The ABC of Scattering
Part 11
The Apostolic Era

John Plunkett

September 25, 2016

Before getting into the meat and potatoes of the sermon, I would just like to accentuate one point, which I am sure you have all gathered already throughout the series:

The point is that there are different kinds of separations, different kinds of travels, and different kinds of scatterings.  Some of them are positive.  Some of them are negative.

Here are just a few that are perhaps most relevant to this sermon series:

1. Physical:  In which one individual or group simply separates from another individual or group – for whatever reason.  This kind takes in some other kinds of separation:

2. Family:  This might likely be a "sub-kind" of the Physical kind.  There are a couple of different Family kinds, both of which our Lord (YHVH/Jesus) experienced – as we saw last time in part 10:

i)  When a young person "leaves the nest" of his or her parents’ home – in order to marry or to seek better employment or to find better living conditions elsewhere.

ii)  Divorce from a spouse.  YHVH experienced that too.

3. Organizational: This might also likely be a "sub-kind"  of the Physical kind.  We often read or hear of mergers of multiple different companies.  But sometimes companies split as well.  Some years ago, for reasons that I don’t fully understand, Nortel – the huge telecommunications company that one of our sons-in-law used to work for – had to split up into multiple smaller companies.  

4. National:  Sometimes, nations join together into groups – such as the European Union (EU), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  But there are also national separations, the most significant recent one being the "Brexit" of the UK from the EU.

5. Spiritual:  This kind of separation and scattering most commonly occurs when one individual or group comes to differ on one or more points from other individuals or groups. The points are usually doctrinal; but they might also be personal or procedural. 

I wanted to mention these again because, today, as we go into the sub-topic of scattering, travel and separation in the Apostolic Era, we are going to see virtually all of these come into play.

We might have automatically expected that, once the Holy Spirit was given to the apostles and the true Church of God began, everything would have been hunky-dory!  That the apostles and other brethren would have just gone sailing along, doing the Lord’s work, preaching the gospel, having 100% oneness, togetherness and unity – all of them were tucked cozily away in the church headquarters at Jerusalem. 

Surely, at the point, they would have had no problems at all?  And certainly no danger of anything that could be described as “persecution”?  Surely, by overcoming death, Jesus had put an end to all that kind of thing!  Hadn’t he?

Actually, no!  In fact, Jesus had repeatedly warned His disciples – actually at least thirteen times – that persecution was part of the package – part of an apostle’s job-description!

Shortly after the church began, major persecution troubles ensued – all of which resulted in a major – although little publicized – scattering:

Acts 7:
59:  And they stoned Stephen,
{who was} calling upon God, and saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
60:  And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge."  And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

And then, immediately afterward:

Acts 8:
1: And Saul was consenting unto his death.  And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad
{i.e. away from Jerusalem} throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.

But, astonishingly, through the power of the Holy Spirit, those faithful brethren were able to make these terribly "sour lemons" of persecution and scattering into "lemonade":

4:  Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.

What a great example for us today!  Again, I am not saying that we all have to sell our houses and go on the road.  But perhaps God is still making lemons into lemonade in similar ways today – in that the scattering of the church might actually be resulting in the gospel being preached to the world more extensively than it ever could be under one single corporate church group.

Continuing in Acts 8, here is just one briefly-stated example of such scattering – the example of the apostle Philip:

5:  Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them.

I must admit that I’ve never really thought too much about these scatterings of the early church – other than Jesus’ well-known prophetic warning as recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke; and which we’ll come back to later.  (Ref: Matthew 24:16; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:21).

But first I’d like to take a look at the scatterings, separations and travels of the apostles and the early church brethren.  Perhaps it is easiest for us to home in on Paul, because his travels are so well documented in the scriptures.

But, just as with Jesus’ travels which we studied last time, if we were to cover all of Paul’s travels in fine detail, our study would go on for years!  So, just as we did with Jesus’ travels, to keep it short, let’s just summarize Paul’s post-conversion travels.  First, let us look at his three missionary journeys: 

Antioch, Selucia, Cyprus, Salamis, Paphos, Attalia, Perga, Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Antioch, Cyria, Cilicia, Lystra, Phrygia, Galatia, Traos, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Caesarea, Antioch, Galatia, Phrygia, Ephesus, Macedonia, Greece, Traos, Assos, Mitylene, Chios, Samos, Miletus, Tyre, Ptolema, Caesarea, Jerusalem.

That's a lot of travel!  Then, under guard, on his way to Rome:

Jerusalem, Caesarea, Sidon, Myra (Lycia), Cnidus, Fair Haven (Crete), Melita (Malta), Syracuse (south-east Sicily), Rhegium (modern Reggio Calabria on the “toe” of Italy), Puteoli (modern Pozzuoli near Naples), the Appii Forum and the Three Taverns (which were both on the Appian Way Near Rome). 

There are opinions that this trip to Rome was not Paul’s last; but that he was subsequently released, so enabling him to travel and preach elsewhere before his death.  There are also some indications that he might even have preached in Spain – perhaps even in Britain!  

But one thing is for sure – and that is that when Paul said that he followed Christ (I Corinthians 11:1), he meant what he said!  Paul certainly did follow Jesus’ example of extensive travel and preaching.

But, as well as the physical travel and scatterings, did the fledgling Christians suffer any spiritual, doctrinal or organizational separations? 

What?  Certainly not among the brethren, surely?  Surely there was never any disunity among those dedicated first-century brethren?

O but we need to remember that, just like us, those disciples/apostles were still human – and still therefore imperfect – yes, even after they had received the Holy Spirit.

You might likely remember the examples of the disciples’ competitiveness prior to their receiving of the Holy Spirit.  The ones that I remember best are these:

1.  When Jesus had to correct them for “disputing among themselves who should be the greatest” (Mark 9:33-34).

2.  The evident competitiveness between Peter and John, as implied in a few verses of John’s gospel account (John 20:1-6; 21:20-23). 

3.  One that is almost humorous in some respect:  the request of James and John (the two sons of Zebedee) – craftily forwarded to Jesus via their mother – asking Him to guarantee them pride of place on His left and right in His Kingdom!

Another time, when Jesus sent His disciples out on the road, He had to warn them not to be arguing with one another during their travels.

But surely, once the Holy Spirit came upon them, there must have been total unity?  Surely there were no differences or separation?  Or were there?

Although we might tend to want to sweep these somewhat unpleasant accounts under the rug, those "newbie" Christians did differ from one another on a few points – points which sorely needed to be sorted out. 

I am not talking about the early church’s problems with professing Christians such as Simon Magus, Ananias and Sapphira, who turned out to be false Christians – actually not true Christians at all.  Rather, I’m talking about dissentions among the tried and true members and leaders of the early church – although, as we shall see, there may well have been some false Christians – pretender Christians – who might have had some influence in some of these disagreements and scatterings. 

Although we read about the human nature coming out in these men, it is not up to us to judge them; but I just want to show you that division and separation in the church is not a new thing, and that it goes all of the way back to the church's beginnings.  So let’s now take a look at some examples of dissentions between true Christians during that apostolic era:

Acts 15:
1:  And certain men which came down from Judaea
{actually from Jerusalem, as we learn later} taught the brethren, and said, “Except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 

We might naturally be suspicious of these “certain men” and ask whether or not they really were true members of God’s true fledgling church – or whether they might have been "plants" – treacherous "fifth-columnists" who were planted like tares within the young church in an attempt to sabotage God’s work in it.  By the way, I have strongly suspected that similar plants infiltrated some of the early post-WCG Church of God groups during the mid to late 1990s. 

Verse 2 implies that these “certain men” may have had some level of authority:

2:  When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

When it says "they determined," the grammar certainly implies that it was the "certain men" who determined that Paul and Barnabas should make the effort of going up to Jerusalem. 

The English word "disputation" is translated from the Greek word "suzetesis" which means questioning or discussion.  This sounds quite peaceful, whereas the other word "dissension" is translated from the Greek "stasis" which means uproar or strife!  This circumcision issue was a pretty hot doctrinal potato!

However, being confident of their opinion on the subject and having nothing to fear, off went Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem, where most of the original apostles were still headquartered.  And there they met with more opposition, similar to that which they had met with from those “certain men” back in Antioch:

5:  But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

These “Pharisees which believed” were actually Paul’s sectarian equals.  Paul too was a Pharisee (Acts 23:6) and he too, of course, believed.  But even though he and they were sectarian equals, he and they vehemently differed on this point.

6:  And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

To determine the truth of the matter.

7:  And when there had been much disputing {Greek suzetesis again – actually polus suzetesis!} Peter rose up, and said unto them, "Men and brethren, you know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

Peter is referring here to his “sheet” vision and the related conversion of the Gentile Cornelius and his family – back in chapter 10. 

But please remember who it was who stood up here in support of Paul and Barnabas and their opinion against circumcision in the New Covenant, and in support of unity between Israelite and Gentile Christians.  It was Peter!

8:  And God, which knows the hearts, bore them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as He did unto us;
9:  And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10:  Now therefore why tempt you God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11:  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they."
12:  Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13:  And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, "Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14:  Simeon
{Peter} has declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name.
15:  And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written…
Verse 19:  Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20:  But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

Of course, this didn’t mean to imply (as some Sunday-keepers have claimed) that these Gentile converts didn’t need to keep the commandments – all of them – including the Sabbath one – as is confirmed by the very next verse:

21:  For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath Day."
22:  Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
23:  And they wrote letters by them after this manner: "The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
24:  Forasmuch as we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, 'You must be circumcised, and keep the law': to whom we gave no such commandment."

These “certain which went out from us” were apparently the same “certain men which came down (to Antioch) from Judea” mentioned in verse 1.  It appears that these certain men went to Antioch, possibly thinking that, because they came from Jerusalem, they brought with them the apostles’ authority.  This seems to be the way they tried to spin it.  But the words of this letter effectively invalidated any such bogus claim.

These "Judaizers" went up to Antioch and troubled and subverted the brethren there.  Again, we have to wonder when we see the use of the words “troubled” and “subverting” in verse 24 whether these certain men really were truly converted Christians or not.  It says that they were believers; but we can’t be too sure too what extent if they were troubling and subverting people.

25:  It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you {Gentile Christians} with our beloved Barnabas and Paul
26:  Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27:  We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you {
Gentile Christians} the same things by mouth.
28:  For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29:  That you
{Gentile Christians} abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if you keep yourselves, you shall do well.  Fare you well."
30:  So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
31:  Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
32:  And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
33:  And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.
34:  Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
35:  Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

Still, despite the likelihood that these “certain men” were trouble-makers, the question about circumcision was a good one; and it was one that needed to be addressed due to the solid, two-thousand-year history in Israel of the requirement for circumcision, going all of the way back to Abraham.

Although it took quite a lot of time and effort, the circumcision issue seems to have been resolved amicably to all the parties involved.  But was it really?  

We might tend to think that this letter and decision actually fixed it up and it was all okay; but maybe not, because the issue comes up again in later scriptures.

Also, we are not told what happened to those “certain men.”  Were they okay with the decision of the apostles?  Or did they take off “in a huff” because the apostles’ ruling went against them, perhaps causing them to receive a verbal “slap on the wrist”?  Did they perhaps split off from the main body of the early church and continue their practice of circumcision of any Gentiles who came their way?  

We don’t know. We do know, however, that "Judaizing" came to be an ongoing problem throughout the apostolic times.

But shortly after this – right on the heels of this episode – came another test on the unity of the early church – a test of a different kind.  Continuing right on in the same fifteenth chapter of acts:

36:  And some days after, Paul said unto Barnabas, "Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do."

Here is a mention of lots more travelling – to "every city" where they had previously preached.   But a problem arose:

37:  And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
38:  But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work.

This “"departing" of John Mark at Pamphylia indicated some earlier unpleasantness and separation that happened back then, and which we have no further details about.  But by the time mentioned here, that difference and that initial problem had obviously not been resolved. Paul was still upset about it.  Perhaps – even probably – they hadn’t exercised Jesus’ Matthew 18 method of problem resolution.  And because they hadn’t resolved it, it led to another contention and another separation:

39:  And the contention {Greek “paroxusmos”: incitement or irritation} was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus;
40:  And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.
41:  And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

So we see that all was definitely not all wine and roses in the early church – even in what we might think of as the upper echelons of the church leadership! 

If you’re into ministerial ranks (which I’m not!), Paul and Barnabas are considered to have been apostles and John Mark (who was a cousin of Barnabas) is considered to have been an evangelist.  These are what we might think of as high ranks. 

By the way, John Mark was not the same person as the apostle John; but is believed to have been the same Mark who wrote the gospel (account) of Mark.

There are two good news parts of this somewhat unpleasant account.  First of all, it appears that God used this separation to have the gospel preached in two different areas instead of just one.  The second piece of good news is that Paul and Mark later reconciled.  There is also some indication that Paul and Barnabas did too.

Before we get into the next example of dissention in the early church, let me just first touch on a few other points which we find in Galatians 2: 

Galatians 2:
1:  Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
2:  And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles; but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

More travelling mentioned; but by Paul's narrative here, it seems that something in the way of church politics was starting to rear its ugly head!

3:  But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

So circumcision was still an issue at that point in time!

4:  And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

Again, this is the same kind of fifth-column treachery that, I suspect, has happened within the modern greater Church of God!  In the modern greater Church of God today, it appears that that there are some who want to take us back into the bondage of pseudo-Judaism and there are others who want to take us into the bondage of Protestantism.  These are two different ditches, both of which we must stay well away from.

5:  To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

Paul and Barnabas didn’t give those guys the time of day!  Not even a minute!  Their time was too precious – as is ours – and they knew that their precious time must be spent in the continued preaching of the true gospel – the Good News – of the Kingdom of God!  We must take that example and not get dragged down with picky things.  Paul and Barnabas knew that their job was to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, not to get into all of this other stuff where people were trying to drag them back into Judaism.

6:  But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it makes no matter to me: God accepts no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

The English grammar here makes Paul’s words sound somewhat rude towards the apostles who were present – apostles who were thought of as being high-ranking.  But although Paul is known for "telling it like it is" without holding back, still I don’t believe that he meant to be offensive here.  Rather, I believe that he meant to show that God is not a respecter of persons – even with regards to ministerial ranks – even including Peter’s; also that God was doing a big work through others than the Jerusalem apostles, including himself.

7:  But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision {Gentiles} was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision {Jews and other Israelites} was unto Peter;
8:  For he that wrought effectually in Peter
{i.e. Jesus through the Holy Spirit} to the apostleship of the circumcision {Jews and other Israelites}, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles {Greek: ethnos}.

In other words, Jesus’ work to the Gentiles through Paul was no less important than His work to the Israelites through Peter – even though Peter may have been thought of as being of a higher ministerial rank.

9:  And when James, Cephas {Peter} and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen {Greek: ethnos: Gentiles}, and they unto the circumcision {Jews and other Israelites}.
10:  Only they would
{desired} that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

What Paul was pointing out  here was that this was the situation – including Peter’s good attitude towards the Gentile brethren – prior to his (Peter’s) visit to the Antioch congregation.
But now look what happened during that Antioch visit:

11:  But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12:  For before certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

Sometimes – although not always – when Paul uses the word "certain" in relation to people, there is an implication that the certain men he is referring to may not be in agreement with his teachings regarding God’s word, especially with regard to the full acceptance of the Gentiles as Christians.  There is even an implication that perhaps these certain men were not trustworthy; perhaps possibly even not converted!

But what did Peter do that upset Paul so much?  Before these certain men arrived, Paul noticed that Peter was quite happy to dine and fellowship with the Gentile church members.  But once these certain men came, he withdrew and separated himself from them.  He even feared "them which were of the circumcision." 

In the period prior to him receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter’s faith and courage seemed to go up and down like a roller-coaster.  And here, in this incident, after – possibly long after – his receiving of the Holy Spirit, it’s almost as if he suffered a lapse in the great courage which he had gained through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  

Let’s take a quick look at those words withdrew and separated:

First, the word withdrew.  It was translated from the Greek verb hupostello (Strong’s 5288) which can also mean keep back, shun, draw back, conceal, to be timid, to shrink: e.g. of those who from timidity or fear hesitate to avow or declare what they believe.

The second word is separated: which was translated from the Greek verb aphorizo (Strong’s 873) which is translated elsewhere as divide and sever.  It means to mark off from others by boundaries, to limit, to separate, to exclude as disreputable, to set apart for some purpose.

When these folks came up to Antioch from Jerusalem, Peter put on a show for them, making it look as though there was a separation between the Gentile members and the Jewish (Israelite) members – even giving the impression that the Gentile members were second-class Christians, and that he and his fellow Israelites should not fellowship with them.  In doing this, Peter was advocating separation and division in God’s church.  This is a very dangerous thing for a minister to do according to God's words through Jeremiah: 

Jeremiah 23:
1:  "Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!" says the LORD.
2:  Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people, "You have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings," says the LORD.

We all must be very careful not to be guilty of this same sin.  Let's go back to Paul's letter to the Galatians: 

Galatians 2:
13:  And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Let`s take a look at those two words: dissembled and dissimulation.  I tried to guess what they meant before I looked them up.  I would have thought that this English word dissembled means the opposite of assembled.  But it doesn't!  It means to mislead, to pretend or to play-act.  It is translated here from a wonderfully long Greek word sunupokrinomai (Strong’s 4942) which means to act hypocritically, which, according to Jesus, is the leaven of the Pharisees!

Now let`s look at the second of these uncommonly used words – dissimulation.  I would have thought that the English word might have meant dissimilar or not the same.  Wrong again!  Although my assumption was a little closer, the English word dissimulation actually means concealment, suppression, disguise, dishonesty or camouflage, all of which are tools of Satan’s way of doing things – certainly not the ways of one of Jesus' apostles!

Dissimulation is translated here from the Greek word hupokrisis (Strong’s 5272) which, once again, like the first word, dissembled, can mean the acting of a stage player; but is translated elsewhere in the New Testament as condemnation or hypocrisy – once again, the leaven of the Pharisees!

Please remember that, on the circumcision question that we read about earlier back in Acts 15, Peter supported the opinion of Paul and Barnabas on behalf of the Gentile converts; but here, he was doing a hypocritical about-face!

Paul's charge against Peter was a very serious one!  Also, Paul wrote here that Barnabas – who, as we have seen, Paul had had other differences with – was infected by this same leaven of the Pharisees!

14:  But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compel you the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?"

According to Paul, not only had Peter, by doing this, committed the sin of hypocrisy, he "walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel."  In other words – and this is quite ironic – by cow-towing to those Jews by separating himself from the physical Gentile brethren – who were actually spiritual Israelite brethren (Romans 11), Peter was, in effect, separating himself from the very concept, unity and truth of spiritual Israel, which is so very important to the Lord Jesus Christ!

In some respects, not only did Peter fail, in this instance, to grow in grace and knowledge (a phrase which he was inspired to coin in II Peter 3:18 ); but he also came to a full stop in that point of his spiritual understanding.  And for Peter, that full stop was the equivalent of another "Mini Tower of Babel."  Worse even than a full stop, just like those faithless Israelites at Kadesh Barnea who demanded to return to Egypt, at this point, Peter, by doing this, had actually gone backwards in his faith, in his knowledge, and his understanding!
Paul's reproof against Peter and his fellow-dissimulators goes on for another seven verses, right to the end of the chapter!

Did Paul and Peter ever make it up?  We would like to think so.  Hopefully they did.  There are a few scriptures that indicate a reconciliation; but we won’t go to them today.

What I have been trying to get at by covering these accounts today is not to unrighteously judge Peter, Paul, Barnabas, John Mark or anyone else.  That’s not my job.  But rather to show you that differences, dissentions and unpleasant separations between leaders, ministers and members within God’s church are nothing new.  Whether we like it or not, they go right back to the earliest days of the church!

What we like, though, is less important than what God likes!  I’m sure that He wasn’t too pleased about these dissentions among His people.  But still, He allowed these things to happen and He let them work it out – perhaps in order to teach the appropriate lessons to other brethren – including us!

Those three that we have been through today are the main disputes that I am aware of that happened in the “apostolic era” of the early church.  There may be others; but these are the ones that came immediately to my mind.

So, what else?  Although unreliable, tradition tells us that most of the apostles – including Peter and Paul – were dead by the time Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed in 70 AD. 

But that is where the next part of our story begins – the scattering in the "Post-Apostolic" era – a really interesting age.  And that is where we will pick it up next time in Part 12.