The Sins Of Our Forefathers, Part 3.
Revolts, The Didache
The First Century saw three Jewish revolts which changed the course of time for the early believers. Not to spend too much time on these revolts, we will use Wikipedia as a reference.
The First Jewish–Roman War (66–73 CE), sometimes called the Great Jewish Revolt , or The Jewish War, was the first of three major rebellions by the Jews against the Roman Empire, fought in Roman-controlled Judea, resulting in the destruction of Jewish towns, the displacement of its people and the appropriation of land for Roman military use, as well as the destruction of the Jewish Temple and polity. The Second revolt, also called The Bar Kokhba revolt known by Romans as the ‘Jewish Expedition’ , was a rebellion by the Jews of the Roman Province of Judea, led by Simon bar Kokhba, against the Roman Empire. Fought circa 132–136 CE, it was the last of three major Jewish-Roman wars, so it is also known as The Third Jewish–Roman War or, The Third Jewish Revolt. Some historians also refer to it as the Second Revolt of Judea, not counting the Kitos War (115–117 CE), which had only marginally been fought in Judea.
Simon bar Kokhba called himself the Messiah. Because the Jewish people felt that the Messiah would come and deliver them like in the days of Moses, the people followed him. But the believers who followed Yeshua the True Messiah remembered what He told them, as recorded in Matthew 24:4-5 this, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will mislead many people.”
Also in Matthew 24:15-16 Yeshua tells them this, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place—let the reader understand— then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains,” and that is exactly what the believers did. When the temple was destroyed in 70 CE during the first revolt, Titus the commander of the army did just that. He brought in idolatrous images and placed them on the altar. The believers saw this and they fled to the mountains and were saved, while a million people were killed during the siege.
Because the believers did not stand with the Jewish people and fight alongside them, they regarded them as traitors. And the separation just grew wider and wider.
The Bar Kochba revolt brought an end to the Apostolic Jewish Community in Jerusalem. The community had three bishops, or overseers, James, Simeon, and Justus.The Jerusalem Community of believers stood firmly with the original apostles and their teachings.
After the fall of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Apostolic leadership realized that they had to preserve the teachings of the Messiah for future believers. As the original twelve apostles were now older, and many of them had traveled to other countries preaching the Word, they saw the importance of this. Many false teachers were leading people astray. So the Apostolic leadership composed a document called, “The Instruction of the Master through the Twelve Apostles to the Gentiles,” or simply “The Didache.” It was written as a catechism book for new believers. This book taught new believers the two ways of life, the way of life and the way of death. This is what God told Israel in Deuteronomy 30:15-20. We will look at verses 15-18a,“See, I have placed before you today life and happiness, and death and adversity, in that I am commanding you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, so that you may live and become numerous, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but allow yourself to be led astray and you worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you will certainly perish.”
The Apostles knew that the choice of life and death, the blessings and the curses referenced in Deuteronomy 28 was for everyone. The Didache also taught them about fasting and praying and immersion, much like what Paul refers to when he speaks of the elementary principles in Hebrews 6:1-8, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Messiah, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and about the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and produces vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”
Paul was telling his Gentile readers that they had learned their catechism, and now they need to mature in their faith. Lastly the Didache taught them that God has put people in authority and they need to respect that authority.
Paul also reminds them of this in Ephesians 4:11-16, “And He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Messiah; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Messiah. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, that is, Messiah, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
So we see at the end of the First Century that the teachings of the Messiah were being preserved. But Peter tells us that Paul was being misunderstood.
2 Peter 3:14-18 tells us this, “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found spotless and blameless by Him, at peace, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which there are some things that are hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unscrupulous people and lose your own firm commitment, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Messiah Yeshua. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
One thing that was being twisted was Paul’s reference to being saved by faith alone, and not by works. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
But James tells us just the opposite in James 2:24, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”
But the works that Paul was speaking of were the works of becoming a Jew to be saved. Sometimes he referred to it as the “Works of the Law.” This is what the Jerusalem Council was all about, does one need to become a Jew to be saved? (refer to part one of this series.) These works are these, in order to convert, the conversion candidate must have a circumcision, and immerse in the mikveh. There is also a requirement to accept the commandments and do works of charity and prayer and like a child who has been bar mitzvahed, he must know Torah. Paul said that Gentiles do not need to become Jewish, and the Jerusalem Council agreed. Ephesians 2:11-18 tells us this, “Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” remember that at that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Messiah. For He himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.”
So in reality Paul and James agreed, one is not saved by the works of becoming Jewish, but we must use our faith for doing the works of God as Ephesians 2:10 tells us, “For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yeshua for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”