What Happened to the First Disciples?


Before we look at the teachings of the Master, let’s see what may have happened to the early Disciples ("talmidim" in Hebrew) – the early group of believers who “found” the HaMashiach Yeshua.

What happened to “The Way”? Those people who were a part of a group of believers that followed Torah and trusted in Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah. And most important how did they “morph” into a religion called “Christianity” - if even they did do this? Scripture writes about them:

“...and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.” Acts 9:2

“But when some were hardened and did not believe, but spoke evil of the Way before the multitude, he departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus...” Acts 19:9

“And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way.” Acts 19:23

“I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women...” Acts 22:4

But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. Acts 24:14

“But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings...” Acts 24:22

If you study Scriptures you realize the early believers in Yeshua were indeed mostly Jews! Of course! He was a Jewish Rabbi that came to bring His people back to HaShem (“teshuvah” which means repenting and returning). All of His disciples and first followers - were Jewish. All of them followed Torah. They met in the synagogues and the Temple. They followed dietary restrictions, the Feasts, the Sabbath (on the seventh day) and the rest of the Torah. Most did this for at least three centuries.

Then the Jews revolted

Until things were challenged. As you know the Jews revolted against Rome in 66 AD. The Temple was burned down and destroyed around 70 AD. Rome was not happy with the Jewish people. This brought on persecution, battles, and eventually dispersion. During all of this the new “sect” of Judaism – “The Way” – was also challenged. For Rome had formed a great discrimination against these new followers. They had to pay special taxes and were basically treated badly like their Jewish brothers (and sisters).

Another “group” evolves in this era – that of pagan Gentiles coming to believe in the Messiah Yeshua. As you know Peter and Paul both go out and start spreading the “news” to the “nations”, which include the “lost sheep of Israel” and the Gentiles. These Gentiles believed in Yeshua as Messiah, but where were they to fit in? They (Jewish believers in Yeshua) would bring them into the synagogues but the Orthodox Jews were not comfortable with their presence. Especially with the growing numbers of believers in the Messiah Yeshua.

Gentile Christianity evolves

Thus, by the end of the second century, a new religion forms – “Gentile Christianity”. Gentiles who believe in Yeshua as Messiah, but do not necessarily want to “convert” to Judaism. And as time goes on and persecution from the Romans becomes unbearable, they begin to “separate” from Judaism – disassociate with the synagogue. Instead they meet in buildings and places that don’t resemble the Jewish synagogues at all.

Their worship services begin to change – they begin to look different. Possibly not using Hebrew at all, but the Greek or Roman languages. They are obviously not following the parts of the Torah that involve the Temple, because it has been destroyed – and not replaced. As far as the other “laws”, the Gentile Christians begin to find reasons and encourage others not to follow them at all. In fact, by 300 AD, Emperor Constantine decides to take charge of this new religion and “incorporate” it into his “government”. He makes it a “national” religion. He changes the Sabbath observance to the first day of the week (Sunday) and basically restricts any identity to Judaism. He makes up the new rules.

Now, we really have a new religion. A set of new beliefs that encourage people to become content to believe in “Jesus” their way; but not content to follow “the Law” - HaShem’s way. Any association with Judaism or their traditions could cause “believers in Jesus” their lives, or a great expense through taxes, etc. So, we have an official “disconnection” to Judaism. This is the birth of the Roman Catholic Church. And later, of course, the church “splits” into Protestantism.

300 years of confusion

It took 300 years after Yeshua ascended to Heaven for “Truth” to get confused and misconstrued. At this point in history it appears there are two remaining “religious” groups (from the roots of the original “Way”) – the Jews who have gone back to Judaism (who decided following Yeshua was no longer possible in the way they had begun or again persecution is too great for them to do this) and the Gentile Christians who have formed their new religion. And possibly a third group, a small "remnant" of the original Jewish believers in Yeshua.

I don’t think this third group ever “went away” or disappeared. I contend that throughout the centuries there has always been a “remnant” of people who follow Yeshua and the Torah. And most likely, not the most popular or accepted people, either. They stayed alive and well!

In 70 AD the Jews begin to go into exile. It is this same time that the original “Way” went into exile. Never ceasing to exist, always believing. Meeting in small groups in their homes and faraway places, delightfully studying Torah and following their Rabbi Yeshua.

Two thousand years later, something wonderful happens. Israel becomes a nation. The Hebrew people begin making their way back to the Promised Land. Prophecy becomes fulfilled. Prophecy becomes alive! The remnant that believe in Yeshua as Messiah and that they are “citizens” of Israel, who share in the Covenants of the Fathers, begin to rediscover their roots – their faith. And many others begin to join them.

The birth of the “Messianic Movement”

Here we are in a new millennium. Now “The Way” is known in some circles as the “Messianic Movement”. There are some of us who belong to this “Movement” and choose not to pick a name. They resolve with their whole hearts follow the Messiah Yeshua and believe they are to follow the whole Bible – including the Torah and its statutes, rules and instructions.

This seems to be the way things have transpired. Now, we have Judaism (and its various sects), Catholicism and Protestantism (Gentile Christianity and its various denominations), and “The Way” (also a varied group of people some who call themselves Messianic).

What do we have in common? Belief in the same HaShem – Blessed be His Name. And that a Messiah is coming to save us (His Name is Yeshua). Who is right? Who is wrong? Or are we all on a special journey - back to Him? I am on this journey; and I hope you will join me.

When Moses is giving the Hebrew people HaShem’s Law and Covenant, He says to them;

“Therefore keep the words of this Covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do. All of you stand today before Yahweh your Elohim; your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel your little ones and your wives – also the stranger (that’s us) who is in your camp (we are there because we love HaShem), from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water – that you may enter into COVENANT with HASHEM YOUR ELOHIM, and into HIS OATH, which Adonai your Elohim makes with you today.” Deuteronomy 29:9-12

HaShem gives the Torah to His people - that includes the Hebrews and the believing stranger (ger). He always has, from the beginning. Now it’s time to learn it and obey. We can become talmidim (disciples) and make talmidim – just as Yeshua commanded.