Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Earliest (Jewish) Church

I've written elsewhere about the first century church really being two churches: in the early years, the church was exclusively Jewish, strictly observing the Law of Moses, and only later accepting Gentiles, who did not observe the Law of Moses, as Christian brothers. For a few decades, it appears that these two groups existed side-by-side, having a very different look-and-feel, such that were we to find these two groups on opposite street corners today on Main Street, USA, we'd refer to at least one of them as a "denomination".

I was just made aware of another piece of evidence that demonstrates that the earliest church was Jewish to the core.

We generally consider the apostle Paul to be the author of 1 Corinthians, and whereas that is partly true, we tend to forget that this book was co-authored by another Christian brother, Sosthenes.
Paul, called as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God's will, and our brother Sosthenes: To God's church at Corinth.... (1 Cor 1:1-2a)
What makes this significant to the discussion is that Sosthenes was not only a Christian, he was the ruler of a synagogue, beaten by the anti-Christian mob at Corinth:
Then they all seized Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and beat him in front of the judge's bench. (Acts 18:17)
It's also interesting to note that the apparently previous ruler of the Corinthian synagogue, Crispus, also became a Christian:
Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, believed the Lord, along with his whole household; and many of the Corinthians, when they heard, believed and were baptized. (Acts 18:8)
Our modern day Gentile-ized church often condemns any hint of Jewish worship as being anti-Christian; this view is unBiblical. Being a leader of an exclusively Jewish synagogue, participating in exclusively Jewish worship, was not at all incompatible with being a Christian. It was just such a leader of Jewish worship who gave us part of our New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

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