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Joined: 2006/9/16
Posts: 2206

 Old Testament saints part of the Church?

I'm not dogmatically settled into what I believe on this issue yet bit it has my interest because of recent conversations and discussions I heard take place.. Yet I believe scripture presents to us some intriguing possibilities regarding the Old Testament saints who died in faith and as I have been taught were saved by Christ and His atonement also as the rest of us. Yet the question is were these OT saints part of the Church? How does this statement sit with you - just because the Church was first openly revealed at Pentecost does not mean it did not exist before then? Why can that statement be made? Here are some fo the reasons,

3 - And Abraham said, "O Lord God, what will thou give me, since I am childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?"

4 - Then behold the word of the Lord came to him saying, "This man will not be your heir, but one who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir."

5 - And He took him outside and said, "Now look toward the stars, if you are able to count them." And He said to him, "So shall your descendants be."

6 - Then He believed in the Lord and it was reckoned to him as righteousness. (Gen 16:3-6)

Believing in the Lord and having it reckoned to us as righteousness is exactly what happened to us at our salvation when we were born again. It matches Abraham's experience to the tee.

Regarding Abraham and us,

1 - What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?

2 - For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.

3 - For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

4 - Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.

5 - But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

6 - just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

7 -“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered.
8 -“Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” (Romans 4:1-8)

18 - in hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, “So shall your descendants be.”

19 - Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb;

20 - yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God,

21 - and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.

22 - Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness.

23 - Now not for his sake only was it written that it was credited to him,

24 - but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,

25 - He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 4:18-25)

What type of righteousness is there except the total and holy righteousness of God? Therefore, did Abraham have reckoned or credited to Him some different type or partial righteousness than we receive when we believe? Reckon means what we don't have is credited to us because of the righteousness of another. This other righteousness we don't have is imputed or credited or imputed to our account and we have what we were unable to get by our own efforts. So as Abraham sat under the stars and listened to God's impossible promises (humanly speaking) and obviously was given the gift of supernatural faith to believe were we seeing a early member of the church? Just because the church was first openly revealed at Pentecost does that mean it didn't exist before that but just was not yet brought into the full light?

29 – Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds; and the plague broke out among them.

30 – Then Phineas stood up and interposed; and so the plague was stayed.

31 – And it was reckoned to him for righteousness, to all generations forever. (Psalm 106:29-31)

Yup! Just like us when we believe. We didn't slay
offending parties as Phineas did but what differs from this description of reckoned righteousness than our own?
If these believers had this righteousness the OT did the Holy Spirit dwell within them as He does each and every true church member who has had righteousness reckoned to them?

10 – As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied f this grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry,

11 – seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. (I Peter 10-11)

We see the Spirit of Christ was within the prophets and not just wit or about them. If the Spirit was within them did He come and go or did He abide within them? There's no evidence He came and went. David prayed that the Lord would take not His Holy Spirit from Him. Did David know something of the Spirit dwelling within? Could Jeremiah speak of the new covenant to come etc. and not at least know something of the Spirit dwelling within him on a experiential basis? As for the prophets mentioned (Jeremiah included), if the Spirit of Christ was within them how could they not have righteousness reckoned to them just as NT believers experience when Christ indwells them?

There are more scriptures regarding the Spirit and Old Testament believers but I just don't have time right now to get at them. I'm just offering up these thoughts and something to think about and maybe discuss if anyone is inclined. Uncivil and rude spirits and attitudes turn me off and I'm not looking for that so if you want to go that route please just stay away. I saw a minster and another person discussing this theological issue not long ago and they had points of disagreement as they went thought it but they kept a most irenic and respectful attitude toward each other during their conversation. I was as impressed as much by attitudes as by this subject they were discussing. They both ended up agreeing that the atonement of Christ is the foundation for all and I concur and agree with that.


- If Christ's salvation is present, forward looking and retroactive, can Old Testament believers who died in faith be counted as part of the church in its earliest forms?

Things to bear in mind,

- If Abraham and Phineas had the righteousness of God reckoned to them by faith, just as New Testament believers do when they are born again, did the Holy Spirit dwell within them?

- If the Spirit of Christ was within the prophets did He come and go from within them or did He abide within them continually?

That's all. Civility is possible.

Have a good Thanksgiving and blessings to you.


David Winter

 2014/11/26 12:09Profile

Joined: 2008/10/30
Posts: 2071

 Re: Old Testament saints part of the Church?

The following WORD indisputably answers your question,"Yet the question is were these OT saints part of the Church?"

"This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him on the mount Sina, and with our fathers who received the living oracles to give to us." Acts 7:38

Acts 7:35-40 This Moses, whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. He brought them out, after he had showed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. This is that Moses, who said to the children of Israel, A prophet will the Lord your God raise up to you of your brethren, like me; him will ye hear. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him on the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the living oracles to give to us: Whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,Saying to Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him.

 2014/11/26 22:39Profile

Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA


Jesus said He would build His Church upon His Messiahship(Matt.16:18), which seems to imply a difference between the OT Church and the NT Church. But the NT also clearly teaches that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile in the New Covenant(Eph.2:14-18). So it seems to me that while there is a distinction between the NT Church and OT Church, yet there is also a unifying of both under the banner of Jesus Christ.


 2014/11/26 23:45Profile

Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA


The OT saints were justified by faith just like we are. They looked forward to Christ and we look back to His atoning death and resurrection. I look forward to the day when I will be with Christ and united with all the OT saints as one under Christ. How glorious it will be! Until then we must occupy until He comes, being filled with the Spirit and being busy about the Father's business, sharing the gospel at every opportunity.


 2014/11/27 0:02Profile

Joined: 2011/11/11
Posts: 708
San Diego

 Re: "That they may be one, even as We are one..." (Jn17:11)

In Luke 16, Jesus tells of the rich man and Lazarus in their respective final dispositions. The rich man is hopelessly in what could be described as Hell, with torment, and Lazarus is in a place of intimacy and comfort.

In the telling, Jesus has not yet ascended, and the church is not yet fully come to birth. It seems to me that He has established from the beginning a place for the wicked and the righteous- though the picture here lacks the mansions and golden streets upon which so many modern Christians have set their hearts.

It is just speculation of course, but there must certainly be a transitition of the intimacy from the bosom of Abraham to the bosom of Jesus. None the less, it seems unlikely that the eternal body of Christ would be two camps, one organized for those who entered eternity ahead of Jesus' time and those who came after.

Tom Cameron

 2014/11/27 0:16Profile

Joined: 2011/8/20
Posts: 1772

 Re: Old Testament saints part of the Church?


just because the Church was first openly revealed at Pentecost does not mean it did not exist before then? Why can that statement be made? Here are some fo the reasons,

In Old Testament there was no Church at all. Church is Body of Christ, each believer is a part in that body. But in Old Testament each man of God worked independently. Even Elijah who was one of OT greats was still a loner (1 Kings 19). Church was born only in NT after Pentecost day. That is when God's spirit was poured on mankind. Till then the OT saints had Holy Spirit experience but it was not an indwelling expereince that we have today. Samson was best example whenever he killed many the spirit will come mighty on him but then he will go and sleep with prostitute. How then can someone who is indwelling with Holy Spirit do this? The answer is he was not. Their experience was not as ours. Hence their standard also cannot be compared to ours. They were all imperfect. But we have a perfect high priest.

That is why the Old Testament Prophets longed to see the days of Jesus, the days of Holy Spirit dwelling on mankind.

Now the question is have we seen this glory?


 2014/11/27 1:18Profile


Strictly speaking the word "church" is not a Biblical term.
Here are some translations of the greek word "ekklesia", Strong's Number: g1577

an assembly of the people convened at the public place of the council for the purpose of deliberating
the assembly of the Israelites
any gathering or throng of men assembled by chance, tumultuously
in a Christian sense an assembly of Christians gathered for worship in a religious meeting

We as Christians should be "disciples" ie. followers of Christ. (Mtth. 28 v 19) and we are the Bride of Christ etc. For the OT believers this was not possible, simply because they lived before our Lord came. But ultimately all the believers will be together in God's Kingdom. Galatians 3 v 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ.

Hope that helps a bit. Markus

 2014/11/27 1:19

 Re: Old Testament saints part of the Church?

It is impossible to compare anyone who was living under the Old Covenant to anyone one living under the New Covenant.

Under the Old Covenant, God commanded mankind to walk in all of God's His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD God with all their heart and with all their soul.

Under the New Covenant, God gave mankind this required love.
Deuteronomy 30:6, "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live."

Under the Old, God demanded perfect obedience.

Under the New, He provides this obedience.

Ezek. 36:25-27, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 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 an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them."

Under the Old God demanded a New heart.

Under the New, God gives a New heart.

Under the Old, God demanded mankind to be Holy and Righteous.

Under the New, Christ made men Holy and Righteous.

Under the Old, sin was only covered but the person was never free of guilt or shame.

Under the New, Christ removes all sin and men are cleansed and made perfect by His Blood.

Under the Old, the Holy Spirit would come and go.

Under the New, the person of the Holy Spirit is a constant and permanent abiding presence within us.

Under the New, we have Christ Himself actually living and dwelling inside us with His sworn oath that He will NEVER leave us or forsake us under any condition!

The New Covenant is a New a living way that is far superior to the Old.

The Old could never make man truly righteous, Holy, Perfect or a New Creation.

The truth is, that God never intended the Old Covenant to do that.

Only Christ Himself has done this for us.

Heb 9:12-17, "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinklng the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth."

Let us embrace and enjoy Him on a daily basis.

I could go on and to show the differences between the old and the New Covenant but this should be sufficient for now.

 2014/11/27 4:44

Joined: 2008/4/12
Posts: 1306
Hampshire, UK


Here is a insightful statement by Oracio:
"So it seems to me that while there is a distinction between the NT Church and OT Church, yet there is also a unifying of both under the banner of Jesus Christ."

In Hebrews 12:22&23 it says this:

"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,"

So in the city of God are:
3/Church of the firstborn (Jesus)
4/Spirits of just men made perfect.

Who are the 'just men made perfect'? Back a few verses in Heb 11:39&40 it tells us:

"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect."

So as Oracio said, although different a 'church' in OT to NT, there is a coming together as they are NOW perfected together with the church of Jesus Christ so we all are partakers of the promise and citizens of God's Kingdom.

Oh how marvellous and perfect is the manifold wisdom of God!


 2014/11/27 5:32Profile

Joined: 2007/6/26
Posts: 2094
Whittier CA USA


Amen Heydave! I find it interesting to note that without us the OT saints were not perfected and that now they are.

Matthew Henry's commentary says concerning Hebrews 11:40,

"...since the gospel is the end and perfection of the Old Testament, which had no excellency but in its reference to Christ and the gospel, it was expected that their faith should be as much more perfect than the faith of the Old-Testament saints; for their state and dispensation were more perfect than the former, and were indeed the perfection and completion of the former, for without the gospel-church the Jewish church must have remained in an incomplete and imperfect state."

I want to point out the scripture in Acts that savannah shared:

"This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him on the mount Sinai to us." Acts 7:38

The Greek word there for church is ekklesia, the same Greek word used for the church of Jesus Christ throughout the NT. In reference to the OT saints it simply means the congregation or assembly of Israel in the OT, the people of God in OT times. So in that sense it was indeed a sort of "church". They were not just called out as individuals but were under a Theocracy and called to represent Yahweh as a people together. But in the New Covenant it is a different kind of "assembly" in that the New Covenant is much different from and better than the Old Covenant.


 2014/11/27 12:03Profile

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