Organization of the Jerusalem Nazarene Ecclesia
It soon became apparent, at least by 34-35 CE, that the central church needed an organization to deal with the conflicts such as the Greek adherents to the faith and how to provide for the Greek widows, as well as how to deal with the gentiles who wished to be admitted into the church. The models used for the organization of the Nazarene Ecclesia were apparent, the Essene structure, Jesus ministerial organization (Luke 10:1), the Mosaic model (Numbers 11:16-17) and the Sanhedrin.
There were elected 70 representatives called Elders, with an initial cabinet of fifteen, which included aCouncil of twelve with three Leaders. The Sanhedrin and the Essenes had a similar structure in which:
- the High Priest was called the Nasi,
- his Deputy High Priest was called the Sagan, and the
- Chief Office of the Religious Court was called the Ab Beth-Din.
Yet this was also adapted closer to the model of Jesus’ ministry, in which the three leaders, Peter, James, son of Zebedee, and his brother, John were part of the Twelve. In the Nazarene Congregation, the “pillars” as Paul called them, were Peter, James (Jacob) the brother of Jesus, and John.
The political structure of the newly organized Nazarene Ecclesia the:
- Apostle James (Jacob) the Just became the High Priest (Nasi), who is presented in Acts of the Apostles as a “wise interpreter of scriptures who presides over the Council and gives his rulings” (Schonfield, Hugh Joseph, The Pentecost Revolution, The Story of the Jesus Party in Israel, AD 36-66, Macdonald and Janes’s, St. Giles, 49/50 Poland Street, London, W.I., 1974, p 146)
- The Apostle John became the Deputy (Sagan) as from his priestly background he could deal with doctrine and congregational organization issues and
- The Apostle Peter became the Chief Officer of the Religious Court (Ab Beth-Din), or the general supervisor, the chief propagandist or evangelist (fame at Pentecost) and pastoral director.