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The early Church in the Acts of the Apostles and in their writings
First Period III - IV conclusion
First Period
1 - 7
First Period III - IV to conclusion

Acts 2nd (13-15)
2nd  mission
Acts 2nd
2nd Journey


St Paul Arrest Trial 
Acts 21 - 28



Agrippa I

Saint Pauls Journeys  3 maps  Complete
1 Prologue 2 Ascension
of Jesus
3 Matthias
elected  Apostle
4 Pentecost
5 Peter's speech 6 First Christian community
7 The cure of a cripple 8 Peter's speech
in the Temple
9 Peter and John at the Sanhedrim
10  prayer of the persecuted community 11 Brotherly love of the first Christians 12  Ananias and Sapphira deceit
13 Growth of the Christian community
14 The Apostles are arrested and brought before the Sanhedrim
15 Intervention by Gamaliel
16 Election of the seven deacons 17 Stephen on trial before the Sanhedri 18 Stephen's speech
19 Martyrdom of Stephen

III. Philip and Peter in Judea / Samaria  20 Jerusalem Churchpersecutio 21 Philip's Samaria mission
22 Simon Magus 23 Baptism of the Ethiopian
24 Conversion of Saul
25 Saul'sDamascus preaching  26 Saul's visit to Jerusalem 27 Peter's Lydda/Joppa 28 calling of Cornelius Centurion               29 Interlude: Peter's vision 30Peterbaptizes Cornelius
31  Peter justifies Cornelius' baptism 32 Church In Antioch help for  Jerusalem 33 JamesMartyed of  Peter's release 34 Death of
Herod Agrippa
35 BarnabasSaul again at Antioch The word 'simony'  Answer
Name a fundamental important event in the early Church!  Answer
who wrote the 1st Gospel Answer Who was Tabitha  and where? Answer
who wrote the 3rd Gospel and Acts  Answer When was  Acts
written Answer
How many letters
  of St Paul Answer

Disciples 1st called Christians - where when? answer
Who were Jesus'  3 special friends
 he was the last 'King of the Jews'

III.          The missions of Philip and of Peter
In Judea and In Samaria
The persecutions of which the Church in Jerusalem was the object drove the first disciples away from the city. They bore witness to the recent events in the cities and other places to which they went.
    The first journey about which St Luke tells us is that of Philip to Samaria (see no. 21). The persecutions were not, however, the only reason which sent the Gospel to other places: there was also its own interior power: it was the Holy Spirit who directed Philip to the south of Jerusalem where he baptized an Ethiopian (see no. 23).
     From the account of Saul's conversion we learn that there was a Christian community at Damascus. That community must have been of noteworthy importance for the Jerusalem authorities to have welcomed Saul's request and sent him as their envoy to arrest Christians and 'bring them bound' to Jerusalem (see no. 24). Peter himself carried his message to the Mediterranean coast at Joppa and Lydda (see no. 27).

    The early Church in this period continued to revolve around Jerusalem where lived the 'Twelve', or at least the most authoritative of the Apostles. Saul himself (Paul) after his conversion felt it necessary to come to Jerusalem.      From the Holy City, Christianity took practical steps to proclaim, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, its Universalist principle that was later justified doctrinally by Peter's vision at Caesarea (see no. 29).

20 Persecution of the Church at Jerusalem
     (Acts 8, 1-3)
     1 And Saul was consenting to his death.
     And on that day a great persecution arose against the church in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the region of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 Devout men buried Stephen, and made great lamentation over him. 
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  3 But Saul laid waste the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison.
21 Philip's missionary activity In Samaria
     (Acts 9, 4-8)
    4 Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.
Philip went down to a city of Samaria, and proclaimed to them the Christ. 6 And the multitudes with one accord gave heed to what was said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs, which he did. 7 For unclean spirits came out of many who were possessed, crying with a loud voice; and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was much joy in that city.

22 Simon Magus
   (Acts 8, 9-25)

    9 But there was a man named Simon who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the nation of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all gave heed to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is that power of God which is called Great." 11 And they gave heed to him, because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.
    14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands, he offered them money, saying, 19 "Give me also this power, that any one on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit. 20 But Peter said to him, "Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!
 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.  22 Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.  23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity."  24 And Simon answered, "Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me."
   25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
(1) The word 'simony' which means the buying and selling of holy things, is derived from Simon Magus' act in wishing to buy the Holy Spirit with money.
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23 The baptism of the Ethiopian
     (Acts 8, 26-40)
   26 But an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." This is a desert road. 27 And he rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch (1), a minister of Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Spirit said to Philip, "Go up and join this chariot." 30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, "Do you understand what you are reading?" 31 And he said, "How can I unless some one guides me?" And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:
     "As a sheep led to the slaughter
      or a lamb before its shearer is dumb,

      so he opens not his mouth.
     33 In his humiliation justice was denied him.
      Who can describe his generation?
              For his life is taken up from the earth." (2)
34 And the eunuch said to Philip, "About whom, pray, does the prophet say this, about himself or about some one else?" 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this scripture he told him the good news of Jesus. 36 And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, "See, here is water!  What is to prevent my being baptized?"[37] 38 And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. 39 And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip was found at Azotus, and passing on he preached the gospel to all the towns till he came to Caesarea.
(1)    'Eunuch' had the general meaning of minister of the queen.  'Candace' was the generic title of the Queen of Ethiopia as 'Pharaoh' was that of the kings of Egypt. (2) Isaiah 53,7 ff. [37] Philip answered, "If you believe with all your heart it is possible!"  The eunuch then said: "I believe that Jesus is the Son of God".
This verse does not appear in the best codices.

Ain Dirwe, south of Bethlehem, is called 'Philip's Fountain' and is the traditional site of the Ethiopian's baptism.
'And he commanded the chariot to stop and they both went down into the water, and Philip baptized him'  (Acts 8,38).

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24 The conversion of Saul
     (Acts 9, 1-19)
    1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. 4 And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" 5 And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; 6 but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."
7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. 8 Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
  10  Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias.  The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." 11  And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying,
12 and he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight."
13  But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem;

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14  and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name." 15  But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16  for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." 17  So Ananias departed and entered the house.  And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." 18  And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes  and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized, 19  and took food and was strengthened.

     The centre of the new community is still Jerusalem. The incident is consonant with the development of the idea that the persecution in Jerusalem was the occasion for the conversion of the Gentiles (i.e. the pagans). The narrative of Saul's conversion at this point in the story has a special significance -- the introduction of the most important agent in the conversion of the pagans, the principal hero of the second part of the book and the most ardent propagandist of the universality of the Church. St Luke sets enormous store by St Paul's conversion, which is related no fewer than three times in the book of the Acts (see nos. 103 & 110).
      The whole episode stresses Christ's direct and continual intervention; the fundamental experience which made the 'Twelve' into 'Apostles' was the vision of the risen Christ who sent them into the world. Paul always declared himself to be an apostle, and always emphasized the fact that he also was a witness of the risen Christ who sent him on his evangelizing mission.

A section of the walls of Damascus.

A window of a dwelling built on the walls can bee seen.

'His disciples took him by night and let him down over the wall, lowering him in a basket.'  (Acts 9, 25)

25 Saul's preaching at Damascus
     (Acts 9, 19-25)
     For several days he was with the disciples at Damascus.
20  And in the synagogues immediately he proclaimed Jesus, saying, "He is the Son of God." 21  And all who heard him were amazed, and said, "Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called on this name?  And he has come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests." 22  But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

Tarsus, birthplace of St Paul.  Remains of Roman baths.
'The Hellenists were seeking to kill Saul.  And when the brethren knew it they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus'  (Acts 9, 30)

     23  When many days had passed, the Jews plotted to kill him, 24  but their plot became known to Saul. They were watching the gates day and night, to kill him; 25  but his disciples took him by night and let him down over the wall, lowering him in a basket.

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26 Saul's visit to Jerusalem
    (Acts 9,
      25  And when he had come to Jerusalem (1) he attempted to join the disciples; and they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. 27  But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. 28  So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, 29  preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists; but they were seeking to kill him. 30  And when the brethren knew it, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him off to Tarsus.
(1)    St Paul himself (in the Letter to the Galatians, see no. 86) specifies that he spent three years in the Arabian Desert before presenting himself at Jerusalem. St Luke omits this detail, which is not directly concerned, with his story. {-- this author's insert! -- After receiving baptism and making some initial attempts at preaching, Paul withdrew into the Arabian desert (c. 34-37 A.D.), where he prepared himself for his future mission. During this retreat he was favored with special revelations, Christ appearing to him personally.}
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27 Peter's missionary activity at Lydda and Joppa
    (Acts 9, 31-43)
      31  So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was built up; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit it was multiplied.
      32  Now as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints that lived at Lydda.
33  There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years and was paralyzed. 34  And Peter said to him, "Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed." And immediately he rose. 35  And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.
        36  Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas or Gazelle. She was full of good works and acts of charity. 37  In those days she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. 38  Since Lydda was near Joppa the disciples, hearing that Peter was there sent two men to him entreating him, "please come to us without delay." 39  So Peter rose and went with them. And when he had come, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping, and showing coats and garments which Dorcas made while she was with them. 40  But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, rise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. 
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41  And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive. 42  And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43  And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner.
28 The calling of Cornelius the Centurion
(Acts 10, 1-8)    1 At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius (1), a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort,
2 a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms liberally to the people, and prayed constantly to God.  3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius." 4 And he stared at him in terror, and said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God.  5 And now send men to Joppa, and bring one Simon who is called Peter;  6 he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside." 7 When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those that waited on him,
8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.
(1)    Cornelius was a centurion of the Roman army and sympathetic towards the Jewish religion. The Roman procurator resided at Caesarea with his garrison.
29 Interlude: Peter's vision
    (Acts 10, 9-16)
   9 The next day, as they were on their journey and coming near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. P. 101

Joppa, today Jaffa; near the minaret on the right is shown the site of the house of Simon the Tanner where St Peter saw his vision (see Acts 10, 9-16)

  10 And he became hungry and desired something to eat; but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heaven opened, and something descending, like a great sheet, let down by four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat." " 14 But Peter said, "No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." (1) 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, "What God has cleansed, you must not call common."   16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
(1)      The hour mentioned corresponds to noon.  The Mosaic Law (see Leviticus 11, 1 ff.) considered certain kinds of animals 'unclean' and forbade their use for food.   Some were animals which neighboring peoples worshipped as symbols of the deity.  The uncircumcised, and Gentiles as a whole, i.e. all non-Jews, were similarly considered 'unclean'.

30 Peter baptizes Cornelius
   (Acts 10, 17-48)
  17 Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision which he had seen might mean, behold, the men that were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon's house, stood before the gate 18 and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. 19 And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Behold, three men are looking for you.  20 Rise and go down, and accompany them without hesitation; for I have sent them."  21 And Peter went down to the men and said, "I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for your coming?" 22 And they said, "Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man, who is well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house, and to hear what you have to say."   23 So he called them in to be his guests. The next day he rose and went off with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And on the following day they entered Caesarea. 
P. 103

Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his kinsmen and close friends. 25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshipped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am a man." 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered; 28 and he said to them,
"You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 "So when I was sent for, I came without objection. I ask then why you sent for me."
    30 And Cornelius said, "Four days ago, about this hour, I was keeping the ninth hour of prayer in my house; and behold, a man stood before me in bright apparel, 31 "saying, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God.  32 Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the seaside.' 33 So I sent to you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here present in the sight of God, to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord."
    34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were, oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 And we are witnesses to all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, 42 who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that he is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

Caesarea in Palesting, the administrative capital of Judea, where the procurator resided with his cohorts.  Cornelius, the first pagan to be converted, belonged to this Roman garrison.

P. 105

      44 While Peter was still saying this, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.  45 And the believers from among the circumcised who came with Peter were amazed; because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
    The conversion of the centurion Cornelius is to be considered an event of fundamental importance in the early Church, and a key point in the structure of the book of the Acts, for it marks the official beginning and justification of preaching to the pagans.
     The expansive power of the new faith in the Messiah, Christ, under the influence of the Holy Spirit forced the first Christians to go beyond the limits of official Jewish orthodoxy and to acquire a more universal outlook. Even before this episode other people had been received into the new community from paganism, and a difficult problem concerning them had to be faced: to become a Christian, was it necessary first to become a Jew (i.e. to receive circumcision), or, on the other hand, did faith in Christ wholly take the place of the old rite?  Peter's vision, narrated no less than twice (nos. 29 & 31) and referred to a third time (no. 42) was to provide a first doctrinal justification for what was already done in practice. Christianity was realizing more and more that it went beyond the old covenant based on circumcision. In fact Messianic salvation and the Holy Spirit could be received on the basis of faith in Christ alone (see nos. 30 & 31). This was one of the most important decisions of the first community led by Peter under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. From the doctrinal point of view this was the first step towards the awareness of the universality of Christian salvation. In the Council of Jerusalem that truth was to receive its full acknowledgement. Its total practical application was to take place finally at Antioch in the argument between Peter and Paul (no. 88), and was thereafter to be the basis of all Paul's missionary work.

Caesarea in Palestine.  Remains of a Roman temple, probably that of Augustus.  It was in this city that Cornelius became a Christian.  'And Peter...said:  "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him" ' (Acts 10, 34-35)

31  At Jerusalem Peter justifies Cornelius' baptism

       Acts 11, 1-18)
    1 Now the apostles and the brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God.
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Antioch in Syria, the eastern metropolis outpost of the Roman empire, where for the first time  believers in Jesus Christ were called Christians.

        2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcision party criticized him, 3 saying, "Why did you go to uncircumcised men and eat with them?" 4 But Peter began and explained to them in order:
5 "I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, something descending, like a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came down to me. 6 Looking at it closely I observed animals and beasts of prey and reptiles and birds of the air. 7 And I heard a voice saying to me, 'Rise, Peter; kill and eat.' 8 But I said, 'No, Lord; for nothing common or unclean has ever entered my mouth.' 9 But the voice answered a second time from heaven, What God has cleansed you must not call common."  10 This happened three times, and all was drawn up again into heaven. 11 At that very moment three men arrived at the house in which we were, sent to me from Caesarea. 12 And the Spirit told me to go with them, making no distinction. These six brethren also accompanied me, and we entered the man's house. 13 And he told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house and saying, "Send to Joppa and bring Simon called Peter; 14 he will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.” 15 As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning.  16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, 'John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'  17 If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God? 18 When they heard this they were silenced. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life."
32 The beginning of the Church In Antioch, and help
     for the Church in Jerusalem
     (Acts 11, 19-30)
      19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to none except Jews. 
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Antioch in Syria.  Not only St Paul but also St Peter lived there for some time.  This ancient church, hollowed from the living rock, commemorates him.

    20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number that believed turned to the Lord. 22 News of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.     23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad; and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose; 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a large company was added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul; 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church, and taught a large company of people; and in Antioch the disciples were for the first time called Christians.
  27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.  28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world; and this took place in the days of Claudius. 29 And the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judea; 30 and they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.
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IV.    The persecution under Agrippa I

33 The martyrdom of James and Peter's release
       (Acts 12, 1-19)
     1 About that time Herod the king (1) laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword; 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. 5 So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.
     6 The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; 7 and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands. 8 And the angel said to him, "Dress yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your mantle around you and follow me." 9 And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the Iron Gate leading into the city.  It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him.

Jerusalem.  The Armenian church of St James the Great on the traditional site of his martyrdom. 
'Herod killed James, the brother of John, with the sword' (Acts 12, 2)
11 And Peter came to himself, and said
"Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."
  12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and told that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, "You are mad." But she insisted that it was so. They said, "It is his angel!" 16 But Peter continued knocking; and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, "Tell this to James and to the brethren." Then he departed and went to another place.
18 Now when day came, there was no small stir among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And when Herod had sought for him and could not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death.  Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea, and remained there.
(1)    King Herod, more properly called Agrippa 1, was the grandson of Herod the Great who had planned to kill the Infant Jesus. In the year 37 he was appointed king of the region to the north of Galilee by decree of the Emperor Caligula. In 41 Claudius made him king of Galilee and Judea also: he was the last 'King of the Jews'. For his persecution see, on page 115, 'The early Church in Jerusalem'.

34 The death of Herod Agrippa
       (Acts 12, 20-23)
   20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon; and they came to him in a body, and having persuaded Bastus, the king's chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king's country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and made an oration to them.  22 And the people shouted, "The voice of a god, and not of man!" 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord smote him, because he did not give God the glory; and he was eaten by worms and died.
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35 Barnabas and Saul again at Antioch
    (Acts 12, 24-25)
23 But the word of God grew and multiplied.
24 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their mission, bringing with them John whose other name was Mark.

The early Church in Jerusalem
     The Church was born in Jerusalem, in the bosom of the official Jewish religion of which, in God's plan, it represents the natural historical development.
     Jerusalem was always thought of in Jewish history as the only and ideal centre of religion. In it was the only temple in which God wished his presence to be honored in a special way. In the 'Holy City' the supreme religious authorities felt themselves the trustees of Perfect orthodoxy. Their just pre-occupation with keeping intact the purity of God's revelation had caused the official religiosity of the period immediately before Jesus to evolve into a rigid and largely legalistic conservatism. The different sects were distinguished by particular interpretations of the Law and, although they differed among themselves, they rediscovered their unity in the unique thread of their ancient tradition.  Against such a background the new community was considered by the Jewish authority.
St Luke shows us the earliest community still deeply involved in the Jewish religion. It takes part in the liturgical life of the Temple, having as its own particular external distinctions the sharing of possessions and the 'breaking of the bread', a term used to describe the Eucharistic rite, then celebrated in private houses. It seems to have been organized around the 'Twelve' witnesses of the resurrection of Christ and guided by the power of the Holy Spirit.
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     Jerusalem is thus seen as the centre of Christianity whence the mission to the pagans is being slowly prepared. The transition happens gradually;
 the first step is towards Jews and Hellenists who are orthodox and circumcised,
 the second is towards the Samaritans, circumcised but unorthodox, who join the new Church without attaching themselves to official Judaism.

     The first group of converted Hellenists is very active and is the cause of great friction with the religious authorities (see Stephen, no. 17).  It provokes a certain uneasiness even among the converted Jews of Jewish speech.

     Jerusalem has always been a centre of conservatism whether Jewish or Christian. The Jews would have resigned themselves to accepting the Christian movement as a sect of Judaism but they could not accept the universalism, first of the Hellenists and then of St Paul. In that they saw the destruction of Judaism itself. The first reaction therefore comes from the religious authority that tries to absorb the new sect, keeping it as least outwardly within the bounds of orthodoxy.  Thus a sort of compromise is reached between the new Church and Judaism, a compromise that undergoes various vicissitudes, and later results in the apostles and the most active exponents of Christianity leaving the city for other centres.

     The second reaction came some time afterwards from political Judaism in the person of Agrippa I who, in addition to being a Jew, had also the title of King. To ingratiate himself with the Sanhedrim and the Jews, he posed as the defender of orthodox Judaism and, above all, he persecuted the Twelve, who were obnoxious to the Jewish leaders for having welcomed even pagans into the new sect. The persecution ended with his death, but meanwhile had provoked the final flight of the Church from Jerusalem, Peter left the city and we find him later at Antioch, capital of the Middle East and third city of the Empire. At Jerusalem remained James, the Lord's cousin, revered even by the Jews for his respect for the Law.
 The Holy City thus slipped into the background and had no further important part to play in the history of Christianity.
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End of The First Period