Did the “Church” Begin at Pentecost?

By Arthur L. Cox – reprinted in Petah Tikvah from

Gates of Eden, PO Box 2257, E. Peoria, IL 61611-0257

(Ed. Note: Pagan titles left intact)



vangelical Dispensationalism teaches that “the Church” began on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, and that God birthed the Church separate and distinct from Old Testament Judaism. Its fullness and final achievement would be identified as the Gentile Church composed of Christians.

Evangelical Dispensationalism teaches that the physical children of Abraham (Israelites) are God’s people, but that God also has another people made up primarily of Gentiles (non-Israelites) called “The Church.” Those that have come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah are considered the Bride of Christ.

It is thought that these two groups, Jews and Gentiles, have remained separate according to the plan and will of God, and that God’s plan is to work through the Gentile Church until the “rapture,” then God will turn His attention back to Israel during the tribulation to draw Israel back to Himself. But was there ever a plan for a Gentile Church separate from the nation of Israel? And did the Church begin at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2? After all, the Lord did not say, “Stay in Jerusalem till you receive the Church,” but “till you receive power (the Holy Spirit).”


In Acts chapter 7, Stephen gives an account of the people of Israel in the wilderness. In verse 38, Stephen calls Israel “the Church in the wilderness” (KJV).

So, when did the church start? The word “church” is translated from the Greek word ekklesia, which means “the called-out ones.” Who was the first called-out one? And called out of what? Certainly we are called out of the world’s ways and sin. Revelation 18:4 calls God’s people out of Babylon. Babylon means “confusion.” Babylon was the beginning of all organized false religion, led by the first anti-Christ, Nimrod (Gen. 11). In 1 Corinthians 14:33 it says God is not the author of confusion, so the called-out ones are called out of worldly ways, sin, and confusion.

Now who was the first called-out one? That is, called out of Babylon? Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, out of Babylon. Abraham was called out of Babylon by the same voice that calls today, “Come out of her, My people” (Rev. 18:4).

Abraham and his descendants were the first called-out ones in the Bible. This was the “Birth of the Church,” Abraham and his descendants, Israel. Israel is the “Church.”

The Israelites throughout the Old Testament were referred to as the “church” in the Septuagint. The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. It dates to about 200 years before Christ. The translators had long considered the congregation of Israel as the Church. When the Septuagint uses the same Greek word Ekklesia, it refers to the congregation or assembly of Israel.

Pentecost was not the birth of the Church, it was the empowering of the Church to begin the work of the restoration of Israel. There were no Gentiles mentioned in Acts chapter 2 on the Day of Pentecost. The crowd was made up of Israelites and converts to Judaism from many regions. It was a taste of what God was going to do in gathering the kingdom back to Israel.


The rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders would not stop the restoring of the kingdom to Israel; it would only reveal how God was going to include the Gentiles into the Faith. However, this inclusion of the Gentiles would not take place immediately. The Church with Messiah as the Foundation would continue and grow almost exclusively of Israelites. God would set the main structure of this house (Church) firm among the Israelites for approximately twenty years before opening the doors to the Gentile world, as discussed in Acts 15. This was to keep the identity of the Church as the nation of Israel. The Gentiles would not make up the identity of the Church, they would be grafted into the Church. The Gentiles would not replace Israel, they would become part of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12-13).

It was not until later that the Gentiles would become known as the Church apart from Israel. That happened after the Church became apostate under Roman Catholicism. The fact that Israel (that is, all twelve tribes and those grafted in) are the only true people of God is a theme throughout the Bible.

Yes, God is a God of the Gentiles, but this refers to Him as their Creator, not to covenantal promises. In covenantal promises, Gentiles are grafted in, adopted, and then no longer Gentiles. Ephesians 2:11-13 says “You who were at one time in the past Gentiles are no longer through the sacrifice of Messiah.

Jeremiah 31:31 prophesies of the “new covenant” that Jesus confirms when He says, “Drink, this is My blood of the new covenant. This covenant is with the House of Israel (the northern kingdom) and with Judah (the southern kingdom). When Jeremiah spoke of this new covenant with Israel, Israel had already been conquered and scattered by Assyria. Jeremiah knew that God would someday regather the scattered tribes of Israel, then the twelve tribes would be together again, and David’s dynasty would be restored under Messiah. Before Jesus’ ascension the disciples asked, “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6).


This new covenant spoken of did not mention Gentiles, so how do Gentiles get included? By becoming a part of Israel, grafted in or adopted. I’m not saying that Gentiles need to convert to Judaism. Gentiles are grafted in when they put their faith in Yeshua (Jesus). Romans chapter 11 says that all those who put their faith in Israel’s Messiah are grafted into Israel; they do not replace Israel.

Revelation chapter 21 gives a beautiful description of the Bride of Messiah. She comes down out of heaven not as a Gentile church, but as a holy city, New Jerusalem.

The New Jerusalem is not described with the architecture of the nations, but as a truly restored kingdom of Israel. There is a wall around the city with twelve foundations and twelve gates built on those foundations. On the foundations are written the names of the twelve apostles. The names above each gate are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. In other words, one gate for passage is for the tribe of Asher, another for Benjamin, etc. However, there is no gate for Gentiles. That’s because Gentiles will be included into a particular tribe and will use the gate pertaining to that tribe. Ezekiel says the Gentiles will be connected to whichever tribe pertains to them (Eze. 47:23).


The idea of a separate and distinct Gentile church replacing Israel or existing in addition to the Biblical nation of Israel is counterfeit. I’m not saying that true Bible-believing born-again believers are counterfeit. I’m saying they don’t really know who they are; they don’t realize that they are a part or Israel, they are no longer foreigners to the promises and laws of Israel.

This counterfeit Gentile church theology must be exposed as a doctrine of Babylon, or of a daughter of Babylon. In Revelation 17, Babylon is described with imagery that leaves one with little doubt that it is a clear reference to the Roman Catholic Church that killed God’s true people and changed times, laws, and seasons. The Catholic Church is responsible for changing and       re-identifying the “faith” that Yeshua (Jesus) charged His disciples to take to the world.

As time went on, the Church became less and less Hebraic, and more and more Gentile, until finally, Rome would re-identify the Church as something separate and distinct from Israel.

Moreover, Revelation 17:5 says the whore (the Roman Catholic Church) has daughters who at least resemble their mother. They look somewhat different, claiming to be their own persons, separate and distinct, but when the veil is lifted, one can see that the daughters are much like the mother.


Protestantism claims to be separate and distinct from Catholicism. In some ways this is true, but in regard to its recognition of and affiliation with Israel, there is no difference. Protestantism has followed the confusion their mother introduced into the Church by changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, by replacing the Biblical Holy Days (Passover, Tabernacles, etc.) with pagan holidays (Easter, Christmas, etc.), and by teaching against the Biblical dietary laws. Protestantism says “Bible only,” yet Protestants embrace the same theology as the Catholic Church when it comes to these things. This is a plea to Protestants to take another look at their relationship to Israel and the restoration of the kingdom of Israel.

The only Biblical definition of the Church is the Biblical nation of Israel. I’m not referring to the present unbelieving modern-day State of Israel. What I am referring to is that remnant of Israel that has always been faithful (Romans 11:5). Those Messianic Israelites, “to which ouir twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly worship night and day (Acts 26:7). They are working for the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.

The Gentile Church must renounce their claims to an identity and purpose that is separate from the Biblical nation of Israel.

The Kingdom of Israel will be restored, and it will be made up of the literal blood descendants of Abraham, and of those who are grafted in or adopted sons and daughters of Abraham. Then all Israel will be saved! Amen! (I add HalleluYAH). ~