THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH
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THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH book
AT whatever date we place the actual birth of the new society, whether on the occasion of S. Peter’s great confession at Caesarea Philippi or on the evening of the Lord’s resurrection, there can be little doubt that by Pentecost the Twelve were fully conscious of their mission as the propagators of a new religion, or at least of a new edition of the old religion. They had taken pains to maintain their own precise number and had filled the place left vacant by the death of the traitor. When they first began their propaganda under the leadership of Peter they announced that the long-expected Messiah had appeared in the person of Jesus, and that although He had been put to death as a malefactor His divine authority was proved by His resurrection. Shortly He would come again in glory to inaugurate a reign of righteousness and peace, and those who wished to share in the privileges of that new age should accept Him as Messiah, conform to His moral standards and enter His fellowship by undergoing the rite of baptism. Any difficulties that might be felt about a Messiah who conformed so little to the usual grandiose Jewish conceptions they swept away by declaring that the true Messiah had in point of fact been foreshadowed in the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, and by contending that, rightly understood, all the Jewish scriptures pointed to this ideal, which had been realised in Jesus of Nazareth. Such an interpretation of the national history they evidently expected their countrymen to accept, and they set themselves to build up on this basis a New Israel, in whom the divine promises should receive fulfilment.