Chapter 6
From Synagogue to Church


When did the “Church” begin?

Many Christians will say that the Church began on the day of Pentecost in 30CE (AD). That, however, is incorrect. The beliefs and values, the laws and form of worship, and all of the basic elements of Judaism, did not discontinue after the death of Yeshua.

Followers of “the way” still went to the temple daily to fulfill requirements of the law (including animal sacrifices). For the first 40 years after the crucifixion, the followers of Yeshua did not view themselves as being separated from other Jews. They met in the synagogues every Sabbath among the other Jews of their time.

They continued to keep all of the annual Holy Days, such as Pesach, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot.

What happened? A number of factors contributed to the radical change of beliefs and practices of this Jewish sect. They included an increase of Gentile converts within the sect, Roman persecution, martyrdom of its Jewish leaders, and misunderstanding of the time that they were in.

The End is Near

The earliest followers of Yeshua as Messiah believed that they were living in the last days. That may be why more time was not given to thoroughly teaching new “converts.” They just didn’t believe that they had that much time. We read references throughout the New Testament that show us how the first century (and especially the first generation) Christian felt that the "end time" was imminent.

Paul says in 1Thessalonians 4:15.

15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.
16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Messiah will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.

The book of Joel is quoted in Peter’s sermon on Pentecost in Acts 2:17.

17 'In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams...             
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'
22 "You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know--

Notice who Peter was addressing. What did he mean by “You that are Israelites”? Peter knew that the gathering of Israel to God was to happen at the end time. As he understood conditions, he believed it WAS the end time.

However, much time would pass before Israel would come back. Instead, new developments took place within the sect.

Funk & Wagnall’s New Encyclopedia (volume 15 “Jews/Christianity appears”) describes this period of time that takes us from the synagogue to the church:

The last century of the ancient Jewish state was marked by religious and political upheaval. At the beginning of the Christian era the Jewish population in the ancient world numbered some 8 million living outside Judea, mainly in Alexandria, Cyrenaica (northern Africa), Babylon, Antioch, Ephesus, and Rome.

This dispersion created, in addition to the force of Hellenism, several movements that struck at Judaism. One was directed against all Jews and took the form of anti-Jewishness based on business competition, religious difference, and the political privileges granted to many Jews who rose to high office.  A

second movement came from within Judaism itself, as Christianity.

The Greek Jews who came to believe in Jesus (Heb. Yeshua, or Joshua) as the promised Messiah far outnumbered the Judeans who accepted Jesus. Moreover, as the disciples of Jesus traveled through the ancient world, many pagans were converted to the new belief. Christianity was originally regarded as a Jewish sect, but as more and more pagans were accepted into Christianity, their faith revolved almost entirely about the person and preaching of Jesus. The Judeo-Christians, on the other hand, remained, essentially, Jews. The Jewish answer to these new movements was to permit no laxity in observance of the forms of traditional religion.

During the 1st century AD, religious conflict caused bloody battles. The Roman governors of Judea were despotic and gave little respect to the Jewish religion. In AD 66 a violent insurrection, led by the Zealots, a fanatic Jewish sect, began against Rome.

Nero, then emperor, sent the Roman general Vespasian (later emperor) to put an end to the conflict. By 70 the revolt was crushed, the Temple was destroyed, and Jerusalem was razed; Masada, the last fortress, fell in 73.

Nominally, Judea continued to exist. The center of Jewish learning was transferred to Jabneh (Jamnia, now Yavne, Israel) under the direction of the great sage Johanan Ben Zakkai. For the next generation Judea was more or less peaceful, under strict Roman control. Then the Roman emperor Hadrian ordered Jerusalem rebuilt as a pagan city, to be called Aelia Capitolina, in honor of Jupiter; at the same time he

issued an edict banning cicumcision. This double insult caused consternation among the Jews of the Diaspora as well as those of Judea.

A violent revolt occurred in Judea, under Simon Bar Kokhba. From 132 to 135 the Jews made a desperate stand against the Roman legions and were, for a time, successful.

When the rebellion was finally put down by Rome, Judea was prostrate. By order of the emperor the very name of the province was discarded and changed to Syria Palaestina. Jerusalem was made a pagan city, and the death penalty was decreed for any Jew who entered its gates. Persecution of Jews became common throughout the empire.

Moreover, the fall of Judea created a greater rift between Jews and Christians. The Jews considered the loss a calamity, but the Christians saw it as a manifestation that God had abandoned the Jews and viewed themselves as the true bearers of divine grace. During the first three centuries of the Christian era, Christianity became increasingly powerful. After 313, when Constantine I emperor of Rome, accepted the new religion for himself and his empire, Christian antagonism against and, later, persecution of Jews became widespread.

Pagans, Pagans Everywhere

When Gentiles began to be accepted into the faith, it was like an explosion. The number of Gentile “believers” and the speed at which they “converted” were staggering. Remember, however, that these were not full converts to Judaism. You now had Gentiles accepting Yeshua as the Jewish messiah without even knowing or understanding the basic beliefs that Messiah was to promote.

Howard Vos in his book Exploring Church History writes:

Though Christianity was winning a victory of sorts over paganism, paganism achieved victories of her own by infiltrating the Christian church in numerous subtle ways. As opposition to paganism increased, many took their place in church without experiencing conversion. Thus large segments of church membership consisted merely of baptized pagans. The distinction between Christianity and paganism became increasingly blurred as the state church was established under the ultimate authority of the emperor.

We need to remember that they were not JUST “brand new believers in Yeshua (Jesus),” they were ALSO brand new believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Before this time they were PAGANS, worshipping OTHER gods!

Acts 17:22 RSV

22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, "Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way.
23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.
24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands,
25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things.

From these verses we see something very important. Just as the Jews were ready for a Messiah, the Greeks were ready for and were looking for God. In fact they were looking so hard they had created gods for everything!

As ready as they were, however, to receive this new religion, they had no education or background on which to base their newly acquired faith. So they did what they knew, and viewed the worship of the God of Abraham the way that was natural and familiar to them.

In his book This Hebrew Lord, John Shelby Spong writes:

When I analyze the language, the concepts, the understandings, the meanings in traditional religious patterns today, I discover that they come to us not from our biblical Hebrew heritage at all; rather they are the direct outgrowth of the Neoplatonic roots of Greek philosophy.

The Christian faith was born in a Hebrew context, serving a Hebrew Lord – a life-giving, life loving, whole, free man. But when this faith moved outward from the Hebrew world into the Mediterranean civilization, it inevitably confronted the dualistic mind of the Greek world. After that confrontation, Christianity was never the same.

Dualism became the basic mental assumption through which the Christian faith was viewed. It was a gradual occurrence. All material things did not suddenly become evil; it was much more subtle than that. Slowly but surely the Hebrew view of the goodness of creation and the wholeness of life was forgotten, and Christianity bought Greek dualism, the inevitable result being what I now call the Grecianization of the gospel.

Those who became the “Christian Fathers” were not educated in the Torah. They were educated in Greek philosophy. The debate did NOT center on how to interpret the Torah; rather, it centered on which Greek philosopher to follow. Because the Gentile had a totally different paradigm, the manner in which they viewed what the earliest followers had written led them to entirely different conclusions.

In his book Our Father Abraham, Marvin Wilson writes:

Platonism holds that there are two worlds: the visible, material world and the invisible, spiritual world. The visible or phenomenal world is in tension with the invisible or conceptual world. Because it is imperfect and a source of evil, the material world is inferior to that of the spiritual. In this view, the human soul originates in the heavenly realm, from which it fell into the realm of matter. Though human beings find themselves related to both of these worlds, they long for release from their physical bodies so that their true selves (their souls) might take flight back to the permanent world of the celestial and divine.

Plato's view of the cosmos was then transposed to man. The body was a prison for the soul. The immortal soul -- pure spirit -- is incarcerated in a defective body of crumbling clay. Salvation comes at death, when the soul escapes the body and soars heavenward to the invisible realm of the pure and eternal spirit.

This had a widespread influence upon the history of Christian thought. "The most important fact in the history of Christian doctrine was that the father of Christian theology, Origen, was a Platonic philosopher at the school of Alexandria.” -- Werner Jaeger, “The Greek Ideas of Immortality," Harvard Theological Review 52 (July, 1959): 146.

Unlike the Greeks, the Hebrews viewed the world as good. Though fallen and unredeemed, it was created by a God who designed it with humanity's best interests at heart. So, instead of fleeing from the world, human beings experienced God's fellowship, love, and saving activity in the historical order within the world.

Although most of the early “Church Fathers” came from a Greek background, some were even more extreme in their views. Marcion, who would eventually be labeled as a heretic, gives one a glimpse at the ideas that were being promoted during this early point in Christian history.

Dr. John Garr writes:

In the middle of the second century, the Hebrew foundations of Christian faith were attacked by the first great heresy that challenged the church. Some of the ideas of this heresy so permeated the church's corporate psyche that it has not yet fully recovered its spiritual and scriptural equilibrium.

Marcion, son of a bishop of Sinope in Pontus (there is some question about this) joined the Syrian Gnostic Credo in Rome in developing a dualistic view of sacred history which postulated the existence of two gods, the good and gracious God (Christ) and the Demiurge (Jehovah of the Jews). Marcion taught an irreconcilable dualism between gospel and law, between Christianity and Judaism. The Demiurge and his religion were seen as harsh, severe, and unmerciful, and they were cast into Hades by Christ, the good God.

Marcion invented a new canon of Holy Scripture which included only an abridged Gospel of Luke and ten of Paul's epistles, some of which he edited. He wrested the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:17 to declare, “I am not come to fulfill the law and the prophets, but to destroy them.”

In Marcion's view, Christianity had no connection whatever with the past, whether of the Jewish or the heathen world, but had fallen abruptly and magically from heaven. Jesus, too, was not born, nor did he die.

His body was a phantom to reveal the good God, and his death was an illusion. This Christ was not the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament; he was a totally new and unforeseen manifestation of the good God of Greek dualism. Because the rest of the apostles were Judaizing corrupters of pure Christianity, Christ called Paul as the apostle to preach the truth of Marcion's extreme antinomianism and anti-Judaism.

Marcion was the first one to create a “New” Testament. He believed that the “Old” Testament should be discarded, and his influence is with us to this day. How could this have happened? Didn’t the Jewish believers try to guide and influence the Gentile “converts”? One reason for this “oversight” is that the great increase of Gentiles into the sect happened at the same time that Roman oppression was growing. Within a few short years most of the Jewish leaders of the sect were no longer around.

The Changing of the Guard

Fox’s Book of Martyrs, The First Persecution, Under Nero, A.D. 67

This was the occasion of the first persecution; and the barbarities exercised on the Christians were such as even excited the commiseration of the Romans themselves.

Nero even refined upon cruelty, and contrived all manner of punishments for the Christians that the most infernal imagination could design. In particular, he had some sewed up in skins of wild beasts, and then worried by dogs until they expired; and others dressed in shirts made stiff with wax, fixed to axletrees, and set on fire in his gardens, in order to illuminate them.

This persecution was general throughout the whole Roman Empire; but it rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. In the course of it, St. Paul and St. Peter were martyred. To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesian, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy.

The Death of the Jewish leaders

The following is a list of those Jewish leaders of the sect who were killed before the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, most of them at the hands of the Romans or other pagans:

Banabas - dragged out of the city and burned, at Salamina in Cyprus, A.D. 64

Mark - dragged to the stake at Alexandria, died on the way, A.D. 64

Paul - beheaded at Rome, A.D. 69

Andrew - crucified at Patras A.D. 70

Bartholomew - tortured, then flayed alive, and finally beheaded in Armenia, A.D.70

Thomas - cast into a furnace, and his side pierced with spears in Calamina, A.D. 70

Matthew - nailed to the ground and beheaded at Nad-Davar, A.D. 70

Simon Zelotes and his brother Judas Thadeus,
both slain, one crucified, and the other beaten to death with sticks, A.D. 70

Mathias - tied on a cross upon a rock, stoned, and then beheaded, A.D. 70

70 disciples of Yeshua, and several fellow travelers of the Apostles - slain, A.D. 70

The Second Persecution, Under Domitian, A.D. 81

The emperor Domitian, who was naturally inclined to cruelty, first slew his brother, and then raised the second persecution against the Christians. In his rage he put to death some of the Roman senators, some through malice; and others to confiscate their estates. He then commanded all the lineage of David be put to death.

Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome, and Protasius and Gervasius were martyred at Milan.

Timothy was the celebrated disciple of Paul and bishop of Ephesus, where he zealously governed the Church until A.D. 97. At this period, as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later.

The Third Persecution, Under Trajan, A.D. 108

Trajan being succeeded by Adrian, the latter continued this third persecution with as much severity as his predecessor. About this time Alexander, bishop of Rome, with his two deacons, were martyred; as were Quirinus and Hernes, with their families; Zenon, a Roman nobleman, and about ten thousand other Christians.

At the martyrdom of Faustines and Jovita, brothers and citizens of Brescia, their torments were so many, and their patience so great, that Calocerius, a pagan, beholding them, was struck with admiration, and exclaimed in a kind of ecstasy, "Great is the God of the Christians!" for which he was apprehended, and suffered a similar fate.

The Fourth Persecution, Under Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, A.D. 162

Polycarp, the venerable bishop of Smyrna, hearing that persons were seeking for him, escaped, but was discovered by a child. After feasting the guards who apprehended him, he desired an hour in prayer, which being allowed, he prayed with such fervency that his guards repented that they had been instrumental in taking him. He was, however, carried before the proconsul, condemned, and burnt in the market place.

If we look at history, most of the persecution and martyrdom did NOT come from the Jews ... but from the Gentiles (Romans). Why is there no mention of the ROMAN persecution in the New Testament? Because that was so commonplace, it was assumed that everyone KNEW about THAT. Although there was an occasional lifting of the oppression, the Gentile (or Roman) rule was a constant reality.

By 70CE (AD), the Temple was destroyed, Jews were forced to flee Jerusalem, and most of the leadership (of the followers of Yeshua), were dead. Between 70CE (AD) and 90CE (AD) there is very little recorded history, however, when the record resumes, we see a very different group of people emerging as the leadership within this messianic movement. The emerging leadership was unfamiliar with and uneducated in the Torah. So they did what they knew; and they understood their beliefs through a different perspective: a Greek perspective.

Their misunderstanding of the faith was not surprising since most of them didn’t have the privilege of owning a Torah scroll. What they DID have were copies of letters and testimonies written by certain Apostles. These letters and testimonies were never intended to be understood as “law,” and yet that is exactly what happened. The body of letters and testimonies that became the “New Testament” were soon not only given equal status to that of the law and prophets, they eventually became more important; a reality that would have made the first followers of Yeshua shudder.

A significant amount of what was to become the "New Testament" was written by one person; the Apostle Paul.

Who was Paul

From any account Paul was a controversial individual. Although he is the person credited as being the architect of many of the doctrines of Christianity, he was not one of Yeshua's 12 chosen "apostles".  Who was Paul anyway?

Saul of Tarsus

We are first introduced to the Apostle Paul as "Saul of Tarsus", a fierce opponent of "the Way".  Saul (Paul) is there when Stephen is stoned as a leader in opposing the new movement. Then suddenly he shows up saying that he has had a change of heart.

And although he claimed to have had a vision on the road to Damascus, that change his allegiances, many of the Jewish leaders never accept his sincerity. Paul was not well respected nor trusted, he did not communicate well, and he was difficult to get along with.

Some of Paul's contemporary antagonists claim that he had no Pharisaic training or background; he was the son of a Gentile, who converted to Judaism in Tarsus, came to Jerusalem when an adult, and connected himself to the High Priest.  Upon failing to make any advances in the established faith, he broke ties and conspired to start a new religion.  

This information is not considered to be factual history by any historian. Rather, it is second hand hearsay, basically "gossip".  It does, however, give us some valuable insight into how others, at the time, felt about Paul.

In reality, we can tell from Paul's writings that he DOES have a background in both the law and Jewish traditions.  It, however, is equally apparent that those who copied and translated his writings did not.

So when Paul refers to Israel (the Ten Tribes) having their eyes blinded and rejecting God, it was misunderstood as being Jews who's eyes were blinded for not recognizing Yeshua as Messiah and God. When Paul Says that a Gentile is not required to be circumcised or in other ways adhere to the law of Moses, (a position held by ANY Jew, even today) it is misunderstood to mean that Jews should not be circumcised or observe the Mosaic law.

Acts 21:20

...They glorified the Lord and said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law.
21 And they are informed that you teach all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children, or live according to our customs.
22 What shall we do?  The people will certainly hear that you have come,
23 so do what we tell you.

It is surprising how many people (EVEN TODAY) believe this same rumor; that Paul said circumcision and keeping the Mosaic law was unnecessary for someone who is Jewish.  See what they instruct Paul to do.

There are four men with us who have made a vow.
24 Take these men, join in their purification rites, and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved.  Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.

But what about Gentiles?

25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.

The Gentiles were ONLY required to observe the seven Noahide laws. To learn more they were allowed to attend synagogue with the Jews.

Acts 15:21

21 For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogue on every Sabbath.

Paul maintained that Jews should continue to be circumcised ...

Acts 16:1-3

1 He came to Derbe and then to Lystra where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 
2 The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him.
3 Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

Remember, since Timothy's mother was Jewish, so was he. Titus, however, was not.  (Galatians 2:3)

3 But Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was not compelled to be circumcised.

As Paul continued to preach a write to the Gentiles, people continued to misunderstand exactly what he was saying.  History tell us that not only the Jewish population misunderstood Paul, the Gentiles also were confused by Paul.

2 Peter 3:15

15 ...Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.
16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort as they do the other scriptures to their own destruction.

Not only was their friction concerning his writings, Paul also had problems with his traveling companions.

Acts 15:37

37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them,
38 but Paul did not think it was wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.
39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,
40 but Paul chose Silas.

Paul also was in conflict with the Roman authorities. At the end of the book of Acts we read about those who came to listen to Paul while he was under house arrest imposed by the government:

Acts 28:25

25 They disagreed among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement: "The holy spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet:
26 Go to this people and say, You will be ever hearing but never understanding.

Paul's life ended in 69CE.  He was beheaded in Rome during a time of great upheaval; one year before the Temple was destroyed and the Jews were driven from Jerusalem.

The Split

Paul was a divider, not a uniter, and the followers of "the Way" divided into two groups; those "Jewish" followers known as Nazarenes or Ebionites, and the "Greek" followers who, years after Paul's death, emerged as the church fathers, founders of the universal or catholic church.

We can not be totally sure what started the separation from Gentiles on the Sabbath, but by 90CE the division was near complete.  Observing the Sabbath seems to be completely removed from the practices of most Gentile "Christians".

Gentiles seem to have been discouraged from attending synagogue (as was suggested at the Jerusalem conference).  Why would that be? There is a belief (even among many Jews today) that a Gentile SHOULDN'T study Torah or observe the Sabbath.  That a Gentile is, in fact, required to BREAK the Sabbath.

Where does THAT belief come from? Rabbi Moshe Kerr explains:

Its a fundamental mistake in scholarship to confuse a secondary commentary for being a primary source!  ...The Midrash gives a alligorical story that a non bnai brit which keeps Shabbot does not get a "reward". ...Now not getting a reward for doing a great mitzva and being put to death for doing a great mitzva seem poles apart. But in fact the midrash interprets the meaning of "death".  A non bnai brit has no commandment to do commandments. ...Hence no reward means, even though they do commandments when their physical body dies, their soul dies.

We are NOT considered righteous by the number of laws we keep.  If a pagan observes the Sabbath or studies Torah (things that he is not required to do) while ignoring the seven Noahide laws, there is nothing "magical" about Sabbath observance to gain him a place in the World to Come.  So if a pagan studies Torah or keeps the Sabbath he merits death (receives no reward), it however does NOT mean that he should be prohibited from doing so.

Gentiles would even bring their sacrifices to the Temple in Jerusalem. Rabbi Elijah Benamozegh writes:

In the Jewish doctrine relating to sacrifices, we find an implicit statement on the subject of the Noachides.  It is the principle that sacrifices offered in the Temple by Gentiles ought to be accepted, whereas those brought by apostate Israelites must be refused.  This obviously assumes that the mitzvot of the Mosaic Law are not binding upon Gentiles, for no special authorization would be needed for a practice which was not only a right but an obligation.  When a Gentile offers such a sacrifice, he is observing part of the Law voluntarily. [Israel and Humanity p.246]

What should have been Noahides worshipping along side of Jews in synagogues with the same religious faith (varying in personal obligations), became a totally new religion.  We know from history that Sunday observance among the Gentiles was practiced almost from the beginning, and the belief that a Gentile SHOULDN'T keep the Sabbath may have been a contributing factor in this.

Soon Gentiles were meeting in their homes, and eventually set up "churches" as places of worship for the new faith. The first Christian church buildings appear early in the third century, and as the physical Christian houses of worship began to take a more dominant position in society, so did the new faith's political power.

In addition, Christianity became increasingly hostile toward Judaism. After the Jews were driven from Jerusalem, the Gentiles saw this as a sign from God that now THEY had become the chosen people, and the split became firm and permanent.

Christians also began to talk about "abolishing" the law.

Again, Rabbi Benamozegh writes:

It is not surprising that those Jews who, while believing in Jesus, still did not intend to give up the Law for him, were alarmed by the conversion of that mass of pagans who, in their ever-increasing numbers, threatened to destroy Mosaism with the rallying cry of the new Christianity: "The Law is abolished!" [Israel and Humanity p.244]

In time, "Christianity" became almost entirely Greek as the Jewish followers of "the Way" eventually ceased to exist.

In his book Early Christian Fathers Cyril Richardson writes:

Outside the New Testament writings, the earliest Christian document we possess is an anonymous letter of the church of Rome to the church of Corinth. It was written about AD 96.  The most striking facts about early Christian literature are its rich variety and its almost exclusively Gentile authorship. [pp 15]

Since the Gentiles were familiar with Greek philosophy and not with the Torah, they interpreted Paul’s letters from a very different perspective.

The writings of Paul and others of his contemporaries also began to be considered to be as authoritative as the word of God (the Torah), after their death. The idea, originally proposed by Marcion, to create a “new” testament, also began to grow, and for the next couple of centuries became a political struggle as to what books were authentic, and whose version of a “new” testament would be used to shape the doctrinal direction of the Gentile believers who were already far from the Jewish perspective.

What About Peter?

One of the unspoken mysteries in Christianity is; What happened to Peter?  It would seem that the apostle Peter had been hand picked by Yeshua to be the leader of the new movement in Judaism.

Matthew 16:17

Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but our Father which is in heaven.
And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon the rock, I will build my congregation.

Peter was the one reported to have walked on water, and was the clear leader in the Gospel stories.  But after Paul's emergence, Peter seems to have disappeared.  Even at the Jerusalem conference (in about the year 50), Peter seems absent and James (Yeshua's brother) has emerged as the leader.

Catholic tradition names Peter as the first pope of the Catholic Church.  Protestants, however, disagree and say that Peter was crucified upside-down in about the year 69. But a Jewish tradition says that Peter did not agree with the direction that the early Greek leaders were taking "Christianity" and he disassociated himself with the new religion.

The Rabbeinu Tam was reportedly a great admirer of the apostle Peter, claiming that he was:

"a devout and learned Jew who dedicated his life to guiding gentiles along the proper path"

Rabbi Tam also gives Peter credit for writing the Nishmat prayer said in the morning service of the Sabbath and Festivals.  According to this tradition, Peter remained a devout Jew and became totally separated from the "Christian" movement.

Whatever the case may be, as time went on the leadership of "The Way" lost most all of their Jewish leaders and the Hebraic perspective diminished as pagan influences grew. The main body of believers was now moving firmly out of Judaism and into paganism.

By 325CE (AD), at the Council of Nicea, church leaders met to codify Christian doctrines, led by the Roman Emperor himself. Jewish bishops were specifically excluded from the meeting. It was decided that all Jewish customs must be discontinued and all Roman customs adopted. The council’s intent was to forbid Christians to practice circumcision, Sabbath keeping, eating kosher, and to formally acknowledge the doctrine of the trinity. The concept of a triune Godhead was not universally accepted, and in some cases the bishops in attendance were threatened with death to achieve “agreement.”

Observing customs that were considered to be “Jewish” had become illegal, and all subjects of the empire were mandated to accept this profession:

“I renounce all customs, rites, legalism, unleavened breads, and feast of Lambs of the Hebrews, sacrifices, prayers, aspirations, purifications, sanctifications, and propriations, hymns and chants, observances and synagogues, and the foods and drinks of the Hebrews. In one word, I renounce absolutely everything Jewish, every Law, rite and custom…” [Stefano Assemani, Acta Sanctorum Martyrum Orientalium at Occidentalium, Vol 1 (Rome 1748)] page 105.

The customs and the culture of “Christianity” became those of the pagan society of the Roman Empire including the days that were honored as “holy”; now those of pagan deities rather than the Holy Days of God.