I) INCEPTION OF THE CHURCH
A) THE KINGDOM WAS PROCLAIMED TO ISRAEL DURING OUR LORD'S EARTHLY MINISTRY AND FOR A TIME AFTER HIS ASCENSION - A TIME WHICH PRECEDED THE INCEPTION OF THE CHURCH
1) The Old Testament Prophets, John The Baptist And His Disciples, And The LORD Jesus Christ And His Disciples Before His Ascension Preached To Israel, "Repent For The Kingdom Of God Is At Hand" - In The Sense Of Believing In The Coming Messiah / Savior In Order For Them To Receive Forgiveness Of Sins Unto Eternal Life In The Eternal Kingdom Of God, Which Would Commence Should All Israel Believe. The Context Of This Repentance Unto Forgiveness Of Sins Did Not Include Producing Fruit, I.E., Doing Godly Works, Such As Water Baptism; Nor Did It Include A Committment To Do Godly Works, As Some Contend
Note that it was the forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist who would "prepare the way for the Lord [making] straight paths for Him," (Mt 3:3; Isa 40:3). By commanding all Israel to "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand," (Mt 3:2), John was stating that in his time the coming of the Christ - the Messiah - to bring His Eternal Kingdom into the world was imminent should all of Israel repent / believe in Him for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in that Kingdom. And thereafter and in the same manner preached Jesus and His disciples before His Ascension, (Mt 4:12, 17; Mk 1:14-15). It was John the Baptist who declared Who Jesus was: "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world," (Jn 1:29) - as testified to in Old Testament Scripture, (Isa 53:4-5; cf. Acts 10:43). And it was John the Baptist who preached that "one must believe in Jesus," (Acts 19:4). Hence the word rendered "repent" when preached by the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist and his disciples, and Jesus and His disciples before His Ascension signified that one must believe in Christ as Messiah "for the forgiveness of sins," (Joel 2:15 ; Isa 9:6; 53:1-17; Acts 10:43; Acts 19:4; Mk 1:4; 14-15; Mt 4:12, 17) in order to gain eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, which was to commence should all Israel repent / believe.
a) [Compare Mk 1:14-15]:
(Mk 1:14 NKJV) "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God,
(Mk 1:15 NKJV) and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.'
Furthermore, John the Baptist and his disciples, and Jesus and His disciples before His Ascension commanded those who believed in Jesus to demonstrate this change to faith in Him by a "baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" - a water baptism symbolic of their having expressed a moment of faith alone in Jesus Christ, their Messiah / Savior alone unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 19:4; Mk 1:4), which was to commence should all Israel repent / believe.
b) [Compare Mt 3:1-8]:
(Mt 3:1 NKJV) '''In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
(Mt 3:2 NKJV) and saying, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"
[The Greek conjunction "gar" which is rendered "for" in the phrase "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" is a causal particle which introduces the reason why all of Israel must repent / believe in Jesus as LORD and Christ / Messiah Who is to come to provide an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, (cf. Mt 3:3; Isa 40:3-5), unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven. And that reason is so that the LORD would commence His Eternal Kingdom of heaven upon the earth, i.e., the Eternal Kingdom of God - with all of a generation of His chosen people Israel having trusted in Him to be the Kingdom's ruling nation on the earth. However the Jews at the time of John the Baptist did not all repent / believe. So the Eternal Kingdom did not then commence]
(Mt 3:3 YLT) for this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, "A voice of one crying [out] in the wilderness, 'Prepare... the way of the LORD, straight make... His paths.' " (cf. Isa 40:3 )
(Mt 3:4 NKJV) Now John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.
(Mt 3:5 NKJV) Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him
(Mt 3:6 NKJV) and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
[So as each Israelite trusted in Christ as Messiah/Savior unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God was declared at hand should all Israel believe. All of this was in conjunction with the Messiah's arrival as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world, (Jn 1:29). Whereupon the Israelite believer was to confess his sins - not to receive eternal forgiveness, for he was already forgiven unto eternal life - but in order to receive temporal forgiveness to restore his temporal fellowship with God, so that the individual would be prepared spiritually before being water baptized, (Ps 32:1-5; Pr 28:13; cf. 1 Jn 1:9) . Whereupon he was water baptized by John in the Jordan River. This water baptism was declared as a baptism of repentance, symbolic of one having changed one’s mind from not believing to a moment of faith alone in Christ alone as Messiah/Savior unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, (Acts 19:4). This baptism was also symbolic of the Israelite believer's identification with national Israel and our Lord and His Eternal Kingdom which was to have been ushered in, had all Israel accepted Him as Messiah. In view of the fact that the Kingdom did not commence in John's time, John's declaration, "The Kingdom of God is at hand" was nevertheless not in error because it was Israel which had failed once more to respond to the LORD's command for national repentance - leaving the door open for a future generation of Israel who will all respond by a moment of faith alone in Christ alone as Messiah / Savior unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, (cf. Zech 12:10-14). Hence the time of the commencement of the Eternal Kingdom of God remained imminent / ready to immediately begin - whenever all of a generation of Israel choses to believe - until Christ's Ascension, (cf. Acts 2:21)]
(Mt 3:7 NKJV) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
[Notice that the arrival of the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven will begin with God's wrath upon unbelievers - those presently alive who have chosen not to repent / believe.]
(Mt 3:8 NKJV) Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance."
So the point is clearly made that producing fruit, i.e., godly works and repentance unto forgiveness of sins unto eternal life are two different things. One repents, i.e., changes ones mind and believes in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins so as to gain an eternally secure entrance into the Eternal Kingdom of Heaven by a moment of faith alone in Christ alone. And after that has been done, one is commanded to choose daily in ones temporal life to bear fruit, i.e., godly behavior, out of duty and gratitude for being saved unto eternal life solely by the grace of God . So the command in verse 8 is to produce fruit, i.e., to change the behavior in keeping with the change of mind - the repentance from unbelief to belief in the Messiah / Savior. Evidently the many Pharisees and Sadducees that John was addressing had neither produced godly fruit nor repented / believed in Christ.
c) [Compare Acts 19:4]:
(Acts 19:4 NKJV) "Then Paul said, 'John [the Baptist] indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people [Israel] that they should believe on Him Who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus."
Notice that Paul indicated that John's baptism of repentance signified that one had expressed a moment of faith alone in Christ Jesus for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God. Absent in this passage was any stipulation of committment to godly behavior required for receiving eternal life. Furthermore, Paul indicated that John the Baptist largely addressed the people of Israel, (cf. Acts 19:4).
d) [Compare Jn 1:29-31]:
(Jn 1:29 NKJV) '''[On] the next day John [the Baptist] [sees] Jesus coming toward him and [says], "[Behold], the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
(Jn 1:30 NKJV) This is He of Whom I said, 'After me comes a Man Who is preferred before me, for He was before me.'
[John the Baptist made an astounding announcement about Jesus. He indicated that although Jesus came after him in the sense that Jesus added to Himself His Humanity and was born after John himself was born; nevertheless John stated, "After me comes a Man Who is preferred before me, for He was before me," in the sense that Jesus was Pre-eminent to John because He "was before him" in the sense of His Eternal Pre-eminent Pre-existence as Diety - the Son of God]
(Jn 1:31 NKJV) I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water."
Note that John baptized with water those of Israel who repented / believed in the coming Messiah for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God to symbolically identify themselves with Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world and His atoning sacrifice for their sins. Furthermore, John the Baptist's baptisms were part of his mission as forerunner to the coming Messiah Jesus Christ. He announced His arrival and revealed Him to the people of Israel. This is especially significant to those of Israel who chose to believe in their Messiah for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God. For their baptism symbolized their faith in and identification with their Messiah / Savior and their entrance into His Eternal Kingdom. That Kingdom was to have commenced had all of that generation of Israel expressed a moment of faith in Him, (Mt 1:4; Zech 12:10-14).
e) [Compare Mk 1:4, 14-15]:
(Mk 1:4 NKJV) "John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for remission [forgiveness] of sins."
(Mk 1:14 NKJV) "Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God,
(Mk 1:15 NKJV) and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.' "
Notice the phrase rendered "Repent, and believe in the gospel" - repent in the sense of changing your mind and believing in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, which was to commence should all Israel repent / believe.
f) [Compare Mt 4:12, 17]:
(Mt 4:12 YLT) "And Jesus having heard that John was delivered up [in the sense of arrested and put in prison], He withdrew to Galilee."
(Mt 4:17 NKJV) "From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, 'Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' "
Notice that just as John the Baptist came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for remission [forgiveness] of sins, (Mk 1:4), so after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the same gospel of the Kingdom of God, (Mk 1:14-15; Mt 4:12). For Jesus was saying, "The time is fulfilled [in the sense of whatever was required to take place had taken place], and the Kingdom of God is at hand, [in the sense that its commencement was imminent]. Repent and believe in the gospel,' " (Mk 1:15; Mt 4:17). In other words, had all of those to whom Jesus and John the Baptist were speaking - to all of a generation of Israel - repented in the sense of changing their minds to believe in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, then the Eternal Kingdom of God would have commenced then and there!
But thereafter - after Christ's Ascension and after Peter's address to the Jews in Acts chapter 2 - heaven would receive the LORD "until the times of restoration of all things;" i.e., until a future time when the Eternal Kingdom of God would commence upon all of a future generation of Israel repenting / believing in Christ, (Acts 3:19-21).
2) In The Case Of The Message Of The Gospel After Christ's Ascension, Beginning With The Apostle Peter, The Greek Word "Metanoeo" ("Metanoesate") Rendered "Repent" Continued To Signify A Change From Not Believing To Believing Alone In Jesus Christ (Now Having Been Revealed In His Resurrected Humanity To The World) As LORD And Christ / The Messiah For Forgiveness Of Sins Unto Eternal Life In The Eternal Kingdom Of God; Which Kingdom Would Commence Should All Of That Generation Of Israel Believe. Plus In This Time There Was Begun The Reception Of The Gift Of The Indwelling Holy Spirit In All Who Believed - Jew And Gentile Alike. But Sometime After His Address To The Jews In Acts Chapter 2, Peter Indicated That Heaven Must Receive Jesus Christ, The Holy One, Until The Times Of Restoration Of All Things, I.E., Until A Future Time When The Eternal Kingdom Of God Would Commence Upon All Of A Future Generation Of Israel Repenting / Believing In Christ
a) [Compare Acts 2:36-38]:
(Acts 2:36 NKJV) '''[Peter declared] "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, Whom you crucified, both LORD and Christ [in the sense of the promised Messiah / Savior]." (Acts 2:37 YLT) And having heard, they were pricked to the heart; they say also to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, "What shall we do, men, brethren? (Acts 2:38 HOLMAN) And Peter said to them, "Repent [plural] (and [let each one of you] be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, [singular = after being forgiven and Holy Spirit received],) for the forgiveness of your sins [plural]. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit [plural]." =
i) Peter's Answer To The Jews' Question Of What They Should Do Relative To Jesus Christ Being Their LORD And Christ, Their Messiah / Savior, Was To Repent In The Sense Of Changing Their Minds To Believe In Him For Forgiveness Of Sins Unto Eternal Life In The Eternal Kingdom Of God; Which Kingdom Would Commence Should All Of That Generation Of Israel Believe; And For The Gift Of The Holy Spirit. Whereupon They Were To Be Water Baptized Symbolizing This. Absent Is Any Exhortation To Behave Better Or Feel Remorse Or Commit To A Holy Lifestyle
(Acts 2:36 NKJV) '''[Peter declared] "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, Whom you crucified, both LORD and Christ [in the sense of the promised Messiah / Savior]." (Acts 2:37 YLT) And having heard, they were pricked to the heart; they say also to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, "What shall we do, men, brethren? (Acts 2:38 HOLMAN) And Peter said to them, "Repent [plural] (and [let each one of you] be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, [singular = after being forgiven and Holy Spirit received],) for the forgiveness of your sins [plural]. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit [plural]." ''' =
Having presented his case so convincingly to the crowd of Jews in Jerusalem for Jesus being the Christ - the Messiah, and corroborating it with Scripture - David's testimony in Psalms 16 & 110 - the Apostle Peter concluded, "Therefore let all the house of Israel," (notice once more that Peter was addressing Jews) "know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, Whom you [Jews] crucified, both LORD [Greek, "kurion" in the sense of being God] and Christ [Greek, "Christon" in the sense of the Messiah, God's Annointed One from Israel Who was to rule over the Eternal Kingdom of God; these two titles referring to the Deity and Humanity, respectively of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, respectively], (Isa 7:14; 9:6-7 ). The Greek verb "epoiEsen" rendered "has made" does not signify that God fabricated Jesus into being LORD and Christ at that moment in time. Rather, it is saying that Jesus was declared by God to be both LORD - referring to His Diety as the Eternal Son of God; and Christ in the sense of having fulfilled the requirement in His Humanity of being an atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world; which declaration was evidenced by God's having raised Him from the dead and ascended Him into glory at His right hand in heaven. Notice that convincing and convicting fellow Jews in the sense of getting them to change their minds and believe that "Jesus Whom you crucified, [was] both LORD and Christ" unto forgiveness of sins and eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God was Peter's message. For Peter was declaring the imminent fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel 2:28-32, (Acts 2:16-21), in the sense of the commencement of the Eternal Kingdom of God upon the earth should all of that generation of Israel call upon the name of the LORD to be saved in the sense of repenting unto trusting in Jesus as LORD and Christ for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Not in view was an exhortation to behave better or feel remorse or commit to a holy lifestyle, as some contend. Note that the Greek word "Christon" rendered "Christ" in the NKJV is the Greek word which means "Messiah," referring to the Messiah of the Jews and the world as detailed in the books of the Old Testament, (cf. Isa 7:14; 9:6-7 ); (Acts 2:36).
So the Jews having heard what Peter so convincingly had to say to this point, "were pricked to the heart," in the sense that they felt remorse. The Greek phrase "katenugEsan tE kardia," rendered "they were pricked to the heart" in the YLT was descriptive of their feelings. It connoted a sharp pain associated with great anxiety and devastating remorse. The implication is that many of the Jews present to hear Peter's sermon had painfully realized that their Messiah - the One promised to sit on the throne of David to commence and rule the Eternal Kingdom of God had been crucified by them - evidently, in their minds, destroying their chance to enter into the Kingdom. Whereupon they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'What shall we do, men, brethren?' implying that they had believed that Jesus was both LORD and Christ, but not in Him for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God. There was no evidence up through verse 37 that anyone in the crowd had believed in Jesus for forgiveness of sins, such as having received the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit as demonstrated by speaking in tongues. For Peter's answer in verse 38 implied that they had not yet received forgiveness of sins or the gift of the Holy Spirit. Note that Peter had previously addressed the crowd as brethren in the sense of beg fellow Israelites as opposed to fellow believers: "Men of Judea and Jerusalem, (v. 14); "Men, Israelites," (v. 22); "Brethren" in connection with their "Patriarch David," (v. 29); hence they were brethren Israelites who had not yet become "brethren" in the sense of fellow believers, as some contend, (Acts 2:22-37).
Peter then said to them in Acts 2:38, "Repent [plural] (and [let each one of you] be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, [singular = after being forgiven and Holy Spirit received - symbolizing this]), for the forgiveness of your sins [plural]. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit [plural]." The message of those who preceded Peter when he gave his message in Acts chapter 2, namely the prophets of the Old Testament, (cf. Acts 3:21; 10:43 ), John the Baptist and his disciples followed by Jesus and His disciples before His Ascension - one of whom was Peter - was "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand," implying repentance / a moment of faith alone in the Messiah alone unto eternal life in the eternal Kingdom of God. Peter's message in Acts chapter 2 was essentially the same relative to the reception of eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God - including the imminency of the commencement of the Eternal Kingdom of God should all Israel repent / believe. For Peter's referral to Joel's account of the arrival of the Day of the LORD in Joel 2:12-32 - the time when the LORD would come to establish His Eternal Kingdom of God - set the tone of imminency of that commencement to the time when Peter began to address the Jews in Jerusalem, just as Joel had done, in his time, centuries earlier. Note that the water baptism was now declared to be "in the name of Jesus Christ" - His Humanity having now been revealed to the world; and His atoning sacrifice for the sins of the whole world now completed as promised. Hence the phrase "in the name of Jesus Christ" signified that one had called upon the name of Jesus Christ - the LORD - to be saved in the sense of having trusted in Him for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, (Acts 2:21; Joel 2:32). Furthermore, there was the addition of the gift - the baptism - of the indwelling Holy Spirit within each believer. Note that the inclusion of Gentiles in Peter's message of the gospel was nothing new, (Isa 49:6, 56:7, 57:19; Joel 2:28; Mal 1:11; cf. Acts 2:39, 10:24-48, 22:21). Although the prophets of the Old Testament largely addressed Israel, the promise of eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God always included Gentiles, (Isa 49:6, 56:7, 57:19; Joel 2:28; Mal 1:11). And although accounts of John the Baptist were limited to his ministry to Israel, there is no indication that he excluded Gentiles, (cf. Acts 19:4). Furthermore, Acts 1:8 speaks of the disciples of Jesus carrying the gospel to the end of the earth which implies the inclusion of all mankind. And finally, although our LORD began sending His disciples to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," He expanded His ministry, instructing the disciples to carry His message to Gentiles - which included Peter, (Mt 10:5-18; Lk 7:1-10).
Although the imminency of the commencement of the Eternal Kingdom of God should all of a generation of Israel repent / believe was in view in Acts chapter 2, it was no longer in view at the time of Peter's address in Acts chapter 3. For Peter then stipulated that heaven would receive the LORD "until the times of restoration of all things," (Acts 3:21) .
3) After Peter's Sermon In Acts Chapter 2 Which Declared That The Kingdom Would Commence Should All Israel Repent, New Believers Continued To Practice Judaism, Including Daily Worship And Instruction In The Temple - The Doctrines Unique To The Church Age Are Not In View
a) [Compare Acts 2:41-47]:
(Acts 2:41 NKJV) "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. (Acts 2:42 NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:43 NKJV) Then fear came upon every soul, [in the sense of awe] and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. (Acts 2:44 NKJV) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, (Acts 2:45 YLT and the possessions and the goods they were selling, and were parting them to all, according as any one had need. (Acts 2:46 NKJV) So continuing [steadfastly] daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, (Acts 2:47 YLT) praising God, and having favour with all the people, and the Lord was adding those being saved every day to the assembly.''' =
The believers were continuing steadfastly in the teaching of the apostles; and in fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers with fellow believers. The Greek verb "proskarterountes" rendered "were continuing steadfastly" implied an ongoing, focused and disciplined effort amongst all the believers to learn the doctrines of the faith, and to grow in fellowship with one another as they shared meals and prayed together. Notice that the Apostles were set about doing the work of the LORD in training up all the believers to become witnesses of Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, as the LORD commanded them, (Lk 24:44-49; Acts 1:5-8). Whereupon, a fear of the LORD pervaded the believers - in the sense of a reverential acknowledgment of the supernatural presence of the LORD made manifest through the words and actions of the Apostles and fellow believers. Many wonders and signs were being done through the Apostles, further enhancing that reverential fear of the LORD; and corroborating that the teaching of the Apostles was from the LORD - with this proof of the work of the Holy Spirit within them. Luke reported that all who believed "were together," in the sense of remaining together physically and being of one accord mentally relative to the pursuit of the doctrines of their new faith for the purpose of being witnesses to the world of the gospel. And they had all things in common to the extent that they sold and shared their possessions to provide for one another. They met daily in the Temple, and shared meals with one another from house to house - a fellowship which exemplified gladness and simplicity of heart, which praised God for all the blessings and teaching they received. The favorite meeting place of the early believers was in the Temple at the eastern edge of the outer court called Solomon's Colonnade, (Acts 3:11; 5:12). Their meetings were consistent with the Jewish behavior of the time - attending at the regular times for worship as they did before. They regarded the temple as their sanctuary and the Mosaic Law as their Law - one to live by as a daily rule of life but not as a means to gain eternal life in the Eternal Kingom of God. The temple to them was a place where they could share their faith in Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the faith that the Apostles were teaching them with fellow believers; and even with those who had not yet believed. For they were of the remnant of Jews which Scripture points to throughout the generations of Jewish history who were God's chosen people and the light of the gospel to their brethren Jews - and to the world. On the other hand, the doctrines of the faith that they were being instructed in by the Apostles and attempting to live by departed from the typical practices and beliefs of Jewish non-believers who tended to have a dependence upon their idea of keeping the Law for gaining entrance into the Eternal Kingdom of God. Note that this cannot be defined as communism or communal living, as some contend. It was voluntary and according to need, hence it was not part of a governmental type living system which regulated that goods were to be evenly distributed. The context indicates that it was simply sharing in an agape / godly loving - self-sacrificial manner for the benefit of brothers and sisters in the faith - "as every man had need." And it was characterized as joyful, with frequent praising of the LORD for His grace salvation. Later in the book of Acts, Peter made it clear that no one was under any compulsion to sell anything or give anything, (Acts 5:1-4). And the LORD was adding to their number daily. Note that there was evidently no persecution of the new believers reported at this time, (Acts 2:42-47).
B) AFTER PETER'S DECLARATION THAT HEAVEN WILL RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST UNTIL THE TIMES OF THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS; NEVERTHELESS, BELIEVERS CONTINUED TO PRACTICE JUDAISM, INCLUDING DAILY WORSHIP AND INSTRUCTION IN THE TEMPLE - THE DOCTRINES UNIQUE TO THE CHURCH AGE ARE NOT IN VIEW
1) [Compare Acts 3:12-16]:
(Acts 3:12 NKJV) "[And Peter Having seen (the peoples' being greatly amazed, (v. 11)] he responded to the people: 'Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?
(Acts 3:13 YLT) The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, did glorify His [Servant] Jesus, Whom [you] delivered up [to be crucified] and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, he [Pilate] having given judgment to release [that One],
(Acts 3:14 NKJV) But you denied the Holy One and the Just [One], and asked for a murderer to be granted to you [in the sense of being released to his freedom from being executed], (Acts 3:15 NKJV) and killed the [Author, i.e., Originator] of life Whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
(Acts 3:16 NKJV) And His [Jesus'] name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him [the healed, formerly lame man] this perfect soundness in the presence of you all."
Once again, Peter responded to a very large crowd of greatly amazed and bewildered Jews, (cf. Acts 2:6-15). And once again, he came right to the issue at hand - giving all the glory to God through His Servant Jesus: Who Jesus Christ was: the One Who caused the miraculous healing of the man who was lame from birth: the Source of forgiveness of sins through repentance unto faith in Him. Peter's sermon in Solomon's Colonade was in many ways similar to his sermon at Pentecost - especially in the sense of its key Focus: Jesus Christ - Who He was, His crucifixion, and repentance / faith in Him for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, (cf. Acts 2:14-41 ).
Peter then repeated his condemnation of the Jews: "But you denied the Holy One and the Just [One], and asked for a murderer to be granted to you," in the sense of another who was a murderer being released to his freedom from being executed. "And killed the [Author, (the Originator)] of life, Whom God raised from the dead, of which we [the Apostles and fellow believers] are witnesses. And His name, through [Peter's moment of] faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him [the lame man] this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." Note that Peter is saying that the faith in Jesus Christ for healing and all temporal deliverances and for eternal life - faith being volitional in nature - comes through Jesus Christ, (as a free gift), which one may then choose to exercise in Him for temporal and eternal salvation.
So despite His being killed by crucifixion, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and lives. The Apostles and many other believers testified that they were witnesses of Christ's Resurrection, (cf. Acts 1:3-9). And through Peter's faith in Him came the healing of the lame man in the presence of the Jews whom Peter accused of Christ's death.
The Greek phrase in Acts 3:13, "ton paida autou IEsoun," rendered "His [God's] Servant Jesus" in the NKJV and the phrase rendered "the Holy One," (Acts 3:14) in the sense of the chosen One, and the phrase rendered "the Just [one]" which refers to His Perfect Righteousness; are Messianic titles which refer to the One, as the Suffering Servant of the LORD, Who bore the sins of all mankind to make intercession for their temporal and eternal salvation. He is qualified to do so because He is Just, i.e., Absolutely Righteous. And He will bring judgment upon the whole world, and rule it forever in the Eternal Kingdom of God on earth. References to this can be found in the Old Testament, which the Jews should have been familiar with:
a) [Compare Isa 42:1]:
(Isa 42:1 NKJV) "Behold! My Servant Whom I uphold, My Elect One in Whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles."
b) [Compare Isa 49:6-8]:
(Isa 49:6 NKJV) "Indeed He [the LORD] says, 'It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'
(Isa 49:7 NKJV) Thus says the LORD, The Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One, To Him Whom man despises, To Him Whom the nation [Israel] abhors, To the Servant of rulers: 'Kings shall see and arise, Princes also shall worship, Because of the LORD Who is faithful, The Holy One of Israel; And He has chosen You.'
(Isa 49:8 NKJV) Thus says the LORD: 'In an acceptable time I have heard You, And in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You As a covenant to the people, To restore the earth, To cause them to inherit the desolate [inheritances]."
c) [Compare Isa 52:13-14]:
(Isa 52:13 NKJV) "Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently; He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
(Isa 52:14 NKJV) Just as many were astonished at you, So His visage was marred more than any man, And His form more than the sons of men"
d) [Compare Isa 53:11-12]:
(Isa 53:11 NKJV) "He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.
(Isa 53:12 NKJV) Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, And He shall divide the spoil with the strong, Because He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors, And He bore the sin of many, And made intercession for the transgressors."
The Greek word "archEgos" in the phrase "archEgos tEs zOEs" rendered "Prince of life" in the NKJV, NASB, YLT, KJV and ASV; and "Author of life" in the NIV and "Source of life" in the Holman in Acts 3:15, is best rendered, "Author of life," as in the Source or the Originator of life - which is an available meaning of the phrase. So the phrase rendered "the Author of life," implies that Jesus is the Originator of life, i.e., Creator-God. Peter told the Jews that they had a chance to let the Author of Life, the Holy One, the Just [One] go free; implying that that was the justifiable, righteous course of action for them to take. But Peter declared that the Jews denied Jesus' freedom and asked instead for a murderer to be granted that freedom, (cf. Jn 18:38-40). They demanded further that Jesus be crucified. And so Peter stipulated that Jesus' Humanity was killed on the cross. Peter dramatically declared in verse 15 that the Jews killed the Author of life; but he also declared that God raised Jesus from the dead. He stated that the Apostles and many other believers testified that they were witnesses of His resurrection, (cf. Acts 1:3-9). Peter's words to the crowd of Jews were sharp and convicting; and might have caused his and John's own demise - as such confrontation had previously resulted in our LORD's own crucifixion; were it not for the sovereign plan of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, (Acts 3:14-15).
Peter then concluded his point about the lame man who was miraculously healed - that his healing was through the name of Jesus Christ: "And His name, through [Peter's] faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." Notice the repetitive emphasis on faith in the name of Jesus in the last sentence, (v. 16), in Whose name Peter expressed faith earlier when he pronounced the healing of the lame man; and he became whole. The Jews frequently used the phrase "in the name of" exclusively with the name of God to connote God's presence and power. Peter used the phrase, "in the name of Jesus Christ," which, with the other titles he gave to Jesus, connoted the presence and the power of God - God the Son, (Acts 3:6); (Acts 3:16).
2) [Compare Acts 3:17-21]:
(Acts 3:17 NKJV) "Yet now, brethren, [Peter is referring here to fellow Jews] I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
(Acts 3:18 YLT) But God, what things before He [declared] through the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ should suffer, He did thus fulfill.
(Acts 3:19 Holman) Therefore repent and turn ...[to Christ in faith, (v. 16)], so that your sins may be blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the LORD,
(Acts 3:20 NKJV) and that He [God the Father] may send Jesus Christ, Who was preached to you before,
(Acts 3:21 NKJV) Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
Peter let up on his stinging accusation of guilt for killing the Holy One of God: "Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers," in the sense that the Jews and their rulers willfully chose not to recognize Who Jesus was and is: the Messiah / Savior of Israel, despite the overwhelming evidence provided through the life of Jesus Christ - as corroborated in Scripture: "But God, what things before He [declared] through the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ should suffer, He did thus fulfill." It was clearly a fact to the Jews that Jesus Christ suffered under their hands, and Peter reminded them that Scripture foretold that this was decreed to occur - under their responsibility. On the other hand, although God sovereignly decreed these events to occur, this did not mitigate the guilt of the Jewish rulers and people who, of their own volition, which volition God did not restrain, willfully decided to reject and crucify God's Servant, Jesus, in accordance with Scripture, (Acts 3:17-18).
So in Acts 3:19a, Peter offered to Israel yet another opportunity to "Repent and turn... [to faith in Christ, (v. 16)] so that [their] sins may be blotted out," in the sense of changing their minds from not trusting in Jesus Christ as their Messiah/Savior to believing in His name, i.e., His capacity to provide them with eternal forgiveness of sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, (cf. Acts 2:38 ; 10:43).
And Peter preached in Acts 3:19b that the Jews were to repent and turn to faith in Christ so that their sins may be blotted out "so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the LORD," in the sense of the restoration of all things - especially of the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel:
a) [Compare Acts 1:6]:
(Acts 1:6 YLT) "They, [the apostles, (v. 2)] therefore, indeed, having come together, were questionning Him [the risen Christ, (vv. 1-3)], saying, "LORD, at this time [are you restoring] the [Kingdom] to Israel?"
So seasons of refreshing would come "from the presence of the LORD" in the sense of His return to earth from heaven - His Second Coming - to commence His Eternal Kingdom of God - the restoration of all things, including the Kingdom of Israel. Whereupon those that did repent / believe in Jesus would have eternal life and enter that Kingdom, (cf Acts 2:38 ), (Acts 3:19-20).
But at this time in history, the timeframe for the commencement of the Eternal Kingdom of God had changed from imminent to later. Evidently generations of Israelites will continue to forego trusting alone in Christ as Messiah / Savior for forgiveness of sins, except for the remnant, until the times of restoration have arrived. For Peter declared in Acts 3:20b-21, "That He [God the Father] may send Jesus Christ, Who was preached to you before, (Acts 3:20b), "Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began, (Acts 3:21)," referring to the commencement of the Eternal Kingdom of God, (cf. Acts 1:6). So the commencement of the Kingdom of God was not imminent at the time of Peter's message in Acts chapter 3. And when that future time does come, Peter declared that God will send His Son, Jesus Christ to commence His Eternal Kingdom - a message which, Peter declared, was repeatedly preached to the Jews and to all mankind since the world began, (Isa 49:6, 56:7, 57:19; Joel 2:28; Mal 1:11).
And at the time of His Second Coming, all of that generation of Israel will recognize and trust in her Messiah as a result of God's enablement and Israel's subsequent response of faith - the response of all of a generation of Israel - God's chosen people - being that which was the condition upon which there would be the arrival of their Messiah / Savior Who would then commence the Eternal Kingdom of God, (cf. Acts 2:14-38 ):
b) [Compare Zech 12:1-13:6]:
(Zech 12:1) '''The burden of the word of the Lord against Israel. Thus says the Lord, who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him:
(Zech 12:2) "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.
(Zech 12:3) And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.
[Notice that this has not happened in history yet, but is prophesied as occuring at the end of the Tribulation period when our Lord comes in His Second Coming]:
(Zech 12:4) In that day," says the Lord, "I will strike every horse with confusion, and its rider with madness; I will open My eyes on the house of Judah, and will strike every horse of the peoples with blindness.
(Zech 12:5) And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, 'The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength in the Lord of hosts, their God.'
(Zech 12:6) In that day I will make the governors of Judah like a firepan in the woodpile, and like a fiery torch in the sheaves; they shall devour all the surrounding peoples on the right hand and on the left, but Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place - Jerusalem."
(Zech 12:7) The Lord will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah.
(Zech 12:8) In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the LORD before them.
(Zech 12:9) "It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
(Zech 12:10) And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me Whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
[Notice that all Israel will have the spirit of grace and supplication poured out on them by God and they will recognize finally and nationally their Savior Whom they pierced and this is ‘That Day’ of the Lord’s Second Coming]:
(Zech 12:11) In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.
(Zech 12:12) And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves;
(Zech 12:13) the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves;
(Zech 12:14) all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.
(Zech 13:1) In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.
(Zech 13:2) It shall be in that day," says the Lord of hosts, "that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall no longer be remembered. I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to depart from the land.
(Zech 13:3) It shall come to pass that if anyone still prophesies, then his father and mother who begot him will say to him, 'You shall not live, because you have spoken lies in the name of the Lord.' And his father and mother who begot him shall thrust him through when he prophesies.
(Zech 13:4) And it shall be in that day that every prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies; they will not wear a robe of coarse hair to deceive.
(Zech 13:5) But he will say, 'I am no prophet, I am a farmer; for a man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.'
(Zech 13:6) And one will say to him, 'What are these wounds between your arms?' Then he will answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends,' " ''' (Acts 3:21).
C) THE GREEK WORD "EKKLESIAN, RENDERED "ASSEMBLY" REFERS IN THE CONTEXT OF ACTS CHAPTERS 4 & 5 TO A BODY OF BELIEVERS WHO - AS BELIEVERS IN JESUS CHRIST UNTO ETERNAL LIFE, WHO WERE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND SPOKE OUT BOLDLY THE WORD OF GOD RELATIVE TO JESUS CHRIST. THEY THOUGHT OF THEMSELVES AS SET APART TO JESUS CHRIST FROM THE REST OF THE JEWISH POPULATION. ON THE OTHER HAND, THEY STILL THOUGHT OF THEMSELVES AS JEWS, AND REGULARLY ATTENDED SERVICES IN THE TEMPLE AND FOR FELLOWSHIP WITH ONE ANOTHER
(Acts 4:31 NKJV) And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they [were speaking] the word of God with boldness.
(Acts 4:32 NKJV) Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.
(Acts 4:33 NKJV) And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all,
(Acts 4:34 YLT) for there was not any one among them who did lack, for as many as were possessors of fields, or houses, selling [them], were bringing the prices of the thing sold,
(Acts 4:35 NKJV) and [were laying] them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
(Acts 4:36 NKJV) And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,
(Acts 4:37 NKJV) having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet."
(Acts 5:1 NKJV) "But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.
(Acts 5:2 NKJV) And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet.
(Acts 5:3 NKJV) But Peter said, "Ananias, why [did] Satan [fill] your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?
(Acts 5:4 NKJV) While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.
(Acts 5:5 NKJV) Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.
(Acts 5:6 NKJV) And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him
(Acts 5:7 NKJV) Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened
(Acts 5:8 NKJV) And Peter answered her, 'Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?' She said, 'Yes, for so much.'
(Acts 5:9 NKJV) Then Peter said to her, 'How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.'
(Acts 5:10 NKJV) Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.
(Acts 5:11 YLT) and great fear came upon all the assembly, ["church," NKJV] and upon all who heard these things...
(Acts 5:12 NKJV) And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch,
(Acts 5:13 YLT) and of the rest no one was daring to join himself to them, but the people were magnifying them,
(Acts 5:14 YLT) (and the more were believers [were being] added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women), ...
(Acts 5:42 NKJV) And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching [the gospel] - Jesus as the Christ.
The Greek word "ekklEsian," in Acts 5:11 rendered "assembly," lit., "church," "congregation" or "assembly" refers in this context to a body of believers who met together and in separate groups in a number of places including the upper room, the Temple in Jerusalem, and various houses, (cf. Acts 2:46; 5:42). The context indicates that the believers viewed themselves as a group that was distinct from the rest of the population, as believers in Jesus Christ for eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God. They conducted themselves differently from the rest of the Jewish population; not the least of which was (1) being filled [controlled] by the Holy Spirit; (2) speaking out boldly the word of God - especially relative to Jesus Christ being raised from the dead, and repentance unto faith in Him for eternal life, (Acts 4:31); (3) sharing their possessions and (4) acting with one another as of one accord, (cf. Acts 2:43-47; 4:24-37). (5) submitting to the leadership and teaching of the apostles who regularly performed miraculous signs and wonders, such as healings.
On the other hand, the new believers still thought of themselves as Jews who were responsible to obey the Mosaic Law, for they continued to meet and attend services in the Temple; and the rulers made no issue about any of them violating the Law, (Acts 5:7-11).
Luke's disclosure that Nicolas was a proselyte implied that God's new assembly of believers continued to view and conduct themselves in the Temple and everywhere else as Jews in Jerusalem who believed in Jesus Christ as their Messiah / Savior for forgiveness of sins unto eternal life - a remnant of Jewish believers in the Messiah Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, although the seven disciples chosen to serve the congregation of believers resembles the function of the deacon of the church, these seven were never referred to as deacons, but rather were referred to simply as "the seven," (cf. Acts 21:8). They had a very specific and temporal task assigned to them, unlike the more general and permanent type authority which was to be given to church deacons. Although elders were given that task later on, (cf. (Acts 11:30), the concept of elders had its origin in the Jewish synagogue. Hence doctrines unique to the church were not yet in view. (Acts 6:2-6).
99999999 NOTES TO INCORPORATE BELOW 999999999999999999
Paul noticed that there was something incomplete with them with respect to their not having been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Paul says, 'Didn't you receive God the Holy Spirit when you were baptized?' And they said, 'No'. Then Paul says, 'What baptism have you had then.' They say, 'The baptism of John', which symbolized that these men had trusted in the Messiah for their eternal life Who would bring in the kingdom. Thus they were identified with the Messianic Kingdom Age as part of Israel. So Paul proceeded to have them baptized with the Holy Spirit by laying his hands on them. Note that this was a unique circumstance at the time - not to be done later on in the church age when there were no longer any Jews who became believers through the ministry of John the Baptist.
At the time of John the Baptist the Lord Jesus Christ also baptized Israelites in the Jordan River and preached the same message as John the Baptist: the message of the good news of the kingdom of heaven for Israel for those who trust in Him as Mesiah for eternal life in the kingdom:
"From that time on [from the time when John the Baptist was imprisoned, Mt 4:12-16] Jesus began to preach, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. ' " Cp. Mt 9:35-38; Mk 1:14; Lk 4:43-44.
(v. 6b) "Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
(v. 7) Calling the Twelve to Him, He sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
(v. 8) These were His instructions: 'Take nothing for the journey except a staff - no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.
(v. 9) Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.
[Notice that the context of this passage indicates local towns - within Judea, within Israel]
(v. 10) Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.
(v. 11) And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.'
(v. 12) They went out and preached that people should repent."
And in the parallel passage in Matthew, our Lord issues the following instructions to His disciples:
(v. 5) '''These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.
(v. 6) Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.
(v. 7) As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' " '''
Notice that our Lord commanded His disciples NOT to preach the gospel of the kingdom to Gentiles. The message was exclusively for the nation Israel - if they accept Him as their Messiah our Lord was ready, right then, to bring in the millennial kingdom. So the water baptisms that our Lord had His disciples perform were for the same symbollic purpose as the baptisms that John the Baptist performed: identification by each individual Jew with the nation Israel and with the bringing in of the kingdom by repentence and trusting in the Messiah Jesus Christ:
(v. 1) "The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John,
(v. 2) although in fact it was not Jesus Who baptized, but His disciples."
(22) '''After this, Jesus and His disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where He spent some time with them, and baptized.
(v. 23) Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were constantly coming to be baptized.
(v. 26) They [some of John's disciples] came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man Who was with you on the other side of the Jordan - the One you testified about - well, He is baptizing, and everyone is going to Him."
(v. 27) To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given Him from heaven.
(v. 28) You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of Him.'
(v. 29) The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for Him, and is full of joy when he he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.
(v. 30) He must become greater; I must become less." '''
So John the Baptist testifies here that the Messiah, Whom he announced as the "Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world", (Jn 1:29), is here, ready to usher in His kingdom. Our Lord also preaches to and water baptizes individuals of Israel so that they would "repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand". Messiah's kingdom is imminent and only awaits Israel's changing its mind and accepting Christ as Savior and Messiah.
The church was not in view in any of these passages, nor could it have had an inception at this time. The disciples and all of the followers of our Lord would have to have been ushered into the kingdom as Jew or Gentile, not the church, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. This is precisely what will occur 2,000+ years later, at the end of the 7 year tribulation period: The millennial kingdom will be ushered in, with all mortal believers being either Jew or Gentile - no church in view amongst those in mortal bodies since they went up in the Rapture, (I Thes 4:13-18).
[Lewis Sperry Chafer states, in Systematic Theology, vol. 2, Victor Books, Wheaton, Ill., 1988, p. 208]:
"When the church is called to heaven at the time of the Rapture of the church, God will resume His program for Israel, including the time of Great Tribulation and suffering, and then will rescue the godly remnant of Israel at the time of Christ's second coming."
If the church's inception was to be before the time of Pentecost, the question as to why our Lord did not explain the disciples' role in it must be asked.
[Chafer, op. cit., p. 208]
"In His earthly life Christ did not deal with the subject of the church in any detail until the Upper Room Discourse the night before His crucifixion. The apostles only slowly understood the dramatic difference between the present age and the previous dealings of God with Israel."
C) THE CHURCH WAS A YET FUTURE EVENT - TO BEGIN AFTER THE TIME OF OUR LORD'S MINISTRY
"And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock [the Rock, the foundational truth that Jesus is the Christ is the Son of the living God, v. 16] I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it."
"I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." =
Notice that the verb is in the future tense. Our Lord is stating that, at some time in the future from the time he made the statement to Peter, He would commence building His church.
[Chafer, op. cit., p. 237]:
"Each of the five words, 'I will build My church' has great doctrinal significance, and the phrase could be quoted each time emphasizing a different word.
In referring to Himself as 'I,' Christ stated that the building of the church is something He undertakes. It is Christ who is calling out, saving, and perfecting this specific company. The word 'will' shows a prophetic aspect to Jesus' statement, and implies that the church was not in existence at that time and was not the work of Christ while He was on earth but would be realized in the future. This contradicts the thought that the church existed throughout the Old Testament. The word 'build' suggests that this is a slow process continuing throughout the present age (Eph. 2:20; Heb. 3:6). Though God will use human instruments to proclaim the Gospel, the calling of the church to salvation and the forming of the church into the body of Christ is a work of God not of man. The expression 'My church' points to the distinction between God's work for Israel and His work for the Gentile world. Though God loved Israel (Jer. 31:3), it does not complicate the fact that God also loved the church to an infinite degree (John 13:1; Eph. 5:25). This introductory word of Christ amplified in the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17) points to the conclusion that the church was a future undertaking to be fulfilled in the present age."
D) OUR LORD'S DEATH HAD TO PRECEDE THE CHURCH
[Chafer, op. cit., pp. 238-239:
"Though many theologians do not recognize the distinctive use of ekklesia for the body of Christ in the present age, good reasons are advanced in Scripture to indicate that the church began at Pentecost.
1. CHRIST'S DEATH. There could be no church in the world constituted as she is and distinctive in all her features until Christ's death (Acts 20:28: Rom. 3:24-26; Col. 1:13-14). The death of Christ is more than a mere anticipation, but the church, the body of Christ, is based wholly on His finished work, and she must be purified by His precious blood."
(v. 7) "Therefore Jesus said again, 'I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.
[Our Lord is speaking of the sheep of Israel since this is the time before the cross. Our Lord went first to the lost house of Israel, (Mt 10:5-6)
(v. 14) "I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep [believers in Israel - Jews, cp "other sheep" ? Gentiles (v.16)] and My sheep know Me -
(v. 15) just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father - and I lay down My life for the sheep.[ref: Christ dying for the sins of Israel]
(v. 16) I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock [the church] and one Shepherd.
[So here in the Gospel of John, our Lord is speaking of a single flock, i.e., group of believers who follow Him composed of Jew and Gentile: the church. And this single group it indicates will be such AFTER our Lord's death. Cp Isa 56:8; Jn 17:20; Acts 15:7-9; Eph 2:11-19]
E) OUR LORD'S RESURRECTION HAD TO PRECEDE THE CHURCH
[Chafer, op. cit., p. 238-239]
"2. CHRIST'S RESURRECTION. There could be no church until Christ rose from the dead to provide her with a resurrection life (Rom. 4:24; Col 3:1-3). This is a new feature that had not been introduced before."
F) OUR LORD'S ASCENSION HAD TO PRECEDE THE CHURCH
[Chafer, op. cit., p. 238-239]:
"3. CHRIST'S ASCENSION. There could be no church until Christ ascended on high to become the Head of the church (Eph. 1:19-23; Heb. 7:25; 1 John 2:1). The church is a new creation with a new Head in the resurrected Christ. As such, He is also the Head of the body of Christ which is the church. The church in the present age could not survive if it were not for Christ's intercession and advocacy in heaven."
G) THE CHURCH BEGAN AT PENTECOST AT THE HOLY SPIRIT'S ADVENT
The Bible speaks of a unique group of people all united into one body: the body of Christ, the Church. Scripture indicates in numerous places that this body did not become an entity until the Holy Spirit united Jewish and Gentile believers at that 'first' Pentecost.
Dr John Walvoord wrote, ("The Millennial Kingdom", Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Mi; 1971, p.226):
"...saved Israelites under the old economy [under the Mosaic Law system] were placed into the body of Christ at Pentecost."
[Chafer, op. cit., p. 238-239]:
"4. HOLY SPIRIT'S ADVENT. There could be no church on earth until the advent of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5; I Cor. 12:13; Eph. 4:30). The coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to indwell and seal the church made the church a temple or habitation of God. Saints had been regenerated before Pentecost but only at Pentecost was the church baptized by the Spirit onto one body. Inasmuch as these important works essential to the character of the church did not occur before Pentecost, the church could not begin until that date. A church without the finished work on which to stand, a church without resurrection position of life, a church which is a new humanity but lacking a Head, a church without Pentecost or what Pentecost contributed is only a figment of theological fancy and is not the teaching of the New Testament."
Now that Holy Spirit baptism was inaugurated, a new creation has come out of the mass of Jews and Gentiles that inhabit the earth, (cp. Gal 6:15, 2 Cor 5:17):
[Compare Gal 3:28]:
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
(v. 14) "For He Himself is our peace, Who has made both groups [Jew & Gentile, vv.11-13] .................
(v. 14 cont.) "For He Himself is our peace, Who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
(v. 15 N.A.S.) by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two [kinds of people] into one new man, [into one new and unique kind of man - a member of the Body of Christ] thus establishing peace,"
And this is precisely what happened, for example, when a group Israelite believers who were water baptized by John came upon the Apostle Paul. Paul thereupon layed hands on the Israelite believers and they were at that moment baptized by God the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ - the church (Acts 19:1-6).
[Charles C Ryrie states in "Biblical Theology of the New Testament", Moody Press, 1959, p. 120]:
"Although it is not expressly recorded in Acts 2 that the baptism of the Spirit occurred on the Day of Pentecost, it is said in Acts 11:15-16 that it did happen then in fulfillment of the promise of the Lord. However, it is Paul who explains that this baptism places people in the Body of Christ (I Cor. 12:13). In other words, on the Day of Pentecost men were first put into the Body of Christ. Since the Church is the Body of Christ (Col 1:18) the Church could not have begun until Pentecost and had to begin on that day.
V) IT IS NOT CONCLUSIVE AS TO WHETHER OR NOT THE TIMEFRAME OF ACTS CHAPTERS 1 & 2 HAVE IN VIEW THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE CHURCH
Although Mt 16:18 provides our LORD's statement of building the Church upon the foundation of Himself - Who He was, i.e., "The Christ, the Son of the living God," which implies that soon after He has finished His Atoning Work on the cross for the sins of the whole world and Ascended into heaven, the possibility of the commencement of the Church being imminent is in view ......
A) [Compare Mt 16:13-18]:
(Mt 16:13 NKJV) "When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, 'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?'
(Mt 16:14 NKJV) So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'
(Mt 16:15 NKJV) He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?'
(Mt 16:16 NKJV) Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'
(Mt 16:17 NKJV) Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
(Mt 16:18 NKJV) And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.' "
And although the Day of Pentecost was the key day of the festival of firstfruits when the Jews brought to God the firstfruits of their harvest in thanksgiving; hence one might consider the particular Pentecost in Acts chapter two to be the day of the firstfruits of Christ's church, the beginning of the great harvest of individuals who would come to be known as Christ's church, the body of Christ......
And although Peter indicated in Acts 2:38 that all who repent unto faith in Christ for forgiveness of sins will also receive - as promised and as something new - the gift of the baptism of the Holy Spirit; and although Scripture stipulates elsewhere that the baptism of the Holy Spirit will permanently indwell the Spirit of God into every member of the church, the body of Christ, (Eph 1:13-14; 1 Cor 12:12-13; Gal 3:2b) ......
And although shortly after Peter's sermon in Acts chapter 2, Peter declared that heaven must receive Jesus Christ, the Holy One until the times of restoration of all things, i.e., until a future time when the Eternal Kingdom of God would commence upon all of a generation of Israel repenting / believing in Christ for forgiveness of sins - leaving time for the church to commence and grow, (Acts 3:19-21)......
B) [Compare Acts 3:19-21]:
(Acts 3:19 HOLMAN) Therefore repent and turn ...[to Christ in faith, (v. 16)], so that your sins may be blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the LORD,
[In Acts 3:19a, Peter is offering to Israel and to Gentiles, i.e., all mankind, (Acts 2:39, 10:24-48, 22:21), the opportunity to "Repent and turn... [to faith in Christ] so that [their] sins may be blotted out." The Apostle is saying to change the mind from not trusting in Jesus Christ as ones Messiah/Savior to believing in His name, i.e., His capacity to provide one with eternal forgiveness of sins. The phrase rendered "so that your sins may be blotted out," signifies to be forgiven of ones sins unto eternal life in the Eternal Kingdom of God, (cf. Acts 2:38; 10:43). And Peter preached in Acts 3:19b that "seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the LORD," i.e., that one believes in Jesus Christ for forgiveness so that one will enter that Eternal Kingdom of God when it commences and everything is restored. On the other hand, the timeframe for the commencement had changed, for Peter declared in the next two verses, (Acts 3:20-21), that heaven must receive [aorist middle voice] Jesus Christ until the times of restoration of all things. Hence the commencement of the Eternal Kingdom of God was not imminent at the time of Peter's message. But when that time comes, God will send His Son, Jesus Christ to rule His Eternal Kingdom forever]:
(Acts 3:20 NKJV) and that He [God the Father] may send Jesus Christ, Who was preached to you before,
(Acts 3:21 NKJV) Whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began, (Isa 49:6, 56:7, 57:19; Joel 2:28; Mal 1:11)."
So Peter indicated to his audience of Jews that God, (the Father, v. 18), will send His Son Jesus Christ to the earth to commence the Eternal Kingdom of God - a message which, Peter declared, was repeatedly preached to the Jews and to all mankind since the world began, (Isa 49:6, 56:7, 57:19; Joel 2:28; Mal 1:11). But for the present time, Peter declared in verse 21, heaven must receive [aorist middle voice] Him "until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."
...... Nevertheless, one must consider that in Acts chapter 2, Peter continued to proclaim the message of Jesus and John the Baptist before Him of "Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand" largely to Jews with a view to the imminent commencement of the eternal Kingdom of God should all Israel repent and believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life, (cf. Acts 2:22-38 ) .
...... And although the Holy Spirit was given in this early period after Christ's Ascension; nevertheless, the Holy Spirit had also been given to individuals in a number of ways throughout history - leading to the provision of information leading to the gospel of eternal life to mankind.
...... Nevertheless, Acts chapters one and two portrayed Jewish individuals who carried on their Jewish traditions with the addition of a moment of faith alone in Christ alone, their Messiah for forgiveness of sins. And they continued to meet in the Temple to worship the LORD, and continued to follow the Mosaic Law as a daily rule of life. Hence there was no clear evidence that they considered themselves set apart from other Jews except for their faith in Christ as their Messiah - evidently as part of the remnant of believers in the Messiah throughout the ages. Furthermore, Peter himself was not given instruction in the doctrines which are unique to the church age until Paul was first instructed by the LORD Himself, beginning with Paul's encounter with the LORD on the road to Damascus in Acts chapter 9 and his instruction by the LORD in the desert for three years, (cf. Gal 1:13-18).
Finally, the passage in Acts chapters 1 & 2, neither stipulates nor implies that this was the beginning of the church.
Hence it cannot conclusively be declared that the timeframe of Acts chapters 2 & 3 included the commencement of the church.
On the other hand, could the Pentecost of Acts chapter 2 actually be the commencement of the church, which began in such a manner that God in His grace allowed time for adjustment by the Jews who comprised a large majority of the early church to come to the realization that Gentiles as well as Jews were part of the unique body of Christ together - apart from God's chosen people Israel, and under a different rule of life - the grace way of life - apart from the Mosaic Law rule of life?