Here is a question I received on one of my Ning networks.
Did Christians believe there was God, and did Christians believe Jesus was alive and coming back again to judge the living and the dead?
The answer may have surprised the inquirer.
There was no such thing as a Christian until well into the second century. People who believed in Yeshua were Jews. Did they believe in God? YES! He was the center of their worldview! Did they believe that Messiah was coming back to judge the living and the dead?
Yes, they were waiting for a conquering Messiah. What they were not expecting though was the death of their Messiah. They were expecting a conquering King, who would defeat their enemies and judge the living and the dead, and bring in the Glorious Kingdom of Heaven. Just like in Egypt, they were waiting for God to save them out of their situation.
However, what Yeshua did was bring in the Kingdom of Heaven in a far different way. He brought in the Year of Jubilee.
In the Jewish worldview, God is the center of everything. There is no such thing as no God, or a god who stays out of your life; that’s a Greek concept. In fact, it is one that we hold today.
We have to be careful not to superimpose the Greek worldview, and the idea of Christianity or Christians apart from the Jews, back over on the Gospel period, because both the Greek view and Christianity were not relevant to the Gospel message at the time.
The only Scripture that existed at that time was the O.T. and some rabbinic writings. Jesus referred to these but not the New Testament. Also, the people that Yeshua was talking to were Jews not Christians. He came to bring in the Kingdom of Heaven, to fulfill prophecy that God was bringing His Kingdom (meaning Himself) to His people in Israel. He didn’t come to judge.
The Christianity you are referring to was a Jewish Sect, not a separate religion. There were no Christians, only Jews. The Gentiles became believers in Yeshua, not Christians. The term Christian did not come about until much later.
Let’s look at Luke 4:16-19, to see what Jesus told the synagogue was His reason for coming.
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, [v] he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up [w] to read. 17 And [x] the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,
“The Spirit of the Lord
is upon me,
because he has anointed me
proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Luke 4:16-19 (ESV)
Here, Luke tells us that Yeshua came to fulfill a prophecy that the Jews were already given. There is no mention of Christians. He is talking about the concept of the Jubilee, which is part of Jewish Law.
Much of what we read Jesus saying in the Gospels is loaded with Hebrew idioms that only Jewish people would understand. Gentiles had no clue what He was talking about. I believe that today, Christians are much the same.
When we read a verse, we only see the English meaning. Most of what Jesus and the Gospel writers said was written in Hebrew. If you don’t understand the language, and particularly the idioms of the language, you miss much of the meaning.
For the next few weeks, I will cover some of these concepts so you will have a clue on how to begin understanding what the N.T. really means. We have gotten so far off track, as Christians, that we have alienated ourselves from Yeshua himself. After all, He was a Jew.
See Ya Next Time