The First Congregation at Jerusalem, by Father Richard Brennan, LL.D.


“Now, therefore, O my sons, be ye zealous for the law. Call to remembrance the works of the fathers.” – 1st Maccabees 2:50

Christ chose Saint Peter to be his Representative and the Visible Head of his Church on earth, and formally appointed him with the words, “Thou art Peter” (which means rock), “and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell” (that is to say, the evil powers of error and vice) “shall not prevail against it. To thee I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep.”

In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, addressed to the multitude assembled in Jerusalem, Saint Peter spoke with such supernaturally effective powers of persuasion that many accepted baptism, and the first Christian congregation in a short time numbered five thousand members.

In the beginning, the early Christians continued to observe the Jewish rites, and used to go at stated intervals to the temple to pray. Soon, however, they began to hold separate assemblages for worship, at which the Apostles used to conduct divine service according to the ordinance of Christ, and to dispense the sacred mysteries of salvation.

The Acts of the Apostles thus describe the mode of life followed by the members of this first Christian congregation:

“They were persevering in the doctrine of the Apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread” (that is, the holy mass and Communion), “and in prayers.

“Many wonders also and signs were done by the Apostles in Jerusalem.

“And all they that believed were together, and had all things common.

“Their possessions and goods they sold and divided them to all, according as every one had need.

“And continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they took their meat with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord increased daily together such as should be saved.”

Thus, during the first years after Christ’s ascension into heaven, the Apostles remained together in Jerusalem, partly to fortify the new Christians in their faith and in a Christian life, and to organize them as a model for future congregations; partly, also, in order to comfort and protect the faithful in the persecutions which soon broke forth, and partly, too, in order to encourage and fortify each other by the most confidential mutual intercourse, and also to prepare each other for the great work of the mission.

For the Church of Christ was not to be confined to the country of the Jews. The day was approaching when the Apostles, in obedience to the charge given them by their divine Master, were to preach the Gospel to all nations, and to carry the kingdom of Christ to all parts of the world.

MLA Citation

  • Father Richard Brennan, LL.D. “The Church and Her History”. Christ in His Church: A Catholic Church History, 1881. CatholicSaints.Info. 31 May 2018. Web. 16 January 2019. <>