The Jerusalem Church, also known as The Jerusalem Orthodox Church is considered the Mother of all Christian Churches. There were many great events that took place in Jerusalem which have become the centre of human history: the sufferings, the crucifixion, and the ascension of Jesus Christ. Saint James the Just became the first Bishop of the Jerusalem Church; in Jerusalem accepted his death for the Christ, the first Christian martyr – St Stephen. The pivotal merit of the Jerusalem Church before the universal Orthodoxy is that it has kept the relics of Jerusalem for pilgrimage for the entire Christian world.
The history marks the beginning of Jerusalem Church’s history after the ascension of Jesus, when the first Christian community remained closely rallied, staying unanimously in “in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14 King James Version) It was an extraordinary time for the Jerusalem community. Staying under the direct guidance of the sacred apostles and warmed by the spirit of a brotherly affection in Christ, the community prospered and increased every day.
In the community everyone was a member of a uniform family equal in rights. In describing these days, the main objectives and the purposes of the early Church can be seen, as Luke the Evangelist here testifies: “And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”(Acts 2:43-47).
“According to the narrative of Acts, the Jerusalem church accepted the leadership of Peter and the Twelve, who made up their number by the inclusion of Matthias, who had been closely associated with them since the ‘baptism of John’, which was regarded as the starting point for the preaching of the Gospel. (Carrington, 1957, p. 40) Jerusalem Church, authoritatively interpreting the doctrine of the Apostles in peaceful and hard times of its two-thousand-year historical path, can and should present to the modern world the doctrine not only about the restoration of the unity in the Christ of all mankind, but also about the universality of His expiatory cause by which all the splits of the world can be overcome and the general nature of all people affirms.
Inspired by the doctrine and the activity of apostle Paul, the Church marks the importance of the missionary commission which it has for the life of Church and especially for the general service, according to last precept of the Lord “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
The annunciation to God’s people, in addition to Christ unbelievers makes the higher debt of the Church. This debt should not be executed aggressively or by means of various kinds of proselytism, but with love, humility and respect for the identity of each person and the cultural features of each people. The Jerusalem Church brings its contribution to this missionary activity at respect of an initial order.
Members of the Church are expected to show signs of obedience, such as repentance, confession, and immersion. “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” (Acts 11:18) The contribution to the Church and the society is also accepted, however, it is not “compulsion to pay into it, as plainly appears in the story of Ananias” (Carrington, 1957, p. 42) As narrated in the story Ananias “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God”(Acts 5:4), the contribution of one’s own property is a “voluntary and individual decision” (Niswonger, 1992, p. 189).
The Jerusalem Church is the cradle of Christianity, the mother of Christian Churches, and the keeper of Christianity’s sacred treasures on the Sacred Earth where Christ lived, taught and made the act the world’s expiation. The main reason of the generality between the Jerusalem Christians was love, making them brothers and sisters and connecting all in a uniform family where all children are under the supervision of the Father. They always had before their eyes a precept about mutual love which Jesus Christ inspired them so many times, where He even defined by which they shall be distinguished “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another”(John 13:35).
Carrington, P. (1957). The Early Christian Church (Vol. 1). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Niswonger, R. L. (1992). New Testament History: Zondervan.