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Phase 1: Establishing the Foundation

Vision and Mission

Yeshua trained His disciples to lead His spiritual army, and then gave them standing orders to go forth and raise up a worldwide body of disciples for Him.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 28:18-20
18 And Yeshua came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, immersing them in My name*,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amein.

[*For why we immerse only in Yeshua’s name, please see “Immersion in Yeshua’s Name Only,” in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume Three.]

In Nazarene Israel we show how the disciples knew that they were being sent to the lost ten tribes of the house of Israel (Ephraim). That is why they asked Yeshua if He planned to restore the kingdom (i.e., physical kingship) to the house of Israel at that time.

Ma’asei (Acts) 1:6-8
6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Adon, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
7 And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
8 But you shall receive power when the Set apart Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

The disciples probably wanted to know what the future held, but Yeshua said they did not need to know the big picture war plan. They were to focus on raising up a worldwide body on an apostolic foundation, and Elohim would do the rest—which shows us that the Great Commission built on an apostolic foundation has the power of a mustard seed. No matter how great the mountain Babylon might seem, if we will simply focus on establishing a worldwide body on a true apostolic foundation, then eventually Babylon will be cast into the sea.

In earlier chapters we saw that the Melchizedekian order has a set-apart priesthood. We can see this set-apart priesthood operating in Acts 6, where a complaint arose against the Hebrews by the Hellenists because the Hellenic widows were being neglected. The apostles appointed seven men to look after the widows with the tithes and offerings of the people. This shows us that the three-tithe model still applied in the Renewed Covenant.

Ma’asei (Acts) 6:1-4
1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of Elohim and serve tables.
3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Set apart Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;
4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

Until Acts 9, the disciples were revealing the Good News to Jews only, but in Acts 10 Yahweh showed Kepha (Peter) a vision of a great sheet descending from heaven filled with unclean animals.

Ma’asei (Acts) 10:9-16
9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Kepha went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.
10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance
11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.
12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.
13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Kepha; kill and eat.”
14 But Kepha said, “Not so, Adon! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What Elohim has cleansed you must not call common.”
16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

The church tells us this vision means that the clean food laws of Leviticus 11 no longer apply (and that all foods are now clean to eat). However, in verse 28, Kepha tells us that this vision means we should not call any man common or unclean. That is, the Good News was no longer to be shared with the Jews only, but that they were to witness to everyone. That is how they would reach the lost and scattered children of Avraham and Israel.

Ma’asei (Acts) 10:28
28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But Elohim has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”

Notice Kepha said it was “unlawful” for a Jewish man to go to, or keep company with, one of another nation. However, this restriction is not found in the Torah of Moshe; it is a rabbinical ruling. This shows us that Kepha was originally rabbinically-oriented (and this may be why Elohim repeated the vision of the sheet to him three times).

Kepha did as the Spirit said, and went to Cornelius’s house, along with six other men of “the circumcision” (i.e., believing Pharisees). While Kepha was speaking, the Spirit fell on everyone who heard, and those of the circumcision who believed were astonished.

Ma’asei (Acts) 10:44-45
44 While Kepha was still speaking these words, the Set-apart Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Kepha, because the gift of the Set-apart Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.

Kepha’s rabbinic companions were “astonished” that the gentiles received the Spirit, because the rabbis teach us that gentiles can only be saved if they obey the rabbinic gentile conversion process. In the first century this was called the custom of Moshe (not the Torah of Moshe), while today it is called the Giur (gee-yure) process.

Today gentile converts to Judaism take classes for a year, and then pass tests to show they have learned the rabbinic version of Torah (which they call Torah law). When you hear an Orthodox brother speak about Torah law, understand that he is not speaking about the Torah of Moshe, but a rabbinical permutation of torah.

In the rabbinic order, the act of cutting away the whole foreskin is treated as a reward for having submitted to rabbinic authority. One reason they were called “the circumcision” is that they believed they became saved by obeying the rabbinic traditions with regard to physical circumcision. Those of the circumcision were astonished that Yahweh had given His Spirit to Cornelius and his house, because Cornelius was not submitted to the rabbis. Moreover, when Kepha arrived back in Judea, the circumcision contended with him over Cornelius.

Ma’asei (Acts) 11:1-3
1 Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of Elohim.
2 And when Kepha came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him,
3 saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”

The rabbinically-oriented Kepha explained how Elohim had shown him not to call any man common or unclean, and how Yahweh had poured out His Spirit on Cornelius and his house. Then he asked them if they thought he should try to stand up to Elohim.

Ma’asei (Acts) 11:15-18
15 “And as I began to speak, the Set-apart Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.
16 Then I remembered the word of the Master, how He said, ‘Yochanan indeed immersed with water, but you shall be immersed with the Set-apart Spirit.’
17 If therefore Elohim gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Adon Yeshua Messiah, who was I, that I could withstand Elohim?”
18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified Elohim, saying, “Then Elohim has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life!”

Those of the circumcision realized that the gentiles could also receive salvation—but as we will see, they still did not grasp the fact that Yahweh did not respect their rabbinic authority. (There are numerous Messianic people with this same rabbinic spirit today.)

Soon after this, Yahweh poured out His Spirit on many Hellenized believers in Antioch, so the apostles sent Bar Naba (Barnabas) there.

Ma’asei (Acts) 11:19-25
19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.
20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Master Yeshua.
21 And the hand of Yahweh was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Master.
22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the ecclesia in Jerusalem, and they sent out Bar Naba to go as far as Antioch.
23 When he came and had seen the grace of Elohim, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with Yahweh.
24 For he was a good man, full of the Set-apart Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Master.
25 Then Bar Naba departed for Tarsus to seek Shaul.

In Acts 15 the circumcision came to Antioch to assert rabbinic authority there. In verse 1 the rabbinic Giur process is called the custom (or tradition) of Moshe (as opposed to the Torah of Moshe). In verse 5 the rabbinic believers are called the “sect of the Pharisees who believed,” which is the same spirit as “the circumcision who believed.”

Ma’asei (Acts) 15:1-2
1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the [rabbinic] custom of Moshe [i.e., Giur process], you cannot be saved.”
2 Therefore, when Shaul and Bar Naba had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Shaul and Bar Naba and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.

Shaul and Bar Naba understood that it was essential for there to be only one doctrine, lest there be two religions (i.e., two different nations). Although it was a two or three week walk up to Jerusalem, Shaul and Bar Naba made it a priority.

Ma’asei (Acts) 15:4-5
4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the ecclesia and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that Elohim had done with them.
5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Torah of Moshe.”

Not surprisingly, the Pharisees who believed said that the new converts needed to follow the same order found in the rabbinic Giur Process:

  1. Teach them the rabbinic interpretation of Torah
  2. Circumcise them according to rabbinic ritual
  3. Keep the rabbinic version of Torah law

In verse 6 the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

Ma’asei (Acts) 15:6
6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter.

Christians often refer to Acts 15 as the Jerusalem Council (or the Council of Jerusalem), but in actuality it was the apostolic foundation that Shaul would write about in Ephesians 2.

Ephesim (Ephesians) 2:19-22
19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of Elohim,
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yeshua Messiah Himself being the chief cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a set apart temple in Yahweh,
22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of Elohim in the Spirit.

Verse 20 tells us that the apostolic foundation is made up of apostles and prophets. By definition, both apostles and prophets hear Yahweh’s voice (and the elders at the council were probably selected because they had that gift). Most of the council members had likely grown up in rabbinic Judaism of the second temple period, so they would have been familiar with rabbinic tradition and thought. The question was whether or not the new converts had to obey the rabbinic gentile conversion process. This would be a hotly contested issue, for many rabbis would have a vested interest in seeing rabbinic authority upheld.

After there had been “much dispute” (verse 7 below), Kepha (who had originally been rabbinically-oriented) reminded them all that Yahweh had first chosen him to deliver the Good News to the gentiles. Since Yahweh had poured out His Spirit on Jews and uncircumcised gentiles alike, why did the rabbis say that the gentiles could not be saved unless they obeyed the rabbinic tradition? Didn’t everyone there hope to be saved by having Yahweh pour out His Spirit on them, because of His unmerited favor?

Ma’asei (Acts) 15:7-11
7 And when there had been much dispute, Kepha rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago Elohim chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the Good News and believe.
8 So Elohim, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Set apart Spirit, just as He did to us,
9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore, why do you test Elohim by putting a yoke [rabbinic tradition] on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the favor of the Adon Yeshua Messiah we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”

Shaul and Bar Naba related all of the miracles and wonders Elohim was doing among the gentiles (who were not submitted to rabbinic authority).

Ma’asei (Acts) 15:12
12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Bar Naba and Shaul declaring how many miracles and wonders Elohim had worked through them among the Gentiles.

Earlier we saw that an apostle is essentially a renewed covenant judge. There can be more than one apostle at a time, but there must always be order among them. In Nazarene Israel we show that Ya’akov led the Jerusalem assembly, and served (in essence) as its anointed judge. That is why, in verse 19, Ya’akov said that he judged they should not “trouble” (i.e., hassle) the returning gentile Ephraimites by making them obey the rabbinic traditions. Rather, if the gentiles would abstain from the four things the Torah says will get one cut off from the nation (idolatry, sexual immorality, strangled meats, and blood), then they could come into the assemblies, and hear the Torah of Moshe being preached. Over time the converts would hear and obey the Torah, without the need for man-made rabbinic authority structures.

Ma’asei (Acts) 15:13-21
13 And after they had become silent, Ya’akov answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me:
14 Shimon has declared how Elohim at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.
15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
16 ‘After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up;
17 So that the rest of mankind may seek Yahweh, even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, says Yahweh who does all these things.’
18 Known to Elohim from eternity are all His works.
19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are [re]turning to Elohim,
20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moshe has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

Yaakov’s use of the word judge in verse 19 also means that he is not deciding what to say by himself (as gentile judges do). Rather, he is hearing his words from Yahweh (as Yeshua did).

Yochanan (John) 5:30
30 “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear [in the Spirit], I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who sent Me.”

Any prophet (Yeshua, Ya’akov, etc.) must speak according to the Spirit of Truth (Torah).

Yochanan (John) 16:13
13 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”

Even though Ya’akov spoke Yahweh’s words, the rest of the apostolic foundation had to listen, and witness whether or not his ruling was correct. This shows how the apostolic foundation holds itself accountable to the Spirit. In fact, this kind of accountability is to be practiced in all the assemblies of the saints.

Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 14:29-33
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.
31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.
32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
33 For Elohim is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the assemblies of the saints.

Ephesians 2 says that Yeshua Messiah Himself is the chief cornerstone in the foundation, upon which we must grow together in the Spirit. He is the Rock to which we all must join, in order to build His tabernacle.

Ephesim (Ephesians) 2:19-22
19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of Elohim,
20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Yeshua Messiah Himself being the chief cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a set apart temple in Yahweh,
22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of Elohim in the Spirit.

Each member of the apostolic foundation must submit to the Spirit, and then to one another in the Spirit. When everyone submits to the Spirit, those who speak most clearly in the Spirit (as Ya’akov did) will be looked to for leadership. That is how those who seek to be servants end up finding themselves in the leadership positions.

Marqaus (Mark) 9:35
35 And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”

We know the apostolic gift is still for today, as Yahweh’s apostles and prophets are told to rejoice when Babylon falls (which will take place at trumpet 7).

Hitgalut (Revelation) 18:20
20 “Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you set-apart apostles and prophets, for Elohim has avenged you on her!”

And if the gifts of apostles and prophets are still for today, then so is the apostolic foundation, because it provides for unity—and we are told to organize by the fivefold gifts until we come to the unity of the faith.

Ephesim (Ephesians) 4:13
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah;

Just as they did in the first century, if we listen and observe in the Spirit, we can identify Yahweh’s apostles and prophets today. Who do we see helping the body come together in His truth? And who do we see establishing His order? Establishing Yahweh’s order is one of the hallmarks of apostleship—and we should help whoever is busy about this work, for this will please Yeshua.

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