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The History Of The Way

The History Of The Way

 

 

In this lecture we simply tell a story - the historical story of the significant events described in the New Testament and beyond.

 

 

1.  Christ On Earth: 3BC - 30AD

2.  The Early (Jewish) Church: 33AD - 41AD

3.  The Early (Gentile) Church: 43AD - 47AD

4.  First Church-Planting Journey: 47AD - 48AD

5.  Gentile Christians?  49AD

6.  Second Church-Planting Journey: 49AD - 52AD

7.  Third  Church-Planting Journey: 52AD - 57AD

8.  Trouble In Jerusalem: 57AD - 60AD

9.  On To Rome: 60AD - 61AD

10.  Jerusalem Church Scattered And Eschatologically Confused: 62AD - 63AD

11.  Paul From Rome To Ephesus: 61AD - 64AD

12.  The Incredible Events Of 64AD

13.  The Incredible Events Of 66AD

14.  Paul Back To Rome: 65AD - 68AD

15.  Peter To Rome: 66AD

16.  Peter, John Mark and Timothy With Paul In Rome To Canonize Most Of New Testament: 66AD - 678AD

17.  John And Other Apostles At Ephesus Complete New Testament: 66AD - 70AD

            (Completed In 96AD)

18.  Satan’s Subsequent Attacks Throughout History

 

 

1.  Christ On Earth: 3BC - 30AD

 

  Spring    HY3758[1] (c May 10, 3BC) - Birth of John The Baptist

  Summer HY3758 (? 3BC) - Quirinus' call for loyalty to Augustus

1 Tishri    HY3759 (Resh Hashannah) (Sept 11, 3BC) - Christ Born

8 Tishri    HY3759 (Sept. 11, 3BC) - Jesus Circumcised

               HY3759 (Oct. 30/21, 3BC) - Jesus dedicated in temple

               HY3759 (Late Oct. 3BC) - Joseph, Mary, Jesus go back  to Nazareth

               HY3759 (Spring or Summer 2BC) - Joseph, Mary, Jesus move to

                        Bethlehem to live

               HY3760 (Dec. 25, 2BC) - Magi visit Jesus in Bethlehem

               HY3760 (Late Dec., 2BC) - Joseph, Mary, Jesus move to Egypt

               HY3760 (Immed. thereafter) - Herod's edict for all male children

                        under 2 years of age killed

               HY3760 (Jan. 28, 1BC) - Herod died

                ?          ?     - Joseph, Mary, Jesus move to Nazareth

               HY3788 (Sept. AD27 - Apr. AD28) - a Sabattical rear

               HY3788 (May 10, AD28) - John the Baptist 30 years of age and

                        begins his Judean wilderness ministry

1 Tishri    HY3789 (Resh Hashannah) (Sept. AD28) - Jesus 30 years of age

                        & baptized by John

                HY3789 (Immediately thereafter) - 40 days wilderness temptations

15 Nisan   HY3790 (Passover) (3 PM, April AD30) - After 1½ years

                        public ministry, Christ crucified on Mt. of Olives on an Almond tree

15 Nisan  HY3790 (Passover) (3 PM, April AD30) - Temple curtain torn.

15 Nisan  HY3790 (Passover) (April AD30) - Beginning of 40 years of

                                    4 miraculous signs in temple, including Hekel

                                    gate opening by itself daily

18 Nisan  HY3790 (First Fruits) (April AD30) - Christ resurrected.

                                    (An observed fact of direct experience.)

8 Iyar       HY3790 (June AD30) - Christ's ascension.  Also an observed fact

                        of direct experience.

6 Sivan     HY3790 (Pentecost) (9 AM, May 30, 30AD) - 120 disciples baptized

                        in Holy Spirit while on Solomon's Porch in Temple yard.

                        What "turned" them on was not doctrine nor Bible study (most

                         were illiterate) but their experiencing the Holy Spirit of Christ.

6 Sivan     HY3790 (Pentecost) (May 30, 30AD) - Peter's sermon.  3000 new

                        Christians among all 12 tribes of diaspora.

                        Sermon not a doctrinal one, but of sharing and admonishing

                        re to experience Christ.

                        (Population of Jerusalem then was about 100,000 residents

                        + 500,000 visitors.)

 

 


2.  The Early (Jewish) Church: 33AD - 41AD

 

Christians thereafter had only two kinds of meetings.  (1)  Daily, @ Solomon's Porch, they sat under Apostle's sharings.  (2)  Small groups, living in homes together throughout city, without  any local leaders.  No Bible studies (most were illiterate); no meet­ing agendas; no evangelism outreaches (except via personal indi­vidual contacts).  Only experiencing Christ!  Only learning Christ.  Only sharing Christ within each.  All stayed in Jerusa­lem.  Continued  this way for 4 years.  Ecclesia increased to maybe 10,000 in Jerusalem (that's 1/10 of city population).  Healing miracles.  Opposition by Jewish leaders increasing.

 

HY3793 or 4 (AD33 or 34) - Ananias & Sapphira lied to Holy Spirit re not giving all to ecclesia, were slain by Spirit, demonstrating tremendous authority       of Apostles.  (Acts 5:1-16).

 

HY3794 (AD34) - Persecution by Jewish leaders.  Apostles arrested.  "Broken out" of jail by angels.  Back to teach @ Solomon's Porch.  Arrested again.  Tried.

            Beaten (39 lashes).  Back to teach @ Solomon's Porch. (Acts 5:17-42).

 

HY3795 (AD35) - Racial tension in local home meetings.  Jewish Christians prejudiced against Greek Christians.         7 men (not elders nor deacons) appointed to distribute provisions, sparing apostles to focus on sharing                 Christ. First "laying on of hands" ordination.  (Acts 6:1-6).

 

HY3797 (AD37) - Tiberius dies.  Gaius Caligula becomes emperor.

 

HY3797 (AD37) - Stephen (first new disciple) arrested.  Saul (& others) vs Stephen debate (possibly in Libertine Synagogue).  Stephen stoned to death.  Jewish leaders search out and arrest all Christians they can find. Apostles into hiding.  (Acts 6:7 - 8:3).

 

HY3797-3801 (AD37-AD41) - Persecution drives 20,000 believers out of Jerusalem into Judea after Stephen's martyrdom (Acts 8:1).  100-150 new ecclesia groups started throughout Judea (each town, but only among Jews).              Simon Niger, Manaen, and Lucius (Luke!) among them.  Gentile group at Antioch was started at this time (Acts 11:19-21).  These local groups started with                      just one or two experienced men from Jerusalem, plus all others being local responders to their preaching.  So now we have local people in groups (up til now, almost every believer had come to Jerusalem from elsewhere) (Acts 8:4).

 

HY3797 (AD37) - Philip (second new disciple) identified (as an evangelist).  Goes North to Samaria.  Many in Samaria (not Jews) responded to Gospel preached by Philip.  Philip then goes to Gaza (conversion of Ethiopian eunuch).  Then to Azotus, etc., along seacoast to Caesarea.  (Acts 8:5-40).

 

HY3798 (AD38) - Saul's conversion on road to Damascus. After brief stay in Damascus, Saul "disappears" for 3 years in "Arabia", where he grew in personal relationship with Christ.  (Acts 9:1-25).

 

HY3798-HY3801 (AD38-AD41) - Church at Jerusalem, less (but still) persecuted, revives on a small scale.  In AD41, persecution ends for a while.

 

HY3801 (AD41) - After 3 years in "Arabia", Saul visits Jerusalem, spends 2 weeks with Peter, then secretly escapes, via Caesarea, to Tarsus, his hometown in                Cilicia.  (Acts 9:26-30).  Note:"  in next 3 years, Saul preached Christ in several areas of Syria and Cilicia, for on his second journey out of Antioch       we find him revisiting some churches in that area to encourage them.  Also, it is probably during this time he had the vision of Paradise he 14 years later         reported in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4.

 

HY3801 (AD41) - Caligula dies.  Claudius now emperor.

 

HY3801 (AD41) - Peter visits Lydia and Joppa.  Heals Aeneas. Raises Tabitha (Dorcas) from dead.  Housetop vision to reach out to gentiles.  Conversion of gentiles in house of Cornelius at Caesarea (Acts 9:32 - 10:48).  Apostles in Jerusalem accept conversion of gentiles (Acts 11:1-18).

 

3.  The Early (Gentile) Church: 43AD - 47AD

 

HY3803 (AD43) - Barnabas sent from Jerusalem to Antioch (as a "worker", not an apostle) to investigate things.             (Antioch doesn't just have a few gentile believers in a Jewish group, but is predominantly gentile.)  He recognizes validity of group, encourages them, and the   fellowship grows.  Barnabas then goes to Tarsus to get Saul.  Saul goes to Antioch with Barnabas, and stays              there another 4 years just observing Barnabas (making a total of ten years Saul is "doing nothing" after his conversion).  (Acts 11:22-30).

 

HY3803 (AD43) - Agabus, recognized as a prophet in Jerusalem, visits Antioch and prophecies a coming famine.  The brethren collect food supplies (not money) for those in Jerusalem.  Barnabas & Saul take it to Jerusalem. (Acts 11:27-30).

Note:  throughout the Book of Acts and the letters of Paul, the local fellowships ("Ecclesia", translated "churches") were re­ferred to and addressed not by the local leaders (there never were any!) but simply to and by "brethren".  The Greek word for "breth­ren", Adelphoi, simply means "people" (in these contexts also "believers").  Since women were never regarded as second-class believers in the early church, a more appropriate translation of Adelphoi, which we use here, is "brothers and sisters".

 

HY3804 (AD44) - Herod Agrippa I has James (Apostle, brother of John, not half-brother of Jesus) killed.  Arrests Peter also, but Peter is liberated by angel.  Herod Agrippa I then soon dies (Acts 12:23).  But in the turmoil of all this, Barnabas and Saul do not get to visit apostles in Jerusalem, just their elders,  to give them the food supplies they brought.  (Note: Jerusalem church now has "elders" - not for spiritual ministry, but solely for administrative duties.)                         Barnabas and Saul return to Antioch, bringing Barnabas' sister's son John Mark with them. (Acts 12:1-25).

 

Antioch church lived on prayer and spiritual experience, not on "evangelical outreach" nor "missions", even though it was the most "evangelical" church in history.  It had no elders nor pastors!  In all matters, it was the "brethren" or "brothers and sisters") who decided things.  Barnabas was to them as the Apostles were to the church at Jerusalem: shared their experiences with Christ to them.

 

4.  First Church-Planting Journey: 47AD - 48AD

 

AD47 - Three men - Simeon Niger, Manaen, and Lucius (Luke), originally from the Jerusalem church, now recognized as prophets and teachers.  This is 10 years after the Antioch church was started.  (Acts 13:1).  Holy Spirit spoke to all five men (these three plus          Barnabas and Saul) simultaneously and separately                     during prayer, that they (B. and S.) were to go ....  Brethren laid hands on them (ordination) and sent them.  (Acts 13:2-3).

 

Note;  God never sends those He calls until they first survive God's preparing state.  Church life does the preparing;  Holy Spirit does the sending; brethren do the ordaining.

 

March AD47 - Barnabas and Saul, with John Mark along for  training, started out from Antioch.  They first went to Cyprus, Barnabas' home land.  Saul (now known also as Paul) confronted and blinded the false prophet Bar Jesus/Elymas.  Converted the proconsul, Sergius Paulus (Acts 13:4-12).

 

5.  Gentile Christians?  49AD

 

AD47 & 48 - First church-planting mission.  They went to Cyprus, and visit areas on the island from Salamis to Paphos.  They then sailed to Perga in Pamphylia (on the coast of Galatia.)  Barnabas now seemed to yield to Paul's leadership.  They then went to the Antioch of Pisidia section of South Galatia.  Paul's preaching very powerful first to Jews, but then he turned to gentiles when a majority of Jews were offended. Then they went more inland to Iconium, Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding regions of the Lyconia section of central Galatia.  They spent "a long time" in Iconium (Acts 14:3).  In Lystra, people mistook them as gods because of miracles which followed.  Jews from Antioch & Iconium came to Lystra and stoned Paul to "death" (Acts 14:19).  But Paul is resurrected as a result of prayers of the new Lystra converts (among which is Timothy).  They went next to Derbe.  After many new converts in Derbe, they retraced their steps back through Lystra and Iconium and Antioch to Pisidia in Pamphylia, appointing elders in each local fellowship on the way.  They then returned to Antioch via Attalia.  Note:  each church was at first left alone without any leadership;  elders were appointed later, not for spiritual ministry but rather for purely administrative and logistic activities. 

 

AD49 - Judaizers came to Antioch and tried to stir up trou­ble, saying gentile converts must be circumcised and become Jews.  That led to the "council at Jerusalem" of Acts 15.  Paul and Barnabas, supported by "brethren" (brothers and sisters) at Anti­och, went to Jerusalem, taking Titus with them.  Titus, probably originally converted early at Jerusalem and came early to Antioch, is now "in training" by Paul.[2]

 

At Jerusalem, the Apostles agreed to not require gentile converts to become Jews.  The agreement was made that Paul and Barnabas would concentrate on gentile areas for conversions, and Peter, James and John on Jewish areas (such as Judea) for conversions.  (No mention was made of the other Apostles, but they are still in Jerusalem at this time.)  The Apostles sent a letter to that effect back to Antioch.  Paul and Barnabas took Silas back to Antioch with them.  Also John Mark.  Back at Antioch, Paul and Barnabas split up over disagreement re role of John Mark.  As a result, Barnabas and John Mark went to Cyprus to continue the work of planing and encouraging churches there.

 

6.  Second Church-Planting Journey: 49AD - 52AD

 

AD49-51 or 52 - Paul now took Silas on a second church plant­ing journey.  They first went by land North to visit brothers and sisters in Syria and Cilicia, churches which had been planted by Paul before he first came to Antioch with Barnabas.  They then continued by land West, via Tarsus, to Derbe and Lystra in the Lyconia section of south Galatia.  At Lystra, Paul chose Timothy to join them, Timothy now also "in training" by Paul.  (Acts 16:1-3). Timothy's mother was a Jewess, though his father was a gen­tile.

 

Paul and Silas and Timothy now went further West, via Iconium and Antioch of Pisidia, through Phrygia to Troas (Troy) in Mysia.  The Holy Spirit prevented Paul from going to an area then called "Asia" (today the Southwestern portion of modern Turkey), nor North to Bithynia (today the Northwestern portion of modern Turkey).  They were rather called to go to Macedonia (Northernmost part of modern Greece).  By boat, they went by an island called Samothrace to the seaport of Neapolis, and then by land to Philip­pi.  There Lydia, a woman of some wealth, was converted.  The "church" in Philippi probably met often in her house.  Lydia was a Jewess originally from Thyatira of the land called Lydia; she may be later referred to by the name Euodias or Syntyche in Philippi­ans 4:2.

 

In Philippi Paul delivered a spirit of divination from a slave-girl, whereupon her master caused the local authorities to arrest, beat and imprison Paul and Silas (Acts 16:23).  This was the first of seven times Paul was imprisoned.  But an earthquake opened the prison doors.  Paul and Silas led the jailer to conversion.  Released, they left Philippi, traveling south to Thessalonica (Acts 17:1).  After many were converted, they were driven out of Thessalonica by a mob of Jews resentful of the Gospel.  They went West to Beroea (Berea).  Silas and Timothy remained temporarily at Berea.  After many more were converted, some Jews from Thessaloni­ca came and drove Paul and Silas out of Berea.  Paul went by sea to Athens.  At Athens Paul debated the Greek philosophers.  A mong the converts mentioned were Dionysius, a women named Damaris, and others.  Paul then went to Corinth (Acts 18:1).

 

At Corinth, Paul met the Jews Aquilla and his wife Priscilla, who had been driven out of Pontus (near Rome) by emperor Claudius' edict expelling Jews from Rome.  Timothy and Silas, having gone to Thessalonica and Philippi, now joined Paul at Corinth.  As was his practice, Paul first preached to Jews, but when rejected by them, concentrated on gentiles.  A new "church" was planted, meeting in the house of Titus Justus.  Paul spent next 1½ years at Corinth.

Paul apparently was briefly imprisoned a second time during this stay in Corinth.  During this time, he wrote his first three epistles:  Galatians (to the churches at Derbe, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch of Pisidia), I Thessalonians, and II Thessalonians.  The churches in Galatia had been visited by Judaizers, Jewish converts who insisted that gentile Christians must become Jews;  Paul wrote this epistle to counteract that teaching.  Paul and Timothy (we don't know about Silas), plus Aquilla and Priscilla, finally left Corinth and went, via seaport of Cenchrea, to Ephesus in "Asia" (South-western portion of modern Turkey).  He visited Ephesus only briefly, and leaving Aquilla and Priscilla there, departed to Antioch via Caesarea (and possibly briefly in Jerusa­lem).

 

A Jew named Apollos, an eloquent follower of John the Baptist, came to Ephesus, where Aquilla and Priscilla "straightened him out" in doctrine.  Apollos then powerfully refuted Jews in public, showing by scripture that Jesus was the Messiah.  Apollos then went to Corinth.  But the "church" in Ephesus had not yet been properly "planted".

 

7.  Third  Church-Planting Journey: 52AD - 57AD

 

AD52(or53)-57 - Paul now took his third church-planting journey.  Paul (alone?) briefly revisited Tarsus, Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia, and then went on to Ephesus (Acts 19:1).  Immediately, 12 men who had been  influenced by Apollos' teaching, received the baptism into the Holy Spirit.  Paul then preached in a local synagogue for 3 months, and then spent 2 years preaching to gentiles in "house of Tyrannus".  Timothy joined Paul here at Ephesus.  Paul apparently also toured the countryside in "Asia" outside Ephesus, for churches were planted in Colossae and Hierapolos in the Lycus valley of "Asia", about mid-way between Iconium and Ephesus.

 

In AD56 Paul wrote 1 Corinthians while at Ephesus.  He sent Titus to Corinth with it.  He also sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, etc.).

 

Demetrius, a silversmith involved in Artemis worship, caused a riot in Ephesus against Paul.  After it quieted down, Paul exhort­ed the believers at Ephesus and left for Macedonia himself.

 

Paul went through the churches of Macedonia, and then by land via Illyricum to Corinth.  He spent three months there (Acts 20:3).  Paul apparently was briefly imprisoned a third time during this stay in Corinth.  Still in AD56, he wrote his epistle to the Romans while in Corinth.  Romans chapter 16 lists several from the churches in Galatia and Macedonia whom he had previously sent to Rome to plant a church there in his absence.

 

He then escaped from a plot against him by going back to the Macedonia churches, and wrote 2 Corinthians while in Macedonia (Thessalonica or Philippi).  He was accompanied by Sopater (Of Beroea), Aristarchus and Secundus (of Thessalonica), Gaius (of Derbe), Timothy (of Lystra), and Tychicus and Trophimus (of "Asia") - who went ahead of him to Troas.  These are examples of believers who Paul recognized, upon his revisits to churches he had planted, had matured in the Lord and were ready for church-planting service themselves.  Paul sailed from Philippi to Troas.  While fellowshipping with believers there, he "resurrected" Eu­tychus.  Paul, now with Luke, traveled to Miletus.  Some elders from Ephesus came up to meet him for his farewell to them.  Paul and Luke then sailed via islands of Cos and Rhodes to Patara;  then to Tyre on Syrian coast;  then down to Caesarea, where Philip & his four prophetess daughters joined him.  A prophet Agabus prophecied that Paul will be bound and improvisoned in Jerusalem.  Mnason also joined them.

 

8.  Trouble In Jerusalem: 57AD - 60AD

 

HY3817 (AD57, before Pentecost) - They then went to Jerusalem (Acts 21:17);  were mobbed in Temple;  were rescued by Roman Com­mander; gave a defense to people;  were brought before council; escaped a Jewish conspiracy by being sent under Roman guard to Caesarea;  appealed to Rome (i.e., on basis of his Roman citizen­ship);  defended himself before Felix and King Agrippa.  He then began his fourth of seven imprisonments,  this time of 5 years, 2 under Felix at Caesarea.

 

 

 

 

9.  On To Rome: 60AD - 61AD

 

HY3820 Early spring AD60 -  Ship-wrecked at Malta on their trip to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:1).  Trip to Rome via Puteoli on Itali­an peninsula (Acts 28:13-14).  Met by brothers and sisters of Roman "church" - this was 3 years after his letter to them was written from Corinth.  Prisoner under Nero for 2 years (his fourth of 7 imprisonments) - apparently a "house imprisonment" in his own rented quarters (Acts 28:30-31).  During this time he wrote his epistles to Philippians, Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians (this latter was really to the Laodiceans, or "2 Colossians").  By this time, the Judaizers threat to Christianity had died down for the most part, but a new threat, that of "Gnosticism" was arising due to the influence of Greek philosophy;  Paul wrote his epistles to the Colossians to counteract that new threat.

AD60-61 -  At this point Luke's account in the Book of Acts ends.  But not the history of the Way.  Much further information is obtained from the epistles Paul wrote while at Rome, some after this time, plus the writings of Josephus, Clement, Polycarp, and Eusebius.

 

10.  Jerusalem Church Scattered And Eschatologically Confused:

62AD - 63AD

 

At Passover AD62 (HY3822), James (brother of Christ) was martyred.  One Jew Joshua ben Ananias began a prophetic dirge against Jerusa­lem and the Temple, starting on the Feast of Tabernacles HY3823 (October AD62).  Not long after James' death, the apostles and disciples (mostly Jewish believers) who were in Jerusalem and Judea were driven out of Judea and began to be scattered abroad, many going to the areas around Galatia and Ephesus.  Thomas possi­bly went to Parthia, Andrew to Scythia, Philip to Hieriopolis near Laodicea, and John to Ephesus

 

The years AD63, AD66 and AD70 were of major significance to early Christianity.  The apostles and early christians were convinced that the second coming of Christ would occur in AD70.  That was a result of their (mis)interpretation of Christ's words re events during "the last days" recorded in Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32:  "This generation will not pass away until all [these] things take place."  To them, "a generation" meant 40 years, and they thought those 40 years were to begin upon Christ's crucifix­ion during Passover of HY3790 (AD30).  Furthermore, they expected the Roman empire to be destroyed by the sabbatical year HY3823 (AD63) as a result of the visions in Daniel 2:33-45 (the kingdom of legs of iron and feet of iron and clay indeed referring to the Roman empire) and Daniel 7:20-26 (the fourth beast also indeed referring to the Roman empire).  Late AD66 was also interpreted according to the 3½ years mentioned in Daniel 7:25.

 

Hence, prior to the early AD60s, the thrust of the apostles' and church planters' teachings (including Paul) was to get ready for the second coming of Christ.  But as AD63 approached, it became obvious that the Roman empire was far from about to disintegrate.  Paul was first to realize that the prophecies of Christ's return were for far into the future.  But Paul's teachings on the "mys­tery", which he wrote in detail in his Epistle to the Ephesians (2 Colossians), was not widely accepted at first.

 

11.  Paul From Rome To Ephesus: 61AD - 64AD

 

AD61-63 - Paul was released from Roman imprisonment in early AD61.  Just before, he wrote to Philemon (who lived in Colossae) that he expected to soon be released, as he was.  Paul went to "the westernmost parts of the empire (probably including Spain and the British Isles) for a few months each.  He then went to Crete (Titus was there then) and Miletus and briefly Ephesus (he met Timothy there).  He then journeyed to northern Greece.  In Nicopo­lis he wintered over, during which time he wrote his epistle to Titus on Crete.  By this time, Paul was obviously well aware that Christ was not going to return from heaven in that generation: he suggests to Titus that a long period would yet elapse before then.  This was autumn AD63, near the end of the "significant" sabbatical year HY3823.

 

The following spring HY3824 (AD64) Paul went to Macedonia, during which he wrote his first epistle to Timothy.  In AD64, Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:16  that the mystery of Christ had, by then, been "preached among the nations and was believed on in the whole world" - the "whole world" being then the Roman empire. (See also Colossians 1:23.)  Here he first mentioned "the mystery", which he later explained in detail in his two epistles to the Colossians.  This "mystery" is a new revelation to Paul after he realized the end-time events had not occurred by the end of year HY3823 (AD63).

 

Still in AD64, after writing to Timothy, Paul returned to Ephesus.  There he was cast into prison (his sixth of 7 imprisonments).

 

 

 

 

12.  The Incredible Events Of 64AD

 

By AD64, the Roman persecution against Jews was so intense that Palestine was virtually vacated of Jews (Christians and non-chris­tians alike); they went to all parts of the empire and hid their Jewishness.  In the wake of Rome's fire on July 19, AD64, Chris­tians were also persecuted all throughout the empire.  In addi­tion, as a result of the prophetic disappointment of AD63, vast number of Jewish Christians abandoned the faith, and joined the revolutionary forces of the Roman/Jewish war of AD66-70.  It was during this time (late summer or early autumn AD64) that Peter wrote his first epistle, probably while he was still in Jerusalem.  (While in AD56, say, there were tens of thousands of Christian Jews in Jerusalem, by AD66 there were only a few hundred left.)

 

Another major event of AD64 was the completion of the Temple, which was begun 80 years earlier by Herod, and had been worked on slowly since then.  To the Jews it meant that now their Messiah could arrive.  But Paul was now teaching "the mystery" revelation, i.e.  for example that "the middle wall of partition" in the Temple at Jerusalem was now abolished and destroyed in the eyes of God (Ephesians 2:14).

 

Paul had long taught against the necessity for the physical ceremonies of the Law of Moses (i.e., circumci­sion, holy days, exclusion of gentiles, etc.)  He even taught that the Law given to Moses was inferior to that given to the Apostles of Christianity.  This was too much for most Jewish Christians to take.  So, when Paul went to Galatia in AD65 (with the "churches" in that area overwhelmed with the vast number of Jewish believers from Palestine), he encountered intense hostility to his message and person.  Even the Apostle John, soon if not then at Ephesus, seems to not had anything to do with him.  And Peter, probably still in Jerusalem in hiding, did not then support Paul's teach­ings either.

 

But God sovereignly turned things around for wide acceptance of Paul's "mystery" by Jewish (and gentile) Christians.  There had already been miraculous occurrences going on continuously in the Temple since Christ's crucifixion in HY3790 (AD30), which all Jews (including the Apostles) were well aware of foretold that a de­struction of the Temple would "soon" occur:

 

(1)  The gates of the Hekel opened daily of their own ac­cord.  These were eight-story high gates in front of the curtain of the Temple  - the external entrance to the "Holy Place".

           

(2)  The High Priest always selected the black (never the white) stone for the right hand goat on the Day of Atonement ceremonies.

           

(3)  The westernmost lamp of the Menorah (supposed to be continually light) went out every night (365 days each year).

           

(4)  The crimson thread on the garment of the High Priest never turned white.  Historically it sporadicaly had turned white when he came back from the Shekinah Glory in the Holy Place on the Day of Atonement.

 

13.  The Incredible Events Of 66AD

 

But now, in spring AD66, four major miraculous occurrences re the Temple occurred during two months early in HY3826 (spring of AD66):

 

(1)  On 8 Nisan HY3826 (just before Passover AD66),  at 3AM, an extremely intense light shone around the altar of the inner Temple ("Holy of Holies") for about ½ hour.  This signaled to the scribes that the Shekinah glory (Presence) of God was about to depart.

           

(2)  On 15 Nisan HY3826 (Passover, early Spring AD66), at midnight, the large brass eastern or Nicanor gate of the inner court (behind the "veil") opened of its own accord.

           

(3)  On 21 Iyar HY3826, the last day of the Passover season, and 2 weeks before Pentecost (AD66), multitudes of eyewitnesses saw in the air before sunset throughout all areas of Judea many chariots and armed battalions coursing through the clouds and encircling the cities.

           

(4)  On 6 Sivan HY3826 (Pentecost, June AD66), at nightfall, there was a loud commotion and roar in the inner court of the Temple, and the voice of a great multitude (a Bat Kol or "voice of God"), saying "We are departing hence."  This was authoritatively witnessed by all of the 24 chief Temple priests plus the High Priest during their ministrations, at the only time during the year when all 25 were there.

 

This departure of the Deity from the Temple occurred exactly 36 years to the day from when the Holy Spirit was first given to the Apostles.  Also, the Jews retained historical records that the Shekinah glory of God, when it left the Temple at this time, moved to and remained at the Mount of Olives for 3½ years (where Christ had been actually crucified).

 

In response to these signs, the few remaining Christians in Jeru­salem and Judea packed up their belongings and left for Pella some 60 miles northeast of Jerusalem.  They clearly recognized that the second advent of Christ would not take place in that generation, but Christ's warning in Matthew 24:15-16 and Luke 21:20-24 was to occur then..

 

It also made Peter and John independently realize that Paul's teaching was indeed correct, no matter how hard it was for each of them at first to acknowledge.

 

14.  Paul Back To Rome: 65AD - 68AD

 

AD65 - Paul, released from prison in Ephesus in early AD65, visit­ed Laodicea and Colossae in Galatia, but encountered stiff opposi­tion from the believers there.  He then goes to Rome, possibly under military escort (to be imprisoned under Nero's persecution of Christians), via Troas, Corinth, and Malta.   He reached Rome in early autumn of AD65.  Luke was with him.  His seventh (and last) imprisonment was in Rome AD66-68 before his execution by Nero sometime before Nero's death in June AD68.  He wrote II Ti­mothy during this last imprisonment in Rome, asking he, with John Mark, to come to Rome before winter.  They reached Rome by late autumn AD66. 

 

John was by this time at Ephesus.  Many years before, he had his vision on Patmos, which he had recorded in what we now note as the Book of Revelations (except the "misplaced" chapters 12-14; he had not yet received those remaining chapters).

 

15.  Peter To Rome: 66AD

 

Peter was probably still in Jerusalem at this time.  With the apostle Paul still alive in Rome in the early summer of AD66 but without any hope of his release from Roman custody, Peter decided to journey to Rome to discuss with Paul what to do about the fu­ture.  Both Peter and Paul "taught together in Italy and were martyred about the same time."  It was by then evident indepen­dently to both Peter and John that Paul had been given special revelations concerning the fullness of the Gospel, and these teachings with other writings of the early Christians needed to be collated and saved.

 

AD66 (Autumn) - After being in Rome with Paul for a little while, Peter wrote his Second Epistle, to those (primarily Jewish) Christians who had earlier migrated into Asia Minor.  Peter saw the great apostasy which was about to happen among Jewish Chris­tians.  He saw clearly how so many Jewish Christians, no longer expecting Christ's soon return, were beginning to doubt the Gospel and to abandon the faith, and turn to overthrowing the Roman empire through physical revolution.  So in II Peter he tried to warn them to not join the revolutionary forces.  That indeed began in earnest in late AD66.  Shortly thereafter, Jude wrote his epistle, noting that what Peter had predicted, was then actually happening.  The result of that revolution is now history - from late AD66 through AD70 the Romans almost totally destroyed Jerusa­lem, including the Temple, and almost exterminated Jews from the empire.  Even the Jews' most formidable holdout, Masada, eventual­ly had to succumb to the Roman military might.

 

Hence, after AD66, it was mainly the non-Jewish Christians who carried the torch of the Gospel.

 

16.  Peter, John Mark and Timothy With Paul In Rome To Canonize

Most Of New Testament: 66AD - 68AD

 

Meanwhile, back in Rome.  Peter recognized that only he and the Apostle John, of the three witnesses of Christ's transfiguration (II Peter 1:13-21), had the authority to canonize the New Testa­ment writings.  Yet Peter also recognized the validity of Paul's revelations.  So, also in his second epistle, Peter gave his apostolic authority to Paul's writings (II Peter 3:15-16).

 

Paul also was directly involved in canonizing the New Testament.  In AD67, Paul wrote his second epistle to Timothy, making two desperate requests for him to come to Rome as soon as possible (II Timothy 4:9):  (1)  bring John Mark with you; I have need for him (II Timothy 4:11);  and (2)  bring with you the "cloak" ('phel­onen', or 'briefcase') I left at Troas with Carpus, and the scrolls, especially the parchments" (II Timothy 4:13).

 

John Mark had been Peter's scribe in writing the Gospel of Mark (that was really Peter's Gospel).  Paul needed him to join he and Peter (and Luke) at Rome to decide which writings were to form the New Testament cannon.  And of course Paul needed his own writings which had been left at Troas before his last imprisonment.

 

So, in late AD66 and early AD67, Peter and Paul in Rome (shortly before their executions), with John Mark, Timothy and Luke, com­plete their contributions to the preparation of the New Testament cannon.

 

In the final weeks of AD66 or early in AD67, Peter realized he was soon to die and hastened to work with Paul in finalizing the scriptures as far as they could, before sending them to John for him to complete.  John Mark, Peter's scribe, was needed in Rome to help Peter's (and Paul's) final editing of their writings for that purpose.  It was probably then that John Mark wrote his Gospel from Peter's dictation.  Peter and Paul edited and arranged the 14 epistles of Paul (including Hebrews) in the final order (which was Hebrews immediately after II Thessalonians and before I Timothy).

 

Peter and John considered themselves as having "a prophetic word more confirmed" (II Peter 1:18), and this was a reference to their written works as being inspired of God (II Peter 1:20).  Hence Peter recognized the final formation of the canon was John's responsibility.

 

17.  John And Other Apostles At Ephesus Complete New Testament:

66AD - 70AD             (Completed In 96AD)

 

Both Paul and Peter were executed before Nero's death in June AD68.

 

After AD70, the persecution of Christians by Rome ended.  The region of Western Asia Minor (from the area around Ephesus to Galatia) was a major Christian center, both from the early church planting work of Paul, and the later mass migration of Jewish Christians from Judea.  Also the Mount of Olives outside of Jeru­salem was regarded by Christians as the most Holy place on earth, and some Christians returned to that area to live.

 

During the tumultuous years AD66-70 John was in Ephesus, along with some of the other Apostles plus several "elders" as he called them.  It was they, under John's leadership, who completed the New Testament canon between AD70 and his death about AD98 after Trajan became emperor.  It would take John 30 years to complete it.

 

It was during this time (after AD70) John, together with his "elders", wrote his Gospel.  Also during this time he received the second part of his revelations, which we know as Revelations chapters 12-14.  The 3 short epistles of John were written some­time during this time as well.

 

The writings of some early church leaders (Polycarp, Clement and Eusebius) indicate that during this time (AD70 through early AD90's), John was not respected, indeed ignored, by most Chris­tians even in the Ephesus area where he lived.  This was due to the fact that when John first wrote Revelations Chapters 1-11 &15-22 (sometime in AD56-60), it was widely interpreted to refer to events pertaining to Christ's return in their generation.  Since Christ did not return then, John's Revelations, and John, were regarded with suspicion of being in deception.  John's stubborn personality did not help matters, either.  Hence the acceptance of the New Testament canon as finally finalized by John in AD96 was not widely accepted until well into the AD100's.  Polycarp was a main instrument in its final acceptance.

 

18.  Satan’s Subsequent Attacks Throughout History

 

The local gathering of believers at the very beginning, called the "ecclesia" or "church", were in all cases simply gatherings of brothers and sisters with no human leadership!  They were not involved in "Bible studies", since the vast majority were illiter­ate, though they would sit under a church planter's teachings at times, apart from their local gatherings.  The emphasis was on personally experiencing Christ Who dwelt within each believer.  The leadership of the local gatherings was by the Holy Spirit of Christ, who coordinated and yet personalized everybody.

 

But throughout history, Satan has attacked the church in many ways, always using human leadership!  And that human leadership was always by men who honestly thought they were following God's Word and Will.

The first attack was by Judaizers, Jewish believers who thought the Gospel was only for the Jews, and hence any gentiles being converted had to be circumcised and adopt the Mosaic law.  This plagued Paul throughout his ministry;  his early epistle to the Galatians contains his arguments against this attack.

 

The second attack was by Gnostics.  These were Christian believers who were influenced by Greek philosophy, which denied the human spirit but taught that man is only body and soul.  But Christ is Spirit, and it is only by His Holy Spirit working in and dwelling within our human spirits that we can know Him.  With that being denied, Gnosticism interpreted all "spiritual" issues as doctrinal issues;  that being a Christian was a matter of knowing and men­tally believing the "facts" about Him.  Paul's first epistle to Timothy rings with warnings against Gnosticism.  Gnosticism in various forms has plagued Christianity all throughout the ages, and still does today.

 

The third attack came in the AD60s by Jewish believers who, no longer believed that Christ was going to return ion their genera­tion, felt they had been deceived by the Apostles' teachings, and abandoned the faith in large numbers.  Many further joined the Jewish revolution against Rome in the Roman/Jewish war of AD66-70, resulting in the near annihilation of the Jews.

 

The most destructive attack on Christianity occurred in the mid AD300' when Constantine's mother Helena made a false religion out of The Way.  This was in fact but a new version of ancient reli­gion of Baal, with "Christian" names, terms, and symbols.  As a result, to this day Christianity, both Catholicism and Protestan­tism, is the most idolatrous religion in the world in terms of the average number of idols possessed by each believer.

 

Once The Way was desecrated into a religion, the next attack came by giving the leaders of that religion political authority, in­cluding military power to enforce their religion on everyone living within their geographic domain.  The name for this is "sacral religion".  The history of the Roman Catholic church is replete with examples of this.  But even Protestant Christianity was guilty of this in their persecutions of Anabaptists.  In fact, human history over and over shows, without exception, that whenev­er any religion gains political power, those of other religions or for whatever reason reject that sacral religion are persecuted!

 

The Protestant Reformation has not delivered Christianity from any of these attacks.  For one thing, it was not a reformation of personally experiencing Christ; it was merely a doctrinal reforma­tion.  Believing the "correct" doctrine was and still is consid­ered the one and only true test of being a Christian.

Concomitant to this is that a gathering of believers is not a church without local elders and pastors leading the meetings.

 

A major attack currently raging among modern "evangelical" Chris­tianity is that of saying that the only proper Christian truth is that Christ died on the Cross to deliver us from the consequences of our sins and to get us to heaven after we die, and that until He comes again we are to witness the Gospel message to all whoso­ever will listen.  That is of course true.  But to limit believers to only that part of the Gospel guarantees impotency!

 

As a consequence of these attacks, and their many local varia­tions, Christianity today is a far far cry from our Lord's origi­nal intent.  And a far far cry from what He will soon be restoring us unto.

 

All throughout the church age, there has always existed somewhere on earth true Body of Christ believer groups like those of the mid-first century.  But since our main historical sources of Christianity come from the visible Christian religious organiza­tion, which was their enemies, we know little about those groups, and what we do know is somewhat biased against them.  Neverthe­less, down through history such groups always existed.  And our Lord will soon restructure and resettle His true Body in similar ways.



[1]  4-digit numbers preceeded with HY are years in the Hebrew calen­dar.  We specify dates that way for events whose timings are more accurately known to us today by their datings in the Hebrew calendar.

 

[2]  Note:  new church planters and apostles were trained, not by Bible school nor seminary, but by living with and observing their mentor over a period of several years, just as the 12 original Apostles lived with and observed Jesus.