A thought provoking
Jesus, the good master performed so well in his public service days such that he was no more called Jesus of Nazareth. He was embraced by all such that the Europeans even depicted his image as a European as they joined in singing his praises. He was given many names, among them, “The founder of the Christian Religion”. That is what good performance in public service could do. It attracts people and praises to the performer.
But does the Bible say that Jesus was the founder of the Christian Religion? No sir. The position of the Bible is that Christianity started after the ascension of Jesus to Heaven. If that is the case, it is therefore no heresy to say that Jesus was not a Christian or that Christianity did not start in his days on earth (Acts11:26). In the same way, since Jesus was not on earth when Christianity started, there is no way he would have been the founder of Christianity.
Aside the fact that Christianity started after the ascension of Christ, Jesus was not a Christian because He is the event of the New Testament or the gospel of the New Testament while by definition, a Christian is a follower of Christ or a witness of the events of the New Testament. The two are not the same.
Again, Jesus was not a Christian because he did not preach the gospel of the Christian. That is, the gospel of a witness or the gospel of a follower of another person. He preached the gospel of the sender. As the pace setter, he set the standard for the followers to uphold. So he could say; “I am the way and the truth. This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mtt.26:28).
Now that it is clear that Jesus was not a Christian or now that we have seen that Christianity started after Jesus had ascended to Heaven, who then was the founder of the Christian Religion? Was it Peter, the Rock?
Before we unfold the founders of the Christian Religion, it is necessary for us to note that Christianity is an off-shot of Judaism. What this means is that until we identify the differences between the two, we may not know when the other one ended and when the other took off. This is because though Jesus was not a Christian; the gospel of hope he preached was not different from the Christian gospel in contents and was not new to humanity. It was God that first preached that gospel of hope to Adam (humanity) after the fall (Gen. 3:15). The gospel that God preached to Adam that salvation and redemption of the fallen man from Satan shall be brought through Jesus (the Seed of the woman) was the same and the everlasting gospel (Rev. 14:6) for all people (Lu. 2: 10), which is the gospel of Christianity (Heb.4:2). It was the same gospel that was preached to Abraham, 430 years before the law was given to Israel (Gen. 12:1-3; Gal. 3:8, 9). It was the same gospel that was preached to the Jews (Heb. 4.2), even before Jesus came.
So, what then is the difference between Judaism and Christianity? Christianity is the good news that by God giving Jesus to the world, the door of salvation has been opened to all. This was the truth that Judaism distorted. That is, instead of the Jews to have made Judaism a universal gospel, they turned it to the Good News of salvation and redemption of the Jews only (Acts 5: 30-31).
In other words, though the original gospel that was preached to Adam, Abraham, the Jews, and during the days of Christ were the same, the New Testament or Christianity was instituted to take the gospel to all people which Judaism had limited to only the Jews 'in error. It was to reveal this truth to the Jews that the salvation of God is universal to all men that Christ's earthly Ministry (gospel activities) was limited to the house of Israel - the lost sheep in order to bring them back (Matt. 15:2-4) to the plan of God. Thus, Jesus Ministry was restricted to the Jews, because he was sent to the house of Israel to purge the original gospel which the original recipient had polluted with racial bias, tradition, and human philosophies in order to have a pure and undiluted gospel sent to the world. Jesus did just that and handed the gospel to his disciples and commanded them to take it to the whole world.
But afraid of breaking the tradition of the Jews (Acts 11:28), his Jewish disciplines refused to obey that command but instead continued in Judaism by preaching the gospel to none else except the Jews (Acts 11 :19). The meaning of this is that Christianity did not start until the racial bias was broken and the gospel taken to the non-Jews. Secondly, it is the people who broke that racial barrier and made the gospel a universal gospel that started the Christian Religion. So, who did that and when did the gospel became a universal gospel?
It may come to you as unbelievable to know, may be, for the first time that it was Africans and not the Jewish apostles that founded the first Universal Church or Christianity at Antioch. You may not have consider this but the Bible takes a special interest in identifying the race of the' people that made the gospel of Christ a universal gospel because taking the gospel to every creature was a great contribution to the history and the commencement of Christianity.
As we are about to unveil the Africans that started the Christian church, recall that after the death of Philip, “… a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles” (Acts 8:1). NKJV
From the above, it is revealed that when the Disciples of Christ scattered from Jerusalem, the apostles did not leave Jerusalem. And Acts 11:19 reveals that when the Jewish disciples left Jerusalem and were preaching everywhere they went; they did not preach to anybody that was not a Jew.
“Meanwhile, the believers who had fled from Jerusalem during the persecution after Stephen's death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the Good News, but only to Jews” (Acts 11:19). NLT
As the Jews who ran away from Jerusalem with the Gospel began to establish Assemblies for the Jews in Phenice, Cyprus and Antioch, their African counterparts, who came with them from Jerusalem, established the first church of all races.
“And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus” (Acts 11:20). KJV
These African Ministers of the Gospel who established the Universal Church of Antioch were: (1) Simeon the Niger or Simeon of West Africa. (2) Lucius of Cyrene in Libya and
These Africans were the:
(1) First prophets and teachers of the gospel in the Christian era.
(2) First, as the leaders of the first Church of all races, to take some of the Christians from other race (Cyprus) to go for the first Christian crusade (¬preaching of the gospel openly for all races in Antioch).
But Acts11:20 does not reveal the identity of the people that started the Church of Antioch so how do I say they were Africans? The identity of the founders of the Church of Antioch is revealed in Acts13:1.
“Among the prophets and teachers of the church at Antioch of Syria were Barnabas, Simeon (called "the black man"), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (the childhood companion of King Herod Antipas), and Saul” (Acts 13:1). NLT
Note that Barnabas and Saul mentioned above as prophets and teachers of the Church of Antioch were not among the founders of that church because it was on hearing what God was doing with these African Gospel Ministers in Antioch that the Apostles who did not leave Jerusalem or the Church Council in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to go to see what was happening in Antioch. When Barnabas got to Antioch and saw the mighty work that the Spirit of God was doing through the African Ministers, he was glad because of the grace of God upon them (Acts 11: 22-23). Seeing that the gospel was growing fast in the hands of these Africans in Antioch, Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul who had earlier on ran to hide at Tarsus, his home country, to avoid being killed by the Jews. Seeing him, he took him to Antioch where he stayed for a year with the African Gospel Ministers to grow in the Ministry of the Lord and in Antioch he was taught the fundamentals of Christianity that the gospel is for all (Acts 11: 25-26).
With Barnabas and Saul joining the African Ministers in the Church of Antioch, the gospel was taken to its fullness as God intended for man. With love for humanity, unity in the Church among all people, and power following their ministrations, they were called Christians for the first time there (Acts 12: 26). Soon, other prophets from Jerusalem joined them. Among such people was Agabus, the man who predicted the famine that occurred during the days of Claudius Caesar (Acts 11:27-28). As a result of this famine, the Church at Antioch appointed Barnabas and Saul, "relief ministers". They were saddled with the responsibility to collect and coordinate relief materials from Antioch to brethren in Judea (Acts 11:29-30).
When Barnabas and Saul had ended their relief Ministry, they returned with John Mark from Jerusalem to the Church at Antioch (Acts 12: 24-25). After their return from Jerusalem, the African Ministers organized a prayer and fasting meeting for the Church leaders in Antioch. It was in that meeting that they ordained Saul and Barnabas Apostles, and changed Saul’s name to Paul and then send them forth on Missionary Journey to Europe (Acts 13: 1-5).
Therefore, it was Africans that started Christianity since they were the ones who first preached the gospel to all races - the main factor that separates Christianity from Judaism. It was also their pioneering work that brought about the name, Christians and hence, the Christian religion. In other words, until the establishment of the church of all races at Antioch, the Christian religion did not kick off since the fundamental of Christianity is that the salvation of God is for all and not only for the Jews.
Culled from the Book;"The Leaven of the Europeans in Christianity".