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A LOOK AT THE FIRST CENTURY CHURCH

Part 5

Review:

Heb 4:12

12 For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart.      AMP

As alluded to in the first session, the importance of words was emphasized and the above scripture reference was totally directed at the scriptures then in existence. Again, the "New Testament" as we know it did not exist. The importance of the "word" is just as relevant today as it was before Jesus' earthly ministry.

So, just who were these people that left a trail of revelation regarding the scriptures.

Let's start with the Greek word for scripture(s) to establish exactly what we are discussing.

NT:1124 GREEK  graphe (graf-ay'); a document, i.e. holy Writ (or its contents or a statement in it):                             KJV - scripture.

(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

The first and most notable person is Jesus Himself. Everything He taught was totally out of the Hebrew scriptures. Even the commandments He taught on came directly out of the Hebrew scriptures.

Mt 22:36 Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light--which are heavy?] 37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). [Dt 6:5.] 38 This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. [Lev 19:18.] 40 These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.    AMP

Mt 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?                      KJV

These two dialogues with the religious leaders were a direct assault on their traditions and additions to the scriptures. Virtually all scripture references in the NT that reference the Tanach or Hebrew scriptures are the foundation for what is being taught. The following scriptures are just a sampling of the New Testament references to the scriptures then in existence.

First, let's look at Peter:

2 Pe 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy ; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.                            KJV

2 Pe 3:16 Speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures.

AMP

 

and Paul:

Ac 17:2 And Paul entered, as he usually did, and for three Sabbaths he reasoned and argued with them from the Scriptures, 3 Explaining [them] and [quoting passages] setting forth and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, This Jesus, Whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ (the Messiah).                                 AMP

Ac 18:28 For with great power he refuted the Jews in public [discussions], showing and proving by the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah).                    AMP

Ro 1:1 FROM PAUL, a bond servant of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) called to be an apostle, (a special messenger) set apart to [preach] the Gospel (good news) of and from God, 2 Which He promised in advance [long ago] through His prophets in the sacred Scriptures--                          AMP

1 Co 15:3 For I passed on to you first of all what I also had received, that Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed one) died for our sins in accordance with [what] the Scriptures [foretold], [Isa 53:5-12.] 4 That He was buried, that He arose on the third day as the Scriptures foretold, [Ps 16:9,10.] AMP

and James:

Jas 2:23 And [so] the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed in (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on) God, and this was accounted to him as righteousness (as conformity to God's will in thought and deed), and he was called God's friend. [Ge 15:6; 2 Ch 20:7; Isa 41:8.]              AMP

Jas 2:8-12

8 If indeed you [really] fulfill the royal Law in accordance with the Scripture, You shall love your neighbor as [you love] yourself, you do well. [Lev 19:18.] 9 But if you show servile regard (prejudice, favoritism) for people, you commit sin and are rebuked and convicted by the Law as violators and offenders. 10 For whosoever keeps the Law [as a] whole but stumbles and offends in one [single instance] has become guilty of [breaking] all of it. 11 For He Who said, You shall not commit adultery, also said, You shall not kill. If you do not commit adultery but do kill, you have become guilty of transgressing the [whole] Law. [Ex 20:13,14; Dt 5:17,18.] 12 So speak and so act as [people should] who are to be judged under the law of liberty [the moral instruction given by Christ, especially about love].                AMP

Now that we have established the exclusive use of the Tenach or Hebrew scriptures, it would serve our purpose to examine the meaning for the first century Messianic congregations.  So most importantly for what we are looking into, the dialogue between Jesus and the religious leaders of the day are going to be our primary focus in this session. Here I will repeat the aforementioned references.

Mt 22:36 Teacher, which kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light--which are heavy?] 37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). [Dt 6:5.] 38 This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. [Lev 19:18.] 40 These two commandments sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets.    AMP

Mt 15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.  10 And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand: 11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. 12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?                      KJV

Then again according to Mark:

Mk 7:8-9 You disregard and give up and ask to depart from you the commandment of God and cling to the tradition of men [keeping it carefully and faithfully]. 9 And He said to them, You have a fine way of rejecting [thus thwarting and nullifying and doing away with] the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition (your own human regulations)!      AMP

And Paul writes:

Col 2:8 See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men's ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah).   AMP

The path we have been following deals directly with the fact that human ideas and orders of idol worship crept into the church and eventually because of the influx of Greek gentile believers, a lot of their baggage was introduced and so rather than study the scriptures to gain knowledge of the truth, they began to lean on philosophy and mental reasoning.  Jesus was warning us about the effect this would have on the scriptures and the apparent stripping away of the power that lies in them.

 The further eroding of the first century model came about with the control of the congregation by the use of buildings and the establishment of a hierarchy of leadership. Ultimately, it came down to one person in the pulpit with leadership hand selected leading the "common" people in structured worship services. It was then determined that the common folk would not be able to understand the "scriptures" so they were taken out of the hands of the common folk and subject to the interpretation of the leaders of the church. By now, the leadership in the church were for the most part gentile "converts". Once this order of worship was in place, the Jewish form of worship was slowly replaced with secular thought and reason and forced out of the teachings.

This was the beginning of "Theology" whereby rather than receiving by faith the scriptures, they now are analyzed and compartmentalized to backwards engineer the existence of God. These things are compared to the created world and analyzed to see if they fit the rules that govern this fallen world running on the natural order of things.

This has in the last century evolved even further into psychology and psychiatry where the scriptures become irrelevant. Further eroding the scriptural effectiveness, these human reasoning's have transformed the truth of the scriptures into a lie and lead many astray. To further complicate things, pharmaceuticals have replaced methods of treatment rather than contact with the Living God who's presence can do in 10 seconds what could take years of counseling and literally 10's of thousands of dollars. These issues are heart issues and the soul needs more help than can possibly come from man centered treatments. The root word for "pharmaceutical" is the Greek word farmakeia as listed in the following reference.

\Phi (F)\farmakeia - Phi (F)\farmakos

NT:5331 farmakeia

a.            the use or the administering of drugs

b.            poisoning Rv 9:21

c.             sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it: Gal 5:20

farmakon, farmakou, to,

a drug; an enchantment:

NT:5332 farmakeus, farmakeoos, ho

one who prepares or uses magical remedies; a sorcerer: Rv 21:8

NT:5333 farmakos, farmakee, farmakon

1.            pertaining to magical arts

2.            a substantive, Rv 21:8

(from Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

I have for you included the references that these words are used in. The interesting thing is that they are both in the Book of Revelation and pertain specifically to the end times.

Rv 9:20 And the rest of humanity who were not killed by these plagues even then did not repent of [the worship of] the works of their [own] hands, so as to cease paying homage to the demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor move. [Ps 115:4-7; 135:15-17; Isa 17:8.] 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their practice of magic (sorceries) or their sexual vice or their thefts.                       AMP

Rv 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.                   KJV

In both of the above scripture references, the allusion is to pharmaceuticals or drugs. Apparently, putting trust in medication above God, can be construed as sorcery and idolatry. This by no means indicts anyone who is taking medication, but rather we need to be taking in the word of God, the entire scriptures (OT and NT) for the purpose of acquiring the necessary touch from God to set us free.

Finally, the following scripture should inspire us to examine the Old Testament more closely. Keeping in mind as you read this what scriptures they were referring to.

Ac 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. 5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. 8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. 10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. 14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still.           KJV

 

All of the people we sampled above relied on the Hebrew scriptures to teach and preach from. These folks  were schooled in the Torah from the age of about 3 years old and by the age of 6 or 7 had memorized the Torah and were in the process of studying the Poetry, Prophets and other scripture. It then comes as no surprise that when Jesus showed up, everyone knew who He was and His purpose or at least the Spirit of God could witness to the truth each one carried in his/her mind and heart.

Be as the Bereans who rather than listening to and/or basing their knowledge of the things being taught on opinions and books, went directly to the scriptures for verification. I suggest taking the New Testament scriptures to task in the Old Testament and enjoy the journey.

 

 

DO NOT TELL ANYONE "Bob Berning said to leave your church." That is not what this is about!

o   Am I telling you to convert to Judaism?                                Absolutely not!

o   Am I suggesting leaving your current fellowship?                  Absolutely not!

o   Am I suggesting maybe looking into the scriptures to learn for yourself and seek the fellowship of like minded believers?                                                YES

 

"As Christians, we read what we believe, but do we believe what we read?