I am just in awe of how we managed to get so far away from Jesus! I’m no theology major, believe me when I tell you that. But I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about the early church, and early council, and those who came right after the Disciples and the Apostles, and so forth.
I have scores of books yet to read. Most of them, I have simply skimmed through, just to find relevant topics throughout. Not that I’m “picking” what I want to hear. I’m just trying to figure out which ones go back the farthest so that I will have some type of a timeline to look at. I’d prefer not to jump back and forth.
Making Sense Of It All
So, I’ve been an avid Bible reader for most of my life. I love to study the Word! It is the living, Rhema Word of God and nothing is more important to me than that. Once I started on this journey to find out how we got from “there” to “here”, it has been incredibly confusing.
Not the Bible! But the part that comes after…
I guess it all started when I realized men went from being “disciples” and “apostles”, to being “bishops” and “fathers”. Yes, the Bible does speak of ordaining bishops and it also speaks of preachers. However, in my study, I found something interesting.
In the Old Testament, the only time the word “preacher” is used is in the book of Ecclesiastes (1:1-2; 1:12; 7:27; 12:8-10). The Hebrew word translated as “preacher” in these verses is qoheleth (Strong’s H6953), from Strong’s H6950. It means “assembler” or “lecturer”.
In the New Testament, we find the word “preacher” in Romans 10:14, 1 Timothy 2:7, 2 Timothy 1:11 and 2 Peter 2:5. In this instance, the Greek word translated into “preacher” in Romans 10:14 is kerusso (Strong’s G2784), which means to herald, proclaim or publish a divine truth, or the gospel. All the other references are translated from the Greek word, kerux (Strong’s G2783), from G2784, means a herald that IS of divine truth, ESPECIALLY the gospel (emphasis mine).
What Does It Mean?
From the looks of the original Hebrew and Greek words, it seems that two very different and distinct positions are spoken of here. In the Old Testament, it looks like a “preacher” was the equivalent of a teacher, or maybe even that of a public speaker. A lecturer, as the original Hebrew points toward, is someone who discusses, expounds, relates and dictates already existing information. Right?
The original Greek word, on the other hand, speaks to something completely different. Again, this is me, the girl that really ISN’T into theology. I’m just speaking to what I take away from this, as common sense would dictate. Anyway…the Greek word means to proclaim divine truth, especially in relation to the gospel. So how is this different?
In the New Testament, we had the culmination of prophecy, and the once and for all sacrifice for sin, forever, in Jesus Christ Himself! After that, a preacher’s job was to proclaim that, to the ends of the world. The meaning took on a different purpose in that it was no longer the recollection of such things as the flood, the rainbow, and the laws of Moses. No, it was much more alive than that.
In fact, since we were no longer bound to the law, but alive under grace, the entire message was something different. Something alive! Something timeless! It was God, in the flesh, who died and was resurrected to live again as our reigning Savior and King! That’s something they surely didn’t have in the Old Testament.
Trouble Accepting The Gospel
Both Jews and Gentiles alike had trouble accepting the gospel of Jesus. It was something Paul dealt with almost everywhere he went in the beginning. Of course, eventually it came down to Paul preaching to the Gentiles and Peter preaching to the Jews, after the two men had somewhat of an argument about the whole situation. I think it was literally the first-ever case of, “Let’s agree to disagree”.
The Jews were nothing if not thoroughly steeped in their culture and unyielding to the fact that their promised Messiah had finally arrived. Jesus called them out to their face on more than one occasion for this very thing. He called them hypocrites and likened them to whitewashed tombs, full of dead men’s bones (Matthew 23:27)! He went on to warn others, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you will not see the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:20).
On the other hand, they followed Jesus around, obviously just waiting and watching for Him to do anything at all that they could find fault with. They wanted nothing more than to kill Him and be done with His “blasphemy”. They called Him out over taxation, tithing, the disciples not washing their hands before they ate, and so much more. Every question they posed to Him, Jesus answered in such a way that they could not find fault in it. Even when he healed a man’s withered arm on the Sabbath – something that was strictly forbidden by Jewish law at that time – He still related back to Old Testament teaching on what was really “right” when it came to moral situations such as this one.
When Did Things Really Start To Change?
I’m not sure I’ve really discovered the exact point when things started to change. It seems to have started with the first Council of Nicea (or Nice, or Nicaea, depending on who wrote about it). This Council was first convened by the Emperor for the “most important purpose” of deciding exactly Who Jesus was, what His true Nature was, and when He “became”, or was “begotten”.
I have to admit, it still seems absolutely ludicrous to me that grown men actually had to convene and discuss this! You’ll have to excuse – once again – my lack of theoretical leanings on this topic, though. You see, in my eyes, it’s best to handle questions like this by going back to the source, the way that Paul did. Jesus made it plain that He and the Father were One. Plain and simple.
Anyway, the Council of Nicea was held in 325 AD to discuss the nature of Jesus, along with a few other things, such as a date for the Passover, or Easter, as it was then called. I’ve thought about this too, and I just have to wonder, how does that kind of information get lost in three hundred years? If Jewish history was as well documented as it always had been, how in the world would they not know when such an important Jewish holiday as Passover was celebrated?
The More Things Change
There’s an old saying, I’m sure you’ve heard it, that says, The more things change, the more they stay the same. But I’m pretty sure, in this case, that’s not the entirety of the truth. As I continue to study about how we got the Catholic Church from the New Testament Church, my confusion only grows deeper. Because that certainly wasn’t the way things were for the disciples.
Then, as things continued changing, that’s where the Protestant Churches came into play. Now…we have more denominations than we can shake a stick at! Literally. There are denominations, sub-denominations, small-cell home churches and even churches you can attend online. And while everyone is so adamantly devoted to their own “denomination” or “sect”, they still quiet themselves with the fact that we still serve the same God. While this is surely true, I believe it leads the way to more profound problems.
Now, we not only have different Christian denominations talking about this one common God that we serve. I am starting to hear people say that our Christian God and the muslim God are also the same God. Now that’s a bit of a stretch for me.
But that’s a topic for another day!
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. However, I do ask that you keep in mind, as I have reiterated, I am no theologian. This hasn’t been my life’s study and quite frankly, I am still barely wading into the historical writings. And still secure in the knowledge that the Holy Bible is the inspired Word of God. If it weren’t, I am fully persuaded, we wouldn’t have it today.