WHAT HAPPENED AFTER Jesus zoomed up into the sky?
For a while, he was expected to return rather quickly.
In the meantime, there was the “great commission” and evangelism to be tended to.
The Jesus believers were meeting in people's homes. Members of that community would take turns using private homes to gather. Thus, they went house to house.
These footstep tracers of Jesus (they called themselves Akolouthontes "followers" or some called themselves Mathetai or "learners.") were puzzling out what it meant to follow Jesus. Who was he...really? Was he going to return? Why? When?
Each was curious about the others. Maybe somebody else knew something they didn't? They sought each other out....with questions...
If somebody brought word that another house in another town had Akolouthontes or Mathetai a person would be appointed as an emissary. These emissaries were called Apostles. The job of an apostle was to contact other believers and create a network with them.
The task cut out for believers was in overcoming the dissonance of OPINIONS to the contrary within each group.
They were called out of Judaism and pagan cults into little groups. As such, those "called out" were ecclesia. People and not church.
Few groups were without contradictory ideas of who/what Jesus was or meant.
Early on, there were no Jesus writings at all, only oral stories and opinions.
Pagans, who were broad-minded about religious worship, called them contemptuous names such as "christian" as a pejorative.
Eventually the Jesus movement called themselves that as well.
The common term for 'christians' was FECAL HERETIC or Stercorantist because the arguments were incessant b.s. to the pagans.
Jehovah's Witnesses ask of another, "Are you in the Truth?" But, early members of the Jesus Movement would ask "Are you following the path?"
He Hodos (the path).
The big problem was in DEFINING that path and standardizing it in the face of contrary ideas about solidarity and "lockstep" ritual.
For there to be apostasy there would have to be a STANDARD christianity which there NEVER was until it was forced by the pagan state in 325.
But, non-stop fighting, bickering, violence and divisions continued for decades and decades!
Writings began to appear and the proliferation of these was never-ending. No canon of Judaism existed nor of the Jesus Movement until after Marcion began organizing letters from the emissary Paul into a set of little books (bible). After that, reactionary followers began selecting from among many existing writings their own REBUTTALS or apologia. Eventually after many debates a formal canon appeared.
Jesus was many opinions told by word of mouth. Those who followed the path were not in agreement. One thing is certain, however, all were convinced for quite awhile that Jesus was quickly returning. When this DID NOT happen, it was the first GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT. The religion changed into a formal social movement of apocalyptic aspirations, martyrs and gadflies.
There was no central house of worship or governing body. There were Didaskale or teachers.
Many charismatic "gifts" were given and no formal meetings were ordered or established with priests.
In fact, there weren't any priests in christianity because, according to Jesus, his death did away with the need of it.
By the time the catholic (i.e. "universal") church was established, Priests appeared to perform the magic trick of turning
wine into blood (yes, actual blood of Jesus) and bread into the body (yes, Jesus actual body) so that a ritual purpose for attending
a building (called CHURCH) could be invoked.
The Catholic priesthood was an elite invention of mere men to induce the unwary to attend a central meeting place and partake of the magic trick
The Jehovah's Witness mythos about "Early Christians" is largely a cherry-picked fantasy that never existed.