How far Paul could do what he is here requested to do, and which the writer of the Acts goes on to say he did, with a clear conscience, if he wrote the epistles to the Galatians and Corinthians, I may leave any candid reader of those epistles to decide. The point to which I wish to direct attention is the declaration that the Jerusalem church, led by the brother of Jesus and by his personal disciples and friends, twenty years and more after his death, consisted of strict and zealous Jews.
Tertullus, the orator, caring very little about the internal dissensions of the followers of Jesus, speaks of Paul as a "ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" (Acts xxiv, 5), which must have affected James much in the same way as it would have moved the Archbishop of Canterbury, in George Fox's day, to hear the latter called a "ringleader of the sect of Anglicans." In fact, "Nazarene" was, as is well known, the distinctive appellation applied to Jesus; his immediate followers were known as Nazarenes, while the congregation of the disciples, and, later, of converts at Jerusalem—the Jerusalem church—was emphatically the "sect of the Nazarenes," no more in itself to be regarded as anything outside Judaism than the sect of the Sadducees or of the Essenes. In fact, the tenets of both the Sadducees and the Essenes diverged much more widely from the Pharisaic standard of orthodoxy than Nazarenism did.
Let us consider the position of affairs now (A.D. 50-60) in relation to that which obtained in Justin's time, a century later. It is plain that the Nazarenes—presided over by James "the brother of the Lord," and comprising within their body all the twelve apostles—belonged to Justin's second category of "Jews who observe the law, believe Jesus to be the Christ, but who insist on the observance of the law by Gentile converts," up till the time at which the controversy reported by Paul arose. They then, according to Paul, simply allowed him to form his congregation of non-legal Gentile converts at Antioch and elsewhere; and it would seem that it was to these converts, who would come under Justin's fifth category, that the title of "Christian" was first applied. If any of these Christians had acted upon the more than half-permission given by Paul, and had eaten meats offered to idols, they would have belonged to Justin's seventh category.
Hence, it appears that, if Justin's opinion, which was doubtless that of the church generally in the middle of the second century, was correct, James and Peter and John and their followers could
- All this was quite clearly pointed out by Ritschl nearly forty years ago. See "Die Entstehung der alt-katholischen Kirche" (1850), p. 108.