11.1 The early Christian congregations

According to the great commission given by Jesus Christ, it is the task of the Apostles to go into all the world in order to proclaim the gospel and make disciples of all human beings.

To start with, the Apostles turned to the Jews, and it was in Jerusalem that the first congregation came into being. On account of persecution many believers fled from Jerusalem (Acts 8: 1; 11: 19). Even in their new surroundings they proclaimed the word of the Lord, like Philip did in the capital of Samaria.

In a vision, God showed Apostle Peter that the gospel is also intended for the Gentiles (Acts 10 and 11).

A decisive step in bringing the gospel to the Gentiles was made with the conversion of Saul (Acts 9). He is first identified as an Apostle in the company of Barnabas–and by the name of Paul–in Acts 14: 14.

At the Apostles' council in Jerusalem the first pressing and decisive questions about the position on the mission to the Gentiles and the significance of the Mosaic Law in relationship to the gospel were discussed and clarified (Acts 15: 1-29).

While the gospel was primarily proclaimed among the Jews by Apostles Peter and James, Apostles Paul and Barnabas travelled to the Gentile countries surrounding the Mediterranean for the same purpose. As Eusebius of Caesarea writes in his Church History, other Apostles are said to have brought the gospel further to countries in Asia and Africa, and to have established congregations there.

See also