The encounter: the Jesus Groups from the different movements

Masada, vault
Masada, vault

met each other during their missionary activities. They recognised that they had a lot in common and worked together, but retained their separate structures and links with their original movements.

The most important event of the mission in Palestine was that the Jesus Groups founded communities in Jerusalem, though these remained strictly separate along confessional lines until the end of the Jewish Revolt. The Israelite group of James was transformed during this process from a Samaritan to a Jewish-Christian Jesus Group.

The Jesus Groups did not restrict themselves to peaceful missions; they also played a robust role in social conflicts. One example for this is the execution of James and Peter in 46 AD, probably after food riots in which they took a leading part.

The deaths of the two leading Apostles was a significant turning point in the history of early Christianity.


The mission: the Jesus Groups were dynamic. We have very little information about a mission by James’ group. Acts contains several mentions

Masada, ancient building
Masada, ancient building

of baptismal communities: in Samaria: Acts 8:16 and in Ephesus: Acts 19:1ff. The latter are said to be baptised only in the name of Jesus, in other words, by John’s baptism; they did not yet have the Holy Spirit.

The most impressive mission was that of Peter’s group. Peter himself is depicted as a missionary in Acts 10; baptism is integrated into Peter’s mission, so we can interpret Peter’s mission as the final stage of mission that was then continued in the general Christian mission.