THE 1st CENTURY CHRISTIANS
The Apostles bring us into the first century Christian Congregations. Here we will see many examples of men being used by God making mistakes, arguing amongst them selves, and jumping to conclusions ahead of time.
A good place to begin is at John 6:48-68. This is a good example of staying by something that we do not understand. In part the account reads
"51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world. 52 Therefore the Jews began,….. saying: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" 53 Accordingly Jesus said to them: "Most truly I say to YOU, Unless YOU eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, YOU have no life in yourselves. 54 He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood remains in union with me, and I in union with him.. …. 60 Therefore many of his disciples, when they heard this, said: "This speech is shocking; who can listen to it?" 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were murmuring about this, said to them: "Does this stumbleYOU?." 66 Owing to this many of his disciples went off to the things behind and would no longer walk with him. 67 Therefore Jesus said to the twelve: "YOU do not want to go also, doYOU?" 68 Simon Peter answered him: "Lord, whom shall we go away to? You have sayings of everlasting life;" (italics added)
Jesus had been teaching something that went right against what Jews believed, the drinking of blood and the eating of human flesh. This was quite detestable for them and as can be seen above many stoped following Jesus after they started to think independently instead of waiting for an answer. Verse 61 tells us that even his disciples were murmuring against this teaching. At this time, Jesus did not disclose to them the meaning of what he had said. It served as a TEST to his followers as to who would stay and who would go. Even though they did not understand what Jesus was on about, the 12 decided to stay because they recognised that TRUTH was coming from Jesus, even though they did not understand it.
The Apostles were curious about when some events would happen. This curiosity can be seen in the following readings.
Wanting to know about when Jesus would be present again.
Matthew 24:3 " While he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: "Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?""
Asking about restoration of the Kingdom
Acts 1:6-7 " 6 When, now, they had assembled, they went asking him: "Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?" 7 He said to them: "It does not belong to YOU to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction; " (italics added)
Both these examples highlight that it is our desire to know things in advance. We as humans appear to be inquisitive enough not to be satisfied with the present.
The text in Acts is particularly interesting for two reasons. First, when we read through the Gospel accounts, there are many references there where Jesus explains to his apostles that he is leaving them, going his way to his father in heaven, yet, despite ALL THAT THEY HAVE HEARD, they still believed that his Kingdom was going to be established on earth at that time, and, this is just before he ascends to heaven. So, there were things that Jesus taught that took a long time for his disciples to grasp the meaning of. You could almost imagine them in conversation amongst themselves trying to discuss what Jesus was talking about, and at times being confused.
Secondly, notice the last part of this text "…seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction; ". (italics added) Does this not tell us that there are items that we should not worry about too much, because our God will deal with them in HIS OWN TIME. But still this did not stop speculation on the part of the Apostles. Our inquisitive nature wants to know. In daily life you may be able to think of many situations where others want to know of details that, at that time does not belong to them to know about. Why should things have been any different for the Apostles or us today?
But isn't printing something about what might happen being a false prophet? That is what opposer’s of Jehovah's Witnesses say. Is there any Biblical examples we can look to, to see if anyone that God used ever "false prophesied"?
There is an example that involved our good friend Peter (now here is some one we could write a whole lot about). He miss understood (in other words interpreted wrongly) some information that he received straight from Jesus. He miss understood exactly what it was that Jesus was trying to say to him and he spread a saying (if you read this carefully he is prophesying, that is saying something will happen) to "among the brethren" (JKV) Lets read the account
John 21:20-23 “Upon turning about Peter saw the disciple whom Jesus used to love following, the one who at the evening meal had also leaned back upon his breast and said: "Lord, who is the one betraying you?" 21 Accordingly, when he caught sight of him, Peter said to Jesus: "Lord, what will this [man do]?" 22 Jesus said to him: "If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you? You continue following me." 23 In consequence, this saying went out among the brothers, that that disciple would not die. However, Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but: "If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you?"
Interesting example of coming to the wrong conclusion is it not? Now was Peter denied being used by God. No he was given the Keys to the Kingdom and the privilege of seeing the first Gentiles baptised as well as writing two books of the Bible.
If you do some of your research on Peter, you will see just how imperfect he was and the trouble he caused at times. But he was still used.Conclusions that we can draw from the first century is, many imperfect humans were used. As you study that portion of the Bible, you will see council given on religious divisions, back biting, immoral actions, racial divisions and a host of other serious problems. Just read through the first letter to the Corinthians as an example. In spit of all this they remained Gods Congregation, his peoples, his earthly organisation.