The centralization of the Christian congregation in Jerusalem?
This title in the form of a question
alludes to the whole historical account of the birth and the beginning of the activity of the Christian congregation. According to the entire historical account of Acts, was the activity of the various Christian congregations centralized in Jerusalem, particularly
in doctrinal matters? By carefully reading the book of Acts, the reader will find that even the intervention of the glorified Jesus Christ was on several occasions "decentralized" or relocated, in cities other than Jerusalem. However, before presenting these
examples of how the glorified Jesus Christ intervened in a very important way in other cities, let us see if the account of Acts chapter 15 shows that the Christian congregation was centralized in Jerusalem.
The beginning of chapter 15 shows that within the Christian congregations, Christians of Jewish origin were infiltrating, who forced the people of the nations who had become Christians to be circumcised: "Now some men came down from
Judea and began to teach the brothers: “Unless you get circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” But after quite a bit of dissension and disputing by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was arranged for Paul, Barʹna·bas,
and some of the others to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem regarding this issue" (Acts 15:1,2). Why did they go up to Jerusalem? Because verse 1 shows it, the source of the problem came from individuals who came from "Judea", that is, from a territory
under the administration of the apostles in Jerusalem (in Judea). It was the most effective way to respond to those opponents who probably wanted to impress their audience by saying that he was from the Jerusalem area. Therefore, going to the place of origin
of the dispute, in Jerusalem in Judea, was an effective way to respond to those people who were stirring up trouble in the Christian congregations.
If the decision taken in Jerusalem
was very important, we can see that in another city equally important decisions were taken. This is the city of Antioch (Acts 11 and 13). It was in this city, moreover, that divine providence decided that henceforth the true worshipers of God would be called
"Christians": "After he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year they assembled with them in the congregation and taught quite a crowd, and it was first in Antioch that the disciples were by divine providence called Christians" (Acts 11:26).
The reader will note that it was not the apostles who decreed this divine title of "Christian", but divine providence...
The administration of the Christian congregation according
to the latest instructions of King Yehoshuah Mashiah
These last instructions
are in the seven messages to the seven congregations (Revelations chapters 2 and 3). This section will answer the question of whether Christian congregations should have a world headquarters, located in a particular city. Most major religions or Christian
communities have made this choice of global centralization, in Rome, Jerusalem, Moscow and many other major cities of the world. The question is, if this is the right way to administer the Christian congregations, as it appears in the message of Jesus Christ,
to the seven congregations.
Christ is the head and the supreme holder of the authority in the congregation (1 Corinthians 11:3). Did Jesus Christ suggest that the congregation would
currently be administered in a centralized way, as in the days of the apostles? In the book of Acts, there was a Christian congregation centralized around the authority of the apostles and some elders in the city of Jerusalem (Acts 15). However, for day-to-day
administration, it was under the authority of the elders of the Christian congregations (Hebrews 13:17). In the first letter to the Corinthians, chapters 11 to 14, the apostle Paul gave specific instructions for the proper administration of the Christian congregation
Does this mean that we must currently retain this way of centralizing the administration of the Christian congregation? For example, while all the Christian congregations are
scattered all over the earth, would an international headquarters, in a specific city in the world, be required to administer all of these congregations regarding important doctrinal matters? To do so, let the head of the congregation, the current King Jesus
Christ, give an answer.
Jerusalem the starting point for worldwide preaching activity
The reason for the
centralization of the Christian congregation was mainly due to the fact that Jesus Christ had designated 12 apostles who constituted, the starting point of the beginning of the Christian congregation, in Jerusalem. According to the narrative of the Acts, particularly
after the death of the disciple Stephen, a wave of persecution scattered the Christians to the four corners of the Roman Empire, around the Mediterranean Sea, and even, much later, until Babylon (1 Peter 5:13). The apostles and elders remained in Jerusalem.
However, there are two factors that have contributed to the disappearance of this centralization, particularly in the city of Jerusalem. The first is the death of the twelve apostles, who were not supposed, biblically speaking, to have successors to maintain
this centralization. The second is the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, in the year 70 Common Era, by the Roman general Titus. So that the Christians no longer had an emblematic city that would have represented this world centralization.
Shortly before his ascension, Jesus Christ gave these instructions to his disciples: "You will receive power when the holy spirit comes upon you, and you will be witnesses of me in Jerusalem, in all
Judea and Samaria, and to the most distant part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Thus, in this last instruction of Christ, Jerusalem is designated as the starting point of a worldwide preaching campaign which would last until his return, that is, shortly before the
great tribulation (Matthew 24 and 25). He never designated a city where a Christian world administration would have been centralized. What is interesting to note concerning the Catholic Church which world headquarters is in Rome, the Pope presents himself
as the successor of the Apostle Peter. Which clearly implies that this centralization was only justified by the presence of the apostles. The second point is that henceforth the new administration of the many Christian congregations scattered throughout the
world has been transmitted to the last living apostle, John, by the message to the seven congregations.
A local administration of Christian congregations
In Revelation chapter 1, the seven congregations are represented by seven lampstands. The angels of the seven congregations are represented by the seven stars in the right hand of Christ. In Revelation 2 and 3, the
encouragements but also the reproaches, sometimes very serious, made by Jesus Christ, are written to the seven "angels" of the seven congregations. In that case, the "angels" are not those in heaven who have no sinful tendency. In Revelation 1:1, John wrote
that the Revelation has been transmitted to him by an "angel" (ἄγγελος "angelos" (Strong’s Concordanc G32): "Messenger, by implication pastor"). According to the context, this angel was a heavenly messenger.
In Revelation 1:20, the same word "angelos" is used to designate, this time, a human "angel" responsible for a Christian congregation. These seven angels therefore represent the stewards, the shepherds, the elders or human messengers responsible, before King
Jesus Christ, for the administration of the Christian congregation (The translation of the Bible Chouraqui "messenger"), ("messenger" ("messengers), "human leaders" Expanded Bible (EXB); (GOD'S WORD Translation "messenger")) (1 Timothy 3:1-7).
These "angels" or "messengers" are the intercessors between Jesus Christ and the congregation (Jesus Christ being the only mediator between God and the humanity (1 Timothy 2:5)). In this vision, Jesus
Christ stands in the "Holy" of the spiritual temple, the usual place of priests who burned incense. These "angels" or "messengers" are also "priests" for the congregation, under the authority of the high priest Jesus Christ. Moreover, in Malachi 2:7, they
are "human messengers" or "angels" of Jehovah: "For the lips of a priest should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth, because he is the messenger of Jehovah of armies" (Malachi 2:7). The priests, in the former Israel, had three
major functions, burning incense (prayers (Revelation 8: 3,4)), teaching and judgment (Deuteronomy 17:8,10-13; 21,1,2,5 ; Numbers 5:11-31). The elders, the shepherds or the pastors of the congregations have exactly the same priestly functions in the spiritual
temple, the Christian congregation: the prayer (James 5:14), the teaching (1 Timothy 3:2 "qualified to teach"), judgment in the congregation (Matthew 18:18).
Before the Great Tribulation,
King Jesus Christ will directly ask for accounts to the "angels" of the different congregations scattered around the world. According to Revelation chapters 2 and 3 these overseers of local congregations have a great responsibility (Matthew 25). This is why
the disciple James wrote: "Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive heavier judgment" (James 3:1).
In the illustrations of the administrators
of the "talents" (but also of the "minas"), who will render an account just before the great tribulation, they are these human "angels", of Revelation 1 to 3. However, in that illustration there are only three administrators, probably to illustrate the three
main judgment, two are favorable and one is condemnatory. Two administrators have done their job, one better than the other, however both will have the same reward from the master. A third who will not have done his job and will be seriously condemned by the
master (Matthew 25:14-30 (talents); Luke 19:12-27 (minas)). Jesus Christ will judge the congregations of a town or village and with their respective administrators. Consequently, the administration of the Christian congregations is described as decentralized.
They will have a direct responsibility before Jesus Christ, for the whole congregation of a town, or a village: "Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over you as those who will render an account,
so that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you" (Hebrews 13:17).
Regarding the different religious denominations of the Christian congregations,
the Bible is clear, the disciple of Christ is quite simply a "Christian", without additional religious denomination: "It was first in Antioch that the disciples were by divine providence called Christians" (Acts 11:26). In his concluding prayer on the evening
of the last Passover, Jesus Christ made this request to his Father: "I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word, so that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am
in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, so that the world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:20,21). All Christian congregations should unite before the great tribulation, doing as possible in the best way, the will of God written in
the Bible: "Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the Kingdom of the heavens, but only the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will" (Matthew 7:21-23; "She did what she could" (Mark 14:8)).