Jesus and the Church




And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. 

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations;  and then shall the end come. 
  Matthew 24:11-14


After the death and resurrection of Christ, the apostles received the power of the Holy Spirit as promised by Jesus in John 14:26

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

The early believers, who were mostly all Jews, continued to worship God as before by honoring the Sabbath, the feasts, and following the Law of Moses under the direct supervision of the apostles who were guided by the Holy Spirit.

Approximately sixty years later, Nero with the Roman government begins their persecution of the early Christians.  As the early Christian congregations grew, they began to be seen as competition to both the pagan religions of Rome and to the orthodox Jews who rejected Christ and His teachings.

Early Christians in the Roman Empire were initially tolerated as just another Jewish sect, but as the faith spread among a vast number of Gentile converts the Roman civic authorities became alarmed and turned against the Christian community.  Christians were accused of refusing to acknowledge the supremacy of Caesar and participation in the Roman pagan festivals.

Under the rule of Nero,  Peter, James and Paul had been executed in Rome by the year 67 AD.  The gospels, in written form, had already begun to be circulated by 70 AD.  The Gospel of Mark was probably written first, followed soon after by the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Paul's various letters that were originally written from around 50-60 AD were also beginning to be circulated.

Paul preached the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles, and Paul tirelessly pursued his calling at all costs. The Book of Acts seems to indicate that the early Jewish believers under Peter and James were not actively witnessing to the Gentiles, but mostly to the Jews, until Paul came into the picture.

This lack of initiative towards the Gentiles demonstrated by Peter and the other Jewish Believers was corrected by Peter's vision by God with the unclean animals challenge in Acts 10:1-11:18

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band,  A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.  He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius.  And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.  And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:  He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.  And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually;  And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. 

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,  And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:  Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.  And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.  But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.  And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.  This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,  And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 

Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come?  And they said, 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 called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him.  And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends.  And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.  And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. And 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.  Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,  And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee.  Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.  Act 10:34  Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, 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:)  That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached;  How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.  And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree:  Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly;  Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.  And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.  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 all them which heard the word.  And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.  For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,  Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?  And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.  And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.  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, saying,  I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me:  Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.  And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat.  But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth.  But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.  And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven.  And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me.  And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house:  And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter;  Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.  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, 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. 


Reading the account in Acts 10:1-11:18 shows this vision from God is about Peter and the Gentiles and not about Peter suddenly being allowed to eat unclean foods for the first time in his life.

The early Christian congregations were being infused by a large number of once pagan Gentiles.  After a while, some of these Gentile converts, as well as Roman opportunists, were trying to introduce some of their own ideas into these groups and gain power.

Paul writes in Acts 20:29-30 and Galatians 1:6-7


For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.


After Nero the Christian persecution continued under emperor Domitian in approx 81 AD.   Domitian enforced the practice of 'Lord's Day' which was when all citizens of the empire had to declare 'Caesar is Lord' or face terrible punishment.  Around the time of 95 AD,  Apostle John was banished to Patmos by Roman officials where he received the Revelation from Jesus Christ.  A few years later Apostle John, the last of Christ's apostles and the last writer of any of the books of the New Testament, left this earth to be with his Master and Savior.