“Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.” (Matthew 9:2-8)
How did the multitudes of Jews know to glorify their own God, and not the latest deity from somewhere in the Roman Empire?
Because their nation had preserved God’s words through his verified prophets.
“all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet [Isaiah], saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23)
OK, so we need to back up to Isaiah’s prophecy in his day.
“in the days of Ahaz [pagan] king of Judah…the king of Syria and…king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it…And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz… And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not…If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established. Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God… But Ahaz said, I will not ask…Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the LORD himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel / God with us…” (Isaiah 7:9-14)
Isaiah’s preaching was rock solid founded on Moses’ preaching in his day.
“And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me / in my face…Behold, I send an Angel / God’s Messenger before thee, to keep / guard thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place [of peace and prosperity] which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name / attributes / power is in him. But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries. For mine Angel shall go before thee…And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.” (Exodus 20:1-3, 23:20-25)
So Isaiah is a bridge between Moses and the individual commonly known as Jesus Christ.
“The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly…the LORD bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many…And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and…shall fill the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel. Associate yourselves [with the Adversary], O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces…Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence…to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children [sons of the prophets] whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion…should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them…The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined…For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and uponhis kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 7-9)
And YHVH’s Savior’s preaching was a bridge between Moses’ and Isaiah’s and all the other prophets who preceded him and the apostles who he anointed to follow him.
“And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.
Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these…These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 9:1-10:3)
“And [after Jesus had been dead for 3 days] behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it…And the angel and said unto the women [who had braved the Roman guards and the stench of death to minister to Jesus’ dead body], Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said…go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him…Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations [against fierce opposition], baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28)
The disciples who Jesus chose / messiahed to become his twelve apostles assigned to witness to Israel were a unique group with time-specific qualifications.
“of these men which
- have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
- Beginning from the baptism of John,
- unto that same day that he was taken up from us,
- must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
- That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell.” (Acts 1: 21-25)
In the first century, what became known as the Christian Church was unquestionably a minority sect of Judaism.
“all the church…were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch…And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women…There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem…Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation.And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life…they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel…they doubted of them whereunto this would grow…And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said…Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins…When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
- before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, ere scattered, and brought to nought.
- After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed…
And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded [as Jews, subject to Jewish religious authority] that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.“ (Acts 5)
This clearly demonstrates at the first followers of Jesus were all law-abiding Jews and expected all followers of Yeshua to be the same. Peter was the first apostle to understand that Gentiles did not need to covert to Judaism to be saved.
“And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them…
The proof of new life were the signs of the Holy Spirit controlling the new convert, as we see in the progression of this account.
“In that day shall the LORD of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty,
- unto the residue of his people,
- AND for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate…
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing…I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.” (Isaiah 28:5-16)
And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord [finally!], how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” (Acts 11:1-18)
There were additional signs among the Gentiles – i.e. fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies – proving that YHVH’s savior had come not only to rule over Israel but to retake dominion over all the other peoples of the earth. Like prophecy in general, these are vague and can be argued to fit multiple interpretations. The Spirit of God who gave them is the only one who can accurately interpret them.
“Wherefore the LORD said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid…in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness. The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.” (Isaiah 29:13-24)
“For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” (I Corinthians 1:10-24)
Jesus had predicted this as well.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall
- they cast out devils;
- they shall speak with new tongues;
- They shall take up serpents;
- and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;
- they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mark 16:15-18)
These miracles and wonders were the proof that the Jews needed to be convinced that the uncircumcised Gentiles could be indwelt with God’s presence and power like they were.
Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying,
Men and brethren…the Gentiles are turned to God:” (Act 15:12-19)
This, too, was fulfillment of prophecy.
“Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings…Wherefore I poured my fury upon them for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it: And I scattered them among the heathen, and they were dispersed through the countries…And when they entered unto the heathen, whither they went, they profaned my holy name, when they said…These are the people of the LORD, and are gone forth out of his land. But I had pity for mine holy name…
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, thus saith the Lord God; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went. And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land…And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. Then the heathen that are left round about you shall know that I the LORD build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the LORD have spoken it, and I will do it…I will yet for this be enquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock…so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 36:17)
The original group of believers was a subset of the larger group of Jewish believers in the fact of a prophesied Messiah in the holy scriptures who just didn’t accept Yeshua of Nazareth as being the fulfillment of the Messiah, some of whom are still waiting for Messiah to show up for the first time.
“my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:” (Romans 9:3-6)
“in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:15-16)
The understanding of the New Testament church as the Israel of God is a fundamental truth, essential for understanding the whole story. The New Testament does not separate Jewish believers from Gentile believers. It unites us.
If this sounds heretical, please be judicious enough to investigate the historical facts detailed in the New Testament.
“I am the good shepherd, and know [identities merged] my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” (John 10:14-16)
“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles…without Messiah / Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Messiah Yeshua / Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Messiah / Christ...that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby…For
- through him we both have access
- by one Spirit
- unto the Father.
Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God…keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 2:11-19, 4:3-6)
“Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled…Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that…I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour…I will work, and who shall let /stop it?…Thus saith the LORD, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel…Behold, I will do a new thing.” (Isaiah 43)
The Jewish religious leaders would not have fought against the threat to their authority and power, and the Roman rulers would not have listened to their complaints if belief in Jesus Christ was just one of the multitude of “other” religions for which Rome was famous for tolerating and even incorporating.
“The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort…” (John 18:19-20)
They were well aware that Jesus’ followers constituted the “other nation” to whom leadership under the God of Israel had been given.
“And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the son of David; they were sore displeased…Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing…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 21)
That nation / brotherhood was not the Gentile church.
“[His Jewish disciples] asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 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 receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and 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 1:6-8)
One notable piece of evidence that there was no Gentile leadership at this time is the lack of authorization by Jesus’ delegated church leaders of any Gentiles – or even of Paul.
“when it pleased God…To reveal his Son in [not too] me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.” (Galatians 1:15-20)
The anointed church leadership at Jerusalem never accepted Paul’s authority to witness to the Gentiles.
“when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem.” (Acts 11)
Now they that were scattered (from Jerusalem] preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only…when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus…[Then] the church which was in Jerusalem…sent forth Barnabas…and much people was added unto the Lord…Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul.” (Acts 12)
“certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question…And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe…Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul…And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles.” (Acts 15)
James’ failure to credit Barnabas and Paul as credible witnesses screams out to us by its silence. And yet by this time they had multitudes of Gentiles saved under their full-time Gentile ministry against Peter’s one and only episode with Cornelius and his family and friends.
Clearly including Gentiles into a Jewish sect was a sketchy business.
Paul’s apostleship to the Gentiles was based on the same qualifications as the other apostles’ to the Jews.
- As a disciple of Gamaliel he was one of the Pharisees who hounded the Lord Jesus and, albeit as a spy, learned all of Jesus’ doctrine and companied with his disciples
- [After arresting him] The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me [no doubt looking eye-to-eye with Saul of Tarsus], what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.” (John 18:19-21)
“Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)…Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. And they glorified God in me.” (Galatians 1)
“Am I am not an apostle?…have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?…the seal / proof of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 9:1-2)
The faith that Paul had once destroyed but then preached was the oracles of God committed unto the Jews.
“they came to…a synagogue of the Jews: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging [in the common debate style], that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” (Romans 3:1-3)
The proof of Paul’s apostleship is his followers strict adherence to the scriptures.
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you…For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” (I Corinthians 11:1-3, 23-26)
“ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God…For ye know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, even your sanctification,
- that ye should abstain from fornication:
- That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified
- to love one another.And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
- That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.” (I Thessalonians 4)
But basing one’s faith on the perennially unpopular Bible, living out the “good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” and associating ourselves with the unsociable and perpetually disenfranchised Jews has never been easy. There have always been easier paths to follow, either to fall in line with socially acceptable standards or to isolate from interaction with, therefore influence on, an ungodly world.
As the capitol of the Empire, Rome had become home to a vast population of Jews who had been brought back as slaves after wars, or had emigrated voluntarily for economic opportunities. Think New York City.
As in Jerusalem, the large population of Jews in Rome presented opportunities for expansion among the people.
[Writing in 59 BC] “You know what a big crowd [the Jewish population in Rome] is, how they stick together, how influential they are in informal assemblies….” Cicero’s remarks…indicate misgivings about their separatist tendencies. “[T]he great section of Rome on the other side of the Tiber is occupied and inhabited by Jews, most of whom were…brought as captives to Italy [then] liberated by their owners… [T]hey have houses of prayer and meet together in them, particularly on the sacred Sabbaths when they receive as a body of training in their ancestral philosophy…
We should recognize God’s hand in the affairs of mankind, exactly as with Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus and the other leaders of the four world empires, in scattering the Jews from Rome in order to spread abroad the written word of God foundational to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
“with the proscription of the Egyptian and Jewish rites…a senatorial edict directed that four thousand descendants of enfranchised slaves…suitable in point of age, were to be shipped to Sardinia and there be employed in suppressing brigandage … The rest had orders to leave Italy, unless they had renounced their impious ceremonial by a given date.”
[In AD 41 The Emperor] Claudius…ordered them, while continuing their traditional mode of life, not to hold meetings”….[and then] “Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome…” [Another Roman historian writes] Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome because in their resentment against Christ they were continually creating disturbances…’
Paul’s first encounter with Aquila and Priscilla can be dated to around A.D. 49…
Paul addresses Christians in the city…in the late 50’s…[indicating] the development of Christianity in Rome…years before Paul’s direct contact with the people there.Christians such as Prisca and Aquila had returned to Rome after having been banished from the city…
From Paul’s greetings in Romans 16, we can discern the existence of several gatherings of Christians in the city…[S]ome of the individuals are identified as Jews…while many of the remaining are likely Gentiles…mirrors the shared identity the Jews felt in spite of their participation in separate synagogues…
Acts 2:10 includes visitors from Rome in the list of people who witnessed the events of Pentecost…
Once Jewish Christians reached Rome, they would have had relatively unhindered ministry access in the synagogues, since no Jewish controlling authority could step in to quickly and definitively oppose the propagation of the message.
A competing theory promotes Peter as the carrier of the gospel to Rome…More likely, relatively obscure Christians made contributions to the church’s establishment…“It is established that there were Jews living in Rome in the times of the apostles, and that those Jews who had believed [in Christ] passed on to the Romans the tradition that they ought to profess Christ but keep the law … One ought…to praise their faith; because without seeing any signs or miracles and without seeing any apostles, they nevertheless accepted faith in Christ.