The Church of God Returns to Pella

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The Church of God Returns to Pella

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Scenes from Pella Today we left our hotel very early bound for the ancient city of Pella, about an hours drive north of Amman. Under a hot sun and cloudless sky more than 200 of our group gathered on the stone steps of a rest house for a unique church service during the Feast of Tabernacles.

Pella is the town to which the Church fled in 69 A.D. from Jerusalem to escape the Roman siege. Here they found refuge and established a new community of faith.  Pella became the first city of refuge for the Church of God in the first century.

Josephus, the first century Jewish historian tells us that on Pentecost in 69 AD the priests were ministering in the Temple when “they heard a great noise  and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude saying, ‘Let us remove hence’.” History records that a group of early Christians took the warning seriously and fled beyond the Jordan to Pella, thus escaping the horrors of the prolonged Roman siege and sack of Jerusalem.

Here is how the Encyclopedia Brittanica describes this group of people called Nazarenes. Epiphanius, a fourth century writer, “Characterizes them as neither more nor less than Jews pure and simple, but adds that they recognized the new covenant as well as the old, and believed in the resurrection, and in the one God and His son Jesus Christ…Jerome says that they believed in Christ the son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rose again, but adds that, “desiring to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither the one nor the other.” …while adhering as far as possible to the Mosaic economy as regarded circumcision, Sabbaths, foods and the like, they did not refuse to recognize the apostolicity of Paul or the rights of heathen Christians.” (Vol. 19, p. 319, Article, Nazarenes)

This is as accurate a description of the early church as any you can find from the early writings. This describes the church you read about in the Book of Acts, the church founded on the teaching of Christ and the apostles. We of the United Church of God gathered here in Jordan to observe the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles had a unique opportunity to hold a service on the site where our spiritual fore bearers once lived.

 

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