Kahalot began with one of the most amazing charismatic moments in religious history. There in the Upper Room at Pentecost the early apostles of the risen Christ were worshipping in ‘one accord’ when tongues of fire fell on all the occupants of that room on Mount Zion. This symbolized to them that the Lord of the heavens had sent His Shekinah or Ruach HaKodesh ( Holy Spirit) to confirm His presence within their midst. It was here that the Greek and the Jews become one in Yahshua (Jesus).
Organization of the Jerusalem Nazarene Ecclesia
It soon became apparent, at least by 34-35 CE, that the central church needed an organization to deal with the conflicts such as the Greek adherents to the faith and how to provide for the Greek widows, as well as how to deal with the gentiles who wished to be admitted into the church. The models used for the organization of the Nazarene Kahalotwere apparent, the Essene structure, Jesus ministerial organization (Luke 10:1), the Mosaic model (Numbers 11:16-17) and the Sanhedrin.
Drawing of the Jewish Sanhedrin (c. 1700 CE)
There were elected 70 representatives called Elders, with an initial cabinet of fifteen, which included a Council of twelve with three Leaders. The Sanhedrin and the Essenes had a similar structure in which:
the High Priest was called the Nasi,
his Deputy High Priest was called the Sagan, and the
Chief Office of the Religious Court was called the Ab Beth-Din.
Yet this was also adapted closer to the model of Jesus’ ministry, in which the three leaders, Peter, James, son of Zebedee, and his brother, John were part of the Twelve. In the Nazarene Congregation, the “pillars” as Paul called them, were Peter, James (Jacob) the brother of Jesus, and John.
The political structure of the newly organized Nazarene Ecclesia the:
Apostle James (Jacob) the Just became the High Priest (Nasi), who is presented in Acts of the Apostles as a “wise interpreter of scriptures who presides over the Council and gives his rulings” (Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 146)
The Apostle John became the Deputy (Sagan) as from his priestly background he could deal with doctrine and congregational organization issues and
The Apostle Peter became the Chief Officer of the Religious Court (Ab Beth-Din), or the general supervisor, the chief propagandist or evangelist (fame at Pentecost) and pastoral director.
Along with these sacred rituals came the confirmation that their salvation and forgiveness for sins came without the need of the ritual temple ‘sin’ offering sacrifice. Here the Nazarene religious beliefs merged with the Essene and Zadokite doctrines in opposition to the temple animal sacrificial system.
With the Nazarenes, we are also introduced to the greatest tzaddik or righteous man outside of the Yahshua haMoschiach (Jesus the Messiah) that was known in the first century Judaism. Here on this same mount, James the Just (Ya’akov haTzaddik) and the apostles of Yahshua established a Nazarene community that in social culture appeared to be like the Essene commune in Qumran. It was a communistic community in which all believers shared common resources amongst themselves. They had a Sanhedrin of the Nazarenes patterned after the Great Sanhedrin of Judaism in Jerusalem. James the Just served as the nasi or high priest of the Nazarene sect of Jewish believers.
Three centuries later, the 4th century Christian historian, Epiphanius the bishop of Constantia, who despised the Jewish religion and all the various sects that surrounded it, made this statement about James the Just. Read closely how cogently the enemies of Yahshua record historical information that This Sanhedrin had argument after argument lined up…
from all sides he’d be bombarded by their words… one question beginning before the last one ended… and James, like his brother… …was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. (IS 53:7) Things would reach a fever pitch.Silence in the face of an attack can be most convicting…and most infuriating. Each member of the attacking swarm would vie for position… to claim the perfect point, ask the pivotal question. They’d also be jostling for a position near to James… so that when he relented, they would be seen as victor… anger on the rise, pushing and shoving replace arguments… and the end comes soon after James says this… Why do you ask me about Jesus, the Son of Man? He sits in heaven at the right hand of the great Power, and he will soon come on the clouds of heaven! So similar to the words that Jesus said to set off his Sanhedrin: You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven. (MK 14:62). Now, one time friends become wild accusers… face to face, chest to chest, nose to nose… arguments breaking out among themselves. It’s recorded that they threw James from that pinnacle… but it’s entirely possible that they just continued to push to the edge and one person shoved…at just the wrong time. And the description of the next step of pride… written a thousand years ago by Bernard of Clairvaux…