As we come to the close of the four gospel accounts in the New Testament, we find recorded the single greatest event of all time; the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the key event upon which all of God’s plans and purposes for all people of all dispensations hinges. The cross of Christ fulfilled God’s promise to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15. By His death, the promised Seed of the woman bruised the head of the serpent (Satan) and sealed his doom (Heb. 2:14). The cross of Christ made possible the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham that through his seed, all families of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 12:3). The cross of Christ dedicated the new covenant which God promised to establish with the nation of Israel (Heb. 8:6-13; 9:15-17). The cross of Christ made it possible for both Jew and Gentile to be justified in God’s sight and thus reconciled to God (Rom. 3:9, 19-20, 21-30). The cross of Christ made it possible for the middle wall of separation between Jew and Gentile to be broken down and for the two to be joined together as one new man in the body of Christ (Eph. 2:14-16).
Many people feel that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, along with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), marked the beginning of God’s plan and purpose for believers today (i.e. the birthday of the church, the body of Christ), but, this is not what the book of Acts is about at all. Look closely at Ephesians 2:16.
“And that He might reconcile them both (i.e. Jew and Gentile) to God in one body (i.e. the church) through the cross …”
The word “through” in this verse is the Greek preposition “dia” which means “by or through.” It is used to identify the cause or the agency by which something occurs. The cross was the “agency” through which Jew and Gentile were made one body in Christ, but this did not become a reality “at the time” of the cross. The fact that Jew and Gentile were to be joined together as one new man in the body of Christ was a mystery or secret until it was made known to the apostle Paul (Eph. 3:1-6; Col. 1:24-27). Since Paul was not saved until Acts chapter 9 and the truth of the church was kept secret until God revealed it to him, how could the day of Pentecost mark the beginning of this church?
If Pentecost was not the beginning of the church, the body of Christ, then what is the book of Acts all about?
When Jesus hung upon the cross of Calvary, He cried out, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). The pronouns “them” and “they” in this verse refer to the people of Israel, who crucified their Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus’ prayer of intercession for Israel was because of their “ignorance” in crucifying Him (Acts 3:17). He prayed for them to be given another opportunity, as a nation, to repent and receive the Lord Jesus Christ.