Pentecost Not the Beginning of the Mystery Church

By Justin Johnson

“…according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began…” – Romans 16:25

“This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” – Eph 5:32

The great mystery revealed in Paul’s writings consists of Christ and the church (Eph 5:32; Eph 3:6-9). Never before had God spoken of a joint body of Jew and Gentile, which would receive glory apart from national Israel, their covenants, or their law.

This new creature, as Paul calls it, was unknown since the world began, unknown by the ancient prophets (Col 1:25-28). This is why he calls it a mystery until revealed to him.

“How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery” – Eph 3:3

Yet and still many in the church think this new creature had its beginnings on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Pentecost is where they find their pattern, their origins, and is the root cause of the widespread growth of Pentecostal charismatic belief today.

Consistent dispensational teaching has stood alone in insisting that the church was not in operation in Acts 2. Why? The simple reason is that everything described in Acts 1 and 2 is the subject of what was prophesied since the world began, and was not a mystery kept secret.

The church today is operating according to the mystery. The believers at Pentecost were fulfilling prophecy.

Consider the content of these first two chapters of Acts.

  1. Jesus taught the twelve apostles pertaining to the kingdom of God that was already written in the prophetic scriptures (Acts 1:3; Luke 24:44-45).
  2. Jesus commands them to stay in Jerusalem, God’s prophetic city (Acts 1:4)
  3. Jesus tells them to wait for the promise of the Father which promise had been given by the old testament prophets (Acts 1:4-5)
  4. They were expecting the restoration of Israel’s kingdom (Acts 1:6)
  5. They were to preach salvation to Israel first, and then salvation to the world through Israel’s rise (Acts 1:8). This is the description of world salvation by the prophets.
  6. Jesus ascended to heaven to fulfill the prophecies (Acts 1:9; Ps 110:1; Acts 2:33-35).
  7. The angels explain about Jesus’ return to the earth according to the prophets (Acts 1:11-12)
  8. Peter explains that Judas’ betrayal and death was a fulfillment of prophecy (Acts 1:16-18)
  9. Peter explains that his office needs to be replaced according to the prophecies (Acts 1:19-20).
  10. The method of choosing the twelfth apostle was that which God instructed Israel in time past (Lev 16:8; Pro 16:33).
  11. There are twelve apostles in order to possess authority over twelve tribes of Israel (Acts 1:26; Matt 19:28)
  12. The Spirit coming on Pentecost fulfills the shadow of the holiday given to Israel (Acts 2:1; Lev 23).
  13. The Spirit is poured out on believing Israel as the prophecies had spoken (Acts 2:4; Isa 44:3; Prov 1:23)
  14. The kingdom restoration of language began as prophesied (Acts 2:5-8; Zeph 3:9).
  15. The apostles proclaim the wonderful works of God according to Ps 40; Ps 78; and Ps 107 (Acts 2:11)
  16. Peter identifies what happened as a fulfillment of the prophecy spoken by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16-21).
  17. Peter preached to the men of Israel and the “house of Israel” (Acts 2:22; Acts 2:36)
  18. Peter preaches Jesus of Nazareth as Israel’s Christ according to David’s prophecy about the Messiah (Acts 2:22-31)
  19. Peter preaches the fulfillment of Ps 110:1 in Jesus resurrection (Acts 2:32-35).
  20. Peter commanded his hearers to be repent, be baptized, receive the Spirit, all according to the promises given to Israel (Acts 2:38-41).
  21. The believers sold all that they had in expectation of the coming kingdom, living communally, and continued daily in Israel’s temple (Acts 2:42-46).

After the abundance of evidence that the events in Acts 1 and 2 were prophesied, the only argument that remains that the church began at Pentecost is Acts 2:47.

“And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. “ – Acts 2:47

This scripture clearly says that the church was present at Pentecost, but if we are not to throw out every other verse in Acts 1 and 2, we must allow the scriptures to just as clearly describe it to be the prophesied church, and not the church according to the revelation of the mystery.

A study of the cross references found in Acts 1 and 2 to the events declared by the prophets can result in only one conclusion if the scripture is to be taken literally: the church at Pentecost was not the new creature that Paul describes which was kept secret since the world began.

What was kept secret (Paul’s new creature) cannot be what was prophesied (the events of Pentecost).

The operation of the body of Christ according to the revelation of the mystery began when the Lord revealed such a change in the dispensation first revealed to Paul (Col 1:25; 1 Cor 9:17).

The body of Christ today does not find its pattern in what was happening at the prophesied Pentecost of Acts 2, but in the pattern of the apostle Paul’s mystery ministry concerning Christ and his church of today.

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For more study on the events of Acts 1 and 2 listen to our verse by verse lessons here.

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Published: October 3, 2015
Last Modified: October 3, 2015
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