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The Apostles leave Jerusalem?

The amount of Facts we have

SEARCH FOR THE TWELVE APOSTLES

by McBirnie Ph.D.


CHAPTER TWO


When Did The Apostles Leave Jerusalem?


     St.Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, selected as his thesis
the emergence of Christianity as an universal faith, not to be
held for long in the matrix of Judaism, but liberated, mainly
under the pioneering of St.Paul, so that the gospel might be
presented also to the Gentiles. From first to last in The Acts,
Luke expresses this theme. Christianity, he wrote, began with God
and Jesus Christ, His Son. Upon the rejection of Jesus by the
Jewish national and religious leadership, the gospel was
presented as was always intended by God to the Gentiles. That
methodology is reported many times in The Acts.

     First, Pentecost was an international experience. Jews from
many nations were in Jerusalem, but surely, so were many
Gentiles. "Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers
in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and
Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya
about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes
and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful
works of God." (Acts 2:911) Then Acts records how St.Philip
witnessed to the Ethiopian treasurer, under the direct leadership
of the Holy Spirit. The implication of divine approval and
authentication upon Gentile evangelism is explicit. St. Luke is
making a point which misses most modern readers.

     Next, Peter was directly commanded o f God to witness to and
baptize Cornelius, the Roman centurion, at Joppa. Paul was
meanwhile shown as the persecutor of the Church motivated by his
zeal for keeping the Law of Moses and the Jews themselves from
adulteration. He haled into prison those Jewish Christians who 
would forsake Moses for Christ. No one can accuse Paul of not
being initially a faithful Jew, though his critics certainly
tried.

     After Paul's conversion, Luke records, often as an
eyewitness, the growing missionary triumphs of St.Paul, but
carefully notes that St.Paul nowhere broke the Mosaic Law, but
always in each city went first to the Jewish synagogue to try to
win those Jews who would believe. Only then did he go to the
Gentiles after the inevitable persecution in the synagogue. As
Luke concluded his story in The Acts, Paul was in Rome, having
first witnessed to the Jewish religion's leaders. He was rejected
by most, as usual, so he turned to the Gentiles. There the book
of Acts ends the story.


     The book of Acts is a limited, but rich slice of Apostolic
Christian history. It is the record of only some of the Apostles
and their deeds. It is the story of the mighty acts of the Holy
Spirit in the establishment of the early churches. It is a
shining vindication of Paul and of his decision to carry the
gospel "to the Jews first and afterwards to the Gentiles." To
these purposes, all Biblical commentaries abundantly agree. But
if we stop here, perhaps we have missed the most compelling oŁ
all effects which Luke may have been trying to achieve by writing
The Acts. This was to encourage all Jewish Christians to
consciously go forth to the Gentile world and, like Paul, bear
witness directly to it in full confidence of success, believing
confidently that this was the Holy Spirit's intention and that
God would bless their efforts in this mission and crown them with
suceess!

     In a word, Acts is a book of successful procedures in
international evangelism. The truths contained in it were aimed
to stir up those early Jewish Christians who for too long were
bound to Jerusalem and Judea or at least to Judaism.

     Biblical scholars have long been troubled by the lengthy
time after the Resurrection which some of the Apostles spent in
Jerusalem. It was as if some of them clung to the Temple and
Judaism for perhaps a quarter of a century, despite the clear
commandment of Jesus to discipline all nations.
     Even when the Apostles occasionally were able, or forced, to
lead a Gentile to Christ, they themselves soon returned to
Jerusalem. Even when the believers were scattered abroad by
persecution and sent everywhere preaching, Luke notes that the
Apostles were expected to remain in Jerusalem, which they did.
Why? Possibly because they were reluctant to go forth officially
to win Gentiles and start organizing Gentile churches. Who knows
the agony or timidity these Jewish men had in breaking with
Judaism?

     The date of the writing of The Acts seems certain to have
been about the year 66 A.D. By then the Apostles, for the most
part, would surely have already left Jerusalem on their world
missions.
     But The Acts covers a considerable period of time, at least
thirty-five years. Perhaps the experiences of St.Paul provided a
direct challenge to the early Christians and even to some of the
Apostles, to get on with the task which belonged to them from the
beginning; opening the whole world and all nations to the gospel.

     The Apostolic council in Jerusalem told Paul, "You go to the
Gentiles and we will go to the Jews." The Acts may well have been
later used as an historical handbook of methods Paul had
triumphantly used, how he fared, and the clear proof that the
Holy Spirit was visibly willing, despite all obstacles, to bless
a mission to the Gentiles. But though we do not suggest that the
Apostles were shamed into their task of world evangelism by The
Acts, for the date of writing precludes this conclusion, it might
still be possible that some early portions of the book, or at
least the experiences of St. Paul that were later recorded in the
book, might have had this effect.
     We know nothing of the "Theophilus" to whom Luke addressed
The Acts. Theophilus is a Greek name to be sure but it simply
means "Lover of God." Perhaps, with infinite tact, Paul sought to
teach some of the "Teachers" a lesson they somehow had not yet
all learned. If it had been couched as a frontal attack or
criticism they could not have accepted it at the hands of Paul,
since they were disciples and Apostles before he had ever
encountered Christ, and were therefore probably reluctant to
accept new light on their duties from this "latecomer" to the
faith.

     If these conclusions are sound, that means the early parts
of the book of The Acts were perhaps intended for some Apostles
(James having been martyred) as a virtual handbook on "successful
methods of witnessing to Gentiles", with due credit carefully
given to the anointing of the Holy Spirit in all instances. This
possibility is strengthened in the various epistles of St.Paul,
particularly in his reference to St. Peter's reluctance to even
eat with Gentile Christians in Antioch when Jewish Christian
emissaries from James in Jerusalem arrived on the scene. "I
withstood him to the face," said Paul, "because he was to be
blamed." (Galatians 2:11)

     St.Paul, in fact, had experienced the reluctance of the
Apostles to go to the Gentiles in any systematic way and pointed
out their strategy as follows: "And when James, Cephas, and John,
who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto
me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship;
that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the
circumcision" (Galatians 2:9).
     Whether or not one of the purposes of the recording of St.
Paul's experiences, which later grew into what is now called the
book of The Acts, was to encourage and instruct the Apostles and
other early Christian workers in their duty to the Gentiles, that
was what in fact eventually resulted. Somewhere, sometime,
formally or naturally, the Apostles one day apparently decided on
a world strategy of evangelism, and each went his separate way.
Eusebius tells us the Apostles "divided the world and set forth
to all points of the compass. Was this decision prompted or
influenced by the experiences of St.Paul later recorded in the
book of The Acts? We cannot know with certainty, but it seems
likely, at least, that Paul's success could not possibly have
been unnoticed, ignored, or uncopied. There is a fragment of
early Christian history which indicates there may be some
substance to this idea.

"At the beginning of Book 3 of his History of the Church, after
having described the Fall of Jerusalem, Eusebius says that 'the
inhabited world' was divided into zones of influence among the
Apostles: Thomas in the region of the Parthians, John in Asia,
Peter in Pontes and Rome, Andrew in Scythia. This statement
contains a certain measure of historical truth, particularly for
John, but it is difficult to verify for the others. One fact,
however, gives support to it. The apocryphal writings of the New
Testament are divided into cycles: the cycle of Peter, the cycle
of Thomas, the cycle of Philip, the cycle of john. These cycles
seem to refer to definite geographical areas, and it seems, in
particular, that the Judaeo-Christian mission at the beginning of
the second century took several different forms: the
Mesopotamian, linked to James and Thomas; Asiatic Christianity,
which depends on Philip and John; the Petrine group comprising
Phoenicia, Pontes, Achaea and Rome." (The Christian Centuries, J.
Danielou, p.39).

     A study of what became of the Apostles, then, must take into
account the possibility that the experience of Paul later
recorded in The Acts may have served as a catalyst to hasten the
decision of the Apostles to go into all the world and preach the
gospel. A study of the date of the book of First Peter certainly
allows time for the book of Acts to have been completed by A.D.
64. This is mentioned because it is clear from I Peter 1:1 that
Peter made missionary journeys to Asia Minor before the
conclusion of Paul's first Roman imprisonment in A.D.64. But even
if Peter became an earlier witness to the Gentiles (despite
Galatians 2:9) this does not mean all the other Apostles had also
left Jerusalem by A.D.64, which is the earliest possible date of
the writing of The Acts. Nor does it imply that, even if all the
Apostles had left Jerusalem itself long before A.D.64, that they
had necessarily engaged in a ministry to the Gentiles wherever
they may have gone, for Jews were found everywhere. To have
achieved this, even among some of the Apostles would be a
worthwhile purpose for the experiences of St.Paul to be told and
later incorporated in The Acts.

     In any case, once they had been launched into the far
reaches of the Roman Empire, the Apostles lighted a fire that
shines in most of the world to this day.

                            ..................

NOTE:

It is true that the first century Apostles "turned the world up-
side down" (Acts 17:6). The "true" Gospel and the truth of God
was established near and far. But when McBirnie says, "the
Apostles lighted a fire that shines in most of the world to this
day" the light that he is talking about (which he would not admit
being a Protestant) is the dark light of Roman Catholicism and
Protestantism, both of which are Babylon Mystery Religion of the
book of Revelation - not the truth of God's word (though of
course SOME truth is mixed in with error - the Devil works that
way) as proclaimed by the Apostles. Even in the days of Jude, he
had to tell his readers to hold on to the "faith which was once
delivered to the saints." Over the centuries as the Roman
Catholic religion gain POWER throguh the rise of the Holy Roman
Empire, true Christianity as a large and bright light was
overcome and exchanged for the false light of Catholicism and
Protestantism. 
There are a number of studies on this Websight showing you HOW
and WHEN the the true LIGHT was extinguished. The last books of
the Bible in "The New Testament Bible Story" also show you that
before the end of the first century A.D. there was a movement
from WITHIN the very true Church of God to depart from the faith
once delivered to the saints. That movement that started from
WITHIN the Church of Christ gained more and more influence and
power through the Empire of Rome, until it became the HOLY Roman
Empire. God calls it Babylon Mystery Religion, the woman whore
that rides the Beast, in the last chapters of Revelation. That
power is the working whereby all the world is deceived, and being
deceived more and more each week, month, and year. It is the
power that is responsible for the killing of true saints, down
through many of the centuries of the last 2,000 years. She is
truly drunk with the blood of the saints.

The 12 Apostles may have not left Jerusalem in the early years
after Pentecost of 30 A.D. but SOME of the true children of God
did, and some of them came into the British Isles, before 40 A.D.
But that's another history story for another book and another
time - although SOME of that history is in some of the studies on
this Website (i.e. "When did Christianity come to Britain") -
Keith Hunt

To be continued

Entered on this Website November 2007


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