The vision of OriginalChristianity.Net is to look at the beliefs and practices of the the original Christians. The reason why this is important is that over the millennium Christianity has developed numerous factions that all claim that that they are the true continuation of original Christianity. I heard exactly that when I visited a Greek Orthodox Church, I have read it in Roman Catholic literature, it is in the bulletin of a local non-denominational church in my area. They make these claims despite the fact that they have disagreed, even violently at times. For other articles on this topic, see A Major Objection to the Restoration Movement Is That Christianity Has Not Changed Substantially Over Time, and Another Claim of Original Christianity in Practice Today,
Throughout this website are numerous articles written on the numerous divisions in the Church that we have today, how a lot of these doctrines developed that are behind all these divisions, and some key points on how original Christianity differed from today. It is important to look at all these things because they are part of Christianity now and play a big part, perhaps more as obstacles, in the faith of the individual believer.
But the key point of this website is to be able to envision what original Christianity, and in particular the time of Jesus and the apostles and disciples that he touched was really like. There was an incredible spirituality. With the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah, and afterward the sending of the Holy Spirit we see the most incredible movement of God on earth since creation.
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This was a time of power, miracles, healing, and deliverance, not only by Jesus, but by those he touched, his apostles and disciples. People saw God in action through these men. They saw the word of God living, because they lived it together. There was incredible community and sharing. There was incredible believing. There was great faith.
It was a time of simple doctrine. There were no official doctrines on infant baptism or believer’s baptism. There was no doctrine that prophecy and the other gifts and manifestations of the spirit had ceased. There were baptisms being carried out, and the last supper repeated as a memorial, but there were no “sacraments”, somehow mysteriously conveying grace by ritualistic practices. There were no autonomous churches disputing which form of church government was doctrinally correct, which end times theology was correct, or arguments over whether or not there was eternal security.
There was no argument over the status of the Bible, because there was no Bible. Jesus had referenced the law and the prophets, including the Psalms, as the word of God. And only those books with the addition of the words of Jesus were considered the word of God. There were no written Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There were no epistles of Peter, Paul, Hebrews, John, and Jude. So there was no argument over doctrines derived from them like eternal security, justification by grace, predestination, or even the Trinity.
Philosophy was rejected as an unwise practice of the Greeks that actually tore down faith more than it built, so discussion of faith wasn’t an analytical exercise in the nuances of the meanings of words, but rather simple directives, and powerful stories and analogies that emphasize the important meanings to be focused on while ignoring the myriad details that can lead people astray.
What existed was the good news that Jesus the Messiah had come, that he had fulfilled the law, had sent the Holy Spirit, and now many believers were walking in great faith and power. What existed was great praise, great faith, and great love of God.
All of this is not to say that this was an easy time. There were persecutions, challenges, and trials, as both the Jews and the Romans saw this burgeoning Christianity as a threat. But this just served to bring the Christians closer together, and more united in their faith.
Original Christianity was a time of great unity, simple doctrine, great believing, with many believers walking in the love of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit.
So as you read these articles that discuss all of the divisions, and developments, both good and bad throughout the millennia of history of Christianity, it is important to maintain the focus of the simple vision of original Christianity. Pray, praise the Lord, walk in the power of the spirit, love God and love your neighbor, and rejoice in what Christ has done. Join together with any Christian who is doing the same. And in the process perhaps we can bring some of what made original Christianity so great back to life.
© copyright 2012 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved.
Paul writes in first Corinthians about the preeminence of the gift ministries in operation:
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28 ASV)
We can see that this was the actual practice by some of the records in the book of Acts:
And certain men came down from Judaea and taught the brethren, saying, Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved. And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and questioning with them, the brethren appointed that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. They therefore, being brought on their way by the church, passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church and the apostles and the elders, and they rehearsed all things that God had done with them. (Acts 15:1-4 ASV)
Here we see a problem that has arisen to the church. The problem is that some have said that believers must be circumcised, but others have rejected that notion. What we are looking at here is the fact that this issue was brought to the attention of Paul and Barnabas, who were apostles. It was not brought to and resolved by bishops. Paul and Barnabas, in turn, took the issue to Jerusalem, where it was presented to, again, men with gift ministries, as well as the “elders”. It is clear from these verses that the ultimate authority in deciding what was true doctrine was in the hands of the apostles.
However, in other places, it may not look as clear. Look at these verses:
And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he rehearsed one by one the things which God had wrought among the Gentiles through his ministry. (Acts 21:17-19 ASV)
The context is that Paul had been advised by prophets on numerous occasions not to go to Jerusalem. And when he gets to Jerusalem it says that he went to James, and the elders. This makes it look like he went to the Bishops, as opposed to going to the apostles and prophets.
However, on closer examination, we read that James, while he was recognized as the “Bishop” of the Jerusalem church, he was also an apostle. This is seen by verses from Paul’s writing to the Galatians:
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. (Galatians 1:18-19 ASV)
So here we see that James (identified as “the Lord’s brother” because there was more than one James) was also recognized as an apostle.
So it is consistent that the authority of the church in original Christianity clearly presided in the apostles and other persons with gift ministries.
This practice changed relatively quickly after the writing of the book of Acts.
In 01.1.3 Clement Used Apostolic Succession as the argument against replacing Presbyters in 1 Clement, we see the just decades after the end of the book of Acts there are already movements to establish the distinction of clergy versus laity with the bishops holding the ultimate authority in the church. Here we see the foundation for the formation of Cessation doctrine, the doctrine that states that the “gifts” inclucing the gift ministries of apostles, prophets and so forth ended with the original apostles. See The Argument that Tongues and other Gifts and Manifestations have Ceased for more on Cessation doctrine.
Nevertheless, we must always acknowledge that in original Christianity the ultimate authority of the church on earth laid in the hands of the apostles, prophets and others with gift ministries.
© copyright 2011 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved
The name of Jesus Christ was critical in Original Christianity. Paul wrote that the name of Jesus [Christ] was the most powerful authority on heaven and earth, and everything that was done by a believer was to be done in the name of Jesus Christ:
that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, (Philippians 2:10)
Being So powerful, Paul wrote that all things in word or deed should be done in the name of Jesus Christ:
And whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)
If ye are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are ye; because the Spirit of glory and the Spirit of God resteth upon you. (1 Peter 4:14)
men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 15:26)
that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:12)
And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he gave us commandment(1 John 3:23)
Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ was part of the instruction to the people on how to be saved:
And it shall be, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)
for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:13)
These things have I written unto you, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, even unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)
Calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ was part of the instruction to the people on how to be washed (baptized):
Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: (Matthew 28:19)
And Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38)
But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.(Acts 8:12)
for as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they had been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 8:16)
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. (Acts 10:48)
And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. (Acts 19:5)
Ministering And Healing
When the Apostles ministered healing and miracles it was in the name of Jesus Christ:
But Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. (Acts 3:6)
be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even in him doth this man stand here before you whole. (Acts 4:10)
while thy stretchest forth thy hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of thy holy Servant Jesus. (Acts 4:30)
And this she did for many days. But Paul, being sore troubled, turned and said to the spirit, I charge thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And it came out that very hour. (Acts 16:18)
But certain also of the strolling Jews, exorcists, took upon them to name over them that had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. (Acts 19:13)
And this became known to all, both Jews and Greeks, that dwelt at Ephesus; and fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. (Acts 19:17)
in the name of our Lord Jesus, ye being gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus, to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1 Corinthians 5:4-5)
Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (James 5:14)
Speaking and Preaching
When the Apostles and Disciples spoke and preached it was in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ:
And they called them, and charged them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:18)
And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles unto them, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. (Acts 5:40)
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 at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:27)
preaching boldly in the name of the Lord: and he spake and disputed against the Grecian Jews; but they were seeking to kill him. (Acts 9:29)
Prayer and Thanksgiving
Is prayer is to be done in the name of the trinity? No, it is be done in the single name of Jesus Christ!
unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours: (1 Corinthians 1:2)
giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; (Ephesians 5:20)
Notice in the above that Paul directs that prayer is in the name of Jesus Christ to God the Father, not in the name of God the Father!
Used in Commands to the Disciples to Charge Them to Do Things
When the Apostles commanded things they did it in the name of Jesus Christ, not the trinity.
Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which they received of us. (2 Thessalonians 3:6)
The Oddity of Matthew 28:19
Now, notice that every one of the above verses specifies the name of Jesus Christ, and doesn’t mention the name of the Father, or the Spirit. So, let’s look at that famous verse that some call the great commission:
Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: (Matthew 28:19)
Some people teach that there is no difference between “the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” and the name of Jesus Christ. Yet the latter is used exclusively for everything in the rest of the New Testament, and the Apostles are very specific that “the name of Jesus Christ” is the name of authority. They NEVER use “the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. The practice of doing everything in the name of Jesus Christ including baptism appears to be the norm for Original Christianity up until the time of Justin Martyr.
Bible teachers and pastors will tell not to make a doctrine out of a single verse, but that is what is being done here!
So what is the answer? We need to follow the instruction of the apostles and do everything in the name of Jesus Christ. And concerning the oddity of Matthew 28:19 we will look more at that in another article.
© copyright 2011 Mark W Smith, All rights reserved.