Creeds of the Kehillah ~ Part 39

The Nicene Creed~ Part 25

In our last post, we continued to explore the Nicene Creed. In this post, we continue to dig into the third article of faith, keeping with the phrase We Believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church in the Nicene Creed.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son, He is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

WE BELIEVE IN ONE HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC KEHILLAH ~ One Holy Catholic and Apostolic ~ Part 1

In the Apostles’ Creed, the profession of faith is personal: “I believe,” while in the Nicene Creed, it is “we believe.” The kehillah expresses its faith together. At the last part of the creed, after the profession in the Ruach HaKodesh and His work, we say we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.” These four notes are fundamental for the definition of the kehillah as the kehillah of Yeshua, and they enable its recognition by all the baptized.

Holiness has always been the first characteristic of the kehillah to be recognized. Already from the beginning of the second century, we find the saying the holy church.” Beginning from here, the texts of the Fathers repeatedly and incessantly define the kehillah as holy, up to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan profession of faith. The biblical foundation for its use leaves us in no doubt. Yeshua, the holy one of God, is the center of the new kehillah chosen and consecrated to raise to God true spiritual worship. This kehillah is the holy temple of God, and the death of Yeshua makes it holy and immaculate. The baptized are called holy ones to indicate their belonging to God and the consecration brought about by the baptismal water. The celebration of the Eucharist highlighted for all Believers the state of holiness in which they participated and to which they were called. This was so profoundly experienced that the emissary felt obliged to write about the necessity for a serious examination of conscience before approaching the celebration of the banquet. The holiness of the kehillah is founded on the presence and action in it of the Ruach HaKodesh. It is, therefore, original holiness that has no analogy in the previous history; it is objective and complete, fount and source of every other personal holiness that is born in the kehillah and is developed. If the kehillah were not holy, it could not proclaim as holy those who give testimony to true evangelical life. The history of the kehillah, then, is above all and before all a history of holiness. It is not possible to ignore or not recognize this dimension without misinterpreting the sacred texts and two thousand years of the history of the kehillah. If the kehillah is holy, then it cannot, because of its nature, sin, or have sinned. This poses another problem that must be faced: the presence of sinners.

The affirmation of the unity of the kehillah finds its root in the tremendous high-priestly prayer placed on the lips of Yeshua in the Gospel of John that they may all be one. Just as you, Father, are united with me and I with you, I pray that they may be united with us so that the world may believe that you sent me. [1] Sha’ul many times exhorts readers to attain this unity by using the powerful image of the body of Yeshua, where all members are connected. According to one bishop’s principle for one city, the unity of the kehillah was affirmed not only in rhetoric but also in the organization: each local kehillah was led by a bishop in communion with other bishops, according to one bishop’s principle for one city his territory. His office was primarily liturgical and one of guidance. He presided over the liturgical assemblies and was aided by presbyters and deacons. The celebration of the Eucharist expressed unity. The bishop decided who would be admitted to catechesis, who admitted catechumens to baptism, who baptized and celebrated the Eucharist, who admitted or excluded people from the Eucharist, who gave penance sinners and pardoned them.

The kehillah of the early centuries elaborated different systems to preserve, favor and develop unity among the kehillot. The lack of centralization and the absence of solid cohesion, in the institutional sense, constituted a weakness of the messianic kehillot in relation to the whole kehillah. Indeed, it was a strength in that all the kehillot were involved and felt responsible. Still, it was also a weakness, especially at a time when the doctrine was being refined and discipline was being constituted. This was true both in the relations between kehillot and inside a particular kehillah because of all the components’ sense of participation.

The affirmation that the kehillah is holy comes from Scripture, as does that of unity. The Brit Hadasah often calls Believers “holy ones.” Sha’ul writes that the Messiah loved the Messianic Community, indeed, gave Himself up on its behalf, 26 in order to set it apart for God, making it clean through immersion [2] in the mikveh, so to speak, 27in order to present the Messianic Community to Himself as a bride to be proud of, without a spot, wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without defect.[3] The first letter of Kefa says, But you are a chosen people, the King’s cohanim, a holy nation, a people for God to possess! Why? In order for you to declare the praises of the One who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. [4] The holy nation is the new kehillah constituted of Believers; its holiness does not mean that there are not sinners in the kehillah, but the kehillah participates in the holiness of God, the only Holy One.

In my next post, we continue to dig into the third article of the Nicene Creed: We Believe in The Holy Spirt.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] John 17:21 (CJB)

[2] Baptism.

3 Ephesians 5:27 ~ (CJB).

[4] 1 Kefa 2:9 ~ (CJB).

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