The redeemed community of the New Testament is dynamically related to that community of the Old. There can be no true understanding of the Church of the New Testament apart from the realization that the new community has a definite continuity with the past. It is more important, however, to recognize that the community of God was completely transformed by the coming of Christ. This was the decisive event of revelation which forever separated the new community from the old. In the words of Jesus, it was the new wine that could not be poured into old wineskins.
The transition between Israel and the Church had not been understood clearly by the disciples of Christ. The transformation which provided the living link between the promises of God and their fulfillment in the new community was effected by the coming of the Holy Spirit.
In order to develop a sufficient grasp of this situation, we might recapitulate the circumstances which led up to it. Only after much misunderstanding on their part had God been able to reveal to the disciples that the humble and lowly Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Messiah. So fixed had become the expectation of a mighty and exalted deliverer, and so persistent was the expectation for a terrestrial kingdom, that the passion and death of Christ actually served to shatter the initial faith of the disciples. Only the appearance of the risen Christ sufficed to restore their confidence. With the re-establishment of faith, the anticipation of an earthly theocracy became even stronger. The question of the disciples recorded in Acts 1:6, “Dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” indicates this hope. The ascension, however, decreeing the end of the physical presence of Jesus, may have placed ...1
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