1st Century Jewish perspective
The 1st Century Jews who were the very first Christians--and who are the Christian example that we have in the bible---had a unique perspective. Perhaps we have lost this perspective in the church of today--having to deal with so many years of tradition from which most of our churches operate.
The people in the Bible understood certain things--I believe much better than we do. They had experience that we do not have--we understand certain things that are stated in the Bible--but we do not live them out in the same way that they did--and one of the reasons this is --is because of the particular perspective the 1st Century Jews operated from.
These people had "grown up" in the traditions of the Jewish faith of that day. They lived out their lives--their tradition in these ways--
They paid a tithe--which consisted of 1/10 of their goods--1/10 of the herd and the crops which they grew. It was the part of most of the people to (those who were not of the tribe of Levi) to render this tithe to the priests--the Levites.
The Levites were the anointed appointed delegated authority within Israel to do ministry. They were the only ones who were lawfully allowed to serve God--to perform the many and various ministries--offerings unto God throughout the year. The Levites had the "office of ministry". They had authority over the rest of Israel to be the ones who were chosen by the covenant laws delivered to Moses, to be the tribe of Israel which were allowed to be ministers unto the Lord. No one else in Israel could be a minister. No one else had the anointing to do this. The Levities were delegated by the law to be the ministry which received the tithe. They offered the tithe--which is holy unto God--as the sin offering for the people--the rest of Israel--and themselves. Their ministry function was to properly make these offerings unto God--to properly use the tithe--the offering to God for the sin of the people. They also lived on the tithe--they were allowed to eat of the slain animals--and partake of the fruits and grains which were offered through the tithe.
The temple was central to the Jewish faith. The presence of God--the Holy spirit of God--dwelled inside the holy of holes--the innermost sacred place in the temple. The Levites were the priests of the temple--the high priest was the only one who was allowed to enter into the holy place--(see Hebrews chapter 5-10). The Holy Spirit of God dwelled behind the veil of the temple--(a 4-foot thick curtain!)--the temple was the storehouse of the Holy Spirit--it was the dwelling place of God. The presence of God lived nowhere else. The place of the temple was a holy place--it was the sanctuary of God--named out by God as His holy dwelling place. It was absolutely necessary--under the Jewish covenant--for this temple to remain in operation. The tithe supplying the Levitical priests--making the offering to God within the holy sanctuary of the temple--with the result that the presence of God remained behind the veil of the temple. God lived in the temple. This was the "house of god" of the old covenant.
So this was the experience of the 1st century Jew--the first Christians--with regard to ministry, the tithe and the temple. Most of Israel was disallowed from ministry to God--they could only be the suppliers of the tithe to the Levites--who were the "official" ministers of God to do the operations within the temple--to make offering for sin within that temple--and thus keeping the presence of God behind the veil of the temple.
So now we can see what they understood when Jesus--by His life death and resurrection--made the necessary changes from the old covenant to the new.
Jesus during His 3 year ministry released hundreds of ministers--apostles He called them--and every recorded apostle was a non-Levite. Jesus was sending a message.
When Jesus was on the cross the Bible records that the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom. The Holy Spirit of God no longer dwelled in a temple made by man. God was sending a message.
40 days later, a group of people--men a and women alike--received the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. God the holy spirit now dwelled inside of men a and women--no longer hidden behind he veil of the temple.
Paul, a 1st century Jew writes--"Your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit"
the new believers do not build a temple--they see no need for this--they fully realize that they are the temple of the Holy Spirit--24 hours a day--7 days a week, wherever they go.
Jesus had said to them--"Where 2 or more are gathered in my name--there I am in the midst"---Now it only takes the agreement of 2 Christians--to bring out the presence of God--wherever these Christians are--they no longer need a temple.
The house of God of the new covenant becomes the already existing homes of the new believers. Every Christian home is now a house of God--a place for God to operate and Christians to operate in their anointings.
We are now all called "anointed"--since by being Christians we are saying that we follow after "the anointed One and His anointing"., No longer are the Levites the anointed, appointed--delegated authority to perform ministry. By the very name "Christian" we state the belief that we are anointed--and the gift of the anointing is ministry.
New covenant Christians are called servants (Greek doulos or diakonos--translated as minister or slave or servant)--there is no special designation for one group of Christians to be servants--we are all called to serve.
Jesus enters the true holy of hollies in heaven--sits down at the right hand of the Father--with the precious and pure blood offering that He has made with His life and death on the cross. the one time for all offering the true offering for the sin of all he world-- for all sin--once for all. No longer is their the need to make continual offering of blood, in the temple, by the Levites, to forgive sin and maintain the presence of God behind the veil of the temple.
No more need for offering--
5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: (Hebrews 10:5-24, KJV).
the 1st century Jews who were the Bible Christians had the perspective very clearly of the changes that had taken place from the old covenant to the new. They had functioned under the authority of the ministry of the Levites--the priests of the temple. They had been ruled by the Pharisees--the people who "sat in the seat of Moses"--and seent hat Jesus had told them not to duplicate their use of seats and offices of rulership amongst themselves. They understood the functioning of the temple--the presence of God dwelling behind a thick veil--maintained by the offerings for sin which came through the paying a tithe to the Levitcal priesthood--the ministers of God who were the designated delegated authority to do ministry in Israel.
They understood completely what the new covenant promise was--that God would now write the law in the hearts of all men--(the laws of Moses were written in the middle--the heart-- of that temple in Jerusalem) They understood what it meant when the veil of the temple was torn in 2 and when they received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
And they lived these changes out.
they did not spend any time or money in trying to build a temple to God--they understood that they were the temple of God--able to call down the presence of God with agreement and prayer-"anywhere" they went.
They discontinued the Levitical priesthood--the designation of only "some " to do ministry to serve God--rather they realized that all Christians were anointed to serve God.
They wrote and understood and lived out the concept that in the new covenant we are all made "priests unto God" (Revelation 1:5). there is now no specific designation of the Levites--for the "some" who are appointed to do ministry. Rather we are all now made priests unto God in the earth thorough the blood of Jesus.
they met in their homes--the new "house of God" from which they operated the church-- the body of Christ-- 7 days a week--not just on designated holy days and sabbaths.
They did not pay a tithe. They realized that they had no need to continue to make offering for sin. Rather they used what they had to prosper one another--they gave to one another's ministry and to the needs of their brothers and sisters in Christ--as well as feeding the poor among them--so that they all prospered together.
they realized that they had leaders--but the Christians leaders were meant to be as Jesus had said to them the new covenant would operate by--the leaders were the greatest servants--not rulers with authority over the rest--
25 And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26 But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. (Luke 22:25-26, KJV).
This was the new covenant kingdom of God which Jesus had appointed unto them. They operated this kingdom against the worst persecution that any Christians have every faced--the attack of the Roman empire. Understanding these principles was key to their survival and their prosperity against the face of such an attack.
They needed only God and their agreement together to function--they did not need a temple nor an offering--they had God the Holy Spirit--they fully realized completely what Jesus had done with His work on the cross. They were quick to release the anointing amongst themselves in their homes--these houses of God which functioned every day of the week--to witness the Gospel--to teach one another--to move in their Spirit gifts and prophecy --to quickly do the pastoral anointing of releasing others to ministry. --to feed the poor. They had seen Jesus do these same things in His earthly ministry--and they saw fit to continue it in exactly the same manner that He had taught them.
They wasted no time or effort or money on ritual--tradition--in building a temple or a sanctuary--they were much more interested in building the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit--their own bodies--making themselves clean and pure for God to live in--by serving Him. They attained to holiness--sanctification--by serving God--
Ro 6:22* But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life
The perspective of the 1st century Jew is the perspective that is recorded in the Bible. They were obedient, and understood the differences for the old covenant to the new--and they lived them out. The question remains--do we do this today in our ideas and traditions of "church"?