What Happened at Pentecost?
Pastor J. C. O'Hair
Pentecost was one of Jehovah’s feasts for Israel. Pentecost was fifty days after the firstfruits; fifty days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Pentecost He shewed Himself alive by many infallible proofs . . . “speaking of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3. Immediately before the ascension of Jesus Christ, the apostles, to whom He had been explaining the Kingdom of God, asked Him: “Wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6. Some months before His crucifixion Jesus had spoken a parable against Israel, in which He put these words in the mouth of that Nation “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Luke 19:14. Then to Israel Jesus said: “Therefore I say unto you, The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Matthew 21:43. We have no detailed record of the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God which Jesus taught His apostles after His resurrection, but we may be positive that He told them nothing concerning the Church, which is His Body, as this was not revealed to the twelve apostles until it was made known to the Apostle Paul some years after Pentecost. And so their question: “wilt Thou at this time restore again the Kingdom of Israel?”
When Jesus began His public ministry He said: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand.” Mark 1:15. More than ten years after this announcement Peter, in speaking to Cornelius, declared that the word concerning the Kingdom was sent unto the children of Israel. Acts 10:36. In sending forth His twelve apostles to announce “the Kingdom at hand,” Jesus instructed them to go only to Israel. Matthew 10:5 to 7. When the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus the Kingdom of God was at hand for Israel, as never before. Israel’s King was at hand, and with the King, the Kingdom announced. Simeon was waiting for the “consolation of Israel.” Luke 2:25. Joseph, in the city of the Jews, waited for “the Kingdom of God.” Luke 23:51. They were waiting for one and the same thing; namely, for the coming of the King of Israel to be that Nation’s Divine Deliverer.
Israel’s expectation was expressed by the Holy Spirit in the words of the father of John the Baptist. Zacharias: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for He bath visited and redeemed His people . . . That He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear.” Luke 1:67 to 77. This was not a dream or an imagination of Zacharias; it was God’s truth spoken by the infallible Holy Spirit, to confirm that which that same infallible Holy Spirit had spoken concerning Israel’s Kingdom by the mouth of all of the Lord’s holy prophets since the world began. Luke 1:70. Neither was Peter speaking in the flesh when the infallible Holy Spirit spoke to Israel by his mouth some months after Jesus Christ had gone back to heaven, offering to that Nation the very same Kingdom of God on the condition of repentance. “Repent ye therefore and be converted . . . . And He shall send Jesus Christ, Which before was preached unto you; Whom the heaven must receive until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:19 to 21.
Let us carefully note the same language in Luke 1:70 and Acts 3:21, both messages by the pen of the same human author: “By the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Most assuredly Peter and the eleven, in the third chapter of Acts, were offering to the Nation Israel, the very same Kingdom of God that was at hand with the Holy Spirit baptism of Jesus Christ and that was described by the Holy Spirit by the mouth of Zacharias.
Between His resurrection and Pentecost Jesus said to His apostles: “Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day” Luke 24:46. And now that we know that Christ appeared once to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time; now that we know that He was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, we wonder and question, asking why did Gabriel announce that the Lord God would give unto Jesus the throne of David, to reign over the House of Jacob forever, and how could Jesus have offered to Israel, in good faith and sincerity, a Kingdom, when He was to be delivered according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God? In the shadow of the cross did He not say, “for this cause came I unto this hour?” John 12:27. There is not the slightest suggestion that Jesus was born to be the Head of the Church, which is His Body. He was born King of the Jews, and properly saluted by Nathaniel, “Thou art the Son of God; Thou art the King of Israel.” John 1:49. But if Jesus had to fulfill all that was written of Him and be nailed to a tree, how could He have given the Kingdom of God to Israel, had they voted unanimously to crown Him King? Acts 13:29. Hebrews 2:9. Hebrews 9:26. Acts 2:22 and 23. Acts 4:27 and 28. And yet Jesus Christ did most assuredly proclaim to Israel the Kingdom of God with Himself as King. The Kingdom of God was at hand, because the time was fulfilled, and the King had been born. But Israel would not have the King to reign over them, and to that Nation the King said, “The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Matthew 21:43. Most assuredly Jesus was not saying to individual Israelites, “the Kingdom of God shall be taken from within you.” And most certainly Jesus was not saying to individual Israelites, “you will be given no further opportunity to enter the Kingdom of God.” During the past nineteen centuries the door of salvation has been wide open for individual Israelites and Gentiles. Then what did Jesus mean?
I find less difficulty in understanding how the risen Christ could have fulfilled God’s promises to Israel by coming back from heaven, according to Peter’s proclamation in Acts 3:19 to 21, and giving the Kingdom of God to Israel after His death and resurrection, than in understanding how He could have fulfilled Isaiah 9:6 and 7, by taking the throne of David, before He fulfilled the Scriptures concerning His suffering and resurrection Of course in making this statement, I am not unmindful of the fact that God purposed something altogether different, in Christ Jesus, before the world began, concerning Gentiles in the Body of Christ. 2 Timothy 1:9 and 10. Ephesians 1:3 and 4. But this had nothing to do with the fulfillment of the promises made to Israel, concerning their Kingdom and the restitution of all things, spoken by the mouth of all their prophets since the world began. The Body of Christ was not the subject of prophecy. It was a hidden mystery, hid in God, unknown to Israel’s prophets. Ephesians 3:1 to 9. Colossians 1:24 to 27. But the question is, “what began on the day of Pentecost?” Did the Lord, by the mouth of Peter and the eleven, offer again the Kingdom of God to Israel?
Our Premillennial brethren, who claim to be Dispensationalists, teach that while Jesus was on earth He actually offered to Israel a literal, physical, earthly Kingdom, with Himself as King ready and willing to occupy David’s throne in Jerusalem. And furthermore they teach that it was that Kingdom of God that Jesus said would be taken from Israel. And furthermore they teach, that when Jesus, the Son of man, shall come back to earth He will give to Israel the Kingdom of God which he offered to that Nation, and which that Nation refused to accept, when He was here in the midst of Israel. And why should not any student of the Word of God agree with these brethren? Surely the Bible teaches that Jesus was born to take David’s throne and establish the Kingdom of God on earth, with Israel restored. Luke 1:29 to 33. Mark 1:14 and 15. And if the words of Jesus have any meaning, when Israel “shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory,” “know ye that the Kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” Luke 21:27 and 31. The Son of man is coming again to redeem Israel. That Nation is going to be saved. That Nation is going to possess all the land of Canaan; and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land. Genesis 17:6 to 9. Amos 9:11 to 15. But now the question, can we agree with the Premillennial Dispensationalists who teach that, beginning with the day of Pentecost, the devout Jews from every nation under heaven, “ye men of Israel,” were offered a place in an entirely different Kingdom of God? These brethren teach that before the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of man, the Nation Israel was offered a literal, earthly Kingdom of God; but that thereafter they were offered membership in the Body of Christ, a hope laid up in heaven; that is, entrance, by repentance and baptism, into the heavenly Kingdom of God, something entirely different from the Kingdom which is yet to be restored to Israel. Your attention has been called to the similarity of language in Luke 1:70 and Acts 3:21, “spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Whatever we may interpret the offer of the Lord, by the mouth of Peter, to Israel, in Acts 3:19 to 21, we must believe that it is the very same Kingdom of God described in Luke 1:67 to 77, the Lord’s visitation to His People, Israel, for national deliverance. Was not Jesus born to occupy David’s throne, according to Luke 1:30 to 32? Was not Jesus raised from the dead to occupy that very same throne, according to Acts 2:25 to 30?
Something must have happened which caused the Lord to change His mind about immediately taking the Kingdom of God away from Israel, as Jesus, in Matthew 21:43, said would be done. Was it not because when the Son of man was sinned against, and was giving Himself a ransom for many, He cried, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do?” Luke 23:34. Surely the Father heard that prayer, for in the offer of the Kingdom of God to Israel anew, Peter declared, “I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” Acts 3:17. Remember, these words were addressed to “ye men of Israel.” Acts 3:12. Then the offer, “repent . . . and He shall send Jesus Christ.’ Acts 3:19 and 20. What prophets did Peter and the eleven quote to Israel on the day of Pentecost? Joel and David. What was the very heart of Joel’s Prophecy? “Then will the Lord be jealous for His land, and pity His people.” Joel 2:18. Not one word did Joel or David have to say concerning the Jews and Gentiles, made one in the New Man, seated in the upper-heavenlies in Christ. Ephesians 2:7 to 18. Joel and David prophesied concerning Israel in their own land under their King.
Yes, Israel sinned against the Son of man; and it was forgiven them. Matthew 12:32. God exalted that Son of man with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins; yea, their greatest of all sins, “killed the Prince of life.” Acts 5:30 and 31. Acts 3:15. This meant more than salvation for the individual Israelite. Three thousand of them were added on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2:41. Then the number increased; “the number of the men was about five thousands.” Acts 4:4. All of these were Israelites. Then the Kingdom of God was not taken away from Israel. Some months later Stephen, addressing his message to that Nation, said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Acts 7:56. There Israel was resisting the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51. That sin was not to be forgiven them. But Stephen once more prayed for their forgiveness. Acts 7:60. God continued His mercy toward His Nation; permitted their Temple to stand; and continued through Saul (Paul) to offer to Israel the Kingdom spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began.
It is true that the saved Israelites, whom Saul had been persecuting, were called “the Ekklesia of God,” that is, “the Called-out of God,” “the Church of God,” or “the Assembly of God.” Galatians 1:13. I Corinthians 15:9. They were called “the Church which was at Jerusalem,” Acts 8:1; “the Churches of Judaea.” Galatians 1:22. But the fact that individual Israelites were being added to “the Ekklesia of God” did not mean that the Nation was not being offered the Kingdom, by the return of the Son of man. Neither did it mean that individual believers were being raised up and made to sit in the upper-heavenlies in Christ, as members of the Church, which is His Body, according to Ephesians 1:22 and 2:5 to 7. How could members of Christ’s Body have been sitting with their Head in the upperheavenlies, when He was standing, as the Son of man?
Even when Cornelius, and His house, were added, their salvation was in fulfillment of Amos 9:12. “Simeon hath declared how God did at first visit the Gentiles.” Acts 15:13. “To this agree the words of the prophets (Amos and others); as it is written.” Acts 15:14. How different is the language of Paul, “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men . . . That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs of the same Body.” Ephesians 3:5 and 6. We cannot read the Body into Acts 15:13 and 14 without having a contradiction between Peter and Paul.
Therefore, we have no Scriptural proof that the Body of Christ began on the day of Pentecost. It is one thing to say, “I think it did”; but it is quite a different thing to Scripturally prove it; which seems rather a difficult task.