Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pentecost is not the birthday of the church

It is a common misconception that the church began in Acts 2 when the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. Peter preached the first gospel message and 3,000 responded in faith and were baptized. But if you asked them what they were doing, they would not think they were starting something new. Rather, they believed they were fulfilling their destiny as the people of God by accepting their own Messiah in fidelity to the covenant of Abraham. They moved forward by going back to their ordained roots. They were not the church as opposed to Israel, but the church as the manifestation of God's plan for Israel. Pentecost neither started the church nor ended the nation. Rather, it continued the tradition, writing a new chapter in the eschatological history of God. In other words, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit did not create something new but renewed something old. As a result of this renewed Israel, the message, in the power of the Spirit, went to fourteen nations from across the Roman world. More nations could be mentioned, of course. These were merely representatives. In other words, Acts 2:9–11 is not a roll call but brush strokes to paint a portrait of an Israel that reached out to all tongues and nations and tribes. This too was very old, going back to the foundational promise Yahweh made to Abraham that he would be a blessing to all the nations of the world (Gen 12:3). Doing something new always means looking in the rearview mirror to be reminded of what the Holy Spirit has already been up to.


Blogger rspeter1 said...

Thanks for another insightful post! As one who teaches on the Jewish roots of Christianity I wholeheartedly concur. Most people are astonished to realize that these people weren't "Christian."

March 24, 2010 at 1:02 PM  

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