not the way man sees [is the way God sees],*+ because mere man sees what appears to the eyes;*+ but as for Jehovah, he sees what the heart+ is.”*
(1 Chronicles 28:9): 9 “And you, Sol′o·mon my son, know+ the God of your father and serve+ him with a complete heart+ and with a delightful soul;+ for all hearts Jehovah is searching,+ and every inclination of the thoughts he is discerning.+ If you search for him, he will let himself be found by you;+ but if you leave him,+ he will cast you off forever.+

(Jeremiah 11:20): 20 But Jehovah of armies is judging with righteousness;+ he is examining the kidneys* and the heart.+ O may I see your vengeance on them, for it is to you that I have revealed my case at law.+

(Acts 15:8): 8 and God, who knows the heart,+ bore witness by giving them the holy spirit,+ just as he did to us also.

(1 Kings 8:391 Chronicles 28:92 Chronicles 16:9Psalm 7:9Proverbs 24:12; Jeremiah 17:10)

v 25: apostleship: (John 6:70): 70 Jesus answered them: “I chose YOU twelve,+ did I not? Yet one of YOU is a slanderer.”*+

v 26: they cast lots: (Proverbs 16:33): (Proverbs 16:33): 33 Into the lap the lot is cast down,+ but every decision by it is from Jehovah.+

with the eleven+ apostles: (Matthew 28:16):  16 However, the eleven disciples went into Gal′i·lee+ to the mountain where Jesus had arranged for them,

+ by the lot / drawing lots: (Numbers 26:55; Joshua 18:10; Proverbs 18:18)

+

Compare:

The Acts Of The Sent Ones Chapter 1

Hebraic Roots Bible Book of The Acts of the Apostles Chapter 1

Nazarene Acts of the Apostles Chapter 1 v23-26 Choice of Matthias

Dutch version/ Nederlandse versie: Verkiezing van Matthias

Afrikaans: Matti′as is gekies als een van “die twaalf

Deutsch: Da warfen sie Lose und das Los fiel auf Matthias

Français: Élection de Matthias

++

Please also do find:

+++

  • Commemoration of the Apostle Matthias, Martyred in Colchis, and Apostolic Succession (georgianorthodoxchurch.wordpress.com)
    there is evidence that the Apostle Matthias was martyred in Colchis  (the ancient name for Georgia’s Black Sea regions) and buried in Gonio, near Batumi.
    +
    The elevation of Matthias from the Seventy to the Twelve Apostles is interesting, as it is one of the first written accounts of Apostolic Succession
  • *Apostolic* (motivation1000.wordpress.com)
    Furthermore, for a person to profess to be a Christian (one who is like Christ) and do not obey God’s word in the bible is to make that person a hypocrite – hence, a hypocrites teachings is hypocrisy. In a narrower since, Doctrine is Teachings, and Teachings is Doctrine! Every movement has a doctrine, every religion has a doctrine, the Christian’s doctrine is the Holy Bible (God’s words passed on to His people by the Prophets and Apostles of the bible.
  • Acts 1 (sisterspray4me.com)
    23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they all prayed, “O Lord, you know every heart. Show us which of these men you have chosen 25 as an apostle to replace Judas in this ministry, for he has deserted us and gone where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and Matthias was selected to become an apostle with the other eleven.
  • Acts 14-15 (whatshotn.wordpress.com)
    When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
  • Wait Upon The Lord (rootstothestream.net)
    Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
    +
    Consider if there are any aspects of your life that may be best served with simply waiting on the direction of the Lord.
  • Intro to the Book of Acts and the choosing of Judas’ replacement (sundayschoolbiblestudy.wordpress.com)
    Luke gives us a brief introduction and then summarizes the 40 days after His death and resurrection when Jesus prepares the Apostles for ministry. He instructs them to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit (see The Holy Spirit and the Day of Pentecost).
  • Acts of the Apostles 4.32-5.11
    Thus far in the Acts of the Apostles the narrative has primarily been concerned with the formation of the Messianic community that would eventually become known as the Christian Church and the opposition to this community by the Jewish leaders and some of the Jewish people.
  • Acts 6:2-4…”So the Twelve gathered all the disciples
    New Testament model, and biblical clarity in the deacons’ role and function is invaluable for promoting peace and unity in our congregations.

  • It is the spirit of your Father that speaks by you
    Paul knew well the importance of God’s holy spirit when it comes to speaking the truth. He even entreated the congregation in Ephesus to make supplication for him that “ability to speak” might be given him. (Eph. 6:18-20)
  • The Greatness of the Apostle Paul / Die Größe des Apostels Paulus
    Among people critical of Christianity, the apostle Paul has a pretty bad press. Whilst quite a few of them recognize that Jesus had an exceptionally high ethic (at least for his time), Paul is generally regarded as a villain having sort of corrupted the message of his master.
    +Während nicht wenige von ihnen anerkennen, dass Jesus eine außenordentlich hohe Ethik (zumindest für seine Zeit) hatte, wird generell Paulus als einen Bösewicht angesehen, der irgendwie die Botschaft seines Meisters verdorben hat.

Position and power

History of Christianity

1. The early days of Christianity

1.1.       Considered as a danger

1.1.1.  Position and power

The founder of the Christianity, Jesus from Nazareth, the Christ, prayed that between his followers could exist unity (John 17:21), and the apostles really tried to keep the unity of the Christian municipality (1 Corinthians 1:10; Jude 17-19), but already in the first century false teachings entered Christianity.

The fact, that the Christians were a closely united body, fresh, vigorous, hopeful, and daily increasing, while the heathen were for the most part a loose aggregation, daily diminishing, made the true prospective strength of the church much greater. But they remained strongly surrounded by all kinds of several pagan belief forms and popular activities which could be sometimes very tempting.

With the years going by, the Christians came to stand for all sorts of trials and persecution.  As the first disciples they draw consolation and encouragement from their meetings.  Consequently the apostle[1] Paul wrote to the Hebrews 10:24, 25: “let us keep paying attention to one another, in order to spur each other on to love and good deeds, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.” Those words are much more than a command to come and remain together. They provide a through God inspired standard that counts for all Christian assemblies— and actually for each occasion that Christians come together.

The apostles had been aware that dispute in the belief could lead to vehemently, discord and even enmity. (Acts of the Apostles 23:7-10) The apostles and early inspired men of the first century defended the Christian faith in two ways: verbally (Acts 22.1, Philippians 1.7, 16, 2 Timotheüs 4.16) and by means of literature (1 Corinthians 9.3).
Already in their time the apostles had to warn the followers of Christ for false teachers and wrong teachings which slowly entered the faith already n the first century.

the Conversion of Saul on the road to Damascus...

Conversion of Saul (Paul) on the road to Damascus

The apostle John refutes misconceptions of how to live godly in the face of the docetic-gnostic teachers infiltrating the church (1 John 2.1). “For many deceivers have entered into the world, who confess not that Yahshua the Messiah has come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” (2 John 1:7 KJBPNV) “Because a number of false teachers have gone out into the world, who do not give witness that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. Such a one is a false teacher and Antichrist.” (2 John 1:7 BBE)

Peter writes: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who secretly shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1 KJBPNV) “Especially those who follow their old natures in lust for filth and who despise authority. Presumptuous and self-willed, these false teachers do not tremble at insulting angelic beings;” (2 Peter 2:10 CJB)

No one of genuine concern wants to be wrong on what the Bible teaches. Therefore we must be cautious and ready to see all the biblical evidence as slowly or quickly as it is analyzed. In principle, it is what we find in Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians: “Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesying. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 KJBPNV)

Abiding in the words of the Gospel (John 8.31-32) we must be patient, hoping to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and let the scriptural facts reveal themselves on their own terms. Some early Christians were lacking that patience and found it not pleasant to give up their old customs. They then became attracted by those who found that it did not matter so much to love so strictly.

As long as the apostles lived, they protected the municipality. The history shows that the early Christians were not concerned by the political matters of the Roman Realm and that they had no prominent class of clergymen. Instead they were all diligent proclaimers of Gods kingdom. To the end of the first century, they had given testimony in all parts of the Roman Realm and had made disciples in Asia, Europe and North-Africa. (Colossians 1:23). These performances in the preaching meant however not that it was not longer necessarily to remain spiritually watchful. Jesus predicted coming lay yet far in the future.

Sects had to be avoided, since they belonged to the works of the meat (Galatians 5:19-21). Christians were admonished to promote no sects neither to let them self bring on a wrong track by false teachers (Acts of the Apostles 20:28; 2 Timothy 2:17, 18; 2 Peter 2:1). In his letter to Titus the apostle Paul commanded that a man who after a first and a second serious admonition continued to promote a sect, had to become rejected, what apparently meant that he must become rejected from the municipality (Titus 3:10). Those who refused to become involved by the causing of disunion within the municipality or by the supporting of a particular party, would distinct themselves through their faithful walk and give a token to own Gods approval. This was what Paul apparently meant when he said to the Corinthians: “For there must be also factions or sects among you, that they that are approved may be made manifest among you.” (1 Corinthians 11:19).

The Christians kept high principles of morality and probity, and with fiery diligence made the message of hope known. Thousands left Judaism and accepted Christianity (Acts 2:41; 4:4; 6:7). In the eyes of the Jewish religious leaders Jesus’ followers were unfaithful or apostate.  (Acts of the Apostles 13:45.) These furious leaders were of opinion that Christianity annulled their traditions. Yes, it denied even the view that they had on heathen! From 36 C. T. a heathens could become Christian and believe and hope in the same privileges as Jewish Christians. (Acts 10:34, 35).

Because of their high morality beginnings and the holding fast on to their belief conviction on more than one issue superior the Christians in the Roman world became not loved. Their separateness of the world (Johannes 15:19) triggered aversion. They did not take up political office and refused military service. As consequence of this they “became proposed as men that were dead for the world, and useless for all matters of life”, according to the historian August Neander. Not being part of the world, meant also to avoid the godless ways of the Roman world. “The small Christian-communities disturbed the pleasure making pagan world with their piety and decency”, explains the historian Will Durant (1 Petrus 4:3, 4). By pursuing and bringing the Christians before court perhaps the Romans tried to bring well the tormenting voice of the conscience till silence.

Extent of the Roman Empire from 133 BC unto 117 AD

Extent of the Roman Empire from 133 BCT unto 117 CT

The first-century Christians preached the good news of God’s kingdom with unshakable diligence (Matthew 24:14). About 60 C. T. Paul could say that the good news’ was preached in whole the creation that under the heaven is ‘(Colossians 1:23). At the end of the first century, Jesus’ followers had made supporters and disciples in the whole Roman Realm — in Asia, Europe and Africa! Even some members of “the house of Caesar” became Christians (Philippians 4:22). This diligent preaching woke resentment.  Neander says:’ Christianity steadily progressed under lay men from all forms of population and threatened to bring the state religion to fall.’ You can imagine how considerably important it really could be to let men infiltrate to let bring them on other thoughts.

Jesus’ followers offered Jehovah exclusive devotion (Matthew 4:8-10). Perhaps this aspect of their adoration brought them more than what else in conflict with Rome. The Romans were tolerant to other religions, as long as their supporters also participated at the emperor adoration. The early Christians normally could not participate at such adoration. They looked at themselves as people, that were due account at an authority that was higher, than that of the Roman state, namely Jehovah God (Acts 5:29). As a consequence of this a Christian became, though he was further in such a way in all respects such an exemplary citizen, considered as an enemy of the state.

There was yet another reason, about which faithful Christians in the Roman world became “objects of hatred”: Common backbiting over them was believed stylus, accusations, for which the Jewish religious leaders were in not small extent responsible, (Acts 17:5-8). About 60 or 61 C. T., when Paul waited in Rome for his trial by emperor Nero, prominent Jews said over Christians: “Really, what concerns this sect, it is us known that she experiences everywhere arguments” (Acts 28:22). Nero would certainly have heard defamatory stories over them. In 64 C. T. he chose, when he was held responsible for the fire that Rome afflicted, according to reports to use the already everywhere slandered Christians as scapegoats. This appears to have brought on a wave of violent persecution that had as target to exterminate the Christians.[2]

The false accusations that were brought in against the Christians were often based on a mixture of straight lies and a twist of their belief views. Because they were monotheistic and not adored the emperors, they were labelled as atheists. Because some non-Christian family members revolted with their Christian family members, they became accused to disrupt their family (Matthew 10:21). They were constituted for cannibals, an accusation that was based according to some sources on a twisting of the words that Jesus had uttered during the Last Supper. (Matthew 26:26-28).

Towards the end of Nero’s reign the Christians were required, under the heaviest penalties, even that of death, to offer sacrifices to the emperor and to the heathen gods. After the death of Nero the persecution ceased, and the followers of Jesus enjoyed comparative peace until the reign of Domitian, an emperor little behind Nero in wickedness.

The dispersion of the Jews, and the total destruction of their city and temple in 70 C.T., are the next events of consideration in the remainder of the first century. The numbers that perished under Vespasian in the country, and under Titus in the city, from A.D. 67-70, by famine, internal factions, and the Roman sword, were one million three hundred and fifty thousand four hundred and sixty, besides one hundred thousand sold into slavery.[3]

Domitian,” says Eusebius, the father of ecclesiastical history, “having exercised his cruelty against many, and unjustly slain no small number of noble and illustrious men at Rome, and having, without cause, punished vast numbers of honourable men with exile and the confiscation of their property, at length established himself as the successor of Nero in his hatred and hostility to God.”[4] He also followed Nero in deifying himself. He commanded his own statue to be worshipped as a god, revived the law of treason, and surrounded himself with spies and informers to bring a second persecution of the Christians.

Christianity, in spite of Roman emperors, and Roman prisons, and Roman executions, pursued its silent steady course. In little more than seventy years after the death of Christ, it had made such rapid progress in some places as to threaten the downfall of paganism.

Artemis Apollon Herakles

Artemis Apollon Herakles

Christians got the hatred of pagan worshippers on their neck. As the making of small silver temples of the goddess Artemis was a profitable business in the old Ephesus. But when Paul preached over there, a considerable number Ephesians reacted positively to his preaching and turned for this purpose their back to the adoration of Artemis. Now their trade was threatened, caused the silver blacksmith a tumult (Acts 19:24-41).  Something similar did happen after Christianity had expanded itself until Bithynia (now Northwest-Turkey). Not long after the Christian Greek Writings were finished, the ruler of Bithynia, Pliny the Younger, informed that pagan temples became left and the sale of feed for offering animals drastically collapsed. The Christians were blamed — and were prosecuted — because in their adoration there was no place for animal offerings and idols (Hebrew 10:1-9; 1 Johannes 5:21). It is clear that the spread of Christianity practiced influence on particular established interests connected with pagan adoration, and, those who as consequence of this lost as well trade as earnings, fumed about this.

By the progress of Christianity the temporal interests of a great number of persons were seriously affected. This was a fruitful and bitter source of persecution. The heathen temples became more and more deserted, the worship of the gods was neglected, and victims for sacrifices were rarely purchased. This naturally raised a popular cry against Christianity, such as the one at Ephesus: “This, our craft is in danger to be set at nought, and the temple of the great goddess Diana to be despised.”

goddess of hunting

Diana goddess of hunting

A countless throng of priests, image-makers, dealers, soothsayers, augurs, and artisans, found good livings in connection with the worship of so many deities. All these, seeing their craft in danger, rose up in united strength against the Christians, and sought by every means to arrest the progress of Christianity. The cunning priests and the artful soothsayers easily persuaded the vulgar, and the public mind in general, that all the calamities, wars, tempests, and diseases that afflicted mankind, were sent upon them by the angry gods, because the Christians who despised their authority were everywhere tolerated.[5] They invented and disseminated the vilest calumnies against everything Christian and laid many and grievous complaints against the Christians before the governors. This was especially so in the Asiatic provinces where Christianity was most prevalent.The First Christians naturally withdrew themselves from the pagans and became a separate and distinct people and held their meetings secretly. They could not but condemn and abhor polytheism, as utterly opposed to the one living and true God, and to the gospel of His Son Jesus Christ; this gave the Romans the idea that Christians were unfriendly to the human race, seeing they condemned all religions but their own. Hence they were called “Atheists,” because they did not believe in the heathen deities, and derided the heathen worship.[6] But that confinement of that pagan population seemed not always even easy.


[1] “apostle” signifies one “sent forth.”

[2] In the month of July A.D. 64 a great fire broke out in the Circus, which continued to spread until it laid in ruins all the ancient grandeur of the imperial city. The flames extended with great rapidity, and Rome being a city of long narrow streets, and of hills and valleys, the fire gathered force from the winds, and soon became a general conflagration. In a short time the whole city seemed wrapped in one sheet of burning flame.

[3] Dean Milman’s History of the Jews, vol. 2, book 16, page 380

[4] Roman History, Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 19, page 406

[5] Mosheim’s Ecclesiastical History, vol. 1, page 67. Cave’s Primitive Christianity; early chapters

[6] Christian worship, in true simplicity, without the aid of temples and priests, rites and ceremonies, is not much better understood now by professing Christendom than it was then by pagan Rome. Still it is true Today a lot of name Christians want also to see priests in special clothes and services with offerrings, incense and symbols in temples or special church buildings. Instead of knowing that “God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

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Persecution of Christians under Nero > Bible-history Nero

The Institutions behind the Terms in the 1st Century

First Century of Christianity

History of Christianity

1. The early days of Christianity

1.1. First Century of Christianity

When Jesus walked around on this World he talked about the Word of God which was given to men by the writings in the Holy Books. During his whole mortal life on earth, including the two or three years of His active ministry, Christ lived as a devout Jew, Himself observing, and insisting on His followers observing, the injunctions of the Law (Matthew 23:3). The sum of His teaching, as of that of His precursor, was the approach of the “Kingdom of God”, meaning not only the rule of righteousness in the individual heart (“the kingdom of God is within you” — Luke 17:21), but also the Church (as is plain from many of the parables) which He was about to institute.[1]

the Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel of Matthew - Image by humberpike via Flickr

For years many people had studied those book rolls. His disciples, the apostles wrote down the account of Jesus life and of the things they did to have Jesus be know in the world. Their letters were read by many and a lot of followers of Christ, known as the movement of the Israelitish sect The Way, studied those writings of the apostles. For them the whole history of the Jews as detailed in the Old Testament was something they had to share with next generations. When read in the light of other events it was for them to be a clear though gradual preparation for the preaching of Christianity. The new religion which came into existence after Jesus death and after the day of Pentecost, A.D. 29, was at first wholly confined to the synagogue, and it votaries had still a large share of Jewish exclusiveness; reading the Law, practising circumcision, and worshipping in the Temple, as well as in the upper room at Jerusalem.

For a long time Christianity regarded itself as part of Judaism. The apostles were like Jesus Jews and they considered themselves still Jews. The followers of Christ and the ones who became students of the teachings of Jesus the Nazarene and became baptized were considered to have become partakers of some communion, of the body of Christ. They had their centre in Jerusalem[2] the town God promised to His people.

In the first century the disciples were relatively small in number. Their Leader, Jesus, had been executed as an alleged rebel. Initially those supporters of the Jew Jesus were yet contemplated as part of the Jewish religion, that was fixed in the saddle and had in Jerusalem her realm splendour temple where they also could go to.

The first Christian municipality in the world history consisted of natural Jews and proselytes and became set up in 33 C. T. in Jerusalem. With Pentecost 33 C. T. several Jews found in Jerusalem came from Cappadocia and from Pontus (Acts 2:9). It can be that some of these Jews from Pontus that heard Petrus’ speech, became Christians and returned to their own territory. Probably Christianity spread itself to Cappadocia as a result of the present Cappadocians, and Petrus his first letter (ca. 62–64 C.T.) became directed at them and at “the temporary inhabitants” that were dispersed in Pontus and in other regions of Small-Asia.(1Petrus 1:1).

In the first century everywhere there were founded Jewish communities in the surrounding pagan nations. Those communities had synagogues where people regularly assembled to hear the Scriptures being read aloud and being discussed. Accordingly early Christians were in the position to build on the religious knowledge those men already owned (Acts 8:28-36; 17:1, 2).

Slowly the Good News of the Kingdom of God became more scattered self and the supporters of Jesus Christ under divine leadership came to be known as Christians. This term became used for the first time in Syrian Antioch, from which Barnabas and Paul, accompanied by Johannes Markus, begun at their first mission trip. (Acts 11:26).

Real Christians did their extreme best to bring around this Good News that a notion contained about the saint secret in “whole the creation that is under the heaven” to preach (1Corinthians 2:1; Ephesians 6:19; Colossians 1:23; 4:3, 4). The apostles and the other first Christians gave in this respect a clear example.  In Acts of the Apostles 5:42, we read over their activity: ” And every day, in the Temple and privately, from house to house, they went on teaching and preaching the glad tidings that Jesus is the Christ and the good news.”

The book of the Acts of the Apostles let us see that solidarity for the first Christians formed an important part of their adoration. We read there: ” And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and unanimously breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. And they praised God and stood at the entire people in the favour, those that were saved eating their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” (Acts 2:46, 47).

Also the apostle Paul asked to hold on unanimously to the religious belief. “Let we without wavering hold on to the public profession of our hope, for he that has promised, is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). For him and the other apostles it was clear that this public notification was not limited till expressions during meetings of the municipality (Psalm 40:9, 10). A prophetic command to preach outside the municipality, until the nations, can be found in the words of Psalm 96:2, 3, 7, 8, 10: ” Proclaim day after day the good news of the rescue through Him (Jehovah). Make under the nations His magnificence known. Give unto Yahweh/Jehovah, O you kindreds of the people, give unto Yahweh/Jehovah glory and strength. Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. Give Adonai Jehovah the glory due to His name; bring an offering, and enter his courtyards. Say to the nations:’ Jehovah self became king.'” And indeed Jesus in Matthew 28:19, 20 and Acts 1:8 gave Christians this command to preach to all nations.

On this public preaching Paul points in his further words to the anointed Hebrew Christians: “Let we through mediation of him always continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to The God -that is, the fruit of lips confessing his name openly. (Hebrews 13:15). The book Revelation shows us that also the “large multitude” that from all nations has been brought together, exists of people that with a loud voice exclaim: “Salvation to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9, 10).

Christ had often gathered with his disciples to give instructions and to feed them spiritually. After his death his pupils continued this tradition. His followers came together, as on the Pentecost in 33 C. T., when the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who were together. (Acts of the Apostles 2:1-4). The first Christians preferred to gather, mostly in small groups, regularly either in each other’s house or in the synagogue to come together to study the Word of God. It was for the first Jewish Christians not difficult to hold orderly, teachable bible study meetings, for the ground patron they had in the synagogues with which they were acquainted. The fundamental characteristics of the synagogue services became a taken over by the Christians for their meetings, where one read the Scriptures aloud, explained them, encouraged each other, prayed and praised God. (1 Corinthians 14:26-33, 40, Colossians 4:16). Sometimes “a considerable multitude” was present at their meetings (Acts 11:26).

As in the Jewish synagogue there was in the Christian municipality also no separate hierocracy neither a clergyman who had to say everything. In the synagogue every pious Jew took an active part in reading aloud and having time to explain. So also in the Christian municipality it was expected from everybody that these contributed to the meeting and all had to do a public notification and to each exhort each other to love and excellent works, but this had to happen in an orderly manner (Hebrews 10:23-25). In the Jewish synagogue the women taught not and exercised no authority over men; at the Christian assembly did they do neither. One Corinthians chapter 14 contain instructions for the meetings of the Christian municipality, and there it seems that there was some similarity with the course of affairs in the synagogue. (1 Corinthians 14:31-35; 1Timotheus 2:11, 12).

Just as there was no difference in the early Church on the territory of the responsibility to spread the gospel in all possible manners, no difference existed between full-time servants and lay people, so there was in this respect also no difference between the sex. It was firmly established that each Christian had been called to be a witness of Christ, not only through means of his way of life, but also with his lips. Everybody had to be an apologist or defender of the belief, at least in that extent that he was prepare to give a good exposition of the hope that he owned. And this went also for the women.  They had quite a large share at the promotion of Christianity.

Reports of the early church form the proof that they literally took up the gospel preaching not only serious but also literally. Even simplest members were messengers that spread the truth. The history shows how the first Christians, although they were respectful, order loving citizens, determined to be “no part of the world” continued without hesitating their preaching work, even when it brought violent persecution over them.

Christianity grew naturally from within by the sincerity of devout adherents of Jesus Christ. It attracted people by its very presence and by the character of the rest and peace which was over those followers of Jesus. While there were no professional missionaries devoting their whole life to this specific work, every congregation was a missionary society, and every Christian believer a missionary, inflamed by the love of Christ to convert his fellow-men. The example had been set by Jerusalem and Antioch, and by those brethren who, after the martyrdom of Stephen, “were scattered abroad and went about preaching the Word.” (Acts 8:4; 11:19). Fuller, and workers in wool and leather, rustic and ignorant persons, were the most zealous propagators of Christianity, and brought it first to women and children.[3] Women and slaves introduced it into the home-circle. It was the glory of the gospel that was preached to the poor and by the poor to make them rich. Origen informs us that the city churches sent their missionaries to the villages. Every Christian told his neighbor, the laborer to his fellow-laborer, the slave to his fellow-slave, the servant to his master and mistress.

The gospel was propagated chiefly by the way of living, preaching and by personal intercourse; to a considerable extent also through the sacred Scriptures, which were early propagated and translated into various tongues, the Latin (North African and Italian), the Syriac (the Curetonian and the Peshito), and the Egyptian (in three dialects, the Memphitic, the Thebaic, and the Bashmuric). Communication among the different parts of the Roman empire from Damascus to Britain was comparatively easy and safe. The highways built for commerce and for the Roman legions, served also the messengers of peace and the silent conquests of Christianity. Commerce itself at that time, as well as now, was a powerful agency in carrying the gospel and the seeds of Christian civilization to the remotest parts of the Roman empire.

Although different caesars governed as tyrants, the laws in the first century made it possible usually to defend and to affirm legally the good news. (Philippians 1:7).


[1] Origin of Christianity and its relation with other religions, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[2] Irenæus, “Adversus Hæreses, i. 26

[3] Celsus

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  • What Were The Early Believers Called: HaDerech (The Way), The Natzari Sect, Netzerim-Natzraya, Jessaeans, Essene’s, Saducee’s, Christians or Nasaraeans? What Is There Place In Middle Judiasm? (paradoxparables.wordpress.com)
    The Nazarenes-Netzerim-Natzraya is the title that the early church gave themselves. The Talmud actually refers to them a few times. The Twelth prayer in the Amidah added by Gamiliel II was add against the Sectarians, the Sect of the Nazarenes-Netzerim-Natzraya. In the Talmud the early Messianic believers we’re called Saducee’s, and Essene’s at times even Netzerim-Natzraya. Rashi did a job of restoring the title Netzerim-Natzraya where it had been removed.
  • Also Earliest (pre-Christian) Nazarenes: Pliny the Elder’s evidence and Earliest Nazarenes: Evidence of Epiphaniusdiscuss the name given to the followers of the Jew Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who were therefore called the Nazarenes. For this group did not name themselves Christians or with Jesus’ own name, but “Nazoraeans.”(“Panarion 29″ by Epiphanius) They also came to be called “Jessaeans” for a short while, before the disciples began to be called “Christians” at Antioch. Also today we still can find the non-trinitarian denomination of the “Friends of the Nazarene”.”While treating the name of the sect, we may deal here with a short notice by Pliny the Elder which has caused some confusion among scholars. In his Historia Naturalis, Book V, he says: We must now speak of the interior of Syria. Cœle Syria has the town of Apamea, divided by the river Marsyas from the Tetrarchy of the Nazerini; Bambyx, the other name of which is Hierapolis, but by the Syrians called Mabog. This was written before 77 A.D., when the work was dedicated to Titus. The similarity of the name with the Nazerini has led many to conclude, erroneously, that this is an early (perhaps the earliest) witness to Christians  (or Nazarenes) by a pagan writer. Other than this, be it noted, there is no pagan notice of Nazarenes.” “… Can Pliny’s Nazerini be early Christians? The answer depends very much on the identification of his sources, and on this basis the answer must be an unequivocal No. It is generally acknowledged that Pliny drew heavily on official records and most likely on those drawn up by Marcus Agrippa (d. 12 B.C.). Jones has shown that this survey was accomplished between 30 and 20 B.C. Any connection between the Nazerini and the Nazarini must, therefore, be ruled out, and we must not attempt to line this up with Epiphanius’ Nazoraioi. One may, however, be allowed to see the Nazerini as the ancestors of today’s Nusairi, the inhabitants of the ethnic region captured some seven centuries later by the Moslems. …” (Neil Godfrey)
    “… everyone called the Christians Nazoraeans, as they say in accusing the apostle Paul, “We have found this man a pestilent fellow and a perverter of the people, a ring-leader of the sect of the Nazoraeans.” (3) And the holy apostle did not disclaim the name – not to profess the Nazoraean sect, but he was glad to own the name his adversaries’ malice had applied to him for Christ’s sake. (4) For he says in court, “They neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, nor have I done any of those things whereof they accuse me. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I, believing all things in the Law and the prophets .””

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