Who is the Church anyway?



Published by Rob Skiba May 15, 2014 at 5:14 AM

Who is the Church? Are we something new? Are we something apart from Israel? Let’s see…

Stephen says:


Acts 7:38 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:

As you can see, it clearly says the “church” was in the wilderness. The word used throughout the OT for congregation/assembly in Hebrew is virtually the same (in terms of definition) as the Greek word later used in the NT for church. It’s just an assembly of people – and in context, specifically those “called out ones” gathered together under YHWH. The word used here in Acts 7 is EXACTLY the same as the word used throughout the New Testament for the “church”.

Your run of the mill Dispensationalist however believes the “church” began in Acts 2. Not so. Yes, it did begin at Pentecost – but it was the FIRST Pentecost at Mt. Sinai, not the one in the 1st Century.

In Romans 11, Paul clearly teaches that when we believe in Yeshua, we are grafted in to the cultivated olive tree – the ORIGINAL church (Israel).

Romans 11:

11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

12 Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

14 If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

15 For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

24 For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

In Ephesians, we read:

Ephesians 2

12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

Far off from what? The commonwealth of Israel and the covenant of promise given to them.

19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:

22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

The same sort of language is used to describe the Bride of Christ (aka the Church) in Revelation 21. There we see that the New Jerusalem is referred to as the BRIDE of the LAMB (who is Christ). Thus, the Bride of Christ (the Church) is Israel:

Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

The angel then shows the Bride to John:

Revelation 21:

9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

As you keep reading, you see that the Lamb’s bride, the New Jerusalem is clearly defined as the 12 tribes of Israel. NOTE: There is no mystical 13th gate called, “the church” in any of the descriptions.

Now, let’s go back to original the site of the wedding:

Exodus 12:6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly (Hebrew: “q’hal” = assembly of people – Greek: “plethos” = bunch of people) of the congregation (Hebrew: “adath” Greek: “synagoges,” which is the Jewish equivalent of a modern church) of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

Compare with Scriptures such as…

Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the CHURCH: but if he neglect to hear the CHURCH, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

The Hebrew Matthew says: w’im-lo’ yish’ma` ‘aleyhem w’higad’at ‘el-HAQAHAL (the assembly) w’im-lo’ yish’ma` gam-‘el-HAQUHAL (the assembly) w’hayah l’ak k’goy uk’mokes.

In Greek it says: ean de parakousÿ autn, eipe tÿ EKKLESIA (called out assembly);ean de kai ts EKKLESIA (called out assembly) parakousÿ, est soi hsper ho ethnikos kai ho telns.

All through Scripture, beginning with Abram, we see a people that is “called out” by God… and it is and always was Israel. Stephen understood that in Acts 7:38, just as Paul understood it in Romans 11, Galatians 3, Ephesians 2 and elsewhere, and John – as if to totally clear up the matter – was told by the angel in Heaven that the New Jerusalem, was the Bride (that is the church) of the Lamb. Scriptures can not be more clear on who the Church is. Constantine, Darby, Scofield, Larkin et al (and those who subsequently followed after their exceptionally flawed teachings) are the ones who confused the matter.

The “church” was married to YHWH on Pentecost – but not the one in Acts 2. On Mt. Sinai, YHWH exchanged vows with Israel saying, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” But He later divorced Israel because she constantly chased after other husbands (gods) and continuously disobeyed her husband, doing that which was wrong, detestable and adulterous:

Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.

The only way the adulterous wife could be freed to remarry is if the husband dies. That’s according to God’s own laws. So, what did the Groom do? More on that shortly…

We must acknowledge that ALL of the first “Christians” were of the Jews and of the tribes of Israel (Pentecost caused 3,000 from the lost tribes to get saved). It was only in the ministry of Paul that Gentiles began to come into the fold. But he was quite clear that they were being GRAFTED into the cultivated olive tree that is Israel, thus being ADOPTED into the family of God.

Now, the Jews are only one tribe out of twelve. Unless you have blood ties linking back to one of the 12, I believe you get grafted/adopted into the tribe of Ephraim. Why? Go back and read Genesis, then read Ezekiel 37. There are only 2 sticks. Which one are you on?

The nations of them that are saved, which are going in and out of the New Jerusalem (in Rev. 21) are going in through 1 of the 12 gates. Again, there is no mystical 13th gate called “the Church.” The Church was defined throughout the entire Bible as Israel, so you will have to go through a gate of Israel to get in.  God has one people, one Bride, one plan and it hasn’t changed. John Nelson Darby is the one who invented the bogus doctrine of Dispensationalism, creating division where there never was before.

What’s ironic though, is that most Dispensationalist will look at what I am saying here and accuse me of believing in Replacement Theology. Uhmmm… sorry, but it is the Dispensationalist who subscribes to the idea that the Church has effectively “replaced” Israel in the plan of God for the past 2,000 years. Then, after our supposed Pre-Trib Rapture out of here, the unchanging God will change back to dealing with Israel again. It’s such a bogus doctrine!

Again, Paul could not be more clear in Romans 11. The cultivated olive tree is Israel and its roots are Hebrew, going back to Abraham.

Romans 11:

19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”

20 Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear;

21 for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either.

22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

23 And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.

24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

This is talking about the natural Israelites coming back to the tree when they believe due to jealousy of seeing those who were once Gentiles reaping the benefits of Abraham’s blessings.

Romans 11:

25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in;

26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”

27 “This is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins.”

The “fullness of the Gentiles goes back to the blessing Jacob spoke over Ephraim in…

Genesis 48:

17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.

18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.”

20 He blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will pronounce blessing, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’”

The “multitude of nations” are the Gentiles:

This is how God made a people “who were not a people,” into the people of God, which is Israel as Paul says in…

Romans 9:

23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

25 As He says also in Hosea, “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’ And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”

26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”

“God’s people” all through the Bible is a reference to Israel. Paul quotes Hosea, describing the fullness of the Gentiles who were not a people, becoming a people, even the sons of the living God. When the fullness of the Gentiles come into covenant – thus being grafted into the tree – then all Israel will be saved.

John 1:13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

According to Exodus 4, Israel is God’s first born son:

Exodus 4:22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:

Israel is described as God’s firstborn son and Yeshua is described as His only BEGOTTEN Son (John 3:16). And Yeshua, came through the lineage of Israel (via Judah). So, there is only ONE family of God! You are either part of it, or you are not. There is no third-party family floating around called “the Church.”

Now, let’s get back to the issue of YHWH’s divorcing Israel and how He redeemed His Bride:

In Matthew 15:24, Yeshua said, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

Why the lost from the house of Israel? Both are harlots – but Judah is actually part of Israel as one of the 12 tribes. He came for the whole house, because the Groom needs to redeem the adulterous bride.

Jeremiah 3:1 They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.

But God divorced Israel:

Jeremiah 3:8 “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.”

Yeshua says Matthew 5:32, “But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.”

Where did Jeremiah and Yeshua get that notion? From the Torah – the Father’s marriage contract:

Deuteronomy 24:

1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.

3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;

Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

YHVH married Israel at Mt. Sinai. His Torah was the marriage covenant. Through it, He said:

Exodus 19:

5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

When Israel later began whoring after other gods, YHWH divorced her. But that meant – according to God’s own Law, she could never return to Him and He could never take her back. Yet, throughout the Old Testament, we see the prophets declaring that YHWH willredeem and take her back. How could that be? Would YHWH really violate His own Law? Nope. He had an amazing plan in mind! A “great mystery” as Paul called it.

Though a man can divorce his wife, she can not remarry, for despite the marriage contract which is easily broken, the two become ONE FLESH. That is not something that can be separated so easily. If she remarries, she causes the other man to be an adulterer. And she can never return to her first husband, for she has been defiled by the last husband. This problem remains in effect until the original husband dies.

1 Corinthians 7:39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

Now watch this –

Romans 7:

1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?

2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.

4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

Did you catch it? The adulterous wife – in this case Israel – was freed from the curse of adultery by the death of Christ/who is the Word of YHWH made flesh. Thus, the Father redeemed His Bride (Israel) through Yeshua! It’s the most amazing love story ever! In order to get His Bride back, the Groom had to die.

The HCSB renders the above verse a lot clearer for us:

Romans 7:4 Therefore, my brothers, you also were put to death in relation to the law through the crucified body of the Messiah, so that you may belong to another–to Him who was raised from the dead–that we may bear fruit for God. 

Now, this makes Paul’s words to the Ephesians make a whole lot more sense:

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

This verse explains why Yeshua said what He said in Matthew 15:24. He loved His Church, the Bride, which is Israel (as confirmed by Rev. 21) so much that He gave His own life to redeem her back to Himself. is the reason why Gentiles get grafted/adopted into this family. To be the Bride, is to be Israel, which was redeemed unto YHWH by the death of the Husband. Gentiles were never in covenant to begin with. Gentiles are “out of covenant people.” When you accept Christ, you “cross over” (which is what the word “Hebrew” actually means) from death to life. Once you do that, you are grafted into the cultivated olive tree which is Israel. More specifically, you are adopted in through the family name of Ephraim (who was himself adopted by Jacob from Joseph to be his own).

Once you understand the above, you realize that Darby was wayyyyyyy off-base. His Dispensational theology messes up the entire plan of YHWH as clearly laid out in the Scriptures and serves only one purpose: to justify the equally bogus and unbiblical notion of a pre-Trib. Rapture. It allows people to look at Matthew 24, wherein verse 29 clearly states that Yeshua won’t be in the clouds (where Paul says we will meet him at the “harpazo” of 1 Thess. 4:16,17) until “AFTER the Tribulation of those days,” and say things like “That’s for the Jew. The Church is already gone by this point.”  Separating the Church from Israel causes all kinds of problems with reconciling the entire Bible – OT and NT – and it totally nullifies huge sections of the book of Romans and other books as well.

In Summary:

There are only two types of people in this world: saved (adopted and grafted) and unsaved (those removed or who were never were a part of the tree). If you believe in Yeshua as your Lord and Savior, then you dear brother and sister are grafted/adopted into Israel. It’s time we end this Darby-induced identity crisis once and for all.

For more, please see:

– Rob Skiba

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