Why the church (the body of Christ) could not have begun at Pentecost

by B.C. Pratt
DEFINITION OF THE CHURCH WHICH IS HIS BODY – (Ephesians. 1:22,23)

1. A brand new unity of believing Jews and Gentiles as equals The Jew lost his advantage (preeminence); the Gentile lost his disadvantage (Deut. 7:6) (Rom. 10:12) (Gal. 3:28)
2. Never prophesied, a Mystery (secret), “hid in God” (Rom. 16:25) (Eph. 3:5,9)
3. A new sphere of blessing; new promises (Eph. 1:3)
4. Salvation BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH WITHOUT WORKS (Rom. 4:5) (Eph. 2:8,9)
5. Truth revealed to Paul by the glorified, ascended Lord (Eph. 3:3) (Tit. 1:3)
6. Baptism by the Holy Spirit into one Body (I Cor. 12:13)
7. Christ is not King, but Head of the Body of Christ. (Col. 1:18)

AT PENTECOST

1. Believers were added to something already existing. (Matt. 18:17) (Acts 2:47)
2. Pentecost, one of the seven feast days of Israel, was “fully come.” (Acts 2:1)
3. Peter addressed the Jews. (Acts 2:14. 22. 36; 3:25.26; 4:10)
4. These were THE LAST DAYS according to prophecy, not the first days of something new. “This is that.” (Joel 2:28,29) (Acts 2:16) “All the prophets since Samuel…have foretold of these days.” (Acts 3:24) What “was spoken by all the holy prophets since the world began” ( Acts 3:21) must be different from what was “kept secret since the world began.” (Rom. 16:25)
5. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke of prophesied promises to Israel: that Christ was raised to sit on His throne (Acts 2:30) and “to give repentance to Israel.” (Acts 5:31) (Question: why not to the Gentiles also?)
6. The ministry of John the Baptist and of Christ is continued. “Wonders and signs were done by the Apostles” as in the Gospel records. (Acts 2:43) “They continued daily with one accord in the Temple, (Acts 2:46) “Repent ye, therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19)
7. The view of the Millennial Kingdom is in sight. (Acts 3:19-21)
8. Israel is still the “untoward generation.” (Matt. 23:37) (Acts 2:40)
9. The Apostles baptized with water and the believers received supernatural power to do miracles and wonder

CONSPICUOUS ABSENCES ABOUT THE BODY OF CHRIST ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST

1. No mention of the Body of Christ
2. No mention of Gentiles now being presented or accepted as equals
3. No mention of something new
4. No mention of a baptism by the Spirit
5. No mention of justification by faith alone nor of redemption through the shed blood of Christ
6. No mention of no longer being under the Law. In fact, they continued “preaching to none but the Jews only” and being “zealous of the Law.” (Acts 11:19) (Acts 21:20)

THOUGHTS

1. The Greek word “ecclesia” which is translated “church,” does not automatically mean the Body of Christ, There are three distinct ‘churches’ mentioned in the Scriptures, (Acts 7:38) (Matt. 18:17) (Eph. 1:22,23)
2. In Joel’s prophecy there is no reference to Gentiles.
3. At Pentecost, Israel had not been set aside (alienated) so how could they be reconciled with the Gentiles into one Body?. (Eph. 2:15,16)
4. At Pentecost, the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit resulted from water baptism. (Acts 2:28) Is that how we receive the Spirit today?
5. Provisions were made for the Church, the Body of Christ, by the cross (Eph. 2:16) but did not take effect until “due time” when revealed to the apostle Paul. (I Tim. 2:6,7)

QUESTIONS

1. If the Church, the Body of Christ, started at Pentecost, why was the Kingdom still offered in Acts 3:19-21)?
2. Can we today “continue steadfastly” in the Apostles’ doctrine? (Acts 2:42-46) (Acts 4:32-35) (Acts 5:12-16)
3. When did Peter understand the doctrine of Grace that Paul taught? (II Pet. 3:15,16)
4. Why did Peter charge his hearers with the murder of their Messiah? (Acts 2:23) Why did he not rejoice as do members of the Body in what Christ accomplished by the cross? (Gal. 6:14)
5. Why was Peter still unprepared when commanded to go to the house of a Gentile as late as Acts 10? Why were the Judean brethren surprised to hear that God had granted repentance ALSO to the Gentiles? (Acts 10:28) (Acts 11:18)
6. If the Body of Christ began at Pentecost, why was the Word still preached by the Jews “to none but the Jews only” (Acts 11:19) and why were the Jews still “zealous of the Law” as late as Acts 21:20)?
7. Why would Christ have taught Kingdom truth for forty days preceding His ascension and then ten days later abruptly begin the Body of Christ without having trained the apostles in the new program?
8. Why is no Gentile mentioned until Cornelius in Acts 10?
9. How could Paul, years after Pentecost, say he had “laid the foundation” of the building (I Cor. 3;10) (Eph. 2:19,20) if it had begun at Pentecost?
10. How could the Body of Christ begin before the one to whom it was revealed was saved? (“In me first…for a pattern” – I Tim 1:16)
11. Is not Pentecost thoroughly Jewish in doctrine, Peter’s preaching being verified and validated by supernatural manifestations?
12. Is there one proof verse that refers or alludes to the beginning of the Church at Pentecost? Is there more than an assumption?

If the Church, the Body of Christ, did not start at Pentecost, then when? We are not told exactly but it could not have had its beginning before Paul’s conversion in Acts 9. He is a likely candidate for being the first member, being both a Jew and a Roman citizen. (Acts 22:3, 26)

This subject is important because it determines the content of the doctrine that we are to obey today. (Water baptism? Remission of sins? Receiving of the Holy Spirit? Supernatural gifts? Selling all possessions and sharing the proceeds in common? Preaching to none but the Jews only? Working to escape the Wrath to come? Enduring to the end?)

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