The Establishment of Ekklesia

The Establishment of Ekklesia

Jesus Christ was a typical Jew who practiced and abide by Jewish scriptures and rituals. That being the case, when then did the Christian church become a thing? The church was established through Jesus Christ and it began to grow because of the works of the Apostles.  After the trial and death of Jesus, the Jesus movement spread and could not be stopped. Even though His death sent the apostles into hiding, Jesus was resurrected and the disciples were baptized with the Holy Spirit. A similar event happened soon after when 120 disciples assembled to celebrate Pentecost. The Spirit of God well upon them and they ran through the city to the temple. Visitors of the city saw this and witnessed their native tongue coming from the lips of these disciples so they followed them to the temple.  There, Peter announced that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament; Jesus is  the Messiah.  He goes on to admonish the people to no longer live their lives of sin, but instead repent so that they too can beget the Holy Spirit. Because of Peter, approximately three thousand people joined the Jesus movement that day, and the Christian church was essentially started. For the following forty years, the church spread exponentially and appeared in most major cities within the Roman Empire professing the death and resurrection of Jesus and the empowering mission of the Holy Spirit.

The first people in the church (Mary, other kinsmen, and the apostles) still were devoted Jews who practiced Jewish law and worshiped in synagogues. From their mere appearance, they seemed like every other typical Jew. The difference was they were a part of “The Way” movement that believed Jesus will lead His followers to the kingdom of God. It was not long until that community identified themselves using the Old Testament term that refers to the assembly of Israel, ekklesia.  The apostles were arrested by the temple authorities and the church leaders were warned to no longer proclaim the gospel. Within two years of attending temple services, the number of Jesus followers increased to several thousand. Practices like baptism and the Lord's Supper.

Many converts to Christianity came from Hellenistic Jews, which sparked tension between the Palestinian and Hellenist members of the church.  A group of 7 Hellenist believers were chosen by the disciples to oversee distributions in the church and from that group Stephen arose and preached in Hellenistic synagogues. Stephen's death forced Hellenist disciples to flee from Jerusalem and take refuge in Samaria. Others traveled to Damascus, Antioch and Tarsus in Syria, Cyprus, and Egypt, where they founded churches. The Destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and the retaliation of every synagogue in Palestine being burned down was the final separation between Christianity and Judaism.  Jews saw the synagogues be demolished as an act of treason and prohibited Christian Jews from attending synagogue services. From that point on, Christianity was no longer seen as a branch of Judaism, but the separation of Jewish Christianity and Orthodox Judaism was complete. 

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