The Misunderstanding


By Dr. Ken Matto


Acts 2:1 (KJV)   And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.


One of the greatest misunderstandings taught today circles around the day of Pentecost.  Many pastors and theologians tout the day as “The Birth of the Church.”  This is far from the truth and it is based upon the belief that the Holy Spirit did not indwell believers in the Old Testament.  That also is an inaccurate understanding of Scripture.  When Stephen was standing before the Sanhedrin and giving his testimony, he referred to Israel as the church in the wilderness.


Acts 7:38 (KJV)   This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:


Now when we hear the word “church” sometimes we automatically think about a special building with a steeple.  The word “church” as defined in the Greek is the word “ekklesia” which means “a called out assembly.”  It is referring to the eternal, blood-bought church of Christ, not a building or denomination.  We do not go to church on Sunday rather the church goes to a special religiously designed building to worship.  Stephen had it totally correct when he spoke of Israel in the wilderness as a church because they were called out through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to bring forth the Messiah through the tribe of Judah.


When the day of Pentecost had come, the church was already in existence but in a subdued mode.  In fact it was part of the great mystery of Christ.


Ephesians 3:3-6 (KJV)   How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,  {4} Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)  {5} Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;  {6} That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:


As we read in Ephesians 3:3-6 that the great mystery concerning Christ and the church was not made known in past ages yet it was in existence among many of the Old Testament Saints.  In the Old Testament, it was strictly all about Israel but in the New Testament the Gentiles will be fellowheirs with the Jews who became saved.  This is evidenced today by the Gospel being preached all over the world.  Now let us look at just a few of the Old Testament Saints which shows the Holy Spirit indwelled these believers and I will tell you how that is very obvious.


Romans 4:3 (KJV)   For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.  How could Abraham believe God if he was spiritually dead?  Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a person remains spiritually dead.


Exodus 3:4 (KJV)   And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.  If Moses was spiritually dead as an unbeliever, how could God have called him?  God never calls any unbeliever to lead his people.  Moses stood in the presence of God and was not consumed because he was qualified to speak with God.


These are just two of the Old Testament Saints as there are many others such as David, Solomon, Naboth, Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, et al


Matthew 17:4 (KJV)   Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.


On the Mount of Transfiguration the Lord Jesus Christ appeared with two of the most prominent Saints from the Old Testament, Moses and Elijah.  Both of them were physically dead for hundreds of years and yet here they were alive and well.  So salvation was present in the Old Testament but it was much sparser than it was after Pentecost.


Since the church was interspersed throughout the timeline of Israel, and we really need to say it went back further in time than just the nation of Israel, going way back to possibly Adam and Eve if they became saved.  In other words, what I am trying to say is that the church did not suddenly appear on Pentecost but was already a living entity for thousands of years at that point.


Let me just give an illustration.  The law of gravity was not known in an academic manner thousands of years before the New Testament.  Isaac Newton laid out the law of Gravity in a book in 1687.  However, we can be certain that the law of gravity was present throughout all of man’s time on earth.  For example, in 2000 B.C. if a person fell off a high cliff, he would no doubt die from the fall.  Even after 1687 when Newton explained the law of gravity, if a person fell off a high cliff, that person would also die from the fall.  What I am saying is that just because something is not known academically does not mean that it does not exist.  Gravity was around a long time before 1687 but was not known by that term. 


So then, what did the Day of Pentecost bring forth if it was not the birth of the church?  It brought forth the birth of two things:  First, it brought forth the beginning of the last days as we read in Hebrews 1:2:  Hebrews 1:2 (KJV)   Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;  Secondly, it was the birth of world evangelism.  Acts 2:8-11 (KJV)   And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?  {9} Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, {10} Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, {11} Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 


And resulting in the fact that all the visitors heard the gospel in their own tongue or language was a great harvest of souls on the first day:


Acts 2:41 (KJV)   Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.


Since the day of Pentecost, the Gospel has been circling the globe with the message of eternal salvation and everyday people somewhere are becoming saved. 


So just to recap the day of Pentecost was the beginning of the last days of this earth and the beginning of world evangelism in fulfillment of Colossians 1:27.  Colossians 1:27 (KJV) To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: