What is the Church?
To start let’s define the word “Church”. The Church or ekklēsía is a called out assembly of people. The word Church is the English translation of the Greek word ekklēsía.
Most of Christendom believes that the Church started at Pentecost. The traditional view of the Church beginning on Pentecost in Acts 2 is NOT possible. The text simply does not support the traditional view. The resurrected and glorified Lord Jesus Himself revealed the Body of Christ, which is the Church to the apostle Paul alone long after Pentecost. (Galatians 1:11,12 Ephesians 3:1-10) The Body of Christ was a “mystery” or secret hidden from the world until the ascended Lord Jesus revealed it to Paul around 40-41 AD. That’s 11 – 12 years after Pentecost.
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
“The ascended and glorified Lord gave Paul the ministry of the Church, the Body of Christ”
Of this church, I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,
The Body of Christ “the Church” was a Secret
Peter and the eleven knew nothing of Jew and Gentile being equal in the Body of Christ, the gospel of grace, that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ, that our citizenship is in the heavens, that believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit, that every believer is indwelled with the Holy Spirit. These revelations were hidden (Ephesians 3:1-10) until they were revealed to Paul 11 to 12 years after Pentecost and almost 20 years after Jesus earthly ministry. Please don’t attempt to use Ephesians 3:5 to say that “the Body of Christ was revealed to Peter and the other apostles”. That’s just stupid! Any honest person knows that is just bologna because God revealed the Body of Christ to the apostle Paul only, 11 – 12 years after Pentecost. Peter and the 11 learned about these new revelations from Paul. (Galatians 2:2)
Read the Scripture…
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.
Again, the gospel of grace, the Body of Christ and all “Church Doctrine” were new revelations never mention to anyone anywhere in Scripture until our ascended Lord reveals it to Paul. Hence the word “mystery” or “secret” from the Greek mystērion which means a hidden thing, secret, mystery. Hard to twist that right? Is God just playing around with words? Of course not! Neither should man, secret means secret. Yes God kept the Body of Christ which is the Church a secret from ALL the world until Paul, God’s chosen vessel to proclaim the NEW MESSAGE to the Gentiles. (Acts 9:15, Romans 11:13, Ephesians 2:11,12) The twelve knew nothing about these new revelations they learned them from Paul 10 years after Pentecost. (Galatians 2:2, Acts 15)
For 1500 years God was dealing with His chosen people with a few exceptions. The entire old testament from Abraham to the apostle Paul is God dealing with the nation of Israel. God is preparing them for their Messiah, Israel’s King that would sit on the throne of His father David in Jerusalem and reign on earth forever. (2 Samuel 7:14-16) From Genesis 12 through the entire old testament God made promises to one man, one race of people, to one nation alone, Israel. The Gentile world was without hope and without God until our resurrected and glorified Lord commissioned the apostle Paul with a ministry to the Gentiles. Again for Emphasis… up until the gospel of grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) around 40 AD, the entire Gentile world (that means everyone but Jews) was without hope and without God.
11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Look at what Paul writes in the very next verse.
13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He, Himself is our peace, who made both groups (Jew and Gentile) into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
Please don’t just read over these verses in Ephesians like reading your Facebook news feed! Do you realize that God is telling us that up until the gospel of grace the Gentile world had NO access to Him? But Now, ANYONE Jew or Gentile, anywhere, at any stage in life has access to God by believing the gospel. That by simply believing by faith alone WITHOUT THE LAW (ROMANS 8:3-4) that Jesus Christ died for their sins, was buried and rose again 3 days later a person is saved. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Romans 1:16, Ephesians 2:8,9, Romans 10:9,10) Salvation with no temple worship, no need to sacrifice animals, you can do things on the Sabbath day and not be stoned death. etc.
“This language is NOWHERE even remotely mentioned at Pentecost”
The scripture, context and the time element in no way support the traditional view of the Body of Christ beginning at Pentecost. There is no record in Jesus earthly ministry or in the early chapters in the book of Acts that Jew and Gentile were equals, salvation was by faith alone in the death burial and resurrection, that believers were baptized by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, that believers were sealed with and indwelled with the Holy Spirit. Or that God had temporarily blinded Israel or that at some point when the last Gentile has come into the Body of Christ God would rapture His Church.
These were all revelations given to the apostle Paul while he spent 3 years with the risen Lord in Arabia. It is tradition and tradition alone that has maintained the “the Body of Christ” started at Pentecost.
Pentecost, Israel, the Church
There are three common questions asked almost immediately. What about Pentecost what was it for? What were the apostle Peter and the 11 preaching if it wasn’t the gospel of grace? What was the Church that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 16?
All great questions and logical but deserve a more in debt explanation which will come in other articles. For now, let’s start with Pentecost. Pentecost is a Jewish festival, celebrated 50 days after Passover. In Acts 2, devout Jewish men came from all over the world to celebrate Pentecost. (Acts 2:5)
Pentecost meant nothing to the Gentile world. Of course, Gentiles may have known about this Jewish festival and I’m sure there were Gentiles in the large crowds when Peter and the 11 were preaching in Acts 2. To make Pentecost anything but a Jewish holiday for Jews is just stupid because there is NO biblical support.
Sadly, most Pastors and Bible teachers will not teach this fact (the Pentecost audience were Jews Only) how can entire denominations have been built on this unscriptural teaching.
Pentecost is one of several religious feasts that God commanded His chosen people “the Jews” to observe once a year. God gave Moses these commands in the book of Leviticus chapter 23 approximately 1500 years before Acts 2. For almost 1500 years the nation of Israel operated under the Mosaic law, and practiced these feast as commanded.
So how does ANYONE draw Church Doctrine from anything while under the law?
Peter and the Eleven are Under the Law
At the time of Pentecost in Acts 2, the Temple is in full operation, no one has told the twelve or any other Jew that they were no longer under the law. THE LAW WAS GIVEN TO ISRAEL, THE JEWS, NOT TO THE GENTILES. Gentiles had nothing to do with the Jewish Law, traditions, observances, nor did they want too. It is scripturally impossible to prove that the apostle Peter and 11 were preaching to Gentiles at Pentecost or that the Body of Christ started at Pentecost. For two reasons:
- WE DO NOT LIVE UNDER THE LAW WE LIVE UNDER GRACE. Romans 6:14.
- The “gospel of grace” and the doctrine for the Body of Christ, His Church wasn’t revealed yet. (Ephesians 2:11; Ephesians 3:1-10; Romans 16:25; Colossians 1:25-27; Galatians 1:11,12)
No theologian, Pastor or anyone for that matter can force the gospel of grace into Pentecost Acts 2, without calling God a liar. Because today, we are not under the law but under grace. (Romans 6:14) And when Peter was preaching to his kinsman at Pentecost in Acts 2. The Mosaic law was still valid and practiced by ALL Jews all over the then known world.
What gospel were Peter and the 11 Preaching if not grace?
Peter and the 11 preached the gospel of the Kingdom. (Matthew 10:7) John the Baptist came before the 12 as the herald of the Messiah of Israel and he preached the gospel of the Kingdom. The 12 apostles were chosen by Jesus Christ and commissioned to preach the gospel of the Kingdom to the lost Sheep of the house of Israel. They were also COMMANDED by the Lord not to go to the Gentiles. The 12 apostles were commanded by Jesus Christ NOT TO PREACH TO THE GENTILES. Jesus and the twelve did not have a ministry to Gentiles with the exception of the Roman centurion and the Canaanite woman. Trying to drive it home that Jesus and the 12 DID NOT have a ministry to the Gentile world.
1 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight!’ ”
5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 6 but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.
All Jews Were Waiting for Israel’s King
When the angel Gabriel came to Mary in Luke 1 and told her that she would give birth to a child and that child would be Israels promised King and sit on the throne of His father. Did Mary say who are you? Are you nuts, I have no idea what you’re talking about! No, that’s not what she said, not at all. Mary knew exactly the angel Gabriel was referring too. Why? Because all Jews knew about Israels promised Messiah from the time they could read. The Jews have been waiting hundreds of years for their Messiah to sit on King David’s throne in Jerusalem and rule forever. The angel said nothing about the Body of Christ, the Church.
28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of his father David: 33 And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his Kingdom there shall be no end;
Or what about Zacharias and his Holy Spirit inspired words in Luke 1:67-73. This is clearly what’s on the horizon for the nation of Israel. Israels King was coming. Israels Redeemer was among His people and He would reign from Jerusalem for eternity. Where’s the Body of Christ in all this? Not one mention of the Body of Christ.
67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, 68 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he swore to our father Abraham,
God Promised His Chosen People
The King was among His people, the prophesied Messiah was walking on earth ready to fulfill the promises given to the Fathers. (Romans 15:8) Jesus and the 12 couldn’t have a ministry to the Gentiles because God made His promises to His chosen people, not Gentiles. (Genesis 12:1-4, 2 Samuel 7:14-16) God will not break His promises, God can not lie. Salvation was to come to the Gentiles through the Jews. (Isaiah 49:5,6, Isaiah 60:1-3, Zechariah 8:23)
Glory to God we are under Grace
The apostle Paul was a chosen vessel commissioned by the risen and glorified Lord Jesus to preach the gospel of grace to the Gentiles. (Acts 9:15, Acts 20:24, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:
That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
Paul spent three years with the glorified Lord in the desert somewhere in Arabia. Where the gospel of grace and doctrines for the Body of Christ, which is His Church were revealed to him directly from the ascended Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul did not learn the gospel of grace from anyone nor was he taught it by any man. These new revelations were given to him directly from our glorified Lord Jesus.
Paul received NO INSTRUCTION FROM PETER OR THE OTHER APOSTLES. NONE.
11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Paul was taught by the risen and glorified Lord Jesus Peter and the 11, were taught by Jesus during His earthly ministry.
Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
Peter and the 11 were commissioned by God to preached the gospel of the Kingdom to Jews only with two exceptions. (Matthew 10:5-7) The context of the Kingdom gospel was that a Jew needed to believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, be baptized and keep the law.
The apostle Paul was chosen by God to preach the gospel of grace to the Gentiles, kings, and Israel. (Acts 9:15, Acts 20:24) Salvation according to the gospel of grace was for the individual to do nothing but believe that Jesus Christ did everything on their behalf to pay the price for their Redemption and just believe it. Apart from the law. Salvation by the gospel of grace is believing by faith alone that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried and rose again from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:1-14
This was unheard of for 1500.
All mankind will be judged by Pauls gospel!
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
On this Rock, I will build My Church
During Jesus Christ earthly ministry we find the word Church used by Christ Jesus Himself. After the apostle Peter gives his profession of faith in Matthew 16:16, the Lord Jesus says to Peter in Matthew 16:18, I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this Rock, I will build My Church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this Rock, I will build My ekklēsía / Church = called out assembly; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Here’s another Bible verse using the word Church or in the Greek ekklēsía:
Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the ekklēsía / Church = called out assembly daily such as should be saved.
And yet another example of Church or ekklēsía:
And great fear came upon all the ekklēsía / Church = called out assembly and upon as many as heard these things.
It’s clear that Jesus was saying on this Rock (Himself), I will build My ekklēsía / Church = called out assembly of Jews that believe that I am the Christ, the Son of God, repented, baptized, kept the Mosaic law. This Church, the Jerusalem Church continued through the four gospels up to Acts 15 or Jerusalem Counsel. It is in Acts chapter 15 where Peter stands up and says;
But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
It is from this point in Biblical History where the whole world goes under ONE GOSPEL, THE GOSPEL OF GRACE.
I will build My ekklēsía / Church = called out assembly of Jews & Gentiles that believe that my Son paid the price for all the sin of the world.
on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.
Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Peter, the 11 and the elders of the Jerusalem Church agreed that they will preach the gospel of grace from this point forward. Paul would go to the Gentiles and Peter would go to the circumcision.
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen (Gentiles), and they unto the circumcision.
The Scripture is clear God started the Body of Christ when He chose the apostle Paul to preach the gospel of grace to the Gentile world. The risen and glorified Lord Jesus revealed to Paul and Paul alone the gospel of grace and the doctrine for the Church which is His Body. Before the gospel of grace, the Gentile world was without hope and without God. (Ephesians 2:11,12)
Peter and the eleven knew nothing of Jew and Gentile being equal in the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13), the gospel of grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), that the believer is baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13,14), that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3), that our citizenship is in the heavens (Philippians 3:20), that believers are sealed with, and indwelled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). These all happened the moment Jew or Gentile believed by faith alone that Jesus Christ died for their sins was buried and rose again from the dead 3 days later.
The Body of Christ, which is the called out assembly of Jew or Gentile that believe that Jesus Christ died for their sins was buried and rose again from the dead. Started with the apostle Paul and the gospel of the grace of God.
Thank you for reading. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to leave them below.
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Faith, Sine Qua Non
Mesa Bible Study