Many times traditions spring up that become so much a part of common understanding that everyone accepts them as truth. I was listening to an excellent preacher this morning who gave a powerful and transformative message. However, he said something that we often hear that is problematic.
His statement was that "the church was born at Pentecost." The danger in this statement is that it may give us the idea that the church was a new thing, birthed after Yeshua's (Jesus) ascension, that burst unknown into the story of the world.
The Bible that Greek-speaking Jews used at the time of the Messiah was the Septuagint. It was composed a couple hundred years before his birth and was a Greek translation of the Tanach (Old Testament) that had rabbinical approval. So many Jews of Yeshua's time would have been familiar with the Septuagint and the words contained in it. Its terminology would have been familiar to Jews at the time of Yeshua.
Interestingly the word "ekklesia" appears 100 times in the Septuagint if you include the apocrypha. This means that the Greek word translated "church" in all our English Bibles was already a common term Jews used to refer to the congregation, the assembly, the synagogue.
So while it may be correct to say the "church" was renewed or revitalized at Pentecost (Shavuot in the Tanach) it was not in a vacuum. It was seen by early believers as a continuation of God's people already assembled. Understanding this can help with the lack of connection many Christians have with their Jewish brothers and sisters. As Paul says we are grafted into their tree not vice versa. We are family.
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