In order to understand the subject of this article we need to look at the gospels and Acts. All of these books cover some aspect of what happened after the resurrection. Matthew was written about A.D. 37 to the Jews and used 20 verses discussing things from the resurrection on. Mark was written around A.D. 57 or so and also spent 20 verses discussing this topic. Luke was written around 63 A.D. And used 53 verses on this topic. In addition, Luke added another 15 verses from the book of Acts on this same subject.
The book of John was written around A.D. 85 or so and used 31 verses in chapter 20 and 25 verses in chapter 21 on the subject of what happened after the resurrection.
Each of the writers focused on reporting different aspects of the events in this time period. We must remember that they were summarizing events that took place over a 40 day period. A lot happened in those 40 days and each writer only hit on some highlights of that period.
Matthew was written to the Jews and presented Jesus as the son of David and as the Messiah. Mark was written concerning the public ministry of Jesus and his geographical movements. Luke presents Jesus as the savior of the entire world, and not just for the Jews. John uses his gospel to present the public ministry of Jesus and to also present the theological significance of the events.
Each book covered some specific events that the other gospels covered, but they also covered details that the other gospels omitted. That is why you have to read all four gospels to get a better picture of what happened from the tomb forward. And remember that we are only reading the highlights of what happened during this 40 day period.
A lot must have happened during this 40 day period. This was the last opportunity for Jesus to talk to them face to face. I am sure that this was an intensive training period for them with little time for sleep. Even John mentioned in John 21:25 that if everything he did or said were written, that the world could not contain the books. What a time they must have had!
In this article we are delving into a theological question so we will focus on the book of John which is the only gospel that addresses the theological significance of the events.
The situation defined:
Jesus lived and died under the Old Testament covenant. When He was crucified, the Old Testament covenant was closed. Before His death, the disciples were God's people like other Old Testament saints like Abraham, Moses, etc.
After his resurrection they became saved and part of the Bride of Christ under the New Testament covenant. ---but when were they saved as New Testament Christians???Was it when:
No! the covenant of Sinai was still in force and even Jesus was subject to the provisions of Sinai's legal covenant. The old covenant was abolished only by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is only by identification with him in his death and resurrection that we are enabled to "walk in newness of life" [Romans 6:4].
Some say that the church started at Pentecost. This would mean that the disciples were born again at Pentecost; but, this would mean that they were born again at the descent of the Holy Spirit. This cannot be because this is not how we are born again today! We do not get born again on a certain day just because we are at a certain place without making a choice in the matter.
NO!, Everyone in the upper room were ALREADY believers in Christ! Otherwise there would be no incentive for them to be there. No unbeliever would be there. The disciples were actually were meeting in secret and were in hiding before the resurrection [See John 20:19 & 26]. When Jesus had appeared to them after His resurrection they later went to the temple praising and blessing God [Luke 24:52-53]. Something must have happened to them during this period.But when???
Mary was saved at John 20:16 when she saw Jesus alive after His resurrection. Some of the disciples were saved at John 20:19-20 when Jesus appeared to them after His resurrection.
If the basic requirements for salvation are detailed in Romans 10:9 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.", then the 500 believers plus the disciples were saved shortly after the resurrection of Jesus, long before Pentecost. The 120 had to be Christians to even be in the Upper Room. Some people believe that the Holy Spirit came into the disciples in John 20:22 where Jesus said "Receive ye the Holy Ghost". That is not true at all. We become Christians by believing, not by someone declaring something over us. What Jesus was doing in this verse was making a prophetic command that would take place later. The word "receive" in this verse is "lambano", [G2983], which speaks of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. If Jesus had been talking about salvation here he would have used the Greek word "dechomai", [G1209]. What Jesus was doing was giving the command for the disciples to receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. He made the declaration here in advance since He would not be there on the day of Pentecost.
It is instructive that Thomas was not there at John 20:19 but also did not yet believe in the resurrection. Check out John 20:24-29 and find out that Thomas was not saved until the following week when he saw Jesus himself and then believed in the resurrection of Jesus and thus was saved at that point. This is the beginning of the church, not Pentecost.
At this point we need to review more background about the transition of the kingdom from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Before his crucifixion he said the kingdom will be taken from them (Israel) [Matthew 21:43]. This bothered the disciples greatly. During the 40 days of post-resurrection appearances, Jesus taught them further "the things concerning the kingdom of God", but nothing about Israel's theocratic status.
This is the reason that on the mount of his ascension "Acts 1.6" they asked "will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?" They were aware the termination was already in effect before his ascension and that the church had already started. He said nothing about the restoration of Israel's theocratic status, only a cryptic promise of power (Acts 1:8).
After Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit they had now officially replaced Israel as the spokesperson for God from the point of John 20:22 forward. They must go and teach all nations [Matthew 28:19]; go into all the world and proclaim the gospel [Mark 16:15]; and that repentance and remission of sins should be proclaimed in His name among all nations [Luke 24:47].
This was not commanded of them until after they had been officially saved when he gave them the Holy Spirit in John 20:22 above. This is because the commandment of Jesus would not be valid until after they were Christians. Jesus could not have issued this command before this point because they were not yet Christians until John 20:22. They actually had nothing to talk about until after the resurrection. And even then Jesus told them to WAIT in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high. They had no idea how long that would be but obeyed in faith.
It is important to note that the transition in the theocratic status from Judaism to the church as spokesperson was accomplished before the book of Acts opened. It was after the power of the Holy Spirit was given that Peter gave the first sermon about salvation through the shed blood of Jesus in Acts 2:14-39 and those who received the word were saved [about 3000 souls].
They must now proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth. Matthew 24.14
It is important to note that the transition in the theocratic status from Judaism to the church as spokesperson was accomplished even before the book of Acts opened. The book of Acts discusses another important aspect of the work of the Holy Spirit that you need to study in the next article.KGROUND VERSES: