THE EVOLUTION OF CHRISTENDOM
during the first centuries
This booklet by S.Van Mierlo is the English version of material earlier published in the Dutch magazine, Uit de Schriften, and in the second edition of Les Enseignements de 1'Apôtre Paul.
Its value as a commendable and to a large extent unique contribution to the background history of New Testament times, as well as the ensuing years, is impaired by the traditional Jew versus Gentile fallacy. This regards the Jews as equatable with Israel in its entirety, disregarding the prophecies and historical facts as to the two Houses; it also treats the group Greek noun ethnos as translatable by "Gentile", for which also the term "Greek" is treated as if it was a synonym.
There are several references to "the next eon", which rightly is placed at the time of Christ's second coming and the millenium. But VM places most of the future restoration at this time, whereas Sellers has shown that much prophecy is to be fulfilled before this, including the reuniting of the 12 tribes as a restored Israel. This takes place during and at the end of the present eon, and Sellers is wrong to speak of it as the eon to come.
P.2; "the new eon of the Kingdom on earth". After the close of the present administration of grace, the kingdom on earth will be revived, which is the renewal of the Acts period, when Christ rules from heaven. This is still the present eon or age. The eon to come involves the Parousia and Millenium.
The "gospel of the uncircumcision", i.e. akrobustia, was not for Jews but for Greeks. It certainly involved "higher Abrahamic blessings".
P.4; The term "Christian" was not originally applied to gentiles as such, but to both Jews and Greeks, as at Antioch. It is odd that VM quotes from Acts 11.26. to support "nations" seeing that he insists (as also did C.H. Welch) that Acts 11:20. refers to Hellenists, who were Jews as he says on p.5. But he (and CHW) were wrong: the right word is. hellenas here, i.e. Greeks, which you can check from Griesbach's text in the Diaglott.
The textual support for either reading is about equally divided, but for one who believes in the verbal inerrancy of Scripture the answer is not a problem. Most of those who reached Antioch "preached only to the Jews"; and this must have included Hellenists who were Jews, as VM admits. And as to the translation "Greeks" he says in the footnote on p.5, "if this were the right reading, it would have been very exceptional" [he is supposing the word Greek means Gentile], But it is the right word, and it was exceptional; so much so that the apostles at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to investigate.
Jews who were Hellenists or Grecians had long been accepted, and when needing to distinguish Jews who were not, they are called Hebrews, Acts 6.1.
P.8: Six centuries before Acts 28 the House of Israel had become Lo Ammi. So it was not Israel but the House of Judah to which the same term could now be applied. Israel was then "lost" and "dead": Judah now became blind and deaf.
M.S.Lloyd Glasgow 1994
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