Acts 6:5

This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.

Was Nicolas converted to the OT Jewish faith and not the new Christian faith?

Acts 11:26

and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

  • 5
    They never separated from it - and neither [should] can we. Now asking about separation from the Mosaic covenant is another Q
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 20:20

7 Answers 7


Hebrews 8:13 Now in saying a new, he hath made the former old. And that which decayeth and groweth old, is near its end.

Since the New Covenant abrogated the former one (by its mere being commanded by God), there ought not be expected any change in the way the Jews who followed the Messiah saw themselves per se, except for that in their following the New Covenant, they distinguished themselves from "the Jews" and what could loosely be called "the Jewish religion" (what for the sake of familiarity only wel'll call 'Judaism,' although this is a much later term, and the Jews had sects which differed greatly one from the other) insofar as the greater number of Jews did not accept the Messiah or the New Covenant He established, and so it became more practical — and necessary — to identify themselves more specifically; this might explain the early appropriation of the term "Messian" or "Christian" (Acts 11:26), because it was the chief differentiator between the greater part of the Jews and the "remnant" (Romans 9:27) who became Christian (followed the Messiah, and the New Covenant).

That is to say, it became necessary to differentiate between Jews who did not accept the Messiah and those who did (even as it was necessary to use terms like Sadducee, or Pharisee to differentiate between sects of 'Judaism' (again, lacking another 'name' for the Jewish faith) before Christ.

However, inasmuch as they saw themselves as the only true Jews — which indeed they were, the others having apostatized from Israel (Acts 3:23) — they would not have saw themselves as 'not' "Jewish," nor of 'not' believing in 'Judaism,' but rather as the true Jews holding to true 'Judaism.'

  • "That is to say, the religion was known as "Judaism,"" No, it wasn't. That's a modern translation. Judaism wasn't a thing that existed until the destruction of the Temple. Before that, the Judean people belonged to various sects like the Pharisees (who became the modern rabbinical Jews), the Saduccees (who ceased to exist after the destruction of the Temple, because their religion centered around it), the Zealots (who all died fighting the Romans), the Essenes (who were basically monks), the Christians, etc.
    – nick012000
    Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 15:42
  • @nick012000 Thanks for the correction; I've only kept the word for pragmatic purposes, and disambiguated it. Commented Jul 11, 2021 at 19:24

The separation from the Jewish leaders and synagogues was gradual, but when you use the term OT Jewish faith, the apostles saw themselves aa following the faith and the Jews who did not follow Christ as departing from it.

They believed theirs was the faith that fulfilled the Scriptures (see Appendix).

However, Peter saw Gentile Christianity separating from Judaism starting with his vision and continuing with proclaiming the gospel to Cornelius in Acts 10. Specifically that Christianity spread to the gentiles without them becoming Jewish proselytes. Many of the Apostles heard and accepted this when Peter explained his actions to the church in Acts 11.

We have no record of exactly when Paul realized this, but it was before the Jerusalem Counsel in Acts 15. Acts 5:15 doesn't clearly state this. In Acts 13 Paul turned to the Gentiles after first going and getting thrown out of the synagogue. The jealousy in the synagogue may well be Paul telling them about Peter's experience in Acts 10 and 11 as well as his conversion experience.

The Jerusalem Counsel in Acts 15 was the final settling on the fact that the Gentile Christians did not need keep the Law of Moses as Jewish proselytes. At this time it was clear as far as Gentile Christians being separate from Judaism.

Appendix: Scriptures Fulfilled Quotes from ESV

Matthew 26:54 54 But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

Matthew 26:56 56 But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.

Mark 14:49 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.”

Luke 4:21 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 22:37 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.”

John 13:18 18 I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’

John 17:12 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

John 19:24 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

              “They divided my garments among them, 
  and for my clothing they cast lots.” 

So the soldiers did these things,

John 19:28 The Death of Jesus 28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”

John 19:36 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”

Acts 1:16 16 “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.

James 2:8 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

James 2:23 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 26:54–Jas 2:23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

  • 1
    Your first paragraph reflected some important points. The Jewish leaders (Pharisees, Sadducees, Zealots, etc) had so distorted Torah that the religious practices of the Jews were not reflecting ‘Old Testament’ faith - at all. The Essenes were - and there are some that argue (with evidence) that Paul received instruction from them after his Damascus experience.
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 10, 2021 at 22:55

I don't think there is any evidence in scriptures that the apostles considered their faith separate from the Old Testament jewish faith, just as the adherents of rabbinical judaism don't consider their faith to be a break from old testament judaism.

In some sense the debates between Christ and the Pharisees continue to the present, with the disciples of each insisting that theirs is the true successor to the faith of Abraham and teachings of Moses.

Of course an outsider might see breaks in both of these traditions with Old Testament, but believers in each would vehemently insist that they are continuing the tradition by preserving the "true meaning" of the promise given to the patriarchs, the teachings of the prophets, the various animal sacrifices, feasts, and regulations. Both include the Old Testament in their holy books.

  • Well-said, +1. I appreciate that this post respectfully considers both a (contemporary) Christian and a (contemporary) Jewish perspective on the question. Commented Jul 12, 2021 at 1:24

Never, for the New Covenant is the faith or religion of the Jews. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. The inclusion of Gentiles into the Jewish religion does not imply that Jewish religion became Gentile or the Jews cease to have their Jewish faith. They are the primary heir of the covenants and promises. The Jew first.

John 4:22-23: You worship that which you do not know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such to be his worshippers.

Rom 9:4-5 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. ESV

Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. ESV

Rom 2:9-10 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. ESV


When did the apostles clearly see themselves separate from the OT Jewish faith?

Jesus inaugurates a new covenant with his faithfull apostles after the Lord's Super. (Luke 22:20)

Luke 22:20 NET

20 And in the same way he took[a] the cup after they had eaten,[b] saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant[c] in my blood.

Jesus on the night before his death, Nisan 14, 33 C.E., established the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. On the 50th day from his resurrection and 10 days after he had ascended to his Father, he poured out the holy spirit, which he had received from God, on his disciples and other faithful followers gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem.​ Ac 2:1-4, 17, 33; 2Co 3:6, 8-9; Heb 2:3-4

The NT covenant became effective from the moment of the pouring of the holy spirit on the day of the Pentecost and It is from this moment that the apostles clearly see themselves separate from the OT Jewish faith.

The parties to the new covenant are God, on one side, and “the Israel of God,” the spirit-begotten ones in union with Christ, making up his congregation or body, on the other side. (Heb 8:10; 12:22-24; Ga 6:15, 16; 3:26-28; Ro 2:28, 29)

Some Jewish Christians failed to grasp the point and followed some aspects of the Mosaic Law.-- circumcision--However, it was not until the year 70 C.E. that the proper view of the Mosaic Law became unmistakably clear to all Jewish Christians. That occurred when God allowed Jerusalem, its temple, and the records pertaining to its priesthood to be destroyed. This made it impossible for anyone to observe all the features of the Law.

Called Christians.

Acts 11:26 The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.The Greek word that appears in this verse is "χρηματισαι " kri-ma-ti sai " , derived from the word " Kri-stos " meaning Christ. Unfortunately most translations translate the word "called" , the meaning of the word is "divine providence", The designation “Christians” was given “by divine providence” possibly as early as the year 44 C.E. Acts 11:26. YLT reads "divinely called" a better rendering than other translations.

Acts 11:26 YTL

26 and having found him, he brought him to Antioch, and it came to pass that they a whole year did assemble together in the assembly, and taught a great multitude, the disciples also were divinely called first in Antioch "Christians."


Acts 11:5 states that he was, a Gentile convert to Judaism[e] from Antioch, obviously now a convert to Christianity, a man of faith, chosen along with Stephen.


Jesus never came to change anything but continue. He was Jewish, circumcised etc... and never stated that he was sent to the gentiles or that he made a new religion / convent etc... The changes came after by others, such as Paul

Matthew 15:24 - 24 He answered, “ I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Matthew 5:17-20 - 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

“It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17)

“Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John7:19)


A milestone incident of this divergence from the traditional Judaism to the Messianic Judaism (the emerging Christianity) is described in Acts 13:

14And from Perga, they traveled inland to Pisidian Antioch, where they entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and sat down.

Paul preached in this traditional synagogue about Jesus the Messiah.

38Therefore let it be known to you, brothers, that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. 39Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.

At the end of the service, there was some success.

42As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people urged them to continue this message on the next Sabbath. 43After the synagogue was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

With success came jealousy.

44On the following Sabbath, nearly the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy, and they blasphemously contradicted what Paul was saying.

46Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “It was necessary to speak the word of God to you first. But since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.

When did the apostles clearly see themselves separate from the OT Jewish faith?

It was more of divergence than a clear-cut separation. As the nascent church began to attract more and more Gentile believers, it diverged more and more from traditional Judaism. The process was gradual over years and decades.

From the other side's perspective, they saw the Christians as a sect.

Act 24:5

We have found this man [Paul] to be a pestilence, stirring up dissension among the Jews all over the world. He is a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes, 6and he even tried to desecrate the temple; so we seized him.

Paul's terminology was different:

14 I do confess to you, however, that I worship the God of our fathers according to the Way, which they call a sect.

There was a clear diverge at this time. This happened in the trial presided by Governor Felix.

Two chapters later, in Acts 26:

27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.”

28Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

The divergence was even more obvious. This happened in the trial presided by King Agrippa.

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