Hello Friends and Readers!
Good to be back at the keyboard again. In Part 1 of this series, we looked at the Blue Letter Bible with the integrated Strong’s Concordance and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, to examine the word “church” as found in the New Testament.
We discovered that the Greek word “ekklesia” (Strong’s G1577) and the Hebrew word “kahal” (Strong’s H6951) can be used interchangeably, and that the Hebrew word goes all the way back to Genesis.
So, if a word equal to the word “church” existed in Genesis, can we believe that “the church” was born in Acts Chapter 2?
I question that.
Let us first look at the usage of “kahal” in Genesis 28:3. The verse reads: “Now may El Shaddai bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you so that you will become an assembly of peoples.” I have highlighted the word “assembly,” as that is our target word.
What would Genesis 28:3 read like if we substituted the word “church” in the verse? Let’s see: “Now may El Shaddai bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you so that you will become a church of peoples.”
Now I hope you’re not upset with me. I am not changing scripture. I am playing around with how this could be translated and hoping to make a point.
And it doesn’t say “church” does it? No, it says “assembly.” In other places in scripture we see “kahal” used as multitude (Gen 48:4), company (Gen 35:11), and congregation (Numbers 15:15).
Each of the words we have looked at for “kahal” are pretty synonymous for the word “church.” I especially think that the usage in Numbers 15 has one of the strongest correlations I have found. Let’s look at it specifically:
“One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you….”
That sounds a whole lot like a group of called out ones to me.
It must have sounded that way to the martyr Stephen, too. As he was giving his defense speech, before being stoned to death, Stephen spoke of Israel’s history and of Moses’ leadership in the CHURCH in the wilderness*. If you click the link, you will see that many translations use the words “congregation” or “assembly” in this passage for the Greek word “ekklesia.” Notice that the KJV and ASV use the word “church.”
*Note: I am thankful for translators, but this is a GREAT example of how translators can manipulate our understanding of the text. In many other places, these translators are willing to use “church” for the Greek ekklesia. But in this verse, most translations chose to use another equivalent word. This assures that most of us will miss the obvious connection of the existence of the church in the Old Testament. Remember this, and always do your homework. I am thankful that a friend and reader caught this and shared it with me.
So, if this idea of setting a group of people apart or calling a group out of something is not a New Testament phenomenon, what DID happen in Acts Chapter 2?
I believe something very special indeed took place in Acts Chapter 2. It was something that had been prophesied to Israel and was manifest in Jewish people while visiting Jerusalem during one of YHVH’s Appointed Times.
I went a little crazy with the bold and underlines, huh?
It’s because I think this is SO important, and I don’t want us to miss it!
I do not believe the evidence suggests that the church was created at Pentecost. It had been around since YHVH separated His people Israel and made them into an assembly.
But the church/congregation/assembly/multitude (you get the idea) did receive a promise that they had been waiting for…a prophecy fulfilled at that time.
The Hebrew word for Pentecost is “Shavuot,” and it means “Feast of Weeks.” In Acts Chapter 2, faithful Jewish men from around the world…members of YHVH’s called out assembly, had faithfully made pilgrimage to Jerusalem in order to fulfill the Torah command associated with that feast day. While they were in Jerusalem, an amazing prophecy took place. It was a prophecy penned by Jeremiah hundreds of years earlier. It was a prophecy given to Israel. You may have heard of it…
The New Covenant
Behold, the days are coming, says YHVH, when I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel and the House of Judah….
I will put My Torah within them. Yes, I will write it on their heart. I will be their God and they will be My people. Jeremiah 31 (portions).
In Acts Chapter 2, at Pentecost (Shavuot), YHVH sent His Holy Spirit to His called out ones.
It was not a gentile experience, Friends.
It was the fulfillment of a prophecy To. Israel.
Don’t take my word for it. Read Acts Chapter 2. Read the whole book of Acts. Read Jeremiah 31.
Read the whole Bible
Okay, Debbie, you’ve made your point. Semantics. Who cares?
So, if the church (kahal) is Israel, and has been from the beginning, how did gentiles get involved?
As Acts continues, we see the gospel message spread. HallaluYAH! Gentile believers are accepted into the church (kahal) by faith in Yeshua and the filling of the Holy Spirit — The New Covenant in action. Paul explains in the book of Romans that these new gentile believers are grafted in to the commonwealth of Israel. They become Israelites through adoption.
They join the kahal / the church.
They begin to worship the God of Israel.
They follow Israel’s Messiah.
They take on Israel’s feast days.
They graft in to the family
Now, this does not mean that they became Jews or that we become Jews, either. We don’t have to become Jews to follow in the footsteps of Yeshua. Though not born Israelites, we are welcomed with open arms to join the household of YHVH. We are adopted into the family. Recall that YHVH told Abram, before his name was even changed to Abraham, that in him, ALL the families of the earth would be blessed.
How about you? Are you part of the church…part of the kahal…the called out ones of YHVH? If so, I believe that makes you part of the Commonwealth of Israel*.
Okay, once again, what’s your point?
Well, I suppose my point is this. When we read scripture as though it is talking to someone else, we may miss some things.
What if you read the Torah as though the Torah commands were for YOU…YOUR history?
Would that change anything for you?
It changed everything for me ♡
I hope you still love me…and thank you for seeking with me!
*Important Note: Gentile believers do not replace Israel. Gentile believers JOIN Israel.Print This Post
To learn more about Shavuot, click here.
- Was The Church Born at Pentecost? Part 1 - May 11, 2023
- What Is All That Counting About? - May 7, 2023
- Sha-Vu-What? - May 3, 2023