What is the history and significance of the church at Jerusalem?

The church at Jerusalem was the homebase of Christianity after the ascension of Jesus Christ. It was led by Peter and the other close disciples of Jesus. James, Jesus' half-brother, was also a leader. The newly converted Jews thought that when Jesus rose from the dead He would immediately establish His kingdom. Instead, He said, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:7–8).

Their job was to be a witness to who Jesus is, what He had done, and what He wanted for His people. Jesus' disciples returned to the place they'd been staying. Along with the women who had been following Jesus, Jesus' mother Mary, and Jesus' brothers, they devoted themselves to prayer. They also established leaders (Acts 1:12–26). Soon they were given the promised gift of the Holy Spirit in a dramatic experience: "When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:1–4).

Because they and many other pilgrims had been in Jerusalem for the Passover, their new giftings were blatantly obvious. Besides them being able to speak in different languages, we see Peter become a confident leader and public speaker. Acts 2 details Peter's speech that starts to help the Jews understand how Jesus brings everything to completion by quoting the Old Testament (the Jewish Scriptures at that point) and connecting what they knew to who Jesus is. In one day, 3,000 people come to faith in Jesus Christ.

It is from Jerusalem that the gospel is sent out and spreads, but it also becomes a sort of headquarters for Christianity. When the apostles there heard about the Samaritans believing the gospel, they sent Peter and John to pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8). This affirmed to the believers that the gospel is for the Samaritans, too. After Peter shared the gospel with Cornelius, a Gentile, in Ceasarea and saw the Holy Spirit come on the Gentiles, he reported it to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 11). When some disciples in Jerusalem disbelieved Paul was truly a disciple of Jesus after his conversion, Barnabas took Paul before the apostles and elders there (Acts 9:26–30). Later, Paul and Barnabas went to Jerusalem from Syrian Antioch to settle matters concerning Gentile believers (Acts 15). To this day, Christians pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see and understand that birthplace of Jesus' Church, as well as the death and resurrection of their Savior.

The city today is the holy site of three major world religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It is quite possibly the most contentious area of land on the planet. The Crusades were fought specifically to recapture the land from the Moors and establish it as a Christian state. They failed.

Yet, the gospel of Jesus Christ still flourishes there and around the world. When Christ returns and establishes His kingdom, we are told that the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven as a bride adorned for the groom (Revelation 21:1–4).

Related Truth:

What is the history and significance of the church at Antioch?

What is the history and significance of the churches in Galatia?

What is the history and significance of the church in Philippi?

What is the history and significance of the church at Thessalonica?

What was God's purpose in establishing the church?

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