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Abner and the Early Christian Church

Q: Re: paper166: Abner retained and taught a purer message but was ignored, stifled. Where was the Father and Jesus' help? Paul got it on the road. Did Pentecost fail to empower Abner?

A: Thanks for writing...those are interesting questions that you raise about Abner.

I went back and read those passages in Paper 166 which talk quite a bit about Abner and his problems in getting along with Jesus' brother James, Paul, and the other Jews at Jerusalem. There seems to have been quite a bit of difficulty between these two groups, and Abner came out of it as an isolated figure in the end.

Abner and his group, as you point out, "held more strictly to the religion of Jesus, as he lived and taught, than any other group on earth." And so, it is logical to ask why were his efforts not promoted and fostered more?

The text says that:

"He had dared to defy James the Lord's brother, who was subsequently supported by Peter. Such conduct effectively separated him from all his former associates. Then he dared to withstand Paul. Although he was wholly sympathetic with Paul in his mission to the gentiles, and though he supported him in his contentions with the church at Jerusalem, he bitterly opposed the version of Jesus' teachings which Paul elected to preach."

For whatever reason, Abner was not able to help them understand that they were veering from the Master's message.

Perhaps the reason that he did not get more help is that he had a personality that might have been abrasive. He possibly was not able to effect the changes he thought were necessary because of his defiant, daring, and bitter attitudes towards others who were not doing as he thought they should. A church was being established, and the Jews at Jerusalem were just more organized, they had more solidarity with each other, and together, they were not so tolerant of this single voice from another city who was finding fault with their efforts.

If anything, Abner probably got as much or more from Pentecost than many, as he did live and preach the religion of Jesus more than any other group. It is just that he evidently had personality differences with those who were more influential and more organized, perhaps, than he and his group were. The leaders of the new church that emerged after the death of Jesus were at odds with Abner, and he with them. And that never makes for progress, unless compromise can happen. And evidently, it was not possible.

Nevertheless, I suspect that Abner did quite a bit of good with his life and his ministry in Philadelphia. I suspect that many were attracted to him right where he was, and he probably did a great ministry throughout his 89 years of life, so I would not call him a failure in any sense.

I hope this reply has been helpful to you. Please write back any time!

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Author: Staff