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Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Should We Follow the Pattern of the "Early Church?"

I have heard often from many believers how we need to follow the pattern of the "early church" (The Acts church and/or the church before Constantine). But what is the pattern of the early church that we see in the Acts age? Is anyone actually following the pattern? Should we even be trying?

These are just a few of the patterns of that church:

  • · They raised people from the dead and drank deadly things unharmed (Mark 16)
  • · They were waiting for the Kingdom to be restored in Israel (Acts 1)
  • · They promised that if Israel repented, God would send Jesus to restore all things (Acts 3)
  • · They sold everything they had, gave proceeds to the Apostles, lived communally (Acts 2, 4)
  • · Lying to the Holy Spirit brought immediate death (Acts 4)
  • · Some were called to preach to Jews only (Acts 11, Gal 2)
  • · Apostles to the circumcision wrote to believing Israel (James 1; 1 Peter 1)
  • · Jewish believers still met in synagogues (James 2; Acts 15)
  • · They had separate rules for Jewish and Gentile Believers (Acts 15, 21; Rom 11)
  • · Gentile believers came under Leviticus 17 - Eating kosher, etc. (Acts 15, 21)
  • · Gentile believers could be cut off from the root which was Israel (Rom 11)
  • · Gentile believers were not get haughty against Israel
  • · Gentile believers had a duty to support Jewish believers (Rom 15)
  • · They preached the fulfilment of the promises made to the fathers (Rom 9; Rom 15)
  • · Evangelists went to Jewish synagogues to preach to Jews first in every city with Jews (Acts 17)
  • · They observed the Jewish feasts (Acts 18)
  • · Taught Jewish believers to circumcise their sons (Acts 21)
  • · They taught nothing that was not taught by Moses and the Prophets (Acts 26, 28)
  • · They looked for the Hope of Israel (Acts 28)
  • · Paul was bound in chains for the Hope of Israel (Acts 28)
  • · It is better that very few marry (1 Cor 7)
  • · Widows should not remarry (1 Cor 7)
  • · They had instant knowledge and performed miracles (1 Cor 12, etc.)

If we want to go back before the cross (in the gospels):

  • · John the Baptist and the Lord preached "the Gospel of the Kingdom" (Matt 4, 9; Mark 1)
  • · That gospel had no cross, no resurrection, and required repentance.
  • · The structure had a Sanhedrin and a death penalty for use of certain words (Matt 5)
  • · They healed the sick and raised the dead (Matt 10)

· Entrance into that Kingdom is by faith, then by works and faithfulness and the message was to the Jew only until Acts 10 and then to the Jew first until the end of the Acts age:

  • · The 12 were forbidden to  preach to Gentiles or outside of Israel (Matt 10)
  • · They didn't give that which was for Israel to little dog Gentiles (Matt 15)
  • · They told no man Jesus was the Christ, they were commanded so by the Lord (Matt 16)

After the Acts:

  • · Paul was in chains for Gentiles (Eph 3)
  • · He revealed a truth hidden from Moses and the Prophets and revealed only to him (Eph 3)
  • · The middle wall of partition between Jew and Greek seen in the Acts age was taken down
  • · The hope no longer was the restoration of the kingdom in Israel, but "unsearchable riches" in the far above the heavens where Christ sits at the right hand of the Father
  • · This truth was hidden from "BEFORE" the foundation of the ages. Before Adam. Before Eden. Before Abraham. Before the Law and not subject to it. It has no earthly hope
  • · All the latter (Law, Israel, Kingdom, Acts) were revealed "SINCE" or "FROM" the foundation of the ages
  • · We have to study, take medications, etc., because there are no longer Kingdom gifts.

In Paul's last book (2 Timothy) he notes:

This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me

Paul was abandoned. We see this starting in the Book of Philippians.

Some indeed preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some also from goodwill: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains

The "early church" (Post Acts, before Constantine) was in bad shape by the end of Paul's life. Many had turned back to Jewish ordinances and doctrines (Phil 3, Col 2-3, etc). Many had rejected what Paul had revealed as the current hope in the Book of Ephesians, continuing in his Post-Acts epistles. 

We must avoid going back.

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace (Eph 2)
For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. (Phil 3)

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances (Col 2)

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim 2)

Some good news, widows, you can get married again in this age! In fact, you SHOULD remarry! (1 Tim 5). Why the change? Because we're waiting neither for Tribulation nor a City from God nor an Earthly Kingdom. Paul advised the believers in Corinth to not bother to marry, unless they just couldn't control themselves (1 Cor 7). The calling of that age was abstinence. Is that being taught today?

While we're in the early church, hopefully this should spread some light on the supposed "authority" of the so-called "early church fathers."  Post Acts, error was rampant and most had abandoned Paul. The ECF are no more authoritative than you or I.  

Summation: we see nothing like the "early church" today and, apart from things like compassion, they are not our pattern. Those claiming to follow the pattern of the earl church and/or yield to the supposed "authority" of "church fathers" are like those in Asia during Paul's life. We must not abandon Paul, the great Apostle of this age.