With such a premise, Catholics need not find scriptural support for apostolic succession; the church’s tradition is all the “proof’ they need. And what of the earliest non-Jewish Christians? He was therefore an inferior apostle with an inferior message. In several passages the word (ekklesia) is used in reference to local assemblies. Its members are described in the book of Revelation as those who “keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17). Peter clearly did not take the vision to mean it was now permissible to eat unclean animals. But such was not the case with the earliest Christians. Or would they side with the Protestant claim that the Reformers restored the true apostolic faith to its pristine purity? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. Notice that the olive tree represents Israel! Paul and Barnabas confirmed Peter’s statements by relating their experiences in their work among the Gentiles (verse 12), after which James, summarizing the conclusions of the meeting, offered his recommendations: “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. When grafted into the “Israel tree,” they became Israelites (in a spiritual sense). In time, envoys from the mother church would carry the message of repentance and remission of sins to Samaria, to Asia Minor, to far-off Rome, to the “uttermost parts of the earth.” Thousands would be converted. But is this true? The sacrifices and ceremonies were not essential to Christian worship (Hebrews 9:9,10), but the point is that James would not have pointed out the Jewish Christians’ zeal for the Law had they abandoned Sabbath-observance. Soon, the gospel would expand into new regions, bringing about many new conversions and the planting of new churches. God revealed to Peter that he should go with them because He had sent them (verses 17-20). Tagged as: And, as with all true communities, the community of early Christians had a point of authority that sustained, guided, and ensured its continuity—Peter and the apostles. Answer: The Roman Catholic Church contends that its origin is the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ in approximately AD 30. They thought they would live to see the establishment of the Kingdom. Would you look for a church whose governing body claims to be the “successors of the apostles” and offers historical “proof’ that its head “apostle” traces the origin of his office all the way back to St. Peter? Best of Week, In time, his efforts turned primarily to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46,47). Such an idea was foreign to the minds of those first-century disciples who zealously proclaimed the gospel to an unaccommodating world. This animosity predated the time of Christ and the apostles by several centuries. With these qualifications in view, can any man today rightfully claim the office of apostle, with teaching authority identical to that of the twelve Jesus chose as foundational pillars of His church? But what did the first-century church look like? Further, Paul’s preaching to them on consecutive Sabbaths, and his use of the Old Testament in preaching Christ, must have reinforced their convictions and encouraged them to continue keeping the Sabbath. It was there that the apostles were first located. The Holy Spirit arrived on the Day of Pentecost, and some three thousand were converted on that day (Acts 2). Most of the earliest Gentile converts to Christianity had been God-fearers before their conversions. Or has God provided another means whereby one may find the true church? Acts 15, then, should be understood in view of the fact that the people in question were fully familiar with the Law of Moses, the synagogue, the Sabbath day, and the Ten Commandments. Second, Judas’ replacement had to be a witness of Christ’s resurrection. Here’s how it often goes. Third, there were those known as “God-fearers” who, though uncircumcised, worshiped the true God, believed the Hebrew Scriptures, and frequented Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath day. A short summary of this paper. His areas of interest include Eastern Christianity, Marian and Eucharistic theology, medieval history, and the saints. And, no doubt, as time went on they began associating the Feast of Trumpets with the Second Coming of Christ, the Day of Atonement with God’s reconciliation (“at-one-ment”) with the world, the Feast of Tabernacles with the future reign of Christ, and the Last Great Day (or “eighth day”) with the final judgment. Furthermore as it was intended by Jesus that they to … In Berea, Paul “went into the synagogue of the Jews” and preached Christ. Here’s how it often goes. Clearly, the Christian movement was not considered an illegal religion during the first decades of the apostolic period. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. Scholars recognize that the Gentile world of the first century may be divided into three distinct classifications: First, there were the pagans, both the idolatrous and the irreligious. True to His prophecy, Jerusalem was the “birthplace” of the New Testament church. 23 Questions & answers about Jesus Christ, prepared by a team of catholic theologians of the University of Navarre. As we saw in Part 2, the earliest Christians were Jewish. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. Jesus Christ lived a perfect, sinless life. He saw the church as the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16); said that “they which are of faith [whether Jew or Gentile], the same are the children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7), and that “if ye be Christ’s [regardless of race], then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (verse 29). He described himself as “an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead)” (Galatians 1:1). We read of it in Acts 10. That is why every person who becomes a member of the church must confess his faith in Christ as the Son of God (Acts 8:37). In fact, she is not the only “Catholic” church, and she is not the only church who can trace her succession of bishops all the way back to the early centuries. Does this account in any way suggest that the apostolic office was to continue beyond the first century? Initially, this seems to confirm the bias of those who say they admire Jesus but have little regard for the church. Had Christianity been declared illicita, Paul’s defense would have been useless. When Peter and John arrived, they prayed for them, laid their hands on them, and the believing Samaritans received the Holy Spirit (verses 15-17). He explicitly quotes from Joel and the Psalms and also makes allusions to Deuteronomy, 2 Samuel, and Isaiah. By simply reading the many New Testament references to the final tribulation period, the Day of the Lord, the Second Coming, the resurrection of the saints, and the establishment of God’s Kingdom on this earth, one can see clearly that James, Peter, John, Jude, and Paul lived and labored in expectation of the imminence of Christ’s coming. The word church first appears in Matthew 16 when Jesus tells Peter, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” (verse 18). Many assume that the first-century church abandoned the weekly and annual sabbaths and adopted Sunday observance as the “Lord’s Day.” They argue that Sunday (the first day of the week) was singled out as a special day for the earliest Christians because Christ’s resurrection appearances and the beginning of the New Testament church took place on that day. Further, Paul may have been using “apostles” in the general sense. The Word was not merely heard but also intimately internalized in one’s heart. Many see the church and Israel as two entirely separate and completely unrelated entities. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. There was no reason for the Gentile converts to abandon the form of worship—including Sabbath observance—they had previously embraced. Similarly, Christ, through the apostle John, addressed “the seven churches which are in Asia” (Revelation 1:11), all of which were a part of the one universal church, or Body of Christ. It was a foundational office, and was restricted to a limited number of men living within a specific period of history. The governors Felix and Festus found Paul innocent of the charges of being “a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world… Who also hath gone about to profane the temple” (Acts 24-26). This is all important, for the resurrection of Christ was, and is, central to the gospel. The church is said to be a spiritual house made up of lively or living stones. But when he called Epaphroditus “my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow-soldier, but your messenger [apostolos], and he that ministered to my wants” (Philippians 2:24), he was using the word in its general sense. Download Full PDF Package. “The Synaxis of … They mingled the worship of God with worship of their own gods. He wrote on the ground with His finger, and to this day, we do not even know what He wrote. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick [office, or charge] let another take. They simply obeyed the instruction of their Lord: They continued, throughout their lives, to watch, to wait, and to hope. Although this is incomplete, on the face of it, it’s not a bad definition. Among the pious Jews of the first century, uncircumcised Gentiles were generally considered “unclean.” It was considered “unlawful” (according to Jewish tradition, not the Law of Moses) for a Jew to enter the house of a Gentile and eat with him. What this suggests is that the early Church had a different relationship to the Word of God than did the Israelites of old. Notice what Peter said to Cornelius and his companions: “Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing [according to Jewish tradition] for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me [through the vision of the unclean animals] that I should not call any man common or unclean” (verse 28). Does their existence lend support to the concept of apostolic succession? The truth that the Church was founded by Jesus Christ means that we better make sure we really understand what the Church is and that we belong to it. One of the things Peter did before he went to Rome was to found the church in Antioch, the third largest city in the Roman Empire at the time. St. Peter, Stephen Beale is a freelance writer based in Providence, Rhode Island. For this reason, witness of the resurrection was one of the qualifications of the apostolic office. In fact the only place where it is recorded that He wrote anything at all, is in John 8:6-8. Adelbert Denaux. Had Christianity been illegal in Roman occupied territory, no apology would have been made. The obvious answer to who founded the Church is Jesus. But what about the other men who were called “apostles” in the early New Testament church? There is no reason to believe that their religious practice—their observance of the weekly Sabbath and annual holy days, their obedience to the Ten Commandments—differed from that of the Jerusalem church. Paul was defending his apostleship because he was being discredited. In concert with His redemptive act, Jesus did three things that established the framework of His Church. They understood the arrival of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to be the fulfillment of certain Old Testament prophecies (Acts 2:16-21), and could not have imagined that the law God had revealed to their fathers had become archaic or obsolete. Indeed, Christ’s resurrection appearances did take place on a Sunday, but that Sunday was the day of the “wave sheaf’ offering (Leviticus 23:10,11), which took place on the “morrow after the Sabbath” during the Days of Unleavened Bread. Prior to His ascension, He told them to remain in Jerusalem and await the arrival of the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8). The apostle Paul clearly recognized the continuity between Israel and the church. Under Roman law, certain religions were identified as licita (legal), while others were considered illicita (illegal). Notice that Peter said Judas had been “numbered with us.” Obviously, the apostles saw their office as a unique office, and perceived that their ministry was to begin with the full number Christ had established. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? The question—phrased like that—did not actually occur to me until somewhat recently. Jesus, as pictured in the New Testament, appointed twelve apostles to help establish his Church. Besides, what is happening at Pentecost very much looks like Church-building. Then the LORD answered me and said: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (verse 9). In 2 Corinthians 8:23, certain unknown brethren are called “messengers [apostolos] of the churches.” The word, used in connection with “the churches,” probably should be understood as “messengers,” or “representatives,” either sent by, or to, the churches. This argument fails, however, in view of the fact that the earliest church was entirely Jewish, and that the resurrection appearances and arrival of the Holy Spirit took place during God-ordained festivals that were well-known to the Jews. Luke, writing of Paul’s travels, said, “And we sailed away from Philippi after the Days of Unleavened Bread…” (Acts 20:6); said that Paul “hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the Day of Pentecost” (verse 16); referred to “the fast” (Acts 27:9), meaning the Day of Atonement. Cornelius, to whom Peter was sent, was a Roman centurion (Acts 10). Create a free account to download. Hardly! In the days that followed, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (verse 47). As Harrison points out, “The Jews’ unwillingness to permit the Samaritans to participate in the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 4:1-2) produced a deep antagonism, reflected in the New Testament, and it led to the setting up of the schismatic worship at Mt. Biblical scholars recognize that these four rules regarding idols, sexual misconduct, things strangled, and blood are a summation of the sins described in Leviticus 17 and 18, where God says that such things are forbidden both to Israelites and “any stranger [non- Israelite] that sojourneth among you.”. Most theologians and church leaders today claim that “Israel’s holy days” have been abolished, or “nailed to the cross.”. Many seem to think that Cornelius was a Gentile who disregarded the “Jewish” laws and commandments, such as the clean/unclean laws, the Sabbath, and the Ten Commandments. Any assembly of people, gathered for whatever purpose, was called an ekklesia. When Jesus said He would build His ekklesia (Matthew 16: 18), He was obviously speaking of the universal assembly, which, though scattered throughout the world, is viewed from heaven as a single assembly, all united in Christ and gathered spiritually before the heavenly Throne of Grace. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:15-26). Did the early Jewish converts abandon their Jewishness and take on new uniquely “Christian” customs? The Church that Jesus clearly founded in the Bible with Peter and the apostles in charge, somehow became so terribly unhinged from Christ’s original plan. Obviously, the Jewish Christians to whom this epistle was addressed were still keeping the Sabbath, and were able to see its New Covenant significance, just as they could see the New Covenant significance of Passover, Pentecost, and other “Old Testament” festivals. John Calvin, The Eastern Orthodox Church makes the same claim, and, interestingly, each of the two churches accepts the claim of the other, while each claims to be “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.”. A crowd has been listening to Jesus teach on a remote hillside, and the nearest Chick-Fil-A is still 2,000 years away. (For an example of a Protestant perspective, here is the statement on the matter from an anti-Catholic ministry. Thus, the “Israel tree” represents the converted “remnant of Israel” (Romans 11:5,7) and the Gentiles who were “grafted” in the place of those “broken off.”. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles….Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word. Apparently, rumor was circulating among the Galatians that Paul was not an authentic apostle; that he had received the truth of the gospel from Peter or from the twelve, and had failed to preach it accurately. First, as we have noted, the church began on the Day of Pentecost, one of the annual holy days God had given to Israel centuries earlier (Leviticus 23:15-20). How appropriate that the “harvest” of lives for the Kingdom of God should begin on this day. The unfailing Church of Jesus Christ, in other words, is built upon Simon the Rock - Peter. | R. Jared Staudt, PhD, The Lost Riches of Catholic Catechisms with Aaron Seng of Tradivox. A comparison of 1 Thessalonians 1:1 with 2:6 seems to indicate that Timothy and Silvanus were apostles, hut the wording of the text does not demand this conclusion, Paul could have been using the word (apostolos) in the general sense of “messengers” or “representatives.”. Notice: “Take heed that no man deceive you” (verse 4). (2 Kings 17:24). The Church that Jesus clearly founded in the Bible with Peter and the apostles in charge, somehow became so terribly unhinged from Christ’s original plan. He established His Church, taught His gospel, and performed many miracles. The Day of Pentecost obviously took on new meaning to the thousands of Jews who were converted on that day. The church our Lord established is built on him - on the fact that he is God's Son. The branches from the wild olive tree are the Gentiles who turned to God through Christ. Jesus said little about the church. In this case, the “law” James was speaking of included the sacrificial rites and ceremonies associated with worship at the Temple. For whatever reason, James thought it necessary to mention only the four laws. “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day” (verse 20). Now when Calvin speaks of preaching of the gospel, he means the written gospel. There are yet other churches whose bishops claim legitimacy through apostolic succession: the Old Catholic and Anglican churches, for instance. The first several chapters of the book of Acts tell of how the church began in Jerusalem, of the “birth pangs” the church experienced, of the  boldness of the apostles as they proclaimed the gospel, of Stephen’s powerful testimony, and of his becoming the first Christian martyr. “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews…” (verse 22). Some think of “the church” as the body of believers collectively, regardless of denominational boundaries, while others think of “the church” as a specific institution governed by ecclesiastical heads, or leaders. It is his Church. “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (verse 1). In fact, history tells us that the descendants of the Jerusalem church were still keeping the Sabbath and holy days as late as the fourth century, A.D. True, they authorized the ordination of elders and instructed them in the truth of the gospel. He ordained a disciple there named Evodius to the episcopacy and appointed him the bishop of Antioch. If indeed apostolic succession is the key to identifying the true church, then which is the church Jesus built: Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox? On the other hand, it may mean that, besides Peter, Paul saw none of the other apostles, though he did see James, the only other person he visited while there. Should we expect the Samaritan church to have practices and customs different from those of the Jerusalem church? Traditionally, Roman Catholicism has understood the church to be instituted by Christ. No sanctuary or liturgy; only Jesus speaking about God in real-time and then sharing a meal with those gathered on the hillside. But Paul insisted that his apostleship was not of men! 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. Over the course of generations, word of mouth becomes oral tradition. What was the “yoke” that neither the ancient Israelites nor the Jews of Peter’s time were able to bear? Converted Israelites are not pictured as being grafted into a brand new olive tree (representing the church); rather, unbelieving Israelites are depicted as being broken off the tree representing Israel! If the Gospel spreads not through the letter but the Spirit, then its essential means of transmittal is word of mouth from an authoritative living witness, as we see at Pentecost. But it is clear that the original twelve, Paul, and perhaps Barnabas and a few others, were apostles in a special sense. The “yoke” Peter spoke of was the inability to remove the burden of past sins. The church, they say, is man’s invention. Further, the Sunday on which the New Testament church began was not just any Sunday; it was the Day of Pentecost, which occurred fifty days after the wave sheaf offering. Jesus feeds the 5,000. In modern societies, “church” is a “religious” word completely devoid of any secular meaning. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled…” (verse 6). When Jesus said, “I will build my church,” and promised that His church would not be destroyed (Matthew 16:18), was He thinking of an ecclesiastical institution, such as the Roman Catholic Church? 8:14; I Cor. So how is our church the same one that Jesus founded? And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. In Thessalonica, Paul, “as his manner was, went in unto them [in the synagogue], and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures…. They saw themselves as the “remnant of Israel” (see Romans 11:5-7), and never thought that the law God had given to their forefathers no longer pertained to them. 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