“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves…Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 23:14-15, 43)
The apostles knew exactly what that nation – as in brotherhood – would be. They had anticipated government positions during their entire time with the Jesus because, after all, they had worked hard for his elevation to sit on the throne of David as the Messiah / Christ, the promised son of God / ruler.
“the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons…She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom…And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.” (Matthew 20:20-24)
These top positions should be determined by qualifications, not nepotism!
The apostles’ eager anticipation for appointments to leadership in the kingdom reflects their awareness of exactly what had been put into play.
“therefore…they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
The problem was that they were still focused on Israel’s political and physical condition rather than God’s spiritual calling for all the nations of the world.
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
But…ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. (Acts 1:1-8)
“teach all nations…to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always [as he was was Moses and Joshua], even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:19-20)
The process by which the Jewish apostles were anointed leaders in the kingdom of God was absolutely consistent with Jewish culture.
“Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him…because the Lord hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance…the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy…and shalt be turned into another man…for God is with thee.” (I Samuel 10:1-7)
“Jesus…through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen...that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me…ye shall be baptized [merged with] with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
“And when the day of Pentecost [harvest celebration like Boaz had after winnowing his grain] was fully come,..suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and…they were all filled / to the greatest extent, accomplished with the Holy Ghost And began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled,
As devout Jews, the international crowd who gathered to watch this wild exhibition were able to believe Peter’s explanation because they believed the Jewish prophets’ predictions and recognized the standard sign of God Spirit speaking through his chosen representatives. This was the only way they were able to believe in Jesus as the Christ.
This exhibition would have meant nothing to scripturally illiterate Gentiles.
Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem…this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh…and they shall prophesy…And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know…ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up…
For David speaketh concerning him…being a prophet...He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of The Anointed Seed of the Woman / Messiah / Christ…This Jesus / Yeshua / YHVH’s Savior hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore…[he, Christ] having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he [Christ] hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear…
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
It was only because these listeners knew and believed the Old Testament prophets that they could understand, and therefore believe, Peter’s report that Jesus’ death was not the end, but rather the beginning of his redemptive ministry.
Now when they heard this they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ [as John had predicted would come after him] for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off…” (Act 2:1-11, 37-41)
Peter and the other apostles did not use Jesus’ teaching as the basis of their preaching. They based their faith and their preaching on the Old Testament prophets – as did Jesus himself, even after his death ushered in the new testament.
“Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people…the chief priests and our rulers…have crucified…But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel…
Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:19-27)
Following the trail of events recorded in the book of the Acts of the apostles, we find that for at least the first 20-30 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection the good news of the arrival of the Messiah / Christ and the coming of the kingdom of God was disseminated throughout the world only by preaching from the “Old Testament” Jewish writings. Until the apostles wrote their sermons and memoires of Jesus, there was no “John 3:16” or “Romans Road” with which to lead people to salvation.
The apostles couldn’t evangelize without the Old Testament scriptures, because faith can only be based on the word of God, found at that time only in Old Testament writings.
For another, as detailed in the post A Melchizedek Like Moses, Moses is the foundational prophet on which God rests his case for
- bringing up the subject of a Savior/Messiah/Christ,
- then for delineating his characteristics,
- then for proving that Jesus of Nazareth is he.
Peter…answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel…those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled…For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me…Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after…have likewise foretold of these days.” (Act 3:12-24)
“Then Peter…said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel…by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. (quoting from Psalm 118:22) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Act 4:8-12)
“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said…The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, (quoting Isa 9:1-7) for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Act 5:29-32)
“Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. Then they suborned men…And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law…Then said the high priest, Are these things so? And he said, Men, brethren , and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham…[reviews history of Israel through the son of David, Solomon] Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears (quoting Jeremiah 9:26), ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and the murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven…and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God (quoting from Dan 7:12-14). Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him.” (Act 6:9-11)
An eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians…had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet…And Philip ran thither to him…and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.” (Act 8:27-35)
“Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture [Isaiah 28:14-18], also quoted by Jesus as documented by Matthew [21:42-45] Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.” (I Peter 2:6)
“our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles…which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures…” (II Peter 3:15-16)
God’s spiritual laws / overriding control over the physical laws of nature make it possible to perform what we call miracles.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (John 14:12)
On the other hand, we find that the miracle works that Jesus promised would prove Spirit indwelling are works he rejects as proving the workers are his followers. Which is it?
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit…Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:15-22)
Paul provides one of the many balancing acts in scripture. The “signs” – which can be faked or empowered by an evil spirit – aren’t the works that Jesus demands of us for salvation or even to prove salvation. All of these signs aren’t manifested by every believer, but every believer should be doing something!
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant…Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
- to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom;
- to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
- To another faith by the same Spirit;
- to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
- To another the working of miracles;
- to another prophecy;
- to another discerning of spirits;
- to another divers kinds of tongues;
- to another the interpretation of tongues:
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit…But now are they many members, yet but one body…
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? Obviously his rather sarcastic answer is “No!” do all interpret?
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal…Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church…Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?…Brethren, be not children in understanding…
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not…
Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God…
What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (I Corinthians 12-14)
Even when outreach was extended to Gentiles, beginning with Cornelius, what we call the Old Testament scriptures continued to be the only available – and necessary – basis for faith in Jesus Christ and inclusion in the New Testament Church.
“Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee…Then Peter opened his mouth, and said…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth…To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Act 10:22-43, 11:18)
The first Gentile to accept Jesus as the Savior could only do so because he was grounded in the Old Testament scriptures which prophesied of his coming. He was, as described by James, one of
“them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God…For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” (Acts 15:19-21)
(You just have to wonder if this was the centurion who presided over Jesus’ crucifixion.)
And as Peter went in, and found many that were come together…he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Notice how Peter continues to define himself as a law-abiding Jew. While he had Jesus’ last words to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” (Mark 16:15-16), this was being done in the synagogues where Gentiles, while present, were segregated from full participation with the Jews. Peter needed the special vision to understand that, as a Jew, he was allowed to assemble with – church with Gentile believers.
Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)…To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on / baptized all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished [that they received the Holy Spirit without converting, through circumcision, to Judaism]…For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.
Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized / merged into one body with the other believers, up to now all Jewish, which have received / been baptized / merged into one with the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.” (Acts 10)
How does this compare to the 20th century Pentacostal Church?
The Azusa Street Revival was a historic series of revival meetings that took place in Los Angeles, California. It was led by William J. Seymour, an African-American preacher. The revival began on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915. On the night of April 9, 1906, Seymour and seven men were waiting on God on Bonnie Brae Street, “when suddenly, as though hit by a bolt of lightning, they were knocked from their chairs to the floor,” and the other seven men began to speak in tongues and shout out loud praising God. The news quickly spread; the city was stirred; crowds gathered; and a few days later Seymour himself received the Holy Spirit; services were moved outside to accommodate the crowds who came from all around; people fell down under the power of God as they approached; people were baptized in the Holy Spirit and the sick were healed and sinners received salvation. The testimony of those who attended the Azusa Street Revival was “I am saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost” in reference to the three works of grace of Holiness Pentecostals, the original branch of Pentecostalism…a continuous three-year revival occurred and became known around the world. Stanley H. Frodsham, in his book, With Signs Following, quotes an eye-witness description of the scene: The revival was characterized by spiritual experiences accompanied with testimonies of physical healing miracles, worship services, and speaking in tongues. The participants were criticized by some secular media and Christian theologians for behaviors considered to be outrageous and unorthodox, especially at the time. Today, the revival is considered by historians to be the primary catalyst for the spread of Pentecostalism in the 20th century.