IS PAUL NOW THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH? According to a growing number of Christians, pastors, ministers, and Bible teachers, this is the case. Not only do these “Christians” believe that they are to follow the leadership of Paul, instead of Jesus, but they also believe that Paul’s gospel is the one that saves, and not the gospel proclaimed and taught by Jesus Himself! But how could people so distort and pervert the Bible that they’ve ended up excommunicated Jesus and His gospel from His own church?
This deception and error is predicated on three basic building blocks: (1) the cross is the dividing line between the Old and New Testament; (2) Christians are not under the Old Testament; and since (3) Jesus’ life and ministry is under the Old Testament, Christians are not under Jesus’ life and teachings. As I am going to show, each of these three building blocks is a direct contradiction to the teachings of the Bible.
THE CROSS – THE GREAT DIVIDING LINE?
First of all, it is commonly being taught that the cross is the great dividing line between the Old and New Testament; however, this is NOT true. Jesus clearly taught that the end of the Old Testament was JOHN THE BAPTIST, NOT THE CROSS:
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. For ALL THE PROPHETS AND THE LAW PROPHESIED UNTIL JOHN. (Matthew 11:12-13; Emphasis Mine)
THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS WERE UNTIL JOHN: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it. (Luke 16:16; Emphasis Mine)
In both of these passages, Jesus makes it clear that the PROPHETIC ASPECT of the Old Testament ended with John the Baptist, he being THE LAST OLD TESTAMENT PROPHET, but the Old Testament itself has NOT ended! It did NOT end with the cross! What many Christians don’t understand is that the word “New” in “New Testament” or “New Covenant” means “to renew” – NOT “to replace.” And if you actually go back and read the prophecy of the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34, what God changes is NOT the covenant, but the LOCATION of the covenant, and by doing so, He changes us! Since the problem was not with the covenant – but with us!
The Old Testament could NOT have ended at the cross, because not everything in the Old Testament has been fulfilled. There’s a great many prophecies that still await fulfillment, including the final restoration of Israel and the rule and reign of Messiah on the Davidic throne. In fact, there are 800 Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, and Jesus fulfilled 300 of those in His first coming; therefore, there are still 500 Messianic prophecies left to be fulfilled when He returns. So if there are that many Messianic prophecies left to be fulfilled, how could the Old Testament have ended at the cross?
In fact, there are more prophecies and information given in the Old Testament regarding the last days, including those ahead for us than there are in the New Testament. Also, there’s still yet to come another covenant, according to the prophets, called “the Covenant of Peace” (Ezekiel 34:23-31; Ezekiel 37:15-28), which does not deal with changing people’s hearts, moving the location of the covenant, or the forgiveness of sins as is in the New Covenant/Testament (Jeremiah 31:31-34); instead, it deals with the final restoration of Israel, physical peace, safety and security, and God’s blessings, not at all the same issues. The “Covenant of Peace” is a perfect covenant for the 1,000 year Millennial reign of Messiah! All of which is still future, so again, how could the Old Testament have ended at the cross?
Their assumption that it did is based on two erroneous interpretations:
- JESUS SAID, “IT IS FINISHED!” Many Christians think that this statement and the one made in the Sermon on the Mount, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, TILL ALL BE FULFILLED” (Matthew 5:17; Emphasis Mine] are connected. Many conclude that since Jesus said the Law and the Prophets would continue until “ALL BE FULFILLED,” and on the cross, He said, “IT IS FINISHED!” Then the Law and the Prophets are now over. However, this is NOT the case. These are two different statements made in two different contexts and are NOT interlinked.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that not one single jot or tittle will pass from the Law or the prophets UNTIL HEAVEN AND EARTH PASS AWAY. Why? Because the HEAVEN AND EARTH are the two witnesses that God called to witness the covenant that He made with Israel at Mt. Sinai (Deuteronomy 4:26-31; 30:19). So as long as the two witnesses exist, God cannot delete anything from His Word, because the moment He does, then HEAVEN AND EARTH, the two witnesses will bear witness against God Himself! Therefore, when HEAVEN AND EARTH pass away (Revelation 21), as Jesus says, THEN God will be able to delete material from His covenants, but NOT until then!
2. THE TEARING OF THE TEMPLE VEIL. Because the Temple veil is torn after Jesus cries out, “It is finished!” Christians have been taught to believe that His death brought an end to the Law and the Old Testament; however, this belief is based on a logical fallacy, called “Post Hoc Ergo Proctor Hoc” (Latin, “After this, therefore because of this”). This fallacy happens when people believe that just because two events happen together in time that the one event caused the other. This is, in fact, where many of our superstitions came from, e.g., a mirror breaks and then someone has a bad day; therefore, they conclude that breaking a mirror will bring bad luck. It’s the same type of logical conclusion. But as I have previously proven in another article that throughout the Scriptures, the tearing of cloth is an act of mourning. God had just witnessed the torture and death of His own beloved Son, and in response, God did what any normal loving Jewish father would’ve done in that situation, He took the cloth over His heart – the Temple veil – and He tore it from top to bottom to mourn the death of His Son, and by doing so, He also identified Jesus as His Son (see article: “Why did God Tear the Temple Veil in Half? Not for the Reason You Think“).
CHRISTIANS ARE NOT UNDER THE OLD TESTAMENT?
Christians are just a “New Testament” name for Gentile (or non-Jewish) believers in God and in His chosen Anointed One (or Messiah). Because Christians don’t take the time to study the Old Testament, what they don’t realize is that everything in the New Testament ties in to God’s promise of Israel’s Restoration. In fact, in the book of Isaiah, God gives Jesus, the Messiah, His “mission statement”:
It is a light thing that You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the Gentiles, that You may be My salvation unto the end of the earth. (Isaiah 49:6)
Did you notice that there are three parts to this:
- To raise up the tribes of Jacob;
- To restore the preserved of Israel; and
- To be a light to the Gentiles.
Why? So that He, the Messiah, “may be My salvation unto the end of the earth.” This would include finding and restoring the descendants of the Northern Kingdom of Israel; restoring those from the southern Kingdom of Judah (the “Jews”); and also being the light of salvation to us who are Gentiles (non-Jews). We see this also in Isaiah 42:6-7,
I the LORD have called You in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep You, and give You for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.
This is what the new covenant is really all about.
ABOUT THE EKKLESIA – ISRAEL?
Did you know that throughout the Greek translation of the Old Testament that Israel is referred to as the Ekklesia, or what is translated in the New Testament as “church.” That’s right, the Ekklesia did not begin in the upper room in Acts 2, but in Exodus 12, with the first Passover. And where do we see Jesus first use the word Ekklesia or “church”? Yes, in Philippi, Caesara, right before Jesus and His disciples were going to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. In fact, in the King James Version, we read as part of Stephen’s defense the following:
This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the LORD God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me [Moses]: Him shall you hear. [Deuteronomy 18:3-4] This is he, that was in THE CHURCH IN THE WILDERNESS with the angel which spoke to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us. (Acts 7:37-38)
If the Church was not born until Acts 2, then how was Moses in “the Church” in the wilderness? The church, like grace, was not a New Testament revelation, but Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom, to bring Israel back to Kingdom and away from religion, to initiate the new covenant and the process of Israel’s restoration, to deal with the sin issue by His death and resurrection, and to keep His promise to Abraham by dying on Passover. This is why Jesus came, not to begin a “new entity” called “the church.”
Consequently, what Christians have called “the church age” is really God reaching into the nations and working to restore back to Himself three groups of people: (1) those from the Northern Kingdom; (2) those from the Southern Kingdom (Jews); and those of us from the nations, or Gentiles (non-Jews). The alleged “church age” is really been about Jesus fulfilling His mission statement given in Isaiah 49:6.
THE NEW COVENANT – ISRAEL’S RESTORATION
Throughout the Old Testament, we find almost as many Gentile (or non-Jewish) believers in it as we do in the New Testament. In fact, all of God’s covenants were open to Jew and non-Jew, but all of them were specifically given to Israel, including the New Testament:
Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL and THE HOUSE OF JUDAH. (Jeremiah 31:31; Emphasis Mine)
Where in those words do you see that the LORD would “make a new covenant with the world”? I don’t see those words anywhere here at all. And who are “THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL” and “THE HOUSE OF JUDAH“? The “House of Israel” is the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the “House of Judah” is the southern Kingdom of Judah. After Solomon died, during his son’s Rehoboam’s reign, the Kingdom of Israel split into two kingdoms: the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah.
But in the writings of the prophets, God promised one day that He would restore these two kingdoms together again into one Kingdom under one King, Messiah. For example:
Thus says the LORD God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, wherever they’ve gone, and I will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them ONE NATION in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and ONE KING shall be king to them all; and they shall be NO MORE TWO NATIONS, neither shall they be divided into TWO KINGDOMS any more at all:…but I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My people, and I will be their God. And David my servant [an image of Messiah] shall be king over them; and they all shall have ONE SHEPHERD; and they shall also walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them. (Ezekiel 37:21-22, 23b, 24; Emphasis Mine)
I believe that this lies at the heart of the “gospel of the Kingdom” preached by John the Baptist, Jesus and His 82 disciples (the 12 plus the 70, see Luke 10:1, 17) preached in Israel for 3 1/2 years. The new covenant was what God said He would use to bring His people back to Him and to bring about this re-unification of the two kingdoms. This re-unification would not happen all at once, but over a long period of time. Also notice, God says that when the two kingdoms are brought back under ONE KING, ONE SHEPHERD, that they would “walk in My judgments, and observe My statutes, and do them.” Therefore, how does the new covenant replace God’s law, when it’s supposed to change our hearts so that we will keep God’s laws?
Jesus died to deal with our sin issue, to pay the penalty for our sins, to free us from the law of sin and death, but also, His death would provide the means for this re-unification of these two kingdoms to happen. His death is, indeed, part of enacting the new covenant; and thereby, begin the process of Israel’s restoration. This whole division between the Old and the New, and seeing it as a whole new and different program from the Old Testament, are all man-made creations. They are not based on a whole Bible approach, but in separating the New Testament away from the rest of the Bible.
ALL COVENANTS ARE GIVEN TO ISRAEL
Paul writes in his letter to the church at Rome:
For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 9:3-5)
Paul clearly says here, “the covenants” were given to the Israelites; this includes “the law,” “the service of God,” “the promises,” and ultimately “Christ” as well. So where do we get the unbiblical idea that “the Old Testament was for the Jews, but the New Testament is for everyone”? It’s just another man-made myth.
From Adam and Eve, up through to Abram and Sarah, there were no other people but Gentiles [non-Jews], but it is in the life of Abram, where we begin to see this change. And it is not until God renames and re-creates Jacob into Israel, that Israel comes into existence, and from that moment, Jacob’s descendants became known as “Israelites,” or “the children of Israel.” And it’s not until the Babylonian Exile, that those taken captive from the Southern Kingdom of Judah are first called “Jews.”
But throughout this history, Gentiles (or non-Jews) were able to also participate in the covenants with Abraham, with Moses and the children of Israel. In fact, we find Gentiles (non-Jews) in and through the Old Testament, like Rahab, Ruth, Doeg, and many others, and just like the Old Testament, Gentiles (non-Jews) are allowed to participate with Israel in the new covenant as well. Therefore, this is why I hold to the firm belief that the whole Bible, Old Testament and New Testament, is for all people for all time.
WE ARE ALL STILL PART OF THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT
Since the Old Testament did not end at the cross and is still continuing until the time period of the New Heavens and the New Earth, then obviously, we are still in the time frame of the Old Testament. Part of our problem is that instead of seeing the Bible as one continuous revelation, we’ve been taught to split it into two parts, which we have entitled “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” But in truth, if we study the Scriptures, the point of the new covenant is to change the heart of people so that they will walk in obedience to the commandments God gave to Moses. For example,
And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live…And you shall return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all His commandments which I command you this day. (Deuteronomy 30:6, 8)
After those days, says the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:33)
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments, and do them. (Ezekiel 36:26-27)
The point of the new covenant was NEVER to do away with God’s law or the Old Testament as a whole. Instead, God is saying with the new covenant that He was going to do something to “renew” and/or “refresh” our experience with it. This would be accomplished by God giving us “a new heart,” “a new spirit,” and Him putting His own Spirit in us,” transforming our lives, and empowering us “to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments, and do them.”
In fact, we could compare the Old Testament to an original computer program, and the New Testament to its most recent update. If you operate without the update, you miss out on the new features for the program, but if you try to operate only the update, the program will either not run or not run properly. To have the program run the way the manufacturer desires, you need to run both the original program and the update together: the Old and New Testament as ONE REVELATION, not two.
Obviously, then, as I’ve shown, all three of the building blocks that have led people to believe that the Old Testament has ended, that Christians are not under the Old Testament, and that Jesus’s life and ministry is under the Old Testament, so therefore, Christians are not under the life and teachings of Jesus are all man-made myths based on misinterpretations and misunderstandings, due to people basing things on only what they see in the New Testament, instead of the whole Bible.
THE PROMISE OF A NEW DAY
What we need to look forward to is the return of Jesus and the establishment of His Kingdom here on earth. There is, indeed, a new Kingdom and a new day coming! In Isaiah 60, God gives the city of Jerusalem, Israel, this promise about its coming glory:
Arise, shine, for your light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen on you. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon you, and His glory shall be seen on you. And the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising….
And the sons of strangers [non-Jews] shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister unto you: for in My wrath I smote you, but in My favor have I had mercy on you. Therefore your gates shall be open continually: they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto you the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; yes, those nations shall be utterly wasted.
Violence shall no more be heard in your land, wasting nor destruction within your borders; but you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. The sun shall be no more your light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light to you: but the LORD shall be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory. The sun shall no more go down; neither shall the moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended. (Isaiah 60:1-3, 10-12, 18-20)
What a wondrous day that will be! Amen.