The Cornelius Incident In The Light Of Its Jewish Setting -- By: J. Julius Scott, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 34:4 (Dec 1991)
Article: The Cornelius Incident In The Light Of Its Jewish Setting
Author: J. Julius Scott, Jr.


The Cornelius Incident
In The Light Of Its Jewish Setting

J. Julius Scott, Jr.*

As the primitive community struggled with its self-understanding in relation to Judaism it faced two basic issues: (1) Who is Jesus, and what are the implications of our answer? (2) What place were contemporary (first-century) Jewish traditions, attitudes and observances to have in the new faith? Implicit in these were such additional matters as the fact and implications of the presence of the final age, the status of Israel in the divine economy, Jewish separatism, particularism, and privilege. Also implied were hermeneutical questions including the place and relevance of the OT and intertestamental developments as well as the means and scope of Christian salvation. All these affect not only the nature of Jewish Christianity but also the legitimacy of the Gentile mission.

The description of the activities of the primitive Church in Acts 2–6— preaching, teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, prayers, communion of goods, developing organization, confronting internal disorders—are all paralleled in one or another of the Jewish groups of the time. Thus we may conclude that to the casual observer the first believers in Jerusalem looked just like one more Jewish sect or party. They were distinguished only by what they believed about Jesus of Nazareth. Something of the nature of this belief is indicated by the titles of Acts 2–7, where Jesus is referred or alluded to as “Lord” (2:36; 7:59, 60), “Christ/Messiah” (2:20, 31, 36, 38; 3:6, 18, 10; 4:10, 26; 5:42), “the Crucified” (2:36), “the Holy One” (2:27; 3:14; 4:27, 30), “the Just One,” (3:14), “the Archēgos1 (3:15; cf. ...

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