CH101 - The First CenturyThe Primitive Church - 30 - 100 AD
The destruction of the Temple
Only a few years later the radical Jewish fringe led a revolt against Roman control. Nero sent general Vespasian to crush the rebellion. Vespasian dispatched an army of approximately 60,000 soldiers that methodically went through northern Judea restoring order as they went. Some Jews in the insurrection surrendered and were executed by Zealot leaders. The Roman "invasion" came to a standstill at the capital city, Jerusalem. The Romans laid siege to Jerusalem establishing an encampment completely encircling the city. Anyone caught trying to escape was executed, sometimes by crucifixion, and hung on the city wall for all to see.
Nero committed suicide in the midst of a Senate takeover and Vespasian was recalled to Rome where he was installed as emperor. Titus, son of Vespasian, was left in charge of gaining victory in the Jewish revolt. Jerusalem was sacked and the Temple destroyed. Most of the Jews in Jerusalem were killed, committed suicide, or fled. These events were recorded in detail by the Jewish historian Josephus (War of the Jews V-VII).
The death of James led to a dispersing of Jewish believers from Jerusalem and a weakening of the Jewish Christian community. The destruction of the Temple, with the consequent end of the Levitical priesthood and sacrificial system, brought a virtual close to the Jewish religion. There was a continuation of the religious observances, but it was a mere shadow of what had existed before.
Another apparent result of the demise of Judaism and their historic Temple was a growing rift between what was left of the Jewish faith, including the early Jewish Christians, and the now dominant Gentile community of believers. This is most clearly seen in John's writings, especially in the Gospel of John, which includes confrontations of Jesus with the Jewish leadership not seen in the other gospels. John's writings also contain the clearest language and texts pointing to the deity of Jesus and his co-equality with God the Father.
In 1 John we also find the language of separation:
...because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. - 1 John 4:1-3
Towards the end of the first century we begin to see more signs of the Gentile Christian community pushing the Jewish influence aside. Many have called this "anti-Semitic." This is probably true if we use 21st century standards, but during this time it was voicing the opinion of the majority and the view that Judaism had failed to accept their Messiah. This is brought out clearly in the epistle of Barnabas and the Letters of Ignatius of Antioch and others in the later part of the first century and into the second century.