Posted by: SandreS | January 21, 2010

Did the Body of Christ Begin at Pentecost?

Many Christians assume the Body of Christ began on the day of Pentecost. Without ever stopping to prove why (I Thessalonians 5:21), they then move ahead to establish their doctrines concerning this dispensation with this as the key. Have you ever considered what actually took place on Pentecost? What follows is a list of fourteen reasons why the church could not have begun at Pentecost.

1. There was already a church in existence on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41, 47). This church was not the church which is His Body (Ephesians 1:22-23), because this was hidden until it was revealed to Paul (Ephesians 3). This church, to which the believers of Pentecost were added, was the kingdom church and was based on the confession of Peter that Jesus was the Christ (or Messiah). Peter was then given the keys to this kingdom church and the power to “bind” and “loose” (Matthew 16:15-20; c.f. John 20:23).

2. Peter preached the “Last Days” of Israel on Pentecost and not the first days of the church which is His Body (Acts 2:16-17).

3. There is no indication in Acts 2, or anywhere in Scripture, that the Body of Christ is being formed on Pentecost.

4. Pentecost was a Jewish feast day given in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 23; Deuteronomy 16). In the dispensation of the Grace of God there is no observance of days, and they are spoken of as “weak and beggarly elements” and “bondage” (Galatians 4:9-11). It is inconceivable that the Lord would begin the church which is the Body of Christ on a feast day – a feast day which He had for another economy.

5. There was no casting off of the nation Israel on the day of Pentecost, as was necessary for the establishing of the Body of Christ (Romans 11:11-15, 32). On the contrary, the first real offer of the kingdom was made by Peter on Pentecost. The kingdom was not offered during the Gospels; it was only said to be “at hand.” It actually was impossible for it to have been offered until after the New Testament was established by the death of Christ (Luke 17:24-25; 24:26). Christ must first have suffered and then have entered into His glory (I Peter 1:11).

6. The Body of Christ is a joint body of Jews and Gentiles. Peter only addressed Jews at Pentecost. Notice the words, “Ye men of Judea,” “Ye men of Israel,” “Ye,” “You,” “Your,” “Men and Brethren,” and the “House of Israel” throughout the passage (Acts 2).

7. Part of the Pentecostal celebration was the two wave loaves of Leviticus 23. This is used as a type of the “Jews and Gentiles” by many dispensationalists, but this cannot match the clear teaching of I Corinthians 10:17, which shows that the body of Christ is one bread.

8. Part of the message that Peter preached on Pentecost involved water baptism as a requirement for salvation (Acts 2:38). Water baptism has no part in the gospel message committed to Paul for the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 1:17; Ephesians 4:5).

9. On the day of Pentecost the promise of the Father was fulfilled to Israel. This was a spiritual baptism where Christ was the baptizer, and Israel was the baptized (Matthew 3:11-12; Acts 1:5). This spiritual baptism is quite different from the baptism of this dispensation, where the believer is actually baptized into Christ. The student of the Bible should learn to make a difference where God makes a difference. There are two different spiritual baptisms: one is to the kingdom church, the other is to the church which is His Body. One is associated with signs and wonders, and the other is not (I Corinthians 12:13; Romans 6:3-4).

10. Pentecost was a fulfillment of prophecy (Acts 2:16, 33) and thus had been “spoken since the world began” (Acts 3:24), whereas the body of Christ was a mystery which had been “kept secret since the world began” (Colossians 1:24-26).

11. If there was any dispensational change, the Apostles were completely unaware of it, for they continued at the Temple (Acts 2:46; 3:1, 3, 8, 11; 5:20-21, 25, 42).

12. The Twelve and the kingdom church at Jerusalem also continued, throughout the book of Acts, to observe the Law (Acts 21:20-25; 22:12).

13. The kingdom church, in accordance with the kingdom teachings of Christ, sold their possessions and established a common treasury (Acts 2:44-45; 3:6; 4:32-35).

14. Peter, in his message on the day of Pentecost, did not preach the Gospel of the Grace of God, which is the clear and distinctive message of Paul given to him by revelation.

Some would argue at this point that God started the Body of Christ here, despite the accounts given in Acts 2, and that Peter was simply ignorant of it being formed. This is hard to believe since Peter had his understanding opened (Luke 24:45), the indwelling of the Spirit (John 20:22), the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5), and the filling with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4).

No, Peter was not ignorant – he was completely aware of the program which Christ was carrying out at Pentecost and was right on target.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
Bible Student’s Notebook
© 1989, 2010



  1. You asked a great question in the title of your post.
    But your post did anything but answer the question to your title.
    You were very dogmatic that the church, which is his body did not start on the day of Pentecost….If the title of your post was did the church start at Pentecost, you would have at least been consistent (title matching post)
    But you did not answer exactly when the church, which is his body started.


  2. ignore that comment… I did a google search on “when did the church which is his body begin” and your post came up. (I did not type “did the church which is his body begin at Pentecost?”)…
    My apologies… you did have the correct title….I did not read your title, but assumed that your post was a result of my google search.

    But I am still very interested to hear your thoughts to my question (that I thought I was reading the answer to in your post), namely “When did the church, which is his body begin”?


  3. When did the church which is his bod begin?


    • Thanks for your question, Jeff. It’s an important issue. Here’s the short answer:

      We know that the church, the Body of Christ, couldn’t have started before Paul, because he alone is unique in using that term (“Body of Christ,” or “body” in reference to it). So it’s good reasoning to think that it was not earlier than Acts 13 (about 46 a.d. – E.W. Bullinger, Companion Bible Index, #180). This is when the Lord “separated” Barnabas and Saul “for the work” to which He was calling him (essentially, you can view this as Paul’s preparation for his ministry in the dispensation of grace in which we now live, in which Paul revealed the “mystery” which had not been known nor revealed by anyone before him), and changed his name from Saul to Paul, and he began writing his epistles to the church(es) after that point. It is also interesting to note that Saul is a distinctly Jewish name, while Paul is a Greek, or gentile name.

      I Corinthians, which was written, according to E.W. Bullinger, about 57 a.d. (Ibid.) is the earliest of Paul’s epistles that mentions the “Body” (chapter 12).

      For the full article, please refer to (10/01/2014).

      — André


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