Is the concept of “the church age” taught within the Bible? It may surprise you that there is not a single text in scripture which mentions a church age which will come to an end during the time of the second coming of Christ.
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord… ~ Ephesians 3:4-11
God’s eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus is that Jews and Gentiles be united into one family through Jesus Christ. Paul refers to this union as the church. There in no such thing in scripture as a “Gentile church”. There were congregations to which Paul’s ministry served that consisted of mostly Gentiles because they were in areas heavily populated with Gentiles, but never is the church identified as a Gentile entity in the New Testament. The church is always those from among the Jews and Gentiles who are united into one family in Christ Jesus.
The concept of the “church age” is predicated on the idea that the New Testament church is a Gentile entity. This is a faulty premise for the church is not a Gentile entity. The church began with Jewish followers of Jesus who took the gospel message, first to the Jews, then to the whole world.
According to the apostle Paul, God will be glorified in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.~ Ephesians 3:20-21
If you are waiting for the church age to expire so God can get back to separating the Jews from the Gentiles, it’s not going to happen. God is going to be glorified in the Church (the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ) throughout all ages.
Many “prophecy experts” claim that God has a separate plan for Israel than for the church even though the church is a Jewish concept and was established on the message of the Jewish apostles who were sent by Jesus to proclaim the gospel. It is Gentiles who are grafted into the Jewish message that Jesus is the Messiah, and not the other way around. Jews are not grafted into a Gentile entity when they believe the gospel. Rather Gentiles are grafted into the family of Abraham through faith in Jesus.
The New Testament does not teach that God will revert back to national Israel with an Old Testament stylistic system of worship after he brings an end to the “Gentile church age.” This concept is foreign to the gospel revealed in the New Testament
Those who teach a return to the law for the Jew after the so-called church age, claim that God has unfulfilled promises to Israel which does not include the church. No such doctrine withstands the cross examination of the New Testament.
The church consisting of Jews and Gentiles is the plan that was hidden in God during Old Testament times when Israel was under the Mosaic covenant.
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 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: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel…~ Ephesians 2:11-3:6
The dispensation of the grace of God is not the dispensation of the Gentile church age as some may think. It is the dispensation of grace in which Gentiles are made fellow heirs with the Jews to whom the promises of redemption were given.
Israel’s prophets had prophesied of Israel’s redemption in terms they could understand, yet the full revelation of those prophesies was hidden in a mystery, and were not fully revealed until after the Holy Spirit was given on he Day of Pentecost. Paul describes the hidden plan of God (Jews and Gentiles united as one family in Christ) as the mystery of Christ, and says it was not made known in other ages as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (a reference to the apostles and ministers of Christ to whom the message of the gospel was entrusted after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus).
Christian Zionists claim that they believe in the literal interpretation of the promises made to Israel even through the apostle Peter, a man who walked with Jesus and was personally trained by Jesus, said, “the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” ~ 1 Peter 1:10-11
If the very prophets who spoke for God could not fully understand intellectually the full meaning of their messages from God, why do Christian Zionists think anyone ought to be able to read the prophecies given by the prophets to Israel and plainly understand them?
After his resurrection, Jesus had to open the understanding of his disciples so they could understand the prophetic scriptures which testified of him, even though they had walked with Jesus and been trained by him for 3 – 3.5 years ~ See Luke 24
God’s plan concerning Israel’s redemption was hidden in a mystery. Being hidden implies that it can not understood by human intellect, but requires the revelation of the Spirit of God.
Who then has the authoritative interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies given to Israel? It is the apostles who gave us the New Testament scriptures. Let’s consider 3 examples from the New Testament which interpret the prophecies given to Israel. There are more examples in the New Testament, but these will suffice for now.
First, in the gospel of Luke, Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied by the Holy Spirit the following words about Jesus:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up an Horn of Salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began… ~ Luke 1:68-70
Notice that Zacharias says, “God has visited and redeemed Israel,” and claims this was testified by God’s holy prophets since the beginning of the world.
The redemption of Israel is not something in waiting. According to the prophecy given by Zacharias, Israel’s redemption has already come through Jesus Christ. Zacharias also prophesied to John the Baptist (only 8 days old) saying, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God; whereby The Day spring from on high hath visited us.” ~ Luke 1:76-78 .
Remember these words were spoken in an entirely Jewish context in view of God’s promised redemption for Israel.
Now consider another example from the book of Acts. The apostle Peter preaching to his Jewish brethren said the following:
But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. ~ Acts 3:18-19
Notice that Peter tells his Jewish brethren to repent and be converted. Is this the message of modern day Zionism? No it isn’t. The Zionist narrative claims that God has a separate plan for Israel than for the church, yet Peter tells his Jewish kinsmen to to repent and be converted. Peter continues:
And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. ~ Acts 3:20-23
Notice the similarities between Peter’s words (which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his prophets since the world began) and the words of Zacharias’s prophecy (As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began…)
Both Zacharias before the birth of Jesus, and Peter after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, declare that the God’s words through the prophets to Israel are fulfilled in the the person of Jesus Christ in relation to his first coming.
Peter tells his fellow Jews that Moses prophesied to Israel that God would raise up a prophet like himself who would be the leader of Israel. John the Baptist was asked by the religious establishment in Israel if he was “that prophet.” He denied that he was and declared that Jesus is.
The message of the New Testament to the people of Israel is that Jesus is the prophet that Moses said would come and all who will not listen to that prophet would be cut off from God’s people. In Acts 7 Stephen declared the following as he testified of Jesus before the Sanhedrin: Moses, …said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 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… ~ Acts 7:37-38
Note that Stephen refers to Israel in the wilderness as “the church in the wilderness.” The church is not a New Testament concept.
Now lets continue with Peter’s words to the Jews in Acts 3.
Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. ~ Acts 3:18-26
Now the words of Paul from Acts 13:
Of this man’s seed (King David’s seed) hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. ~ Acts 13:23-39
Even though Paul says to the Jews that they would be justified through Jesus by faith and that they could not be justified by the law of Moses, Christian Zionists and their prophecy experts preach a futuristic plan of God that brings them back under the law with a fabricated temple service and animal sacrifices that God clearly says in scripture he takes no pleasure in.
Now notice the next two verses which are critical to the point that is being made in this teaching.
Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. ~ v. 40-41
The apostle Paul does not preach another alternative to the his Jewish brethren after the flesh. He gives them a stern warning from the prophets. While the prophecy experts within Christian Zionism claim that God has another plan for modern day Israel because he has unfulfilled promises to them spoken through the prophets, the apostle Paul says otherwise, claiming that God has fulfilled his promise to Israel by the resurrection of Jesus.
Paul cites the warning of destruction which was given by prophets to Israel which should come on all within Israel who refused to believe the gospel. Jesus is Israel’s Messiah, and their redemption has already come through Jesus, now they are required to believe the gospel. No rebuilt temple with animal sacrifice will led them to God. They must believe the gospel and be grafted back into their tree of which the root is Jesus, who is also the foundation of the church (Jews and gentiles in one family) with no end.