Historical background. By the time of Christ and early Christianity started the nation of Israel had been under the domination of the Roman Empire for several decades. Jews had legal privileges because their ancestral laws predated Rome. Jews had legal privileges giving them the right to assemble, in the "Synagogue" have common meals own property, govern them self and enforce their own discipline.
When the word "Synagogue" is mentioned in Scripture it is important to note this is not simply some building. The Synagogue was the only place for teaching scripture and where the members of Israel could hear the Scriptures read from their Old Testament other than (the actual Temple if in Jerusalem). Leaders were also responsible for schooling children, in the Mosaic, law among other things. Jesus went the Synagogue on the Sabbath day as it was his custom. And he stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. (Luke 4:16-17)
All authority was placed under the auspices of the Synagogue and its legal body, the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a unique ruling body in Israel in the time of Jesus. The Sanhedrin was comprised of 70 men, plus the high priest, who served as its president. The Sanhedrin had its own police force which could arrest people, as they did Jesus Christ. Some of their authority, including judgement and punishment. As seen in the illegal trials of Christ. (Mark 14:54-55)
While the Sanhedrin heard both civil and criminal cases and could impose the death penalty, in New Testament times it did not have the authority to execute convicted criminals. That power was reserved to the Romans, which explains why Jesus was crucified—a Roman punishment—rather than stoned, according to Mosaic law.
The nation of Israel was only non-pagan religious group in the Roman empire who did not worship the gods of Rome as every other conquered people were forced to do. And they were despised by the rest of the Roman people for their religious practices. The Roman culture with their “gods”stood in great contrast to that of the Israel and their God Jehovah.
GENTILES ENTERING THE EARLY CHURCH.
In the midst of a Roman Empire society a Christian society was founded on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem 30AD. (Acts 2) Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost was entirely Jewish, quoting the prophets and the Psalmist David, and would have meant nothing to any Gentiles standing around, if there were any. The 3000 people who were saved that day would have been all Jewish. (Acts 2:1-41) A very noticeable minority.
In the earliest years of Christianity the Church was consisted of only Jews for the first ten years. The book of Acts makes it clear that the first Christians were Jewish and went to the Temple in Jerusalem, attended synagogue services, and wanted to remain Jews. They met regularly in the Temple, where Gentiles were excluded (Acts 2:46). The nearest the Gentiles could get was the Court of the Gentiles, that surrounded the Temple
Luke tells the story of the fundamental turning point in the history of the early church. For the first time Gentiles will be directly evangelized and admitted into fellowship with Jewish Christians ten years later. Cornelius (in Greek, Κορνήλιος) was a Roman centurion who is considered to be the first Gentile to convert to the faith, as related in Acts 10. This section shows that God, through the Holy Spirit, is bringing the Gentiles into his spiritual body, the church. Acts 15:5-11 shows a decision regarding Gentiles coming into the Church.
There were minimal requirements for Gentiles who were evangelized and became a part of the body of Christ. However, Gentiles who made the conversion to Judaism had the SAME laws applied to them such as circumcision to become a member among the nation of Israel. (Exodus. 12:48-49; Numbers.9: 14;) Such gentiles were regarded as"proselyte.”
Some of the proselyte Jesus said the Jews traveled land and sea to win, but when they won, one they make him twice as much a son of hell as themselves. (Matthew 23:15) This did not apply to all proselyte however. See Acts 6:3-6.
The Gentiles proselyte that converted to Judaism were regular Synagogue attendees. While the evangelized Gentiles were not previously regular Synagogue attendees. These Gentiles Christians had no background in the Old Testament Levitical laws or an understanding of the prophetic apocalyptic and metaphoric language that was used.
Rather, they entered their "new faith" directly from the pagan Roman world, full of its anti-Jewish prejudices, As new "believers," they knew very little about God and Israel’s Messiah, and virtually nothing of the Torah and how God’s prophets used apocalyptic and metaphoric language. It would be foolish to think that new Gentile Christians had time to understand all that was written in the Torah and Israel’s prophetical writing. There was no "corner bookstore" for them to purchase a copy of the Old Testament and go home and read and study it.
Ever the Jews were having trouble with the elementary principles of Christ. (Hebrew 5:12-14; 6:1-3.) The need for “milk” in this context is an indictment of the reader’s spiritual maturity. Needing “milk” indicates spiritual infancy. Just what is “milk” and “solid food” in this context? The author of Hebrew for example wishes to teach his readers about Jesus’ priesthood. This entails going in-depth regarding the order of Melchizedek, biblical typology and fulfillment, and applying the significance of these truths to their current situation. These theological truths are considered “meaty stuff” and, thus, solid food. These truths were necessary to hear, understand, and heed, in order to avoid the temptation in their midst – returning to the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant.
“Milk,” on the other hand, is synonymous with the “elementary principles of the oracles of God” (vs. 12). These would be considered the “basics” one learns upon initiation into the New Covenant community. The most compelling definition comes through reading the immediate context. In chapter 6:1-2, the author exhorts: “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)
These are the “elementary principles” of the New Covenant. These are the “foundation” of the faith. These truths are the “milk” of which all believers partake. The author of Hebrews is “describing in no uncertain terms a level of immaturity among his Jewish readers. Spiritually, they are like babies still suckling at a mother’s breast, unconcerned with the rich, hearty foods of the adults’ table.
The people of God are called to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews desire was the maturity of his readers in the Gospel.
So if these Jewish believers were still babies. Remember the Jews were the keepers of the written word for 15.000 years. There is no way the Gentiles who had no background in the Old Testament understood the prophetic apocalyptic and metaphoric language in such a short time.
After the destruction of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. There was a split between Jews and Gentiles, which brought with it the beginning of Christian anti-Judaism, anti-Jewish sentiments. Christianity attacked the old religion as fiercely as it could, including demonization.
Anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews began to creep into the church toward the Jews just because they were Jewish. The Jews were demonized because of the crucifixion of Christ. More on this part of history in my next article.
The church became greatly influenced by Gentile thinking such as the Church, was God’s plan B after the Jews rejected their Messiah. However the birth of the early first century Church was brought about from within the womb of Judaism. Salvation is of the Jews. (John 4:22) Paul was a saved Jew and member of Israel who had come to Christ and who would never be cast out (John 6:37) The Church was thoroughly Jewish from its earliest days (since there were no Gentiles in it from 32 to 42). When the Gentiles did begin to come into the church it was at the council in Jerusalem. ( Acts 15)
Along with the gentile influence came the idea of the “end of the literal world” in last days of the New Covenant ever though Hebrew states the New Covenant is everlasting. (Hebrews 13:20) In order to determine how the phrase “last days” was originally used in the Hebrew Scriptures. We will consider the first usage of the phrase "last days" and consider those who are primarily addressed:
Genesis 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. So, it is clear that Israel is the subject of Jacob ‘s swan song about the last days and the last days concern the Jews.
Moses confirms that in the latter days the Jews would be ultimate scattered among the nations. Deuteronomy 4:27 And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. Deuteronomy 4:30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice.
And what about the end of the world?
And He built His sanctuary like the heights, Like the earth, which He has established forever. (Psalms 78:69)
You who laid the foundations of the earth, So that it should not be moved forever, (Psalms 104:5)
Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. (Psalms 119:90)
One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever. (Ecc 1:4)
Ephesians 3:21KJV Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
So Gentiles who became a part of God’s Israel starting teaching (different concept about scripture) and the (nature of the coming/Parousia of Christ) that was totally alien to the teaching of the Old Testament.