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sense of Jesus' impending advent.

To any one who is accustomed to infer the operation of powerful
causes from striking consequences, the simple fact of this settle-
ment in Jerusalem proves the existence of mental excitement
far superior to ordinary considerations. Kothing less than
yearning so vehement as to merge every other consideration
could have determined this company of Galilean families to
desert home and lands and kindred, exchanging their happy life
as fishermen for some handicraft in Jerusalem, the lovely shore
of their lake for the bleak highlands of Judsea, their free life on
the hill-sides of Galilee for the gloomy walls of the city of priests
and Levites. All that is elsewhere of importance and value to
mankind, every object of anxious solicitude — nay, even of earnest
duty — was left behind and forgotten by them. For the migration
of such a colony was no light matter. There are not wanting
material reminiscences of the mode in which the departure took
place. " There is no man," the Lord is represented as saying in
this ancient passage, "that hath left house, or brethren, or
sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my
sake and the gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now
in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and
children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to
come everlasting life."

^ Zach. xiii. 7, in Matt. xxvi. 31, and Mark xiv. 27.


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These definite promises refer, of course, to the circumstances
of the first band of disciples, settled in Capernaum and Nazareth,
and bound there by ties of marriage and ownership of the soiL
For them, such a migration was a real leaving of "house, or
brothers, or sisters, or mother, or father, or children, or lands."
Besides, the condition of Galilee ofiFered no reason for emigration.
We find there anything but an impression of irreconcilable
hostility on the part of the people towards the following of
Jesus. In this respect the new sojourn in the fanatical city of
priests would have been ill-chosen. Thus the reason for the
migration can only have been the*one given by the Apts, viz., to
wait for the promises made by Jesus.^

Zion itself was to be the scene of the restoration of David's
kingdom. Such was the first principle alike of the Jews and of
all the early church. The faithful, therefore, were to await the
advent of Jesus in the place where he had once most clearly
revealed himself. Besides, this was the only spot permitted
them by their office of being witnesses of the risen Messiah to
the whole nation. The reason why Jesus had chosen twelve
disciples was that they should represent the twelve tribes of
Israel in the new kingdom. Now, too, the disciples, for their
part, profess the task of preaching the new kingdom and the
risen Messiah to the twelve tribes by completing the number
twelve with a new apostle*^ in place of the traitor, choosing him
from among those who had shared in the glad tidings from
the first days of the Baptist movement up to the resurrection.
Jerusalem was naturally the only proper place for this task, as
the whole of Israel gathered here at the successive feasts. Who-
ever received the revelation that the Lord had appointed the
disciples to this end, thereby had knowledge of the whole truth. -^

From the time of this remarkable emigration onwards, Galilee
rinks into the background of the history of the churcL Only
passing mention is made of it.^ All sincere believers in Jesus
had gone up to Jerusalem. Not only the apostles and their

* Acts L 4. a Acts i 21—26 ; 1 Cor. xv. 6. s Acts ix. 31.

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wives were there, but other faithful associates from the days of
the Baptist ;^ and besides the families of their acquaintance in
Capernaum, the brothers and kindred of the Lord, who belonged
to Nazareth, with their families and the mother of Jesus.^

Here was the firm basis of a faithful church ; they had broken
down every means of retreat, and in the strange city devoted
themselves throughout their colony to an active propaganda
and ardent expectation for the hour of fulfilment.

In any case, this resolution denotes a powerful and lofty
impulse ; and, above all, a strongly enthusiastic temper, the uni-
versal characteristic of this earliest Christian colony. In this
connection the lead is taken by Simon Peter himseK, whom we
first heard of as one of a large family in Capernaum. Of these,
at least his wife^ and his brother Andrew^ migrated with him
to Judaea.

His leadership of the primitive church was no mere figm'ent of
later times. Even during his lifetime the Jewish Christians
abroad loved to designate themselves after him as " the followers
of Cephas," when they wished to set up the authority of the
parent church of Jerusalem against foreign authorities.^

Next to Peter and Andrew, the most conspicuous part is
played by John and James, and by Salome,^ so passionately
devoted to Jesus. Men of action and fiery temperament, the
sons of Zebedee are characterized at once by their surname,
" Sons of Thunder."^

Then come the others, whose character has been sketched
already :* Levi-Matthew, the tax-gatherer, with his knowledge
of letters ; Judas, the man of heart and feeling (Lebbseus, Thad-
daeus); and Simon, called the Zealot.

By this time, too, the apostolic circle had been joined by the

1 Acts I 22. 2 Acts i. 14, xil 13 ; Gal. ii 9; 1 Cor. ix. 5,

8 1 Cor. ix.5. * ActsL 13.

» 1 Cor. i. 11 ; Gal. ii. 9. • Matt. xx. 20.

' Mark iii. 17 ; cf. Luke ix. 54 ; Mark ix. 38 ; Matt. xx. 20.

8 Vol. ii. p. 79 (Eng. trans.;.


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brothers of Jesus, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas, who during
the life of Jesus had regarded his role of Messiah as insanity.^
It is told how in the year 34 these brothers, together with their
mother, came to Capernaum, with the intention of forcibly
bringing Jesus back to Nazareth on the ground of mental inca-
pacity.2 When Jesus entered Nazareth, these brothers still
seem to be unconverted, as the unbelieving congregation appeal
to them, and draw from Jesus the complaint that a prophet is
nowhere without honour " but in his own country and among
his own kin and in his own house." ^ But after the crucifixion
it is another matter. We are told that Jesus appeared to his
brothers,* — a vision, however, that did not take place till after
the general vision of the five himdred. Now, then, the brothers
of Jesus, accompanied by their wives, settled in Jerusalem,^
where James became the chief leader of the church, next to
Peter, if not above him.®

In the church itself, which grew up round this group of
leaders, few names in truth can be recovered, and those from
somewhat remote documents. Of some who are mentioned in
the time of Jesus, such as Simon the Leper and the Sisters
OF Bethany, it may be safely asserted that they joined the
church. We hear in passing of Simon of Gyrene, the bearer
of the cross, that his two sons Alexander and Eufus were
characters well known to the readers of St. Mark's GospeL^ Of
the old followers of the baptism of John, Joseph Barsabas,
named the Just, and Matthias, the latter even entered the
number of the twelve.^ According to the Acts, believers foimd
a meeting-place, refugees a shelter, in the house of Mary, who
is mentioned there, together with her son John Mark and her
servant Ehoda.®

1 Matt. xiii. 55, xil 46. « Matt. xii. 46 ; Mark iii 21, 31.

3 Mark vi. 4. * 1 Cor. xv. 7.

« 1 Cor. ix. 4; Gal. i 19. « Gal. ii. 9, 12.

^ Mark xv. 21. . » Acts i. 21—26.
* Acts xii. 12, 13, xiii. 13.

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Here once more is a complete family circle attached to the
belief in Jesns, for the Levite JosES of Cyprus, surnamed Bar-
nabas (the son of prophecy), was a brother or brother-in-law of
Mary.^ Barnabas had shown his readiness for self-sacrifice in
the church by giving up a piece of land he owned in Jerusalem.*
He had obtainotl his honourable name of Barnabas from his
eloquence, which seems, however, to have displayed itseK with
greater fluency in Aramaic than in Greek.^

But he was by no means the only orator in the church of
Jerusalem. In the earliest days of Claudius, a prophet Agabus
comes down from thence to Antioch to prophesy in the spirit of
the approaching famine.* Similarly he appears afterwards in
Caisarea, in order to emulate the prophets with certain sym-
bolical acts.** Among the prophets of Jerusalem, too, there
is mentioned an inspired bearer of the word in Silas,^ who
afterwards preached the risen Christ in Macedonia with PauL
Another, Philip, finds his sphere of work nearer at hand in
Samaria, and obtains the distinction of being called an apostle
as the founder of Phoenician Christianity. The whole atmo-
sphere of enthusiasm in this early society is reproduced for us by
the accoimt of this Philip's household given in the Acts : " He
had four daughters, virgins, who prophesied."^ But the man
represented as a prophet endowed beyond all with the gifts of
the spirit is Stephen, a Hellenist, " full of faith and of the Holy
Ghost," "full of grace and power," endowed with the gift of
" doing great wonders and miracles among the people," ready in
disputation, and an undaunted speaker before the tribunal®

Objections may be raised to the historical truth of one or

* Col. iv. 10. For the meaning of the expression 6 iv^nog BapvapOy cf.
Hitzig, John Mark, p. 150.

* Acts iv. 36. For the meanmg, cf. the mention made ia Clem. Horn.
1 9—16, ii 4; Rec. i. 7; Euseb. I 12.

3 Contradictory accounts ija Acts iv. 36 and xiv. 12.

* Acts XL 27. fi Acts xxL 11, • Acts xy. 22.
' Acts xxi 9. 8 Acts vi 5, seq.

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other of these names; still, unquestionable data show that
inspiration, force and a spirit of enterprize, were abundantly
present in this little communitj; and as Christianity spread
abroad, this strong pulse at its centre was deeply felt alike in
Asia Minor, Achaia and Kome. A wealth of marked characters
is to be found in this small and outwardly insignificant party.
Missionaries by nature, like Philip, Barnabas, Silas, Mark ; con-
fessors and martyrs like Stephen and James the son of Zebedee ;
prophetic spirits like Agabus and the daughters of Philip, — one
and all offer a delightful picture of the fulness of inspiration,
here devoted to a great end. And though afterwards crowds
of equivocal Jewish Christians sallied forth from this centre
with the object, as Paul taxes them, of living upon the foreign
brethren and driving a trade in the glad tidings^ — though as
many destroyers as founders of the churches poured out of the
Holy City upon the Dispersion — still even here the saying holds
good that much light means many shadows. But after the many
redoubtable characters by whom Jerusalem is represented in the
earliest church history, it cannot be said that the persecutors of
the Pauline churches are the exclusive representatives of the
spirit of Jerusalem.

The fact is, rather, that this community was dominated in the
earliest period by thoroughly idealistic views, as is shown by the
regulations it laid down for itseK.

The Acts, a document of the second century, on which abso-
lute reliance must not be placed without other support, affirms
that the colony of Galileans in Jerusalem introduced a general
community of goods, whereby they " had all things common, and
sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men as
every man had need."^ This statement is suspicious solely from
the fact that other passages of the same book actually speak
again of the private property of individual members of the
commimity.^ Ananias is free to sell his field or not;* Mary,

1 2 Cor. X. 13—17, xi 13, 14. « Acts ii 44, seq., iv. 32.

3 Acts vi. 1, xii. 12. * Acts v. 4.

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the mother of Mark, retains her house ;^ and when Barnabas
puts the money from the sale of his house into the common
treasury, it appears an extraordinarily praiseworthy act, and
deserving of mention.^ It only follows from this contradiction,
what we know on other grounds, that the writer no longer had
a clear picture of the circumstances of the primitive church, and
that his sources did not speak of any compulsory settlement of
the question of private property.

Still this feature was no invention of his own. Some remi-
niscence of the old community of goods was preserved in the
common meals even among the foreign churches.^ Those who
journeyed from Palestine into foreign lands assumed rights of
their own over the property of the brethren as a matter of course.*
Finally, history displays the empoverishment of the church of
Jerusalem as a consequence of their attempt at communism.^

Moreover, the tendency of the apostles' preaching, apart from
anything else, proves renunciation of separate property to have
been among their requirements. We must imagine a church
that preached as the rule of life: "Lay not up for yourselves
treasures upon earth."® " Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."^
" Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye
shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on."^
" Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they
reap. Consider the lilies of the field ; they toil not, neither do
they spin." " Therefore take no thought, saying. What shall we
eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be
clothed ? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek) ; for
your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these
things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteous-
ness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Take there-
fore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take

1 Acts xii. 12. 2 Acts iv. 36. » 1 Cor. xL 7.

* 1 Cor. ix. 4, seq., xi. 20—34; 2 Cor. xi. 20, xii. 13, seq.

* GaL ii. 10, vi 10 ; 2 Cor. viii. and ix. * Matt, vi 19, seq.
' Matt, vi 24. « Matt. vi. 25, seq.

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thought for the things of itseK/'^ "Provide neither gold, nor
silver, nor brass in your purses, nor scrip for your journey." ^
" The kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchantman, who when
he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he
had and bought it."^ " Go and sell that thou hast and give to
the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven."* " It is easier
for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich
man to enter into the kingdom of God."^ " Every one that hath
forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or
wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, shall receive an hundred-
fold, and shall inherit everlasting life."^ "Sell that ye have,
and give alms ; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a
treasure in the heavens that faileth not."^

A community whose lips thus overflowed with communistic
adages and contempt for property, must have given them some
practical expression, for these words were not hypocritical
phrases, but the outpouring of a genuine feeling. Besides, the
whole situation of the Galileans in Jerusalem led of necessity
to some such commimistic arrangement. Once gathered together
here, after selling or giving away their goods, were they to
devote themselves again to making money or laying up wealth ?
What, indeed, was the good of possessions and property when
now war and rumours of war proclaimed the end at hand, and
the red horseman rode before the approach of the Son of Man ?
The common stock sufficed for the short time remaining ; in the
day of the kingdom the Messiah will restore many times over
what each has give up for the brethren.

In Palestine, what with the small requirements of the Syrian
and the mildness of the climate, this attempt was easier than
amongst us. Nevertheless, it presupposes even in Syria ja lofty
and enthusiastic temper pursuing an ideal not of this world.
The whole phenomenon leaves the impression of being an after-
growth from the days when Jesus bade his followers despise the

1 Matt, vi 26—34. » Matt. x. 9. 3 Matt. xiu. 45. * Matt. xix. 21.
fi Matt. xix. 24. « Matt. xix. 29. ' Luke xii. 3a

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tilings of this world Citizens of the kingdom of God would
not enter any more into the primeval struggle between meum
and tuum. Several property, the source of so many detestable
sentiments, was to be done away with ; the place of Justice,
saying, "To each his own," should be taken by Love, saying,
" Mine for aE"

But harsh reality took bitter vengeance on the children of
the kingdom. The first Christian church had now to learn that
he who would set himself above the material conditions of life
is far more often and far more disastrously recalled to them
and punished by them, than one who has come to terms with
actuality from the outset. The church was impoverished; a
struggle over the support of the poor soon grew out of the
loving community of goods. The Acts, which are as well
acquainted, through the Pauline Epistles, as ourselves with the
difficulties in Jerusalem, find in them the origin of the ecclesi-
astical office of deacon, an office that owed its institution to a
difference of opinion over the equal maintenance of Greek and
Hebrew widows.

But the cause assigned has a suspicious ring of later circum-
stances — such, e.g., as are to be seen in the pastoral Epistles, in
which the maintenance of widows involves the presbyters in
many vexations.^ The complete subdivision of Jerusalem into
seven diaconates is an obvious anachronism, whereby the writer
refers the needs and institutions of his own day to apostolic
times. He could only have known, what is also attested by the
Pauline Epistles, that no little trouble and labour had been
caused by the question of " the poor in Jerusalem," so that it
was impossible to look back with unmixed pleasure on the source
of all these difficulties.

Thus no church made a second trial of community of goods.

The only institution universally retained was the common meal,

or agape, to which each brought his own provision. In some

churches, indeed, this common meal was not taken daily, nor

^ 1 Tim. v. 4, seq., v. 16.

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even then regarded as a community of goods/ so that this mere
relic of communism now appears as no more than a sjmabolical
act without practical significance.

The custom, however, among Christian families on their
travels of regarding the property of the brethren as their own,
abroad as well as at home, led to sharp conflicts, till there came
a sober time when Paul took credit for neither eating and
drinking at the expense of the brethren, nor leading about one
of the sisters, a wife, like the rest.

Such was the first contact between stem reality and the
idealism of the earliest Christian church. Yet who knows
whether circumstances so exceptional were not useful and neces-
sary to keep alive the eagerness and glow of hope that might
perhaps have cooled down and sufifered extinction far sooner in
the sober monotony of gaining a daily livelihood ?

The true significance of communion in the church is correctly
presented in the Acts as a lofty, inward life of prayer, for the
rest moving entirely within theocratic forms. " And they, con-
tinuing daily with one accord in the temple, .... praised God
and had favour with all the people."'^ We hear, too, in the
Clementines of continual intercourse on the part of the apostles
with the chiefs of the people in the temple.^ Consequently this
lofty religious zeal displayed itself in still more conscientious
fulfilment of religious duties ; indeed, tradition represents indi-
vidual apostles as models of legality on this particular point.

But something higher was recognized beyond this. After the
last prayers had been ofiFered in the temple, the familiar evening
assemblies began. The brethren met in their upper chambers
to enjoy the delights of ecstasy, and to be inwardly ravished by
the presence of the living Christ. According to the description
of such a gathering given in the First Epistle to the Corinthians,
we may picture it as noisy and tempestuous, stirred by prophecy
and ecstatic speaking in tongues. As an expression of hope and

1 1 Cor. xi. 17, seq. ; Plin. Ep. x. 96, sMo die, « Acts il 46.

^ Clem. Beeogn. ch. 53 ; Visum nobis est ascendere ad tempbun^ &c.

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yearning for the return of Christ, it long survived the loss of its
main purpose of edification. Occasionally an edifying descrip-
tion of the great day was produced, or hortatory applications to
the life of the individual in the form of comparisons and parables.
Indeed, some utterances of this description have been partially
preserved to us by being attached to the utterances of Jesus
in the Gospel Thus the comparison, in Matt. xxv. 1, of the
wise and foolish virgins directly represents the condition of
the church, giving expression to the weary length of waiting.
"WhUe the bridegroom tarried," the virgins grew weary, and
needed the warning to keep the oil ready in their lamps that
they might not be found \mprepared at the cry, "Behold, the
bridegroom cometh."

To the same source we may ascribe the parable of the widow
(Luke xviii 1), coming continually and importuning the judge
for vengeance. Here, once more, the widow is the church, whose
bridegroom has been taken away from her, and who begins to
chide God. " And shall not God avenge his own elect, which
cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them ? I
tell you that he will avenge them speedily." The same motive
recurs in Luke xvL 1, seq., a copy, scarcely felicitous, of the
parable of the pounds. It is the story of the unjust householder,
which arrives at the very doubtful moral : " Make to yourselves
friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail,
they may receive you into everlasting habitations."

On the other hand, a truly noble picture of the judgment of
the world is drawn in Matt. xxv. 31, from the point of view
of such Christians as see Christ no more, and therefore ask:
" ' Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee ? or thirsty,
and gave thee drink ? When saw we thee a stranger, and took
thee in ? or naked, and clothed thee ? Or when saw we thee
sick, or in prison, and came unto thee ? ' And the King shall
answer and say unto them, * Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as.
ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye
have done it unto me.'" "And he shall set the sheep on his

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right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say
unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father,
inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the f oimdation of the

True, that the additions to the parable may also be discovered
in Eabbinical writings ;^ nevertheless, the noble execution shows
that a touch of Jesus' creative spirit still survived in the church
that was able to speak in such lofty tones.

Another passage of the same kind, however lofty it may be
considered, represents later experiences. It originates in the
time when doubting brethren begin to appeal to their signs and
wonders. Jesus is therefore represented as saying in Matt,
vii 22 : " Many will say to me in that day. Lord, Lord, have we
not prophesied in thy name ? and in thy name have cast out
devils ? and in thy name done many wonderful works ? And
then will I profess unto them, I never knew you : depart from
me, ye that work iniquity."

There is, then, one central point round which are grouped all
the various interests which time could not fail to bring into the
church : what would Jesus say to each one at his advent ? These
few examples from the productions of the primitive church
show, too, that the apparent uniformity of their eschatological
conceptions was yet capable of varied application to the questions
of the day.

Of special mages outwardly distinguished by the church, only
the supper and baptism can be proved to have existed at first.
Common meals were equally customary among Pharisees and
Essenes as a symbol of their higher, spiritual fellowship. It was

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Online LibraryAdolf HausrathA history of the New Testament times → online text (page 12 of 21)