Bible Question:

I read, “What We Believe.” Would you say that you have an Acts 2 position on the beginning of the church - the Body of Christ? Do you distinguish between the nation of Israel and the body of Christ programs? Do you believe that the Apostle Paul was separate from the twelve disciples and God revealed the truth about the body of Christ church through him first and then to others?

Bible Answer:

We will answer each question in the order that they were asked.

Acts 2: Beginning of the Church

The body of Christ, or the church, started on Pentecost, which is recorded in Acts 2. You may be interested in several studies at this web site related to the church and the Holy Spirit. They are “When were the first Christian churches formed?” and “The Spirit’s Ministry – Tongues and Prophecy.” The body of Christ is composed of all the saints who are baptized in to the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:12). These saints are people who have believed in Jesus Christ.

Has The Church Replaced Israel?

The nation of Israel is not the same as the Body of Christ for several reasons. First, the start of the nation of Israel is recorded in the Old Testament, but the first time that the body of Christ is mentioned in scripture occurs in Acts 2 and then on numerous occasions in the rest of the New Testament. Second, the Old Testament predicted the coming of the New Testament church. That is, it was something new and not something old. For example, consider the following passage,

“AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,” God says, “THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS . . .” (NASB) Acts 2:17

For finding fault with them, He says, “BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH . . .” (NASB) Heb. 8:8

These prophecies indicated that something new would occur. Together with Matthew 3:11, 1 Cor. 12:13 and Eph. 4:12, we discover that only New Testament saints were and are baptized into one body – the Body of Christ. These are New Testament saints. This was the start of a New Covenant and resulted in the church, which is part of all of the saints since the creation.

Third, those who teach that the church has inherited all of the prophecies given to Israel have misunderstood scripture and frequently spiritualize the text in order to impose their theological viewpoint upon scripture, avoiding a commonly understood literal meaning of scripture. That is, they have applied a completely symbolic meaning to passages that have a clear literal interpretation. For further reading about this topic, we would recommend, “The Spirit’s Ministry – Tongues and Prophecy.

Did Paul Know First?

Paul was not one of the twelve apostles. He was the thirteenth apostle, since he was selected after Matthias was chosen in Acts 1:26 to replace Judas who committed suicide by hanging (Matthew 27:1-10; Acts 1:16-19). In many of the opening verses in the New Testament books, the Holy Spirit reveals that Paul was an apostle (Romans 1:1; 1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1, Eph. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Col. 1:1). Scripture records that Paul went into the Arabian desert and apparently was tutored by God regarding the truth about the faith (Gal. 1:13-24). However, we cannot say positively what actually occurred in the desert because scripture is silent about the events that occurred in the desert. Did Paul receive the truth about the body of Christ first? We do not know, but it seems doubtful that Jesus would not have taught His twelve first.

Conclusion:

The body of Christ occurs only in the New Testament. It was promised in the Old Testament and realized in the new.

Reference Links:

When were the first Christian churches formed?
The Spirit's Ministry - Tongues and Prophecy