|Posted on Thursday, October 05, 2000 - 1:00 pm: || |
Dear Adventist Friend:
Who were "the believers" in the early church?
Were they the faithful Jews who attended
synagogue on Sabbath and heard the Old
Or were they all those who
accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior,
including Gentiles who went to church on
The right answer may shock you.
To answer this question I looked at all the
occurrences of "believer" and "believers" in the
New Testament (NIV). Here is what I found in
the books of John (the last Gospel to be
written) and Acts. I'll deal with the others in a
John 4:41 NIV.›^^And because of his [Jesus']
words many more became believers.^^
These were Samaritans, the descendants of
Israelites who had intermarried with pagans.
What they became "believers" in was not the
Sabbath, but Jesus Christ. Nowhere does the
Bible say they started keeping the Sabbath,
Acts 1:15 NIV.›^^In those days Peter stood up
among the believers (a group numbering
about a hundred and twenty)^^
Here presumably Sabbath-keeping Jews had
begun believing in Jesus. One can assume
that before they believed in Jesus, these
Sabbath keepers were "unbelievers."
Acts 2:44 NIV.›^^All the believers were together
and had everything in common.^^
Same observation as above.
Acts 4:32 NIV.›^^All the believers were one in
heart and mind. No one claimed that any of
his possessions was his own, but they
shared everything they had.^^
Same observation as above.
Acts 5:12›^^The apostles performed many
miraculous signs and wonders among the
people. And all the believers used to meet
together in Solomon's Colonnade.^^
Same observation as above.
Acts 9:41 NIV.›^^He took her by the hand and
helped her to her feet. Then he called the
believers and the widows and presented her
to them alive.^^
Same observation as above.
Acts 10:45 NIV.›^^The circumcised believers
who had come with Peter were astonished
that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured
out even on the Gentiles.^^
Here Sabbath-keeping Jewish believers were
astonished that Gentiles who DID NOT keep
the Sabbath received the Holy Spirit. Nor does
the Bible say they EVER started keeping the
Sabbath. Does this fact surprise you?
Acts 11:2 NIV.›^^So when Peter went up to
Jerusalem, the circumcised believers
In this instance Sabbath-keeping believers
non-Sabbath-keeping believers for not
becoming circumcised and starting to keep
Acts 15:2 NIV.›^^This brought Paul and
Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with
them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed,
along with some other believers, to go up to
Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders
about this question.^^
Here Sabbath-keeping believers insisted that
non-Sabbath-keeping believers should be
circumcised, which meant they had to start
keeping the Sabbath too. Read this
passage in the Contemporary English
The believers being talked about are
NOT Sabbath-keeping Jews, but believers in
Syria, in all probability they were Gentiles.
^^Some people came from Judea and started
teaching the Lord's followers that they could
not be saved [ignoring the fact that they
ALREADY WERE saved], unless they were
circumcised [and began keeping the Sabbath]
as Moses had taught. This caused trouble,
and Paul and Barnabas ARGUED with them
about this teaching. So it was decided to send
Paul and Barnabas and a few others to
Jerusalem to discuss this problem with the
apostles and the church leaders.^^
So they met in Jerusalem where ^^some
Pharisees [Sabbath-keeping Jews] had
become followers of [believers in] the Lord.
They stood up and said, "Gentiles [who did not
keep the Sabbath] who have faith in the Lord
must be circumcised and told to obey the Law
of Moses,"^^ which included Sabbath-keeping.
Acts 15:5 NIV.›Then some of the believers who
belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood
up and said, "The Gentiles must be
circumcised and required to obey the law of
The ruling from the Jewish believers at this
Jerusalem council? ^^"And so, my friends, I
don't think we should place burdens on the
Gentiles [who were not circumcised and did
not keep the Sabbath] who are turning to God.
We should WE should simply write and tell
them not to eat anything that has been offered
to idols. They should be told not to eat the
meat of any animals that has been strangled
or that still has blood in it. They must also not
commit any sexual sins."^^ No need for them
to become circumcised. No need to start
keeping the Sabbath. Not even a need to stop
eating honey baked ham or lobster tail.
Acts 15:23 NIV.›^^With them they sent the
following letter: The apostles and elders, your
brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch,
Syria and Cilicia: Greetings.^^
With the foregoing in mind, we can see that
these Gentiles are called believers and are
distinguished from Sabbath-keeping Jews
who were considered UNbelievers. In fact,
according to Acts 15:25-26, the messengers --
Paul and Barnabas -- were risking their lives
at the hands of Sabbath-keeping Jews in
order to deliver the message that the Gentile
believers did NOT have to become
circumcised and start keeping the Sabbath.
And the message: "The Holy Spirit has shown
us that we should not place ANY extra burden
on you [such as circumcision and
Sabbath-keeping]. But you should not eat
anything offered to idols. You should not eat
any meat that still has the blood in it or any
meat of any animal that has been strangled.
You must also not commit any terrible sexual
sins. If you follow these instructions, you will
do well. We send you our best wishes.^^ Acts
Observations to be made:
1. These "believers" were not keeping the
2. The Council in Jerusalem met to consider
whether or not they should start (as well as
3. The Council decided they didn't have to.
4. What the Council decided they DID have to
do was to keep the law of Noah (Genesis
8:20-9:17), which they summarized: No meat
with blood still in it, etc. This was because the
Sabbath-keeping Jewish believers in
Jerusalem, the leaders of the early church,
decided that the Law of Noah applied to "all
flesh" (all humans), whereas the Law of
Moses only applied to Jewish race.
Acts 16:1 NIV.›^^He [Paul] came to Derbe and
then to Lystra, where a disciple named
Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess
and a believer, but whose father was a
Notice that because racial "Jewishness" was
passed on through the mother rather than the
father, Timothy's Greek father did NOT make
Timothy a Greek, but his Jewish mother DID
make him a Jew. Consequently, Timothy DID
have to become circumcised and start
keeping the Sabbath. But if the case had been
the other way around, he wouldn't have had to.
Notice this passage in the CEV:
Acts 16:1-3 CEV: Paul and Silas went back to
Derbe and Lystra, where there was a follower
named Timothy. His mother was also a
follower. She was Jewish, and his father was
Greek. The Lord's followers in Lystra and
Iconium [believers who weren't circumcised
and didn't keep the Sabbath] said good things
about Timothy, and Paul wanted him to go
with them. But PAUL FIRST HAD HIM
CIRCUMCISED, BECAUSE ALL THE JEWISH
PEOPLE AROUND THERE [unbelieving Jews
who were circumcised and who kept the
Sabbath] KNEW THAT TIMOTHY'S FATHER
Acts 16:15 NIV.›^^When she [Lydia] and the
members of her household were baptized,
she invited us to her home. "If you consider
me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come
and stay at my house." And she persuaded
us.^^ Lydia was a Jew of the dispersion
(diaspora) and therefore she probably kept the
Sabbath. She lived in Macedonia, which was a
Roman colony north of Greece. She was
called "a worshiper of the Lord God" (Acts
16:14 CEV). YET SHE WAS STILL
CONSIDERED AN UNBELIEVER!
Notice Acts 16:12-15 CEV on this point: ^^We
[Paul and his friends] spent several days in
Philippi. Then on the Sabbath we went outside
the city gate to a place by the river, where we
thought there would be a Jewish meeting
place for prayer. We sat down and talked with
the women who came. One of them was
Lydia, who was from the city of Thyatira and
sold expensive purple cloth. She was a
worshiper of the Lord God, and he made her
willing to accept what Paul was saying. Then
after she and her family were baptized, she
kept in begging us, žIf you think I really do have
faith in the Lord, come stay in my home.Ó
Finally, we accepted her invitation.^^
Conclusions to be drawn:
1. Lydia was a Jew living in Macedonia, north
2. Therefore she was called "a worshiper of
the Lord God.Ó
3. Yet she was still considered an unbeliever,
since she had not yet accepted Jesus Christ
and been baptized.
4. After she became a believer and was
baptized, she did not stop being a Jew. And so
she probably continued to keep the Sabbath.
5. Her experience is in contrast to most of the
believers who -- as per the Jerusalem
councilŪs decision, did not have to become
circumcised and start keeping the Sabbath.
Acts 21:25 NIV.›^^As for the Gentile believers,
we have written to them our decision that they
should abstain from food sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from the meat of strangled
animals and from sexual immorality."^^
Observation: No circumcision, no
Sabbath-keeping, no refraining from žuncleanÓ
meats, no tithing.
Dear Adventist Friend: You donŪt have to do
these things to be in heaven! All you have to
do is to be saved is to believe on the Lord
Max of the Cross
|Posted on Thursday, October 05, 2000 - 11:00 pm: || |
To add to the above post. Actually, I'm not adding to it, I'm putting the shadow under the Redwood;-))
In Acts 8, there is a story that is in the same woodlot as your Redwood.
This giant persecution took place in Jerusalem of which our beloved Paul, then Saul, seemed to be spearheading. Christians ran for their lives with a barrage of stones pelting them from behind. Many fell, including Stephen, or were jailed. Acts 8:1-3
Who was doing this persecuting? The Pharisaical Judaizer's. What is interesting is that they were actively teaching in the synagogue what they perceived as the truth. The other thing that is interesting is that they were still teaching the same old thing in the same old synagogues instead of carrying out the great commission of Jesus. They, the chosen of God, did NOT know Jesus!
After Philip escaped Jerusalem, he went to Samaria teaching and preaching the good news of Christ. He even, through the power given him, did some fantastic miracles. The miracles were so awesome that Simon the Sorcerer took notice of the new guy in town outdoing anything he could do and this probably worried him. Many people saw the signs, heard the gospel, accepted Jesus, were baptized and received the Holy Spirit. Even Simon believed and was baptized. Acts 8:4-17
Now somehow in the exchange from sinner to believer this Simon fella, (that appears to be a Samaritan), lost sight of the true meaning of the gospel and seemed to want to buy with money the ability to demonstrate all these wondrous miracles that totally smoked his old sorcery tricks. Well, Peter, as only Peter can do, gave Simon such a tongue lashing that he asked Peter to pray that none of the tongue lashing come to pass. Acts 8:18-25
In thinking about this thing with Simon, maybe there are some today that are afraid to accept the Spirit that produces "fruits of the Spirit" because they are terrified of their motives and don't want to be cursed like Simon??? The bad new is that all "our" motives are grossly gross! The good news is that all of our motives, when filtered through the Spirit, are as perfect as the Spirit we allow to run our lives.
Now to get closer to the point of the shadow under the Redwood. I got sidetracked with the first part of Acts 8.
This Ethiopian eunuch of important position, that was obviously a Gentile and possibly even considered a heathen, for some reason wanted to worship in Jerusalem. No doubt he sat in a synagogue and listened to a long sermon on you shall's and you shall not's. On his way home he parked his chariot and was trying to understand the sermon by reading Isaiah.
Philip had obeyed the angel that God sent and found himself in this Eunuch's path. Still following the Spirit, Philip jogged up to the Eunuch and asked him if he understood what he was reading. Responding like an honest person coming from a legalistic sermon, he said, not a chance unless someone explains it to me!
Philip hopped in the chariot and led him to Jesus and overcome with joy, asked to be baptized at the first waterhole they came to.
God caused Philip to suddenly do a disappearing act and travel to Caesarea preaching the gospel to all the towns on the way. Acts 8:26-40
Philip was kind of like a pioneer in that he was one of the first guys to "go out" preaching the gospel to the Gentiles.
What interested me in the unraveling of this story was that it was not the circumcised, non-ham eating, sabbath keeping Jews that were primarily getting the good news of Jesus!! These Jews rejected Jesus! It was the Gentiles, Samaritan's, Caesarian's etc. that were excited by the gospel! Whole heathen towns, it seems, were converted to Christianity!
Not once in these earliest of the missionary trips of Philip proclaiming the gospel was there mention of him sharpening his knife for a few mass cicumcisions, a cook book of special meats or a command to keep the sabbath!?
Hmmmmmmmmm, the title of this thread:
"Dear Adventist Friend: Think "the believers" in the early church were keeping the Sabbath? Think again."
Really seems appropriate.
Really, just sit and think a minute. Think of all the towns that were converted to Christianity in just little old Philip's ministry with NO mention if circumcision, clean meats or the sabbath.
It really seems to me that the vast majority of "our" early founding Christian father's were the un-circumcised, ham and lobster eating, non-sabbath keeping heathen Gentiles.
So much for the theory of the Roman conspiracy of 325AD!
Upward and onward.....Maryann
|Posted on Friday, October 06, 2000 - 8:05 am: || |
I think your observation is right on target (like
Widen your vision, as Maryann has
suggested. See all of these earliest Christ
followers evangelizing ham-eating,
wine-drinking, jewelry-wearing Gentiles and
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you
shall be saved."
* No need whatsoever to substitute
pseudoflesh for the real thing.
* No need to start keeping the Sabbath.
* No need to pay tithe.
* No need to drop the jewelry on the riverbank
before being baptized.
The same message was also going to the
ham-shunning, tithe-paying, Sabbath-keeping
Pharisaical Jews. And THEY were being
When some (probably not many) Pharisees
believed, their status changed from
"unbelievers" to "believers."
Continuing to shun ham, pay tithe and keep
the Sabbath, they demanded the ham-eating,
wine-drinking, jewelry-wearing Gentiles join
the Jewish church or Judaizing church or -- to
be blunt -- the Seventh-day Adventist church.
Paul was having none of that! Baptism "by
water and spirit" -- not circumcision -- was the
way an unbeliever signified his belief and
entrance into the church.
Nor should the believing Gentiles be required
to start shunning ham, keeping the Sabbath,
paying tithe, etc.
Paul appealed to church headquarters in
Jerusalem under the leadership of James.
And James -- to God's everlasting credit --
ruled that the only "law" the new Gentiles had
to obey was the Law of Noah, the "all flesh"
law, not the Law of Moses!
But the Pharisaical, Judaizing believers have
never given up. They're still at it today. They're
called Seventh-day Adventists.
Max of the Cross