Wow! What a question to start this article.
Answer for yourself: What would you do if you found, after reading this article, that with proper understanding of what you read in the Book of Acts concerning the Jerusalem church and their continued actions following Jesus' death, that Paul's theology concerning Jesus was only unique to himself and never accepted by those who knew Jesus best?
Well that is what you will find it you have the courage to read this article completely and have your thinking cap on. Let us begin as we come to the truth concerning the Jewish Jesus....a Jesus that never interested Paul.
Any cursory reading of the book of Acts will reveal to the reader the fact that the Nazarenes of Jerusalem, in the days and years immediately following the death of Jesus and up to the destruction of the Temple, consisted of observant Jews, for whom the Torah was still in force.
Answer for yourself: How do we know the above statement is true?
For example, we are told that:
"they kept up their daily attendance at the Temple" (Acts 2: 46).
First of all understand that the followers of Jesus never quit honoring the Temple or attending the Temple and it's services. Evidently, then, Jesus' followers regarded the service of the Temple as still valid, with its meat and vegetable offerings, its Holy of Holies, its golden table for the shewbread, and its menorah or candelabra with its seven branches symbolizing the seven planets. All these were continued to be venerated by the followers of Jesus after his death and they made no effort to set up a central place of worship of their own in rivalry to the Temple. Also, their acceptance of Temple worship implied an acceptance of the Aaronic priesthood who administered the Temple and the sin offerings and atonement offerings that were continually bought on a daily basis.
Answer for yourself: How do we know that James and Paul continued to bring "sin offerings" and "blood sacrifices" following the death of Jesus' and continued to do so up until the Roman destruction of the Temple? Well we only have to look at Acts 21 where James commands Paul to "keep" a vow publicly and he obliges. This is called the "Nazarite Vow" and one only needs to read Numbers chapter 6 in depth to see that "sin offerings" and "blood atonements" were part of this vow. Make note please that this "conduct" reflects "religious beliefs;" not only held by James and the Jerusalem Church and those who knew Jesus best, but was even submitted to by Paul who had been teaching doctrines to Jews and Gentiles contrary to the beliefs of James and the Jerusalem Church. Paul was here "forced" to do right or be exposed in public as a fraud! Let us not forget the charges:
Acts 21:21 21 And they are informed of thee (Paul), that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. (KJV)
Let us be focused on this one fact as seen by the vow commanded of Paul by James: This vow required "atonement offerings" & "blood sacrifices as sin offering" [see Num. 6] & and this was 30 plus years after Jesus' supposed sacrificial death ("sacrificial" only to Paul if we can believe the actions of James and the Jerusalem Church).
Answer for yourself: Did the Holy Spirit fail to tell James and the Jerusalem church that Jesus' death was the final sacrifice for all sins, or does their actions, as recorded and properly understood in Acts 21, reveal to us that they never accepted Paul's neo-pagan gospel of dying godmen which he applied to Jesus when among the Gentiles? Evidently they didn't!
As if that was not enough:
Acts 21:20 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: (KJV)
What we find again is that the example of James and the Jersualem Church where they boast of the fact that Jews were repenting in preparation of the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven and they were returning to Moses and the Law (the Torah).
Answer for yourself: Did James and the first congregation of followers of Jesus understand that they were called to start a "new movement" that was to replace Biblical Judaism, or did they see that they were called to repentance and a return to "the" faith once given to the Saints in the beginning by God...which was Biblical Judaism in the first place (Ethical Monotheism)?
The answer to the above question is hotly debated today among Seminarians as well as would-be "authorities." You can find answers on both sides of the question so we must turn to the evidence that exists in order to see "the picture" of the movement that was originally the first followers of Jesus. Let me also make mention that these "first followers of Jesus" surely knew him best. I find it preposterous to think that Gentiles of the 2nd thru the 5th century are in a better position than these first followers of Jesus to tell the world about him. And as if that was not enough the idea that those who knew Jesus best, in response to Jesus' Great Commision, "got it wrong" is unbelievable. If that was the case then there is no hope of understanding what the truth really is or was. I have a hard time believing, and this is subjective, that those who knew and followed and listened to Jesus' every word for 3 years or more and who had received the Holy Spirit when Jesus "breathed" on them and later at "Pentecost" went out and did it wrong.
Our task is to study to the point where we can get a good picture of First Century Judaism and it's religious beliefs and find Jesus' place within it. Only then, once this is accomplished, can we accurately understand the New Testament; which parts in it that are truthful and those that are not. Once this is accomplished the remaining task is to understand how the non-Jew related to such religious revelation of Israel and take our rightful place in the Israel of God...and not try to replace it with a new religion of Gentile origins.
Though Jesus' movement within Judaism had a system of leadership of its own, this was not a rival priesthood that was intended to replace the Aaronic Priesthood. Every Jewish movement, including the Pharisees, had its internal system of leadership (e.g. the rabbis), but this was in addition to the priesthood of the Temple, not instead of them. It was not until the Christian Church proper was set up, under the influence of Pauline ideas, that a rival priesthood was instituted, with priestly vestments patterned partly on Jewish and partly on pagan models, and with sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, intended to supersede the sacraments of the Jewish Temple. Indeed, the Christian Church produced a proliferation of temples, for, while in Judaism only one sacramental centre was allowed, i.e. the Jerusalem Temple, in Christianity every church was a centre for sacramental rites, while the vast cathedrals reached an ornateness undreamt of even in the Jewish Temple, much less in the simple conventicles or synagogues in which ordinary prayer and study took place. Additionally, the new priesthood instituted in the Pauline Christian Church was accorded an awesome authority which the Jewish priesthood never enjoyed, since the latter were regarded as mere functionaries with no authority to pronounce on matters of religious practice or ethics, or to perform absolutions or excommunications.
At the time of the Jerusalem Apostles, who were the companions of Jesus himself and continued his work, no such developments were in sight. The Apostles showed by their attendance at the Temple that they did not claim priestly status for themselves. Also, they and their followers attended the synagogues for normal Jewish daily worship. This is shown by the easy access of the preachers of Jesus' movement, including Paul, to synagogues at all times; even the alleged prophecy included in John that "they shall put you out of the synagogues" (John 16:2) shows that Jesus' followers, in the early days, were accepted as attenders at the synagogue and also that they were themselves quite willing to attend the synagogues. Of course, this does not mean that they had no meeting places of their own; but these meeting places were themselves synagogues, and did not differ in kind from the various synagogues which catered for specialized groups of Jews, e.g. for Jews who came from the same area of the Diaspora (for example, Acts 6:9: "the Synagogue of Freedmen, comprising Cyrenians and Alexandrians and people from Cilicia and Asia. . . ."). This type of synagogue for Jews of similar interests or background exists today, even in Israel. The followers of Jesus thus formed a separate group, but by no means a Church; religiously, it was an integral part of Jewry. The expression "the Jerusalem Church" is thus, at this stage, a misnomer.
Now this immediately constitutes a difficulty for the conventional Christian believer, for the Gospels say quite distinctly that Jesus founded a Church.
Answer for yourself: Why, then, did the Apostles of Jerusalem act as if no Church had been founded by their continual attendance, support, and participation in Temple sacrifices as well as frequenting the synagogues? Does this behavior rather say to us that they never departed from Judaism even with their beliefs in Jesus as Messiah? It sure would seem that to the cautious observer.
Answer for yourself: If Jesus, as the Gospels say, chose Peter as the leader of the Church, why were the Nazarenes, after Jesus' death, led not by Peter, but by James, the brother of Jesus, a person who is not even mentioned in the Gospels as a follower of Jesus in his lifetime?
This is the kind of contradiction that, if logically considered, can lead us to the true picture of the history of Jesus' movement in Jerusalem, as opposed to the picture which the later Gentile Church wished to propagate. We shall also be able to understand much better the nature of the conflict which broke out between the Jerusalem "church" and Paul.
In Matthew, we find the following account of Peter's election:
Matt 16:15-19 15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (KJV)
Answer for yourself: Why is this passage, which is in only one account of the life of Jesus in the New Testament, of major importance?
This account, which appears only in the Gospel of Matthew, was combined with a second-century legend locating Peter's death in Rome to provide support for the claim of the Roman Catholic Church to supremacy over Christendom. Peter was conceived to have been the first Bishop of Rome or Pope and, since Peter had been declared by Jesus to be the rock on which the Church was to be built, this made Rome the centre of Christendom, and the papal succession the true hierarchy founded by Jesus himself.
With the above thought in your minds....read the following:
Isa 2:3 3 And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. (KJV)
Zech 8:22-23 and to pray before the LORD. 23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you. (KJV)
Answer for yourself: Can you envisage any reason why Jesus would declare Rome, the same nation that was brutalizing his people and had been for over 70 years, to be the center of his future movement in light of the Prophets who had for thousands of years predicted Zion, Jerusalem, to be the center for religious education for the Gentile nations?
If one seriously believes the Prophets, the Bible that Jesus read, then he sees through this "political-religious" creationism in Matthew (whom scholars today will teach us was written by non-Jewish authors in the first place)!
Answer for yourself: What kind of Messiah would Jesus be if he was to set and rule from Rome instead of Jerusalem (THINK)?
This is, of course, mere power politics and not to be taken seriously as historical fact. To Jesus, a Jew, the idea that his teaching would have its administrative centre at Rome, the capital of the military power against which his whole life was directed, would have seemed astonishing and dismaying.
Answer for yourself: But to return to historical realities, what was the relationship between Peter, evidently the leader of the Apostles during Jesus' lifetime, and James, the brother of Jesus? Why was it that Peter did not become the unchallenged leader of the movement after the death of Jesus?
To understand this, we must remind ourselves of what Jesus really was. He was not the founder of a Church, but a claimant to a throne. When Peter, as recorded in the passage cited above, hailed Jesus as "Messiahµ, he was using this word in its Jewish sense, not in the sense it acquired later in the Christian Church. In other words, Peter was hailing Jesus as King of lsrael. Jesus' response was to give Peter his title of "Rock" and to tell him that he would have "the keys of the kingdom of Heaven". The meaning of this phrase, in its Jewish context, is quite different from what later Christian mythology made of it, when it pictured Saint Peter standing at the gate of Heaven, holding the keys, and deciding which souls might enter. The "kingdom of Heaven" is the same as the "kingdom of God" (since "Heaven" was used in Hebrew as a title of God), and the reference is not to some paradise in the great beyond, but to the Messianic kingdom on Earth, of which Jesus had just allowed himself to be proclaimed King - i.e. the Jewish kingdom, of which the Davidic monarch was constitutional ruler, while God was the only real King.
By giving Peter the "keys of the kingdom," Jesus was appointing him to be his chief minister. King Hezekiah's chief minister was called Shebna; and when the prophet Isaiah predicted that this official would he dismissed in favor of Eliakim, he did so in the following terms:
And I will drive thee from thy station, and from thy state shall he pull thee down. And it shall come to pass in that clay, that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah: and I will clothe him with thy robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand: and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him as a nail in a sure place, (Isaiah 22: 19-23)
The similarities between this and Jesusµ charge to Peter are striking. Where Eliakim is given the key of the house of David, Peter is given the keys of the Messianic kingdom; where Eliakim is told that "he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open," Peter is told, in effect, that he shall bind and none shall loose, and he shall loose and none shall bind. The New English Bible destroys the immediacy of the original by its concern for idiomatic English, turning the "bind" and "loose" of the Authorized Version and Revised Version into "forbid" and "allow".) The terms to "bind" and to "loose" are used in the rabbinical literature as the powers of the Sanhedrin and other rabbinical courts, so that .Jesus by giving Peter these powers is appointing him not only chief minister at his royal court but also head of the Sanhedrin; this is the only difference between the appointment of Eliakim and that of Peter. This is perhaps the reason why Jesus gives Peter the "keys" in the plural.
Peter, then, is appointed chief minister of King Jesus. This explains fully the relationship between Peter and James, the brother of Jesus, in the movement, and why James suddenly rises to prominence at this point. When Jesus became King, his family became the royal family, at least for those who believed in Jesus' claim to the Messiahship. Thus, after Jesus' death, his brother James, as his nearest relative, became his successor; not in the sense that he became King James, for Jesus was believed to be alive, having been resurrected by a miracle of God, and to be waiting in the wings for the correct moment to return to the stage as Messianic King. James was thus a Prince Regent, occupying the throne temporarily in the absence of Jesus.
Further proof that this was the situation can be derived from what is known about other members of Jesus' family. After James, Jesus' brother, was executed by the High Priest, the Sadducee Ananus, in AD 62, he was succeeded by another member of Jesus' family, Simeon, son of Cleophas, who was Jesus' cousin. This again shows that the structure of the "Jerusalem Church" was monarchical, rather than ecclesiastical. Moreover, there is evidence that the Romans saw the matter in this light, for they issued decrees against all descendants of the house of David, ordering them to be arrested; and Simeon, son of Cleophas, was eventually executed by the Romans as a pretender to the throne of David.
The position of Peter, then, after the death of Jesus, is thus easily understood. He could not become the leader of the Jesus movement, because he was not of the royal blood. Understand the events born out by Josephus and Roman history concerning the leadership of the Jesus' movement within Judaism completely contradict the Matthew "Peter/Rock" story! But he could and did retain his position as chief adviser and minister of the royal court, the holder of the "keys of the kingdom". Often such a minister is the real ruler, and Peter, carrying the authority of having been an apostle and disciple from the beginning, dominated the early scene. James, however, seems to have had a strong character too, and eventually he used his position as Prince Regent to become the effective ruler of the movement. But on the usual interpretation of the "Jerusalem Church" as a purely religious, non-political movement, it is a complete mystery why James, who was not one of Jesus' twelve chief disciples, should have been made the official leader of the movement after Jesus' death, over the heads of all the main figures including Peter.
Nevertheless, as we have shown and you might have already surmised, the New Testament contains certain features which obscure the situation outlined above, and purposefully create the impression that the early Jesus' movement was primarily a religious one, and indeed a new religion intended to replace Judaism. I have come to the conclusion over the years that if we had been "Old Testament Christians" before we were "New Testament Christians" then we would have been equipped with the necessary background and understanding concerning the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings to have spotted quite easily the alteration of the messages contained within them in the New Testament. Not having such information we have the inherited tendency to take what we read in the New Testament and project it backwards upon the Old Testament even if the Old Testament stands in conflict with it. The overemphasis of the New Testament all of our lives to the detriment of the Old Testament, the Bible Jesus actually knew and used, has set us up for being deceived by what we read in this Gentile creation called the "New" Testament which is, in reality, the Gentile's authorization and authority to replaced the faith of Jesus with their sun-worship and solar godmen.(http://paganizingfaithyofyeshua.netfirms.com)
This was accomplished on several fronts. One of these features we have already considered in a prior article in this series: the ascription of the Eucharistic rite to Jesus, as the foundation rite of a new communion incompatible with adherence to the communion or covenant of Judaism. The author of the book of Acts does not take advantage of this feature, and does not portray the early "Church" as practising the Eucharist. Instead, he apparently stresses a different alleged foundation event, that of the First Pentecost. This, then, requires some consideration.
The second chapter of Acts, having described in the first chapter the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to the Apostles, gives an account of a miraculous event which took place on the day of the Jewish feast of Pentecost. The Twelve Apostles received inspiration and began to "talk in other tongues." This phenomenon was accompanied by others: the sound of a rushing wind was heard and tongues of fire were seen resting on each of the Apostles. A crowd then gathered, attracted by these phenomena, and Peter addressed them, explaining the significance of the occasion. He tells them: "These men are not drunk, as you imagine; for it is only nine in the morning. No, this is what the prophet spoke of: 'God says, This will happen in the last days: I will pour out upon everyone a portion of my spirit; and your sons and daughters shall prophesy; your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.'" Peter then announces that Jesus has been resurrected:
Men of Israel, listen to me: I speak of Jesus of Nazareth, a man singled out by God and made known to you through miracles, portents and signs, which God worked among you through him, as you well know. When he had been given up to you, through the deliberate will and plan of God, you used heathen men to crucify and kill him. But God raised him to life again, setting him free from the pangs of death, because it could not be that death should keep him in its grip.
He then goes on to say that the psalmist David had prophesied that one of his descendants, who would "sit on this throne," would be resurrected from the dead and would be "Lord and Messiah."
The account then says that many Jews were convinced by Peter's address and asked him what to do, upon which he said, "Repent and be baptized." Three thousand were then baptized and "were added to their number."
Answer for yourself: What was the meaning of this event from the apostle's perspectives and has the New Testament correctly reported such an understanding?
Throughout the centuries, this occasion has been regarded by Christians as the inauguration of the Christian religion. Scholars have pointed out that the feast of Pentecost or of Weeks (Shavuot) was regarded in the rabbinical movement as the foundation date of the Jewish religion, since it was held that the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai took place on that date. Likewise, the reference to baptism is held to show that this rite now became the entry rite to the new Christian religion, taking the place occupied by circumcision in the Jewish religion.
Accordingly, no doubt the author of Acts did see the matter in this light; yet it is remarkable how little support is given to this interpretation by the actual account which he gives, evidently based on early records of the Jerusalem Nazarenes. For nothing is said in Acts about the founding of a new religion; in fact just the opposite is recorded. The doctrines characteristic of Christianity as it later developed under the influence of Paul are not present. Thus Jesus is not described as a divine figure, but as "a man singled out by God." His resurrection is described as a miracle from God, not as evidence of Jesus' own divinity; and Jesus is not even described as the son of God.
Everything said, in fact, is consistent with the attitudes of a Jewish Messianic movement, basing itself entirely on the fulfillment of the Jewish scriptures, and claiming no abrogation or alteration of the Torah.
The belief that Jesus had been resurrected was indeed the mark of the movement after Jesus' death. Without this belief, the movement would simply have ceased to exist, like other Messianic movements. But this belief did not imply any abandonment of Judaism, as long as it did not involve a deification of Jesus or the abrogation of the Torah as the means to salvation. It simply meant that, unlike other Messianic movements whose leaders had been killed by the Romans or their quisling henchmen, the Jesus movement intended to continue, with exactly the same objective as before, i.e. the restoration of the Jewish monarchy, the re-establishment of Jewish political independence, and the end of military empires throughout the world. Jesus was still alive and would soon return to continue his mission; meanwhile like other figures of Jewish folk legend (Enoch, Eliezer, Methuselah, Hiram of Tyre, EyedMelekh, Bithiah, Serach, the three sons of Korah, Elijah and Rabbi Joshua ben Levi) he had entered Paradise while alive and was waiting for the moment to return to Earth)
The belief that the Apostles had spoken in tongues and had experienced a rushing wind and tongues of flame does not imply the founding of a new religion, but merely the importance of the new conviction, reviving the Messianic hopes of the movement (hitherto in despair at the death of Jesus) that Jesus was still alive. Such phenomena occur frequently in the rabbinical literature to mark some moment of great mystic illumination, and certainly do not imply any abandonment of Judaism. It is interesting that the homely touch is preserved that the bystanders thought the Apostles were drunk. This shows that the rushing wind and tongues of fire were observed by the Apostles alone, and are psychological phenomena of a kind familiar to investigators of religious possession. Of course, the recognition by bystanders of their own languages being spoken is inconsistent with their thinking the Apostles drunk, and is a later addition, though still part of the authentic tradition of the Jerusalem Nazarenes.
The call by Peter to baptism also cannot be regarded as a call to conversion to a new religion, except by reading into the practice of baptism a meaning that it acquired later in the Pauline Christian Church. Jesus himself had called people to baptism, and the same thing had been done before him by John the Baptist. This was always associated, as it is here in the case of Peter, with repentance. Baptism was an ancient Jewish ceremony that could have many meanings: it was used for the removal of ritual impurity (in order to prepare someone for eating holy food or entering holy precincts), but it was also part of the process of induction of a proselyte into Judaism, in addition to circumcision (or instead of circumcision, in the case of women). It could also be used symbolically, as a sign of repentance and regeneration, and, in this sense, it was especially associated with Messianic movements, which generally began with a campaign of repentance (i.e. return to the observance of the moral and ritual requirements of the Torah). Thus Peter's use of baptism was simply a continuation of the practice of Jesus and John the Baptist: not an induction into a new religion, but symbolic of a return to God in preparation for the great event of the Messianic kingdom - in this case to be inaugurated by the reappearance of Jesus, expected in the near future.
In view of the lack of evidence in what they said and did that they were conscious of starting a new religion, the mere dating of the event at Pentecost cannot be accorded the weight put upon it by scholars. There may be some idea in the mind of the author of Acts that this date is significant in view of its importance in Judaism as the time of the birth of the Jewish religion; but even this is doubtful, since nothing is said explicitly to this effect. Certainly there is no need to suppose that the people who actually took part in the event - Peter and the other Apostles - interpreted its timing in this way. Nor does the reception of the Holy Spirit point to the beginning of a new religion; it merely means, as Peter points out, that the gift of prophecy has been renewed. This was expected to happen in the Messianic age, and the belief that this expectation had been fulfilled was in no way a contravention of Judaism.
Thus everything points to the conclusion that the leaders and members of the so-called "Jerusalem Church" were not Christians in any sense that would be intelligible to Christians of a later date. They were Jews, who subscribed to every item of the Jewish faith. For example, so far from regarding baptism as ousting the Jewish rite of circumcision as an entry requirement into the religious communion, they continued to circumcise their male children, thus inducting them into the Jewish covenant. The first ten "bishops" of the "Jerusalem Church" (as Gibbon pointed out, basing his statement on the information provided by Eusebius) were all circumcised Jews. They kept the Jewish dietary laws, the Jewish sabbaths and festivals, including the Day of Atonement (thus showing that they did not regard the death of Jesus as atoning for their sins), the Jewish purity laws (when they had to enter the Temple, which they did frequently), and they used the Jewish liturgy for their daily prayers.
The book of Acts provides plentiful evidence that the above was the case. For example, the first follower of Jesus with whom Paul had friendly contact, Ananias of Damascus, is described as "a devout observer of the Law and well spoken of by all the Jews of that place" (Acts 22: 12). This shows that not only the Jerusalem movement but also those of them who had had to flee abroad because of political persecution were loyal to the Torah. Further evidence is the following passage:
Next day Paul paid a visit to James; we were with him, and all the elders attended. We greeted them, and then described in detail all that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard this, they gave praise to God. Then they said to Paul:
"You see, brother, how many thousands of converts we have among the Jews, all of them staunch upholders of the Law. Now they have been given certain information about you: it is said that you teach all the Jews in the gentile world to turn their backs on Moses, telling them to give up circumcising their children and following our way of life. (Acts 21:18-21)
It is abundantly clear from this that James and his followers in the Jerusalem movement saw no contradiction between being a member of their movement and being a fully observant Jew; on the contrary, they expected their members to be especially observant and to set an example in this respect. The corollary of this is that they did not regard themselves as belonging to a new religion, but as being Jews in every respect; their belief that the Messiah had come did not in any way lessen their respect for Judaism or lessen their fellowship with other Jews, even those who did not share their Messianic belief. Their belief in Jesus as "the" Messiah had not in any way influenced them to believe, as Paul was teaching, that the Law had passed away with the coming, death, and believed resurrection of Jesus!
Answer for yourself: We have a New Testament with two competing messages and pictures? Who will you believe...Paul or James and the Jerusalem church? Can you read between the lines and see the "picture within the picture," as well as hear the "voice within the voice" in the New Testament?
You see...we have to read and use discernment when reading this New Testament because within it are glimmers of truth that can be verified by non-Biblical evidences and archeology. At the same time it contains a "planed Gentile agenda" to replace the faith and religion of Jesus with another. Which one have you followed?
For the beliefs of the Jerusalem movement throw valuable light on the views of Jesus himself. If James, Jesus' own brother, and the apostles who had lived and worked with Jesus had apparently never heard of the doctrines of later Christianity - the abrogation of the Torah and the deification of Jesus - or of its central rites of the Eucharist and baptism (in its Christian sense), the natural inference is that Jesus himself had never heard of them either. In that case, we cannot regard Jesus as the founder of Christianity, and must look elsewhere for someone to fill this role. But Christian belief depends on the idea that Jesus himself founded Christianity. He did not! Honest scholars today are beginning to tell the truth. Many realize and write in their books that Christianity is based on the "post-Resurrection Jesus" (i.e. on the mythical Jesus invented by Paul), not on the historical Jesus, who may well have been a purely Jewish figure with no inkling of the Christian myth. The attitude is a little too sophisticated for the average Christian, or even the average Christian scholar, who likes to feel that Christian reverence for Jesus is directed towards the real Jesus, not towards a figment, however mythologically acceptable. One only needs to consult a few good books on "comparative religions" and read their doctrines concerning their "solar godmen" and their "angel-messiahs" that come from virgin born sun-gods and their "incarnations" to see the Jesus story of the New Testament in all its glory.
For the concept of Jesus being the innovator of a "new" religion certain things must be done in the Gospels to foster such an idea and make it successful. Well understand that it was not hard back then and it is not harder today as the audience to whom this "new message" was directed had no discernible knowledge of a Jewish Jesus or Biblical Judaism to begin with. This is not different from the average Christian today who learns what he has been indoctrinated in from this one "corrupted book" we call the New Testament. We find the success of this replacement religion accomplished through the almost total misrepresentation of the Pharisees as stated in earlier articles as depicted in the various gospel accounts where Jesus is challenged by them and they by him (over issues which are "non-issues" is you know anything about Judaism in the first place). In this well orchestrated "replacement religion" called Gentile Christianity today we see therefore the rather simplistic attempt to preserve the idea of Jesus as a rebel against Judaism and the founder of a new religion by promoting the idea that Jesus opposed the religious leaders of his day and the religious leaders opposed him and his keeping of the "Torah" & his radical "reinterpretation of it." I found it rather amusing over the 3-4 years that I intently studied Judaism that Jesus taught nothing new! His Sermon on the Mount, for instance, has been taught before his era by many different Rabbinical authorities. Jesus had no new message. His "message" was not unique only urgent; "repent for the Kingdom of God is near." Nothing new was in this as this has been the message of Moses and all the Prophets and Rabbis before as well as after him. To find a "new message" or a "new gospel" one has to look to Paul for such deviation from the faith once given to the Saints.