In my August 17, 2014 post I did a compare and contrast between Israel and the Church. In that post I identified over twenty distinct ways the two are mutually exclusively or opposites of each other. In last week's post on this topic I gave the reader a short version of why that is the case. This part of the topic will be more detailed for the reader and I hope the length will not defer the need for the reader to see and understand the Biblical differences between the two entities. Israel and the Church, for our purposes, the Bride/Church, are not the same, and need to be seen as mutually exclusive of the other. The Bride/Church began at Pentecost as noted in Acts 2:47. It is important to differentiate the fact that the word "Church" ("ekklesia") is the Greek word for "the called out ones".
When I did my original post on August 17, 2014, I differentiated between Israel, the Gentiles, and the Church. God's Master Plan identifies three bodies of people - Israel (Jews), Gentiles, and the Church (made up of both Jews and Gentiles. All other peoples/nations in the Bible are in the sight of God are referred to or defined as being Gentiles. "Israel" or the "Jews", whichever term is mentioned appear nearly 3,000X. Interestingly, even the word "synagogue" is not mentioned in the Old Testament. It is noted 43X in 42 verses in the New Testament. The first mention of the "synagogue" is found in Matthew 12:9.
I noted the clear distinction between Israel and the Church, Israel is mentioned 2,566X times in 2,294X verses, and the word "Church" is found only 77X in 76 verses (all in the New Testament). This numerical occurrence frequency and distinction and its specific location in the Bible should be a recognized fact that the Church began at Pentecost in Acts 2:47. No, it did not begin in the Old Testament with the Hebrew word "qahal" "kaleo" or "sunagoge". There are a number of people who want the world to believe this, however, their ignorance [lack of knowledge] reveals their lack of Biblical understanding.
The New Testament "Church" as I choose to note as the "Bride/Church", or the Greek word ("ekklesia") is not the same as the Hebrew words "qahal", "kaleo" or "sunagoge". as you will see the early first-century Church distanced themselves from the Jews on this matter.
In Matthew 16:18 where Jesus first mentions the word "Church", He was using the occasion to respond to Peter's great confession as a moment to reveal a "mystery" hidden even from the Old Testament prophets. The "Church" ("ekklesia", "assembly", "called out ones") was in God's plan and in His eternal purpose from the very beginning -(Ephesians 3:9-11). But it could not be revealed until Jesus was recognized as its Divine Head -(Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:15-18).
Jesus began pointing out that Peter's confession made him truly Peter, a piece of rock or a stone ("petros"). Then Jesus added, "Upon this rock (this great, solid rock, ("petra") I will build my church". Roman Catholics tell you this refers to Peter as the rock, claiming that the Aramaic form of his name ("Cephas") does not show the same gender distinction found in Greek, but the Aramaic does have another word for a great, solid rock, so Jesus must have made the same distinction the Greek does. Thus, it is better to take it that the rock upon which Christ builds His church is Peter's great confession or, even better, it is Christ Himself -(1st Peter 2:6-8).
It was Peter's great confession which made him a rock. When I was a resident pastor of a local United Methodist Church, I used to debate two local Roman Catholic priests on this issue. Jesus did not single Peter out for a special position here. He merely used him as an example of what can happen to everyone who makes the same confession -(Romans 10:9, 10). Christ Jesus alone is the solid Rock. He alone is the foundation of the Church. (See 1st Corinthians 3:11; 10:4). In the latter verse "petra" ("the great, solid Rock") is used of Christ. Peter himself declared that Jesus is the Living Stone -(1st Peter 2:4). In coming to Jesus, all believers become living stones and are built into a spiritual house (temple), the Church, the assembly of all who have joined Peter in his great confession.
The fact that Jesus is the Living Rock gives assurance that "the gates of hell", that is, the power of Stan and of death itself, will never prevail against His Church -(See Revelation 6:8; 9:5; 20:7).
As a clue to the method of Jesus would use in building His Church, the body of believers, Jesus promised to give the keys of the Kingdom (the authority of God's rule) to Peter that others might be brought under the rule and reign of God. This was really a commission to preach the Gospel and was first fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus, however, did not intend to limit this to Peter alone. Later He gave the same commission to all the disciples -(Matthew 18:18; 38:18-20). This preaching would have heaven's authority behind it because it would be true to the Word of God. By preaching the Gospel they would declare that those who rejected it would be bound and those who accepted it would be loosed and set free. When they declared this, the work would have already been done and ratified in heaven. The Greek word for "already" means "shall have been bound".
At this point, it should be amply clear that the New Testament word "Church" ("ekklesia" ) is a noun that means "Assembly, Congregation, Church". From this point on it is going to become evident that while similar to the Hebrew word, it is vastly different, both in meaning and context.
"Ekklesia" translates only one Hebrew word, i.e., "qahal", and four other terms from the root "Qahal" principally conveys the idea of a group of people assembling for a variety of purposes:
1. to mutual defense -(Esther -(8:11)
2. to make war -(Joshua 22:12)
3. to worship -(2nd Chronicles 20:26)
4. to request an idol to be built -(Exodus 32:1)
5. to transport the ark -(1st Kings 8:2)
6. the elders and officers to receive instruction -(Deuteronomy 31:28)
The Septuagint translators limited the use of "ekklesia" almost exclusively to religious contexts. On one of its most significant occasions in its history, referring to it as the "day of the ekklesia" by the Septuagint, Israel received the Law -(Deuteronomy 9:10; 18:16) and when it appears in the Septuagint there is no Hebrew equivalent.). The qualifier "ekklesia ton kuriou/theo" also lends credence to the supposition that "ekklesia" was beginning to take on much more of a religious tone -(Deuteronomy 23:1, 3; Judges 20:2; 1st Chronicles 28:8; Micah 2:5).
The assembly ("ekklesia", or Hebrew "qahal" ) never stands for a pagan religious gathering. In comparing the two Hebrew terms "qahal" ("ekklesia") and "edhah" (sunagoge), we can draw a number of conclusions and observations that become profoundly significant in how the New Testament draws differences.
First the broad semantic range of both words makes drawing strict lines of distinction between them difficult and unwarranted at best.
Second, "edhah" occurs primarily n Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, while "qahal" appears primarily in Deuteronomy and the books of Chronicles.
Third, the primary use of "edhah" is to designate the congregation of Israel as an entity, while "qahal" often indicates the assembling of people for religious purposes. Of special importance here is the phrase "congregation of the Lord", which is the closest to the "church of the Lord".
In summary, "qahal" maintains strong religious connotations. The Septuagint never translates "edhah" by "ekklesia" but uses "sunagoge" instead. From the Septuagint it becomes clear that "ekklesia" was primarily used as an equivalent for "qahal", a term which to some degree was itself a particular group within the people of God, even when it was translated by "sunagoge" found in Genesis 35:11; 48:4; and Numbers 20:6. "Ekklesia" was used only infrequently for nonreligious assemblies.
Here is an important point that is often overlooked or ignored by so many on the meaning of the "Ekklesia". The attitudes of exilic and post-exilic Jewish religion and the early Christian community were polarized in their identification with these terms and their related concepts. The congregation of Judaism identified itself with the institutional "edhah", while the ancient Christian assemblies identified with "qahal" and adopted the same "ekklesia". To understand how this polarization developed, it is necessary to understand the context out of which it developed.
>From the inception of the Covenant at Sinai, it was said of Israel they were a "kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" -(Exodus 19:6). It would be in the midst of the people that God's presence would be manifested, and He ordered the Tabernacle to be erected in the midst of the camp where His glory ("kavodh") might be revealed.
Later this special presence of the Lord was transferred to the Temple. In the Psalms the congregation of Israel expressed joy for the grace which they experienced in the presence of the Lord. At their festivals and celebrations in the Temple, they declared "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honor dwelleth" -(Psalm 26:8; 84:2).
As the nation fell into deeper and deeper apostasy, a concept developed of a separation within the congregation, although from the earliest days of covenant the rebellious were removed from the midst of the congregation -(Numbers 16:33). Through the ministry of the later prophets however, the message was clear that a total breach of the covenant had taken place, and, consequentially, the nation was carried off into exile.
During the apostasy that characterized the later monarchies of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, a major development began to take place in the concept of the congregation as the place where God revealed His glory. As the nation of Israel fell into spiritual, moral, and ethical decline, the glory of God which one had been so evident became absent. This situation became even more apparent after the destruction of the Temple in 586 BC and during the post-exilic period. It was at this time that the concept of the "holy remnant" fully developed. The salvation of Israel as a congregation was dependent on this remnant and their faithfulness to God.
I hope I have not been too technical heretofore, however, as it becomes clear shortly as to why so many folks are totally wrong when they say the Church began in the Old Testament. Their attempts are an example of where people lack total understanding of what the Old Testament is really all about. This is how they can then justify their self-understanding of what the Church really is. In their own way of thinking , they then come to the conclusion of Supersessionism, or what is more commonly referred to as "Replacement Theology". In their warped but narrow understanding of the Bible, the Church has "replaced" Israel. Another term that is used regularly is that of "Spiritual Israel". It is endemic with Jehovah Witnesses; and the breakaway churches formed after the death of Herbert W. Armstrong's World-Wide Church of God and the collapse of his British-Israelism cult (Sabbatarians); such as David J. Smith of Waxahachie, Texas. There are dozens of these former World Wide Church of God cult leaders insisting that Christians are under the Law rather than Grace. They do offer good points exposing pagan holidays adopted by the Romanist-controlled Christian churches, but remember a little leaven leaventh the whole loaf. Many, if not all, of the Pre-Wrath Rapture advocates hang their theological hats on the framework of Armstrong's "British Israelism". They maintain that "British-Israelism" is the recipient of the true "Spiritual Israel", which was transferred to the, by their definition, the so-called true Church of God.
When I state there are dozens, it is perhaps an understatement. I used to watch one of their break-a-way churches on a Louisville, KY television station on early Sunday morning that originates from Kennesaw, Georgia. His name was John A. Pinkston and his church name is "The Congregation of God Seventh Day". The TWO thing that is common with these churches is: First, they offer all of their literature to the viewing public "FREE"; and, Second, they define the "Mark" of the Beast as the practice of observing Sunday worship. ALL these folks are strict observer of "Sabbath" (Saturday) worship. I have a complete collection of John Pinkston's booklets, and they could pass for literature of all the others like David A. Smith, Gerald Flurries, and David C. Pack the head of the "Restored Church of God" out of Wadsworth, Ohio. He pays himself $125,000 a year and he has told his church that he is God's Apostle for the 21st century. David C. Pack considered Herbert W. Armstrong was the "End-time Elijah", and from his bio, he was Herbert W. Armstrong's personal secretary back in the 1970's. David C. Pack is a graduate of Herbert W. Armstrong's Ambassador College in Pasadena, CA. If you want to learn more about these "Sabbath" keepers just 'google' any of their names that I have noted just above. It will not take you long to conclude why they hold their view that the church began in the Old Testament.
At this point I am moving from the Septuagint period of the Old Testament to the use of the word "Ekklesia". After the period of the exile it was the synagogue which dominated the religious life of the Jews. It was the Greek Diaspora that the synagogue became accepted as the new designation for the "edhah". The name applied not only to the house of the synagogue but to the congregation of the synagogue as well.
it is helpful to have this background in mind, and one finds it is very interesting that the Gentile Christian congregations did not use the designation of synagogue for their significance or identity. The members of these first-century early Christian congregations came in a large degree from the Jewish synagogues which consisted of both Jews and proselytes. These believers claimed to represent the true Jewish religion -(Romans 2:28, 29) and the true Israel of God -(Romans 9:6). Although these ancient Christian congregations were patterned primarily after the Jewish synagogues, they avoided using the term synagogue. In fact, the term "synagogue" is used only one time in the entire New Testament as a designation for a Christian congregation in James 2:2. This absence or use of the term is notedly significant.
The best explanation for this strong adversion by the earliest Christians to adopting the term synagogue seems to be an intense desire to avoid being identified with the Jewish synagogues. In the Roman Empire the synagogues stood as symbols of Jewish law and religion, and the new Christian faith. However, the earliest Christian congregations avoided association with the term or its use. Instead, they adopted the term "Ekklesia" which had since fallen out of usage in Jewish circles.
As well as avoiding associations with the Jewish religion, the early Christians also chose "ekklesia" as a way of distancing themselves from the terms utilized by the pagan Greek cults. Here a multitude of terms would have been at the disposal of the early Christian congregations by the pagan term "thiasos". But more amazing than this though, the early Church historian Eusibus, himself a Jew, used this term "Ekklesia" for the Church.
The reasons these first Christians chose the neutral term "ekklesia" are many as much as they are profound. One popular suggestion contends that there is a certain phonetical resemblance between consonants of the Hebrew "qahal" and the Greek "ekklesia". This might correspond with the usual use among Jews of the Diaspora and combine its Hebrew name with a similar Greek or even Latin name, like (Saul and Paul). The congregation of the New Testament is thus a continuation of the old congregation of Israel, the true Israel, while at the same time distancing itself from the Jewish religion. They are merely similar, but that is the end of it as far as being considered the "ekklesia". The early Christian church was seeking its own identity from everything we know about that period.
Although it is tempting, it is violating sound interpretive principles to draw upon the etymology of the word (in this case "ek-kaleo") to make the member of the "ekklesia" the "called-out ones". This is true if the Septuagint translators may have seen the potential. The fact remains that for the New Testament it is the already developed sense of the Septuagint (and Hebrew as well) plus the new understanding of God's community which shapes the meaning of "ekklesia".
The meaning of "ekklesia" (translated "church" in the New Testament except in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 19:32, 39, 41), where it is translated "assembly") becomes problematic for two reasons, and these are very important distinctions:
1. The New Testament speaks of the "Church" in a universal sense of the body of believers who are in Christ; and,
2. The New Testament also uses "Ekklesia" to describe the early gathering of believers in various geographical locations.
Thus, the "ekklesia" is both an event of the assembling (world-wide) of God's people, and it is also a particular local "church, congregation, or assembly".
One of the chief reasons why my post is important for you to correctly render the Biblical understanding as being mutually exclusive was precipitated by the publishing of the 'Thompson Chained Reference Bible' at the beginning of the 20th century. The author was a bitter critic of Judaism, at the height of the anti-Semitism era, and thus chose to intentionally substitute the word "Church" in the Old Testament wherever there was any reference to the Jewish terms that noted Jewish synagogue or Jewish assemblies. Thousands of buyers of the 'Thompson Chained Reference Bible" today are deceived by that fact, and then the heresy has been compounded by even larger numbers of Bible reading public that have no Biblical language training. Apparently, Thompson paid no heed to Revelation 22:18! Consequentially, these folks are themselves confused, deceived, or both, but contribute to the problem by perpetuating the lie that their is no difference between the Jews and the Christians, or that Christians supplanted Israel as the so-called people of God, and have become inadvertently complicit with Satan into becoming anti-Semitic. This ignorance [lack of knowledge] gives credence to the Hosea 4:6 passage being so aptly descriptive of those folks that continue to persist in perpetuating the lies that Israel has been replaced by the Church, or that there is no distinction between the Jews and the Church in the mind of God. When you understand the overarching Biblical message as to Satan's grand plan of exterminating God's people, the "Apple of His Eye" you can put the pieces together to understand the reason why the land of Israel has been the focus of conflict and tension for centuries. Christ's own words of Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 framed the evolving "End-times" scenario we see coming to pass today. Less than 10% of the Jews in Israel today are true descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Satan's objective was to "exterminate" any semblance of the Biblical Jews, and others claim the name of Zionism for one purpose alone, to facilitate that event which will bring about the demise of the Biblical Jews. Even Pope Francis this week did a 180-degree turn to sign a document recognizing the Palestinian State. Poppy Francis has revealed his serpent-self. We are just four months away from Rosh HaShanah and now we are seeing the pope putting full-force of his vicar's office behind the UN's efforts to recognize the Palestinian State, even which President Obama plans to endorse this September at its convening session!
It simply is not true that the church began in the Old Testament. Those folks that perpetuate the lie are even noted in the Hosea 4:6 passage and following. The text message is addressed to God's people the Jews, but, as often is the case, there is a secondary benefit for our understanding as well.
The first striking observation to be made regarding "ekklesia" in the New Testament is its absence in the Gospels, except for the two references in Matthew 16:18 and 18:17, which are themselves "at odds". This absence cannot be explained away by saying that at the time of their writing the concept was not in current use, since the Gospels received their literary form contemporary with or later than Paul's Epistles.
One must conclude that the expression was seen as appropriate after the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord. The future "Oikodomeso" ("I will build") hints at this in Matthew 10:18 (a reference to the worldwide assembly). But what about Matthew 18:17? It is neither a scene of world-wide unity nor a post-resurrectional setting, unless one considers the context in light of Matthew 18:1 which does suggest a future setting, confirmed in Matthew 18:14.
It becomes quite apparent from the Gospels that Jesus considered it part of His mission as the Messiah to gather together the eschatological people of God as the prophets had foretold -(Matthew 9:36-38; John 10:16; 11:52). As the Messiah would restore the true congregation of Israel.
The importance of the concept of this congregation in the ministry of Jesus is also evident in the parables, similes, metaphors and analogies He used, as example, the shepherd and the flock, found in Luke 12:32 and John 10:16. Furthermore, Jesus instituted a new covenant meal -(Matthew 26:28). The supper was to be as a meal which abolished that of the Old Testament Passover. The Great Commission of Jesus Christ and His institution of water baptism served as the consecration rites of the new covenant -(Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16). The institution of these rites was the necessary preparation for the birth of the coming congregation on the day of Pentecost.
A significant element of the thought of Jesus is the relationship of the congregation to the kingdom of God. These are two distinct threads which are woven tightly together in a most intimate way. The congregation is the manifestation of and a piece of the eschatological reality of the kingdom of God, representative of the royal power of God through the world. The congregation is the people to whom God, by His Messiah, has promised the blessings of the latter times -(Matthew 5:3-11);
++the forgiveness of sins -(Matthew 26:28);
++the gift of the Spirit -(Luke 24:49; John 14:26; 15:26; 16:7);
++the right to address God as "Abba" or "Father" -(Matthew 6:9);
++victory over the power of Satan -(Luke 11:20-22);
++and participation in the gift of eternal life -(John 5:24-27).
All of these are confirmation of distinctive gifts to the "church" or "ekklesia" never before revealed to the Jews in the Old Testament.
Acts makes it abundantly clear that Luke, (Luke is the author of both Luke and Acts) indicative of the New Testament writers, and understood "ekklesia" to be an eschatological term for the New Community of God. The congregation appeared as part of salvation history on the Day of Pentecost, and NOT PRIOR to Pentecost in Acts 2. By faith and baptism into the name of Jesus both Jew and Gentile experienced the eschatological gifts of salvation.
This new expression of the kingdom of God was characterized by several distinct traits:
1. The unifying of the people around the doctrine of the apostles -(Acts 2:42);
2. The participation in the daily prayers -(Acts 2:42);
3. The breaking of bread together -(Acts 2:42);
4. A unique love and sense of brotherly fellowship created by the Holy Spirit resulting in a sharing of property -(Acts 2:44 and following).
5. The powers of the coming world which were mightily active in the healing of the sick -(Acts 3:2; 4:29; 5:15), the raising of the dead -(Acts 9:36-40), and victory over demonic powers -(Acts 19:11, 12).
The early fellowship of believers became the "Church" in the local geographical sense. (Simply look at Acts 5:11; 8:1, 3; 11:22; 16:5; and 20:17). Congregations soon appeared throughout Palestine and Asia Minor, including Samaria, Syria, and Antioch, the center of Paul's mission to the Gentiles -(Acts 13:1). Throughout the book of the Acts of the Apostles and the rest of the New Testament, each local congregation was considered the congregation of God in the proper sense as well. Throughout the New Testament, "ekklesia" expresses both the local and universal dynamics of the Community of Faith under the New Covenant.
Paul's writings deserve much of the credit for forming present-day ecclesiologies (he uses the term "ekklesia" over 60X times). They show the nature of the Church as being both local and worldwide. Paul wrote of local assemblies as "ekklesia" citing in (1st Corinthians 1:2; 2nd Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:2; 1st Thessalonians 1:1), composed of saints and the elect, i.e., the people of God -(Romans 1:7; 1st Corinthians 14:33; and note Paul avoided the word "laos" as a term for God's people or that of the laity.
They were typically gatherings of people inside the homes of believers -(Romans 16:5; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2; 1st Corinthians 16:19; 1st Timothy 3:15). The assemblies are God's that is, God has created these various meetings, and He is in their midst -(1st Corinthians 11:22; 12:28; Ephesians 1:22; 3:21; and confirmed in Matthew 18:20). He is also the chief administrator of the Church through Christ as the head of the Church -(Ephesians 5:23).
Yet Paul also spoke of "The Church" as a worldwide entity made up of smaller churches which shared certain principles and teachings -(1st Corinthians 15:9; Galatians 1:13; Philippians 3:6, and confirmed in Romans 16:4; 1st Corinthians 4:17; 7:17; and 11:10).
The idea of an "invisible" Church would not have been Paul's view alone. This concept, albeit "valid" in the sense that the "Lord knows who belongs to Him", was first introduced by Augustine and perpetuated by Wycliff, Luther, and Calvin. I don't see a need to quote their words on this. To do so would be simply to belabor the unique distinction of the Church as the "ekklesia". The Church consists of believers, but it is not a particular quality of life which draws these individuals together and forms them into a congregation. Rather, it is nothing less than the reality of the resurrected Christ Jesus by which they came into existence, by which they live, and around which they gather.
It is this internal, divine mystery of the Church's unity along with the reality of the risen Christ Jesus which Paul referred to when he spoke of the congregation as the Body of Christ. -(1st Corinthians 10:17; 12:13, 27; Ephesians 1:23; 2:16; 4:12, 16; 5:23, 30; Colossians 1:18, 24; 2:19; 3:15). The intimacy of this union is further illustrated by Paul's analogy of marriage as a picture or typology of the relationship between the Church and Christ -(Ephesians 5:25-32).
The depth of the unity between the Church and Christ Jesus becomes the catalyst for a deep, heartfelt fellowship between believers. This solidarity includes Jews and Gentiles -(Ephesians 2:11-22) and receives its fullest expression in 1st Corinthians 12:12-27).
In the remainder of the New Testament one is struck with the absence of "ekklesia" in any of the Apostle Peter's material writings, which is itself replete with a sense of "community" -(1st Peter 5:1-5). Peter also proclaimed the unity of believers as God's people but in other imagery language -(1st Peter 2:9, 10).
Hebrews 2:12 mirrors the Old Testament assembly of God and actually cites Psalms 22:22. The scene, too, in Hebrews 12:23 is one of the believers' encounter with the living God in the assembly. Here "ekklesia" is not so much of a local congregation as it is a sign of the arrival of the new covenant.
The three references in 3rd John reveal the writer's familiarity with the idea already encountered. The "ekklesia" was the locus point of the new people of God. It especially occurred on the local level -(3rd John 6, 9, 30).
The book of Revelation knows only of "churches". Th Church is the congregation of the new people of God in particular places. Therefore, "ekklesia" appears to have been appropriated from the language of the Old Testament (especially the Hebrew word "qahal"), because it represented the assembly of the people of Israel for religious purposes as God's people. The New Testament writers modified the concept only to assign the term a more technical character. The "Church" is the visible geographically identifiable congregation of the new people of God - wherever they are. God operates in and through the local Church with Christ Jesus as its head.
I realize this has been a longer than normal amount of detail coverage showing the clear path from how the Septuagint period used the word "ekkelsia" and how the New Testament defines the "mystery" of the Church.
The Church was born on Pentecost in Acts 2, with the giving of the Holy Spirit. Jesus warned us numerous times to be not deceived. The only way that can be averted is to be Biblically literate. Know the Word, inside and out, and remember the adversary can manifest his lies in the most deceptive of ways, using aberrant theologies such as the late Herbert W. Armstrong and his followers, ignorant morons, twisting the Word to say something that it does not say, etc. Even Clement, an early church father said that men would twist the Word of God. This is evident in the splinter groups that came out of Herbert W. Armstrong's "sabbath-keeping" controlling church of God.
Just to recap a few points, there is NO Biblical Evidence that the Church began either with Adam or Abraham, or that it existed in the Old Testament era or even during the earthly life of Christ Jesus. While the word "Church" is mentioned 77X in 76 verses, they are all in the New Testament. Matthew's Gospel only notes Jesus' words using the word "Church" three times in two verses: Matthew 16:18 and 18:17. The bulk of the references are found in the book of Acts, and interestingly so, it appears 7X in the Revelation of Christ Jesus'. There again is that Heptadic signature of God again "7" and "77".
The following threads of evidence clarify the truth about the distinction between "Israel" and the "Church". Pay close attention to the Biblical Truth evidence and not to the deceivers that are unquestionable anti-Semitic:
The first bit of evidence that the "Church" is distinct from "Israel" is found in the fact that the "Church" was birthed at Pentecost. This is based on the relationship of "Spirit-Baptism" to the "Church". According to Colossians 1:18, the "Church" is the body of Christ: "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence". First Corinthians 12:13 teaches that entrance into this 'body' is by 'Spirit-Baptism'. "For by one Spirit we are baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one spirit." Acts 11:15-16 says, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell upon them, as on us the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how He said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost". Acts 11:15-16 leaves no question that 'Spirit-Baptism' was not instituted until the Holy Spirit came upon the Jewish believers in Acts 2:1-4. You can read the text for yourself, there is no need for me to type it all.
The second bit of evidence of distinction between the "Church" and "Israel" is that three specific events in the life of the Messiah were prerequisites to the establishment of the "Church", and so the "Church" could not have come into being until these events had taken place.
1. His death by which the atonement was provided -(Matthew 16:18-21).
2. The resurrection of Christ Jesus -(Ephesians 1:20-23).
3. The ascension of Christ Jesus -(Ephesians 4:7-11).
The Holy Spirit was not given until AFTER Christ's ascension.
The third bit of evidence that shows distinction between the "Church" and "Israel" is the "Mystery" characteristics of the "Church". In Biblical terminology, the word "mystery" is often used to describe a New Testament truth not revealed in the Old Testament. -(Ephesians 3:3-5, 9; Colossians 1:26-27).
Within this bit of evidence let me suggest there are Four features of the Church existence that were never revealed in the Old Testament:
1. The concept of Jewish and Gentile believers united in one body. -(Ephesians 3:1-12).
2. The doctrine of Messiah indwelling every believer. -(Colossians 1:24-27; 2:10-19; 3:4, 11).
3. The "Church" as the Bride of Messiah. -(Ephesians 5:22-32).
4. The Rapture, with its corollary events of the resurrection of the "dead in Christ" and the transition into heaven of the living believers. -(1st Corinthians 15:50-58).
The fourth bit of evidence that the "Church" is distinct from "Israel" is the concept of the "one new man" in Ephesians 2:15. This "one new man" is distinguished from both "Israel" and the Gentiles and is, comprised of believing members from both, identified as the "Church" in Ephesians 2:16 ("the body") and Ephesians 3:6 ("same body").
The fifth bit of evidence is that the same three groups are distinguished from each other in 1st Corinthians 10:32: "Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God". This verse is a contrast made well after the Church had been established.
The sixth bit of evidence is the fact that the term "Israel" is never used of the "Church". In the New Testament. It is either used of the Jews in general or Jewish believers in particular. Galatians 6:16 speaks about the subject of Jewish believers. "Judaizers" or Jews who demanded adherence to the Law of Moses, were deceiving Gentiles to obtain salvation through the Law. To them, a Gentile had to convert to Judaism before he qualified for salvation through Christ Jesus. In verse 15, Paul states that the important thing for salvation is faith, resulting in the "new man". He also mentions two elements of the "Church": the circumcision and uncircumcision. These two elements refer to two groups of people; believing Jews and believing Gentiles. These two entities of the Church are also identified by these very same terms in Galatians 2:7-8.
There is a real big question that keeps coming to the surface at web sites that deny the distinction between "Israel" and the "Church"? Why do people incessantly refuse to recognize the distinction between "Israel" and the "Church"? It is both mystical and satanic. It is anti-Semitic to the core! Here is an example of the anti-Semitism by a major denomination declared within the last few months.
Back in January the United Presbyterian Church PCA voted that Presbyterians should not even mention the name of Israel in their prayers. It wasn't enough that at its last 2014 General Session' gathering to vote to divest itself of investments in Israeli businesses or other companies that did business with Israel such as Caterpillar Equipment Corp. to broadcast to the world "we do not like Israel", but they want to beat up on the State of Israel once more by publicly telling its congregations not to include Israel in their prayers; acting and sounding like a spoiled child is simply infantile, and even more to call God a liar, since we are called by Scripture to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" in Psalm 122:6. Make no mistake about it, praying for the peace of Jerusalem is praying for the peace of Israel. It is hard to to separate the two, its something like trying to cut the baby in half as Solomon spoke of in 1st Kings 3:25. Such action by the PCUSA is both shameful and blasphemous! Furthermore, it invites the judgment of God upon the PCUSA. It's membership is in steep decline with over 200 local PUCUSA congregations leaving the denomination in the past two years.
Last year I posted for the readers a listing of twenty distinct differences that differentiated between "Israel" and the "Church". They were not my words, but rather the words from the Bible itself! One would have to be a moron not to recognize the unique differences between the two. Most of you may not know this but the Jehovah Wittnesses believe they are "Spiritual Israel" and that they have "Replaced Israel", their own approach to "Replacement Theology". I named above others that came out of "Armstrongism" that hold identical views on this matter.
In Roman Catholic theology, Israel lost all rights and promises offered by God to humanity because they, the Jews, rejected their Messiah and blamed His death on them [the Jews]. We know that to be untrue from Scripture since it was part of the Creator's Plan, and that Jesus said He laid down His life, no one could take it unless He gave it up! Today, only the Roman Catholic Institution still claim to speak on behalf of God, and therefore because they and the pope is the so-called vicar of Christ have condemned the Jews to hell. Contrary to what you may think those anathemas are still on the books. In fact, Bishop Richard Williams stated so in October of 2011. The Roman Catholic Catechism is still engrained into the spirit of many ex-Catholics, such to the point that their bias of anti-Semitism shows through their theological worldview. The Jesuits tell you, give us a child for the first seven years of education and we will give you a Catholic for life.
Paul talked about the "Spiritual blindness" that covered the Jews, and I am inclined to believe that a veil of "Spiritual blindness" covers those who teach and propagate the idea of "Replacement Theology" as doctrine. Paul said in Romans 11:28, "For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceit, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in". Ephesians 4:18 echoes this sentiment as well, "Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:" That "Spiritual blindness" might just be the dividing line between those who are Raptured out before the Tribulation and those finding they have been left behind. Most denominational churches along with the Roman Catholic Institution ascribe to this theology, as well as the fact they are not watching, waiting, or at work pertaining to the Lord's soon return.
First, those who deny or reject the distinction between "Israel" and the "Church" are anti-Semitic. A second reason that prevent folks from recognizing the distinction between "Israel" and the "Church" is they can't accept Dispensationalism, despite the fact that it is Biblical, and found no less than four times in the Bible: 1st Corinthians 9:17; Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 3:2; and Colossians 1:25. A third reason is they have a difficult time in accepting Grace. A fourth reason is that they are legalists. Their "Spiritual blindness" leaves them little room for God's Grace! This is most evident by those that persist in arguing that God is through with the Jews! One of the red-flags is these folks almost to the man or woman demand that the Church worship on Saturday! They will brazenly say that true Christians observe Sabbath worship. That was foundational with Herbert W. Armstrong, and his son Garner Ted Armstrong, and the breakaway pastors such as David J. Smith, Gerald Flurries, David C. Pack, and others. As I noted above David C. Pack has even come out and told his congregation that he is a God-appointed Apostle for the 21st century. In many ways they are cut from the same piece of cloth as is the SDA's and Jehovah Witnesses.
Pray for these lost folks that they will come to know their salvation is not based upon any other means than pure Grace alone! They are satanically possessed, evidenced in and by their persistence to proclaim the lies and deceptions that God is through with the Jews. The ignorant [lack of knowledge] folks are revealed by their lack of any Biblical substance to backup their bogus claims. They are either seriously confused or deceived, but none the less they never offer Biblical substance on behalf of their lies. I have never posted on Five Doves without offering a full and comprehensive Biblical basis for my posts. It is both senseless and stupid to argue a view without backing up your case with corroborating supportive Biblical references.
Maranantha, Lord Jesus Come Quickly,