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Part 51: Did the Church Begin with Pentecost of Acts Two?

by Pastor J. C. O'Hair

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.

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If one believes that the Body of Christ began historically with the advent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he is given the right hand of fellowship by the “regular” Fundamentalists. If one believes that the Body of Christ began after the close of the “Acts” period, the “regulars” brand him as an “ultradispensationalist” and from their camp goes up the cry “Bullingerism.” If one disagrees with both of these groups, he receives the anathema from both directions, Of course all of these groups believe that the Body of Christ was purposed by God before the foundation of the world and was the secret purpose of God until Christ made known the secret to the apostle Paul.

There are some Christians who think they can prove that the Church of God began with John the Baptist. They support their claim with Luke 16:16: “The law and the prophets were until John since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” They claim this “Kingdom of God” was the Body of Christ, or the New Testament Church.

But the great majority of Christians have definitely fixed Pentecost of Acts Two as the birthday of the Church, and most of them are not only dogmatically opposed to any fellowbelievers, who fix that time of beginning later on, but they ungraciously ridicule, condemn and malign them. One of their favorite expressions is “divisive teaching.” Many of these condemning brethren, who teach “Premillennialism,” “Eternal Security” and “The Postponement of the Kingdom,” know full well that some spiritual saints consider these doctrines “divisive” and even worse, but they continue to teach what they believe.

We give the Scriptures that are generally used to prove that the Church of God of Acts 2 and the Body of Christ of Ephesians 3:6 are one and the same Church, the New Testament Church which began on the day of Pentecost with Peter and the Eleven and their fellowdisciples, the one hundred and twenty of Acts 1:15.

I Corinthians 12:13

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one Body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.”

Acts 2:4

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Acts 2:38

“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 2:47

“Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.”

Galatians 1:13 and 22

“For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the Church of God, and wasted it.” “And was unknown by face to the churches of Judaea which were in Christ.” Also I Corinthians 15:9 and Philippians 3:6.

Acts 9:4

“And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?”

Acts 11:18

“When they heard these things they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance Unto life.”

Acts 15:14

“Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name.”

Ephesians 2:20

“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner Stone.”

Ephesians 2:16

“And that He might reconcile both unto God in one Body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.”

Inasmuch as the twelve apostles received Holy Spirit baptism on the day of Pentecost, and inasmuch as the Church of God is composed of Jews and Gentiles baptized by the Holy Spirit into one Body, the Twelve, and their fellow-disciples, must have been baptized into the Body on the day of Pentecost and they must have been the first members of the New Testament Church, the Church of God which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28), “the Joint- Body” of Ephesians 3:6.

When the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, Peter described the phenomena as a fulfillment of Joel 2:28 and 29: “And it shall come to pass afterward that I shall pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” Now note Peter’s words in Acts 2:17: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

Observe that Peter specially applied the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy to “the last days.” To whose last days? To Israel’s last days. The spiritual, intelligent student, who carefully studies the Prophecy of Joel, knows that Joel wrote of Israel’s tribulation and kingdom and God’s wrath upon the Gentiles. And yet the brethren, who have the Body of Christ begin on the day of Pentecost, tell us that at that time God’s dispensation of grace and blessing for both Israel and the Gentiles began.

If the Body of Christ began on an Israelitish feast day, with the fulfillment of Israel’s prophecy concerning Israel’s “last days,” we must decide that the “first days” of the Body were the “last days” of Israel, that Israel and the Body are one and the same and that Paul was either deluded, or he deliberately falsified when he wrote in Colossians 1:24 to 26 and Ephesians 3:3 to 11, that Joel knew nothing, and said nothing, about the dispensation of the grace of God and the Mystery, the Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6.

Then note Acts 2:45: “And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.” And Acts 4:34 and 35: “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold. And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.” Was this an Israelitish kingdom program or part of the Lord’s program for the Body described in Ephesians? Perhaps you have heard the evasive answers or uncertain explanations of those who are asked, why, if they are sure that the Body of Christ began on the day of Pentecost, they do not preach “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit?” Acts 2:38. We ask them why they do not sell all their property and give their money to their religious leaders; and why they do not teach that believers today receive the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy? If we today receive Holy Spirit baptism in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, then there is no truth to Paul’s statement in Ephesians 3:1 to 11.

THE LORD ADDED TO THE CHURCH

But it certainly does say that “the Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved.” While the word Church, in Acts 2:47, is missing in all of the original texts, yet Acts 8:1 speaks of “the Church at Jerusalem.” Paul, in Galatians 1:22, speaks of the Churches in Judea. Before Paul was saved he persecuted “the Church of God,” therefore, “the Church of God” existed before Saul was converted. At the time of Saul’s conversion the Lord asked, “why persecutest thou ME?” Inasmuch as Saul was persecuting the Lord’s disciples they must have been a part of Christ and therefore members of His Body. So reason those who prove that the Body of Christ began at Pentecost.

By the same argument they could prove that the Kingdom of Matthew 25:3 to 41 is the Body of Christ. Note Matthew 25:40: “And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto ME,” which has no reference to the Body of Christ. This of course invalidates the argument that “why persecutest thou ME?” proves that the Body existed.

But how about Acts 5:14: “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” These believers were added to the Lord. Does this not prove that they were joined to the Lord in the same union that is described in Ephesians 5:31 and 32? To be sure Galatians 1:13 proves that the Church of God began before Saul was converted. This leads us to the question:

IS THE CHURCH OF GOD AND THE BODY OF CHRIST ONE AND THE SAME?

“The Church of the living God,” in I Timothy 3:15 and 16, is described as the ground and the pillar of the truth in connection with a great mystery. This establishes this Church of God as identical with the Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6. Therefore “the Body of Christ” is “the Church of God”; but “the Church of God” is not necessarily “the Body of Christ.”

Now for the proof of this statement. It is most unfortunate that we have such a word in our vocabulary as “church”; for its meaning is vague, and it is a mistranslation of the Greek word. The word “church” is found in the New Testament Scriptures about 80 times in the singular and about 35 times in the plural. With one single exception the Greek word is “ecclesia,” or “ekklesia.” Why was this word translated “Church” by the translators? We may never know until we see them and ask them. “Church” is from “Kurios,” meaning “the Lord” “Ecclesia” does not mean “the Lord.” The word is from “Ek”, “from” or “out of”. “Kaleo”, “call.” “Ecclesia”, “called out.” The Church is “the Called Out.” Paul persecuted “the called out of God.” This word “ecclesia” is found three times in Acts 19:32 to 41, and is there translated three times “assembly.” You join with me in a “Why.” Why did the translators speak of the “ecclesia” of ungodly heathen in Acts 19:32 as “an assembly” and then translate the “ecclesia” of saints as “the Church?” Nobody knows, but it certainly has brought much confusion into the Christian camps. But if we are to learn the difference between the Body of Christ and other assemblies, we must forget the word C-H-U-R-C-H.

This word “ecclesia” is found a number of times in the Septuagint, or Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures. Note the word in Nehemiah 13:1. It is there translated “the congregation of God.” In the Greek it is “the ecclesia of God.” By reading Nehemiah you will learn that Saul of Tarsus was not the first of the Lord’s enemies to persecute “the Church of God.” We say to you very frankly that you must forget the word “church” in the Bible, if you want to know the Bible Truth concerning the Body of Christ.

But what about Ephesians 2:16 and 20, considered with the fact that Peter’s mouth was not only chosen by the Lord for the message on the day of Pentecost, but also to first preach to Gentiles (Acts 15:7). Consider this with Matthew 16:16 to 19: “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Did not Peter use one key on the day of Pentecost in preaching to Jews and the other key in the tenth of Acts, when he preached to the Gentiles, the household of Cornelius? Most Christians believe this. But were the keys to the kingdom of heaven used by Peter to inaugurate the dispensation of the grace of God of Ephesians 3:1 and 2? Cornelius and his relatives received the Holy Spirit while Peter was preaching to them. The argument is that they must have been then and there baptized by the Holy Spirit into the same Body with the twelve apostles and the thousands of Jews who were saved before Peter preached to Cornelius?

It is true that Peter declared that God used his mouth first to preach to Gentiles. Acts 15:7. It is true that Peter declared that God began with Cornelius to gather a people from the Gentiles.

But Peter declared that both were in fulfillment of prophecy.

Now note Ephesians 3:1 to 3: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to youward: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words).” Just how are we to understand Peter’s words in Acts 15:7 in the light of Paul’s words in Romans 11:15, I Timothy 2:6 and 7, II Timothy 1:11, and II Timothy 4:171

First note Peter’s words: “And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

In Romans 11:13 Paul said, “I am the apostle of the Gentiles.” In Romans 11:11 Paul declared that he was sent to the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy. Peter was very careful to see that Israel was not provoked to jealousy, so careful, in fact, that he would not eat with Christian Gentiles when Jews were around. Galatians 2:11 to 14. Peter agreed to confine his testimony to Jews. Galatians 2:9. Now note this most important statement marking a radical change in God’s dealings with Israel and the Gentiles.

“FOR IF THE CASTING AWAY OF THEM BE THE RECONCILING OF THE WORLD, WHAT SHALL THE RECEIVING OF THEM BE, BUT LIFE FROM THE DEAD?” Romans 11:15.

“Who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not) a teacher of the Gentiles, in faith and verity.” I Timothy 2:6 and 7.

“Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.” II Timothy 1:11.

“Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.” II Timothy 4:17.

Then we have to reconcile Acts 15:7, with Galatians 2:9:

“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel and believe.” Acts 15:7.

“And when James, Peter 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, and they unto the circumcision.” Galatians 2:9.

This leads us to ask this question, “Were Peter’s keys used to inaugurate the dispensation of the grace of God and the dispensation of the mystery for Gentiles?” If so, we must conclude that Paul was chosen to perpetuate the ministry of Peter and the Eleven. But we learn in the study of Paul’s Epistles that this is contrary to fact.

Note again Galatians 2:7:

“BUT CONTRARIWISE, WHEN THEY SAW THAT THE GOSPEL OF THE UNCIRCUMCISION WAS COMMITTED UNTO ME, AS THE GOSPEL OF THE CIRCUMCISION WAS UNTO PETER.”

This gospel of the circumcision was committed to Peter after the resurrection of Christ and is not only quite different from the gospel of the uncircumcision, which Christ committed to Paul, but altogether different from the dispensation of the grace of God for Gentiles. The utter confusion of the leaders among Fundamentalists as to Pentecost and the Church of the Mystery is reflected in these contradictory statements of their outstanding champion.

We quote from two or three of his several books. In one of his books, in referring to the Pauline distinctive message, he wrote—

“It is of vast importance that every child of God be instructed as to its true character.”

Again he wrote,

“The mystery of the Church as the Body of Christ was never made known in Old Testament times, nor yet when our Lord was on earth. The Divine method of making it known was by a special revelation to the Apostle Paul, committed to him to pass on to saints.”

Again,

“To the Epistles of Paul ALONE do we turn for the revelation of the mystery.”

“It was a special revelation given not to the Twelve, but TO PAUL ALONE, as the apostle of the new dispensation.”

“How earnest was the Apostle (Paul) in seeking to lead Christians into the knowledge of this precious truth.”

So far so good. Wonderful statement of facts, concerning the preciousness of the Pauline distinctive gospel and ministry. It should be made known. God says so in Ephesians 3:9. Paul was “the apostle of the new dispensation.”

But what confusion the brother has wrought by his contradictory statements in his late book.

He there writes,

“ACCORDING TO GOD, THE NEW DISPENSATION, THAT IN WHICH WE LIVE, THE DISPENSATION OF THE GRACE OF GOD, OTHERWISE CALLED THE DISPENSATION OF THE MYSTERY, BEGAN THE MOMENT THE SPIRIT DESCENDED AT PENTECOST.”

And now note another of his statements:

“ONLY WHEN A NEW REVELATION FROM GOD IS GIVEN DOES A DISPENSATION CHANGE.”

When does a dispensation change? With a revelation. Who received the revelation? If Paul was “the apostle of the new dispensation,” and the Body mystery was not revealed to any of the Twelve, only to Paul, and the new dispensation began with the revelation, how did the dispensation begin with Peter and Pentecost ?

Again the brother states in the same book:

Paul received the revelation concerning the Body and the new dispensation in Acts 9 when the Lord said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me ?”

Then he makes two more contradictory statements. He writes that Peter got the revelation of the mystery, in Acts 10, when Peter received the vision authorizing him to go to Cornelius. That was several years after Saul’s experience.

Then the confused writer states,

“John as an apostle of Jesus Christ received the revelation of the mystery even before the Apostle Paul did.”

Truly you have never heard of greater confusion. Yet there are multitudes who follow this man of God in his contradictions and utter confusion, as well as in his abuse and condemnation of those who try to lead his followers from such faulty dispensationalism. It requires grace, humility, and courage, after you have taught error so long, to confess your blunders. It seems to be less humiliating to try to cover up. But here is a case where that cannot be done with Bereans.

Let us compare Colossians 1:24 to 26 with Peter’s statement in Acts 3:24 and 5:31.

Colossians 1:24 to 26

“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His Body’s sake, which is the Church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the Word of God: Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to His saints.”

Acts 3:24 and 5:31

“Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.”

“Jesus hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”

Take a few moments and prayerfully intelligently compare Jesus exalted in Acts 5:31 with His exaltation as Head of His Body in Ephesians 1:20 to 23.

“Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, Which is His Body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1:20 to 23.

Paul very definitely declared that he received the dispensation of God for a specific purpose and that purpose was to add to the law and the prophets and the confirmation ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ and His apostles, to complete the Word of God with the Mystery which Paul received by revelation from Jesus Christ. This Mystery, or Divine Secret, was to complete the Word of God. It has truly been called “the Capstone of Truth.” It was God’s own Secret, His own eternal purpose, purposed in Christ Jesus before the world began. God intentionally withheld any knowledge of this special truth from any and all of His servants and witnesses until His own good time arrived to have His Son reveal it to Paul. It was not made known to the sons of men in other ages. Therefore, Moses and Samuel and those that followed after, have (not) likewise foretold these days.

PAUL AND PETER

How different concerning the Divine program of Acts 3:19 to 24. “Spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:21, It is a great blunder to confuse the kingdom program of Peter with the Joint “Body” in Paul’s messages.

Now another comparison of Paul’s statement with Peter’s.

Ephesians 3:1 to 11

“For this cause I PAUL, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given me to you-ward: How that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery; (as I said afore in few words, Whereby when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same Body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. Unto me who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the dispensation of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in the heavenlies might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Acts 15:13 to 18

“And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon Whom My name is called, saith the Lord, Who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.”

Galatians 2:9 to 12

“And when James, Peter 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, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor, the same which I also was forward to do. But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come; he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.”

After you have read of Peter’s conduct in Galatians 2:9 to 12 answer whether or not you think the Lord gave to Peter the gospel of the grace of God for Gentiles!

In Ephesians 3:1 to 11 and Colossians 1:24 to 26 we find “the Mystery”, which Christ revealed to Paul centuries after it had been hidden from Israel’s prophets. Before the risen Lord revealed “the Mystery” to Paul, Peter was as ignorant of that Divine truth as were Israel’s Old Testament prophets. What Amos foretold in Amos 9:11 to 15, (Acts 15:13 to 17) had not one thing to do with “the Church of the Mystery.” Amos was wholly ignorant and silent concerning the truth of Ephesians 3:1 to 11. Note Ephesians 3:11, “God’s eternal purpose in Christ.” This eternal purpose of God was. altogether different from Israel’s kingdom and kingdom salvation promised the Gentiles. Because there is no hint or trace of “the Mystery” or the Joint-Body of Ephesians 3:6, in any former inspired writings, the Apostle Paul calls this particular truth “the Unsearchable Riches for Gentiles.” “Unsearchable” means “untraceable” or “unprophesied.” So once again we see that Israel’s kingdom program was prophesied; but that God’s “grace” dispensation and “Body” program was not prophesied. Therefore the visitation of Gentiles mentioned in Acts 15:13 to 17, was different from Ephesians 3:5, 6.

In declaring the program of Acts 15:13 to 18, James and Peter affirm “and to this agree the words of the prophets.” This has special reference to Amos 9:11 to 15. When the Holy Spirit moved upon Amos to write the prophecy of chapter nine He did not have in mind one thought concerning the Joint-Body, but the kingdom of heaven, which Peter and his fellowapostles proclaimed. Do not forget Galatians 2:7 and the fact that Christ committed this “circumcision” gospel to Peter after His resurrection.

We learn, in Acts 2:14 to 17, that the Holy Spirit came in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy concerning Israel’s last days or “kingdom” days. In Acts 2:27 to 33, we learn that Christ was raised from the dead to take David’s throne in fulfillment of King David’s prophecy. We learn of the prophesied Kingdom days in Acts 3:19 to 21. We learned in Acts 5:29 to 32 that God raised Christ from the dead to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel. We learned that Peter preached to Cornelius and his household concerning Jesus of Nazareth, the Word sent unto the children of Israel; that Cornelius loved Israel, and was seeking the Kingdom of God.

We learned that the Lord Jesus gave to Peter the gospel of the circumcision. Note what Peter preached to Cornelius “But in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness is accepted with Him.” Compare and contrast Romans 4:4 and 5: “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to Him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Then we learned that after Peter preached to Cornelius the twelve apostles were reduced to eleven apostles by the death of James. Then any record of the acts of the Eleven in the Book of Acts ceases, except as they have dealings with Paul. In conference with him they agreed to go to the Jews. Galatians 2:9.

GOD CHANGED HIS PROGRAM

In the first nine chapters of Acts we find the residue of Israelites fulfilling Amos 9:12, by seeking after the Lord. In those chapters we find no message addressed to Gentiles. Then it is admitted by most Christians that Peter used the key of the kingdom to let in Cornelius the Gentile. Those Gentiles were seeking the Lord in fulfillment of Amos 9:12. In the ministry of reconciliation after Israel was set aside God sought the Gentiles.

After the number of the apostles ceased to be “twelve” God began a new Divine movement and the Israelitish Kingdom of Heaven was postponed. So in the first ten chapters of Acts we have a suggestion of what God’s Divine program will be when the Lord comes to be King on David’s throne.

It has been thought by some men of God that Cornelius and the centurion of Luke 7:1 to 8, were one and the same. No one can prove this, but note Luke 7:4 and 5:

“That he was worthy for whom He should do this: For he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.”

Now note Acts 10:22: “And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nations of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into this house, and to hear words of thee.”

Whether or not they were different or one and the same we learn in the study of the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts this interesting fact: so far as there is any record in the Scriptures, the Roman centurion of Luke 7 and Matthew 8 is the only Gentile man to whom Christ on earth gave a kingdom blessing. Remember our words, “so far as the record is concerned.”

So far as the record in Acts is concerned the household of Cornelius is the only company of Gentiles to whom any of the twelve preached. After that the Jerusalem pillars agreed to go to Jews. Galatians 2:9.

Then the first Gentile to whom Paul preached, according to the “Acts” record, was a Roman official by the name of “Paulus” (Acts 13:6 to 14) and Saul then became “Paulus” or “Paul.” Because of the blindness of an unbelieving Jew, Paulus believed and was saved. Then Paul was sent to preach salvation to the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy. Peter never preached salvation to Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy.

The Lord Jesus gave the so-called “great commission” of Matthew 28:19 to 20, to the Twelve. They were given the gospel of the circumcision. They agreed to go to Israel. So we ask what this commission had to do with the Truth of Romans 11:15 and II Corinthians 5:18? A new commission was given when God sent blindness upon Israel. May the Holy Spirit anoint our eyes to know the difference between Peter’s message of “repentance and restitution” before God’s judgment fell upon Israel and Paul’s “reconciliation” message after the truth of Romans 11:15.

“FOR IF THE CASTING AWAY OF THEM BE THE RECONCILING OF THE WORLD, WHAT SHALL THE RECEIVING OF THEM BE BUT LIFE FROM THE DEAD?” Romans 11:15.

“AND ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD, WHO HATH RECONCILED US TO HIMSELF BY JESUS CHRIST, AND HATH GIVEN TO US THE MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION.” II Corinthians 5:18.

It is ridiculous, in the light of Galatians 1:11 to 17, Galatians 2:1 to 15, Romans 11:11 to 30 and Ephesians 3:1 to 11, to teach that Paul perpetuated the ministry, message, and program which Christ committed to the Twelve.

THE TRANSFER OF CHURCHES

In the Church of Christ we hear of “Amillenarians,” “Postmillenarians,” “Pre-Tribulation Premillenarians,” and “Post-Tribulation Premillenarians.” But whether a “Post” or a “Pre,” all Christians are dispensationalists. The Premillenarians may have a few more dispensations than the others but the Postmillenarians divide God’s spiritual programs into “The Old Testament” and “The New Testament.” They invariably start off with the great blunder of teaching that the Old Testament (Covenant) began with the first chapter of Genesis, instead of with the twentieth chapter of Exodus, 2500 years later. God made a new Covenant with Israel in Exodus 20. It became “old” after Christ died. The Postmillenarians do not agree as to when the New Testament dispensation began. Most of them say, on the day of Pentecost; but many say, in the Book of Matthew. But they all agree that at some definite or indefinite time, the living saints under the Old Covenant became saints under the New Covenant. Therefore there was a transfer from the Old Testament Church into the New Testament Church.

The so-called “Ultra-dispensational Premillenarians teach that the saints, who were alive at the close of the “Acts” period, became members of the Body of Christ, which they teach had its historic beginning after Paul reached Rome. Virtually one hundred per cent of them teach that the Bride of Christ is Israel, or Israelitish. They claim, of course, that the Body of Romans 12:4 and 5 is not identified with the Body of Ephesians 3:6. But the point is, they teach the transfer of Churches. But because of Matthew 19:28 most of them doubt if the twelve apostles ever became members of the Church of the Mystery.

Virtually all of the Premillenarians in the “regular” camp teach that while Jesus of Nazareth was on earth, the Body did not exist, except in the predestinated purpose of God. They know that during the earthly ministry of Christ, many Jews were saved and received kingdom baptism into the kingdom. Their teaching is that these “Kingdom of Heaven” saints became “Church” saints, or members of Christ’s Body, on the day of Pentecost. They at least claim this for the one hundred and twenty of Acts 1:15; although they say nothing about the great number of other Jews and the company of saved Samaritans mentioned in John 4:39 and 41. But the point is, they believe in the transfer either from “the Kingdom” to “the Church,” or from the Old Church to the New Church. All Christians believe in a transfer, whether they begin the Body in Matthew or with John 20, Acts 2, Acts 7, Acts 28, or any other chapter of Acts.

What do you believe? Be a Berean and remember I John 2:27, that the Holy Spirit is the only infallible teacher.

For more articles by Pastor J. C. O'Hair, visit the J. C. O'Hair Online Library.