When did the church come to be, was Israel the church in the Old Testament?
The church was not in the Old Testament, that assembly was from a nation God made from Abraham and gave them the law through Moses. They were to live in a specific land given only to the Hebrews (Jews).
For Gentiles to worship the God of Israel they had to become converts and go through a rigorous process to be part of Israel.
When we come to the New Testament the church was in prototype before Pentecost as Jesus was training the 12 and the 70 and others. But the church is not in the Old Testament. Why?
Matt 16:18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
Throughout the New Testament the church is liken a house built upon a foundation- which happens to be Jesus and those who confess who He is as Peter did. Since one did not (nor could not) confess this in the Old Testament they cannot accurately say the nation of Israel was a church.
It is only in this passage and Mt.18 that a church is first mentioned, and the prevailing view would be His instructions for the future.
The Bible says Jesus is the chief cornerstone, he could not be this until He died and resurrected. It also states the apostles and prophets are the foundation of the church that are laid beside the cornerstone. Which again separates the church being in the Old testament.
Jesus never calls Israel the church but only those who are of Israel that believe he is who he said he is, the messiah.
Furthermore, we find the Church consists of believers that are both Jews and Gentiles together, something unheard of before. This is what Paul called a mystery among the Gentiles (Eph.3:5, 9). The Gentiles are in focus, because this mystery involves them (Rom.16:25) being united with believing Israel. The content of this mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory Col 1:27. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. The fact that the Messiah now indwells every believer is the Old Testament mystery revealed in the New.
Ephesians 2:11-14 “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh-- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands-- that at that time you 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 you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation”
The new entity the church is made by “the blood of His cross” not the Old Testament sacrifices. We are told it is Christ’s blood that purchased the church, again distinguishing the sacrifices of the Old covenant that was for Israel.
The Holy Spirit’s purpose was to bring a spiritual birth to us individually and bring both Jews and Gentiles that were separated to be together a new entity- called the Church. Jesus sent the one He promised to empower them for the ministry so they would carry the message to the world. Acts 1:5 views Spirit baptism, our entrance into Christ and becoming the church as a future event. The church was birthed by the Spirit at Pentecost, Israel existed for 1500 years prior
After the Holy Spirit gave the church its birth, Acts 2:33 everyone throughout history that believes in the gospel continues to become part of the church by spirit baptism (1 Cor.12:13), by being born again of the Spirit. You don’t join a church you are born into it. The Greek word for church is is ekklesia (used 114 times in the New Testament) it means a called out assembly (Ek = out of Kaleo= to call).
The church no longer had anything to do with Judaism as practiced in Jesus’ day but instead “continued in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in the breaking of bread and prayers.” Acts 2:42-
Acts 2:47: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” At first it was mostly Jews and later it was mostly gentiles. At this time there was only the church in Jerusalem that was developing.
The church are those who are the saved. In the Old Testament no one was saved but had their sins covered and waited for the final sacrifice to be applied to actually be saved. The church is in Christ, unbelieving Israel as a nation is not. Paul explains in Rom. 9:31-33: “but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, and whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
After Paul is saved we begin to hear of the various churches established “Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria (Acts 9:31).
Later, Barnabas was to go as far as Antioch (Acts 11:22), and they quickly developed Acts 13:1. they were called the churches of the Gentiles (Rom.16:4).
Believers are the body and Christ “He is the head of the body, the church, (Col 1:18), Eph. 5:23 Christ is head of the church;” Christ is the head of his body the church, which did not exist until after Christ ascended (Eph. 4:7-11, Eph. 1:22).
Everyone of us are birthed spiritually and placed in the church body. The people become a living temple, each person is united with the others like bricks in a building. in the old Testament Israel had a physical temple, the holy spirit did not dwell in every person who had faith.
The church is from "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Rev. 5:9).
The terms Israel and the church should never be confused, in the book of Acts, both Israel and the church exist simultaneously. Of the 77 references to Israel in the New Testament none of them refer to the Church. The term Israel is used twenty times and church is used nineteen times, and these two groups are always kept distinct. The church believes and follows Christ and is committed to the new covenant. Israel rejects Christ as her Messiah and those who believe in God continue to keep the Old covenant.