No one can doubt that Apostolic faith is found in the Book of Acts. Those who believe and practice their faith like the Apostles are practicing that kind of faith. To Catholics and most traditional Protestants and Orthodox Christians, Christianity is no more than just a ritual to please God, performed for an hour on Sunday, and at big events like baptism, confirmation, weddings, and funerals, and then returning to one’s life. Apostolic faith is faith in the Messiah with a mission and a ministry. It is meant to challenge those who read it to understand that faith in Yeshua is active, not passive. It should not be left up to priests or ministers to become fishers of men. The full community of Christians should have a ministry and be much more than a group of people just believing that God exists.
Beliefs held by the first Christians who were Galilean and Judean Jews:
They believed that Yeshua was represented by the Afikomen, middle matzah in the pile of three during the Passover Seder. Completely bake the matzoh in less than 7 minutes. After that there is a natural “rising” in the wheat dough that must be prevented from happening. When the matzoh is baked in less than 7 miutes holes in the Matzah occur which represented Yeshua pierced as stated in Zech 12:10 and the burnt stripes in the matzah represented his scourging as found in Isaiah 53:5. He was slain the day before Passover when the Lambs were being slaughtered in the Temple in preparation for Passover. This being the Feast of Unleavened Bread ,when the leaven was discarded, he who is without sin, was buried. As leaven signified sin, so Yeshua became sin for us. Therefore, Yeshua, who became sin, was buried. On the Feast of First Fruits, Yeshua was the first to be resurrected in his glorified body. The other feasts relate to Yeshua’s return. The Feast of Trumpets announces the coming of the Messiah. We see this in the Trumpets when they blow in the Book of Revelation. Yom Kippur reminds us of the finality of Atonement. The Talmud mentions a red thread tied to the scapegoat that no longer turned white from a period of 40 years before the destruction of the Temple. It reminds us that temple sacrifice is no longer required due to the sacrificial death of the Messiah. And finally the Feast of Tabernacles commemorates the coming of the Messiah and the final ingathering of God’s people together with the Messiah after his triumphant return to gather his church and save his people Israel.
So with Yeshua resurrected (30 AD), he appeared to people numerous times over the next 40 days:
There is an earthquake, bright light and the stone is rolled back. This is witnessed by Jewish Temple guards who fall to the ground frightened (Matt. 28:2-4).
The women come to the gravesite early Sunday morning and see the stone removed. They witness one angel inside the tomb to the right side and then quickly depart (Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1-8; John 20:1-2).
A few of the Apostles then come to see the empty tomb. After seeing that Yeshua is not there they leave (John 20: 3-10).
The women return and encounter an angel sitting on the tombstone who tells them to look inside (Matt. 28:5-6).
As they look inside the tomb the women encounter two more angels (John 20:11-13; Luke 24:1-8).
The women depart except for Mary Magdalene. She stays at the tomb (Matt 28:7-8).
Yeshua greets Mary Magdalene and tells her to tell the Disciples that He is Risen (Mark 16:9; John 20:14-17).
Yeshua then greets the women, who left earlier, on the road and tells them to tell the Disciples He is Risen (Matt. 28:9-10).
The Jewish Temple guards tell the chief priests what has happened. The High Priest bribes the guards to say that the disciples broke the seal, rolled away the massive cover stone, and stole the body of Jesus, and are reassured that the priests will stand up for them if the Roman authorities charge them with dereliction of duty [a capital offense] (Matt. 28:11-15).
The women reach the Disciples and tell them they saw Yeshua. The Disciples refuse to believe it. (Mark 16:10-11; Luke 24:9-10; John 20:18).
Yeshua meets two Disciples on the road to Emmaus and performs a miracle. They return to tell the Apostles (Mark 16:12-13 Luke 24:13-32).
Yeshua appears to Simon Peter (Luke 24:33-34). *Paul summarizes these appearances in 1 Corinthians 15:5 that Yeshua appeared to Peter.*
Yeshua appeared to all the Apostles except Thomas (Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:35-49; John 20: 19-24)
Yeshua greets the Apostles again. This time Thomas is present (John 20:25-29). *1 Corinthians 15:5 states Yeshua appeared to the twelve.*
Yeshua meets the Apostles at a Mountain in Galilee (Matt. 28: 16-20). *1 Corinthians 15:6 states after that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 1 Cor. 15:7 states he also appeared to James, Yeshua’s brother.*
Yeshua meets the Apostles at Lake Tiberias (John 21:1-25, 1 Cor. 15:7).
Yeshua ascends to Heaven in front of the Apostles and tells them to wait for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-12).
The following is Paul’s testimony concerning the resurrection. 1 Corinthians 15:8-9 states “and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God (Acts 9:3-6).”
The Appearance of the Risen Lord to all of these eyewitnesses was not enough to propel them to preach with boldness. After these events, Acts 1:15 states in Jerusalem that 120 believed before Shavuot (“Pentecost”). Therefore, the 120 people who knew the tomb was empty and to whom Yeshua appeared, were Jews. This occurred 50 days after Passover.
Messianic Jews receive the Holy Spirit at Shavuot, or Pentecost (Acts 2:1, 41). These Jews were not called Christians. The Law was given to Moses 50 days after Passover and the Holy Spirit was given 50 days after Passover. In Exodus 32, 3000 people died and in Acts chapter 2, 3000 were saved after Peter preached to them. Israel was born with the giving of the Law and the Church was born with the giving of the Spirit. With the receiving of the Spirit, their conversion was complete and Peter finally became a fisher of men as Yeshua stated years before. Afterwards, the Holy Spirit led Messianic Jews to meet together where they broke bread as Yeshua showed them. Christian brother/sisterhood through the Spirit led them to share what they had with others. They then began to preach in the Temple knowing that resistance to their message was a certainty. Their preaching and inclusiveness in the breaking of bread resulted in more converts.
Continued preaching in public led to more repentance and conversion. It was then shared with the Jews of Jerusalem that Yeshua was the Prophet of Deuteronomy 18:18. The Judeans in Jerusalem were also reminded of the consequences of rejecting God’s Messiah as found in that prophesy (Acts 3).
Interestingly, persecution came from the Judean leadership following evidence of a miracle. The combination of their absolute faith with the Spirit produced a miracle that resulted in 5000 more converts. This also illustrated that Jewish people will listen when they are away from or free of rabbinical interference. As stated in the Book of Acts, many Jewish people were willing to hear and believe. As for the Messianic preachers, proof of the presence of the Holy Spirit occurred when believers spoke about Yeshua with boldness. This Jewish church was of one mind and shared what they had. They were all of one purpose as they sold what they had for the body of the Messiah and for those in need (Acts 4).
The Apostles continue to manifest signs and miracles through the Messiah among the Jews and more converts to the faith occur. As Yeshua was healing Jews through the Apostles, the Sadducees began to persecute them. Although the Sadducees were shown signs, they refused to believe. The Sadducees could not accept Messianic faith until they renounced their own beliefs because they were secularized, totally legalistic, and had no belief in the canonicity of the Tenakh beyond the Torah, i.e., they felt the Prophets, Psalms, etc. were just religious writings, but not inspired, or revealed, and not of value in their time centuries later. A Sadducee was no closer to accepting Yeshua as Messiah than a pagan or a Zoroastrian. Yeshua told them point-blank that they were mistaken in their views about heaven, eternal life, and the resurrection. Yeshua maintained these were real. The Sadducees believed there was one life and then nothingness, much like modern day secular people. The Pharisees at least believed in the full Old Testament canon and believed in a real heaven, eternal life, and resurrection (Acts 5).
Peter plainly blamed these Jewish leaders for what occurred during the passion of Yeshua. He stated the Holy Spirit worked through those who obeyed the Lord. Despite Gamaliel’s plea to show temperance, the Apostles were beaten by the Sadducees. Even still, the Apostles ignored the commands of their religious leaders and continued to preach Yeshua to the Jewish people.
Believers demonstrated their unique problem solving ability as they were filled with the Spirit of God. Their deeds based on their faith brought more coverts which included Kohanim. Stephen became a disciple and performed miracles based on his faith. The synagogue leaders wanted Stephen silenced so they arrested him (Acts 6).
The Jewish religious leaders who claimed to keep the Torah, broke the Torah by hating a Jewish brother who told them the truth. They murdered Stephen by stoning him (Acts 7).
An intense persecution of the Messianic Jews followed (31-32 AD) that sent some to prison and forced all the converts out of Judea. After Philip departed he made many converts among the Samaritans through preaching and miracles from Yeshua. These folks were baptized into the faith but did not receive the Holy Spirit. They Received the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. Afterward, an Ethiopian was led to faith by reading the scripture and having a believer explain it to him (Acts 8).
Prior to Saul of Tarsus, the Holy Spirit allowed the Apostles to preach with boldness and perform signs and miracles. This brought the Jews in large numbers to faith in the Messiah. In living they walked the talk giving to those in need. Jews in authority would not listen despite the signs but some of the priests did believe. Preaching Yeshua in the synagogues brought persecution and death. All the believers except for the Apostles were driven from Jerusalem. With the conversion of the Ethiopian gentile, we move to Saul of Tarsus.
Saul decided to reject the advice of Gamaliel and began a persecution of the Messianic Jews (Acts 9:1; Gal. 1:13).
When his mission took him to Damascus (33 AD), Saul encountered the risen Messiah (Acts 9:15; Gal. 1:15-16).
After Saul regained his eyesight he began to preach Yeshua in Damascus synagogues (Acts 9:20).
After many days (34 AD), the non-believing Damascus Jews tried to kill him (Acts 9:22-25).
From Damascus, Paul went to Arabia, then returned to Damascus (Gal. 1:17).
Saul finally met Peter and Yeshua’s brother James in Jerusalem (Acts 9: 26-28; Gal. 1:18-20).
While in Jerusalem (37 AD), the Hellenic Jews recognized Paul and tried to kill him (Acts 9:29).
After escaping, Paul’s travels took him to Syria and Cilicia (Acts 9:30; Gal. 1:21).
Many more Jews convert by hearing Paul preach (Acts 9:31; Gal. 1 22-24).
During this period (40 AD), Jerusalem Messianic Jews continued preaching only to Jews in the environs of Judea. (Acts 11:19-21).
Eventually, after many years (44 AD), Barnabas was sent to Paul at Antioch (Acts 11:22-26).
After Barnabas’ arrival, Paul returned to Jerusalem (Gal. 2:1-10; Acts 11:30).
During this visit, James, brother of John, was beheaded by Herod Agrippa. Peter was then arrested and released by Yeshua. After Herod Agrippa died (46 AD), Paul, Barnabas and John Mark departed Jerusalem (Acts 12).
On Cyprus, Paul, Barnabas and John Mark preached in the Salamis synagogue. While in Cyprus, a Roman Proconsul was converted (Acts 13: 1-12).
After returning to Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were invited to speak in the Antioch synagogue. During the sermon, we learned that Yeshua appeared to Barnabas after the Resurrection. The words of Paul and Barnabas were accepted and some became converts (Acts 13: 13-43).
The next Sabbath (47 AD), while preaching, the gentiles came into the synagogue in great numbers. The Jews got jealous and then turned on Paul and Barnabas. They then spoke to the gentiles and made converts. The Jews drove Paul from Antioch (Acts 13: 44-52).
Paul and Barnabas then traveled to Iconium where they preached in their synagogue and converted Jews and gentiles. The Jews who refused to believe chased them out of Iconium (Acts 14:1-7).
At Lystra, Paul and Barnabas heal a cripple. While the people thought they were Greek gods, Antioch and Iconium Jews came together and almost stoned Paul to death (Acts 14:8-20).
After Paul recovered, he and Barnabas preached in Derbe and made many converts. They then returned to Lystra, Iconum and Antioch and appointed presbyters/elders. They preached at Perga and came back to Antioch (48 AD) where they told the church how faith was now opened to the gentiles (Acts 14:21-28).
Pharisee converts to Yeshua come to Antioch and insisted that gentiles be circumcised. The disagreement initiated the need for the council of Jerusalem. Peter said that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Yeshua. Paul and Barnabas described the wonders God worked among the gentiles (Acts 15:1-12).
James, Yeshua’s brother, makes the decision not to put a burden on the gentiles, only that they not worship idols, fornicate, only eat meat from slaughtered animals not strangled animals, and don’t drink blood. The Pharisee converts were not sent with James’ authority. Letters describing this agreement were sent to the churches (49 AD). The gentiles were delighted as Paul and Barnabas returned to Antioch (Acts 15:13-35).
Unfortunately, Paul and Barnabas separate over a disagreement concerning John Mark. Silas then traveled with Paul through Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:36-40).
In Derbe and Lystra, Paul received Timothy, a Greek, who had a Jewish mother. Paul had Timothy circumcised. These churches grew and gained more converts (Acts 16:1-5).
Paul, Silas and Timothy went to Macedonia where they convert a female named Lydia and her family (Acts 16:6-15).
At Philippi, Paul cast out a demon that costed a businessman money so he complained to the Romans who arrested and beat Paul and Silas with rods. While in prison an earthquake occurred. When the jailer thought the prisoners left he tried to kill himself but Paul stopped him. The jailer and his family came to faith. Paul and Silas were released from prison and returned to Lydia’s home (Acts 16:16-40).
Paul and Silas traveled to Thessalonica where they preached in the synagogue for a few weeks. Some Jews and many Greeks came to the faith. The Jews who rejected the message got the authorities to come after Jason who was housing them. They forced him to pay a surety (Acts 17:1-9).
Paul preached at the Berea synagogue where many Jews and gentiles came to the faith. Thessalonica Jews followed and forced Paul to leave, but Silas and Timothy stayed behind to cement the faith of the new converts (Acts 17:10-15).
Paul preached at Athens (50 AD) where Dionysius and Damaris became believers (Acts 17:16-34).
Paul preached in the synagogue at Corinth where the leader of the synagogue and his family became believers. They stayed at Corinth for 1.5 years (51 AD). Jews who disagreed with Paul beat Sosthenes the synagogue official (Acts 18:1-17).
Paul travelled and preached in Antioch, Ephesus, Caesarea, Antioch and Phyrgia (Acts 18:18-23).
Apollos, a Jew from Alexandria, began preaching to the Jews at Achaia (Acts 18:24-28).
Paul then travelled to Ephesus where he baptized in Yeshua’s name, laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-7).
Paul continued to preach in the synagogues until he was expelled by the Jews. He preached at Tyrannus (52 AD) for two years while signs and wonders continued (Acts 19:8-12).
A Demonic man attacked Jewish exorcists who used Yeshua’s name even though they were not believers. The spectacle of the Jews being beaten by the demoniac led many Greeks to faith at Ephesus (Acts 19:13-20).
After this event, Paul sent Timothy and Erastus to Macedonia (Acts 19: 21-22).
Greeks at Ephesus eventually rebelled because the business of selling idols was down due to numerous conversions (54 AD). Alexander calmed the crowd (Acts 19:23-40).
Gentile believers with Paul celebrate the Passover (Acts 20:1-6). Paul also broke bread the first day of the week (Acts 20:7-1).
Paul then observed Shavout (55 AD), or Pentecost, as he made plans to reach Jerusalem (Acts 20:13-16).
At this point, Paul, from the town of Miletus (56 AD), predicted his demise and stated, “I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry I received…to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace (Acts 20:17-38).”
Eventually, Paul arrived at Tyre where the Church told him to avoid Jerusalem (Acts 21:1-6).
Paul arrived at Caesarea and was met by Philip the Evangelist (1 of the 7) who had 4 daughters gifted with Prophesy. The Prophet Agabus told Paul that at Jerusalem he would be bound by the Jews and turned over to the gentiles (57 AD). Paul began preparing to die for Yeshua (Acts 21:7-14).
Paul arrived in Jerusalem and met James, Yeshua’s brother. They learn of Paul’s success among the gentiles and Paul learned that thousands of Jews in Jerusalem believed and were zealous observers of the Torah. Paul did the Jewish rituals as stated by Moses with other Jewish believes in Yeshua and then entered the Temple. This was done because the Jerusalem Messianic Jews said Paul was telling the Hellenic Jews to disregard the Torah (Acts 21:15-26).
Then Jews from Asia saw Paul, dragged him out of the Temple and tried to kill him by beating him. The Romans came and got Paul away from the mob. Paul addressed the Jews in Hebrew using his testimony, but they grew angry and the Romans removed him (Acts 22:1-30).
In front of the Sanhedrin, Paul was struck by a Temple guard in violation of the Torah. Paul told the Sanhedrin that he was a Pharisee. This caused the Pharisees and Sadducees to argue and Paul was removed. In prison, Yeshua appeared to Paul and told him that he would bear witness in Rome (Acts 23:1-11).
While in prison, forty Jews conspired with the Sanhedrin to murder Paul. His nephew learned of this conspiracy and told the Romans. Since Paul was a Roman citizen, he was transported to Governor Felix at Caesarea (Acts 23:12-35).
Paul was then put on trial before Felix for the cause of “the Way” and the Resurrection of the Dead (Acts 24:1-23).
Paul was left in prison (58-59 AD) for two years (Acts 24:24-27).
Chief Priests conspired to murder Paul if he were brought back to Jerusalem. The Jews pressure Festus to return Paul to Jerusalem. Paul a Roman citizen appealed to Caesar and the matter was concluded (Acts 25:1-12). However, the Jerusalem Jews continued to press for Paul’s death (Acts 25:13-27).
Paul then bore witness to faith and works by saying in Acts 26:20, “…to do works giving evidence of repentance.” Paul then bore testimony to King Agrippa (Acts 26:1-23).
Paul could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar (Acts 26:24-32).
After being sent to Rome, Paul and others were shipwrecked on Malta (Acts 27:1-44).
Paul then gained great favor from the Maltese after being bitten by a viper and surviving. Paul then healed all that needed to be healed on Malta (Acts 28:1-10).
After staying the winter (60 AD), Paul eventually arrived and was greeted by believers in Rome (Acts 28:11-16).
The same year, James, the brother of Yeshua, was arrested by the Chief Priest Ananus ben Ananus who had him stoned to death (62 AD)…Judicial murder.
Paul learned from the Jews in Rome that “the Way” was denounced everywhere. Paul then met all of the Jewish leaders and spent all day witnessing. Some were convinced and others were not. Paul quoted Isaiah 6:9-10 to them. The gentiles accepted it where the Jews resisted it. Paul continued to preach in house arrest for 2 more years. Paul is then beheaded by Nero during a Christian purge (64 AD) in Rome.
At the time of Paul’s death, most of the Apostles were also dead, except for John. Given every opportunity to accept the Good News the Jewish nation chose rebellion against the Romans at Jerusalem. In 70 AD, the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed. The Messianic Jews in Jerusalem did not fight but rather fled because they knew Yeshua predicted the demise of Jerusalem. The Way remained a Jewish sect until the conclusion of the Bar Kokhba rebellion in 135 AD. The Messianic Jews refused to fight and they were persecuted by Bar Kokhba. Simon Bar Kokhba and his mentor Rabbi Akiva were both put to death by the Romans. The Way was viewed by gentiles as a Jewish sect long after 70 AD, but even by the mid-60’s, the synagogues viewed followers of Yeshua as blasphemous heretics and violently drove them out of the synagogues. The Messianic Jews had no stake in late 1st-early 2nd century Rabbinical Judaism, and Rabbi Akiva’s declaration that Simon bar Kokhba was the messiah certainly was an explicitly anti-Christian action. Bar Kokhba’s rebellion finished the second Diaspora of the Jews out of the Holy Land, but the Messianic Jews had already been gone from there by the 70’s.
From this point, Biblical Christianity and Rabbinical Judaism grew apart. With the codification of the New Covenant, Biblical Christians interpreted the Tenakh through the New Covenant scriptures. The Pharisees who survived the Roman wars, unlike the Sadducees and Essenes, combined the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmud which included what they called the “oral Torah.” The Rabbis taught generations of Jews to interpret the Torah through the Talmud. The writings and Prophets were deemed less important. With the destruction of the Temple and the elevation of the Talmud any semblance of Biblical Judaism was replaced with Rabbinical Judaism. The Pharisaical rabbis that survived outside the Holy Land deliberately purged any sense of a near-term coming of Messiah out of teaching and practice, and referred to such an event as coinciding with a very distant end of history. Since the Torah, especially in Leviticus through Deuteronomy, was very heavily tied to the Levitical sacrificial system and was no longer viable, the Rabbis basically bred a fusion of their beliefs with the Sadducees’ beliefs, the Jews would profess a hope for the Messiah, but not an expectation of its imminence, and instead would focus on leading a good life and leaving a legacy of blessed living memory and good deeds (“mitzvot”) as their means of “eternal life.” Rabbinical Judaism essentially relies on Genesis and Exodus, and then jumps to the so-called Oral Law, which the Rabbis made up as they went along to insulate the Jews from the gentile world and from the growing Christianity while living in a de-facto perpetual exile, as aliens in a hostile world.
The rabbis still had some questions to answer for Jewry in Diaspora: How to achieve atonement without the Temple. How to explain the disastrous outcome of the rebellion. How to live in the post-Temple Romanized world. How to connect present and past traditions. The Rabbis arbitrarily decide to replace the provisions of Leviticus 17:11 with prayer, fasting, and good deeds. The failure of the rebellion was blamed on the Messianic Jews who refused to fight. They believed the beliefs of the Messianic Jews were a return to worshiping a foreign god and the Jews were punished by God for permitting this in their midst. Survival of the Jewish people would be based on strict adherence to the Talmud. The rabbis decided to connect the past to the present by telling the Jewish people that the oral Torah contained in the Talmud was originally revealed to Moses on Sinai and that they were representing the religion of Moses.
The Church as represented by the Apostles, was gradually changed after the Apostles’ deaths. The gentile dominant church eventually refused to accommodate the Messianic Jews and demanded conformity to Romanized Hellenic Christianity. The Apostolic faith can be found in the Book of Acts. The Apostolic faith illustrates that true Christians are to accept Jesus publicly, be baptized after a confession of faith, be prayed over by believers for the gift of the Holy Spirit, then acquire a ministry as led by the Spirit, support the church (body of believers), continually read the scriptures, repent after sinning, pray unceasingly, and work to live a blameless life so that we can lead people to faith as the Messiah draws them so that they may be saved and also be born from above.