In seeking to understand what Christianity is supposed to look like when walked out (i.e. what the daily life of a Christian should look like) I’ve discovered that if you go to 2 different Christians you will get 4 different answers. As confusing as this may seem it does make a lot of sense if you honestly think about it.
We find in our scriptures Christ teaching us to obey God’s laws.
They are not to be obeyed legalistically but they should be followed from the heart, the very core of our being (Matt 5:13-28).
Then, on the other hand, we read Paul… arguably the most influential person in the Apostolic Scriptures, teaches what on the surface seems to contradict the teachings of Jesus regarding the laws of God.
What Is Really Going On
To truly understand Paul we must first look at what we know about his life in order to understand his words. By his own proclamation he lived his life as a Torah obedient Pharisee (Acts 23:6) who worshiped in the temple (Acts 22:17) and celebrated the festivals of YHWH (Acts 20:16).
It seems entirely possible that we have long misunderstood Paul’s words as Peter warned could easily happen (2 Peter 3:16).
How Did This Happen
Unfortunately for us, we are no longer looking at Paul through the eyes of first century believers who were coming to faith in the God of the Jews and saw themselves as a sect of Judaism (Acts 24:14). Instead we are looking at him through the eyes of the “church fathers” of the second century who, among all their teachings on large scale had very anti-Semitic overtones and were doing all they could to distance themselves from those who they saw as being the “Christ killers” (Yes, I know I’m being overly simplistic here but we will go more into this another time). We also read Paul through the eyes of Martin Luther who, in spite of all the good he did, was also extremely anti-Semitic.
What Can We Do
Perhaps the best thing to do is to go back to the earliest and most reliable historical text we have documenting the lives of the early believers to see how they lived so we can seek to emulate that and not the later teachings which have the anti-Jewish agenda.
Any student of history will be able to tell you that a movement will be most pure at the source and as it gets further away there is a tendency for it to morph into something the founder(s) never meant for it to become.
This is not a study to place myself at odds with the “church fathers” it is merely an attempt to find the authentic, the original, that which our Lord Jesus Christ desired for the people called by His name so that we may pursue it.
The Book of Acts
Acts is a clear and invaluable source of indisputable truth for us to understand who the earliest disciples of Yeshua as the Messiah, understood themselves to be and not what the later generations turned them into.
As it turns out, to truly be a “New Testament” church means something quite different than what many today believe means.
The Jewish Book of Acts
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away. (Acts 1:12)
Beginning with Acts 1:12 the author uses a very Jewish term to describe the distance to Jerusalem: “a Sabbath day’s journey.” Why bring this up?
- To help establish the foundation that the author of Acts is assuming those who read his letter (both Jew and Greek) have an understanding of Jewish culture and lifestyle.
- Because it was important enough to the author to make it clear that they weren’t even breaking Jewish traditions so that they would be able to remain in good fellowship with mainstream Judaism.
A Lot to Learn
There is so much to be learned, not only about early Christianity but also Paul and the earliest disciples if only we can strip away the centuries of anti-Semitism and tradition which have obscured our vision for so long.
This is the first installment of an in-depth study through the book of Acts to get us all back in touch with the original Disciples of Yeshua so that we may have the same impact on the world as they did.
Question: Have you ever desired to know more about the history of Christianity while it was still a sect of Judaism? Are there any verses in Acts which seem to contradict other scriptures you would like explained more in detail? You can leave a comment by clicking here.