The Jerusalem Church made a basic distinction between the person of Christ before and after Pentecost. All of their background and training dealt with Jesus as the Messiah. They continued to accept only the Jesus of history.
The new Christianity, based on Gentiles — for Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles — had no background of the Messiah or any of the prophecies concerning the Messiah in their understanding. The early Church continued preaching Jesus of Nazareth as their fulfillment of prophecy and the new Christian Church proclaimed Jesus as Lord of the believer’s life. Jesus of Nazareth had taught them a life of power that was contingent on their faith and obedience. This ignored the Christ that was in them and put the emphasis and burden of living godly lives on them and what they did, rather than on the Christ who lived in them.
This same practice continues today as believers attempt to become within themselves and through their own efforts what they already have and are by Christ in them. The simple issue came down to this — the early Church preached what Jesus could do if you had enough faith and the Christian Church preached you could do all things through the Christ in you. The years that went by from the Day of Pentecost to Paul lifted up Christ in a way that was different from the Christ Paul would preach (II Corinthians 5:16).
There were great and significant things done in the early Church up until the seventh chapter of Acts. This spelled out God’s grace that would be for everyone regardless of what they believed (it was a day of signs, wonders and miracles). From that point onward it is evident that the Lord would bring the final gospel to Paul and grace would be the theme.
Even though both had the same Jesus, the life of the early Church believers would be greatly different from the life of a Christian. All because of how the person of Christ would be handled. Works, even supernatural works, would be the theme of the early Church, and grace would be the theme of Paul.
From “Paul’s Christian Church” by Warren Litzman. Read the complete article online.