Who is the Church?

Jesus stated in Mat. 18:18, that He would build His church upon a rock. This statement poses several questions. Does the church only consist of Hebrews? Is the church made up entirely of Gentiles? Is the church inclusive of Hebrews and Gentiles?



Jesus stated that He would build a church, but He also declared that He only came to the lost sheep of the House of Israel (Mat. 15:25). Was Jesus excluding the Gentiles? When Jesus stated that he would build His church, He was speaking to Peter, a man of Hebrew descent. He was not directing His conversation to the Gentiles. Does this mean that Jesus was going to build His church amongst the Hebrews only? If Jesus was speaking to the Hebrews about building His church, how is it that so many people think that the church includes the Gentiles and excludes the Hebrews? Note, God does not want any individuals to perish, (2Pe. 3:9). That includes both Hebrew and Gentile. If God does not wish anyone to experience eternal damnation, then there must be a common denominator between the Church and the House of Israel?


Let’s take a look at the meaning of the word church. The word Church is a Greek word; therefore, it isn’t found in the Old Testament. The Greek word for church is Strong’s #1577, and it means “a calling out, a favorite meeting place, and an assembly.” Jesus indicates that the called-out ones are those that are born-again, (Joh. 3:3). Scripture states that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, (Heb. 3:8). Because Jesus is constant, it stands to reason that He had called-out ones in the Old Testament as well.


In the Old Testament, God freed the Children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage by calling them out of Egypt. He led them to Mt. Sinai where He made a covenant with them. He promised that if they obeyed His covenant, then He would make them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. The fact that God made a covenant with them confirms that the Children of Israel were the called-out ones in the Old Testament. God called them out of Egypt, and God called upon them to obey His covenant.


Sometimes the Children of Israel were referenced as the Congregation of the Children of Israel, (Exo. 17:1). The word congregation is important, and please do not take it for granted. It is a Hebrew word. The Strong’ s number for the word congregation is H5712. It means “assembly, multitude, and company.” Note, the Hebrew word congregation means “assembly’ and the Greek word Church also means “assembly.” So we see there is a connection between the Church in the New Testament and the House of Israel in the Old Testament.


We understand that in the Church are the “called-out ones.” They are a unique group of people because all of them must are born-again, and membership is entirely voluntary. We also know that the Children of Israel is also the “called-out ones.” The phrase Children of Israel seems to indicate that they are one nationality or one family. Membership for the Children of Israel automatically comes at birth, and there are no other requirements to be one of the called-out ones. Since God is the same yesterday, today and forever, why would His qualifications for being the called-out ones be different for the Children of Israel in the Old Testament than it is for the Church in the New Testament?


We know that the Children of Israel are Jacob’s children. If you are Jacob’s children, then you belong to the house of Jacob. Note, God changed his name from Jacob to “Israel”, (Exo. 32:28). Because of Jacob’s name change, all of his children are now known as the Children of Israel or the House of Israel. This information still does not modify the fact that individuals have to accept God (Jesus) as Lord and Savior to become members of the Church, while the House of Israel become members merely because they are one of Israel’s descendants. Note the House of Israel must only be born while the Church must be born-again. Allowing one group only to be born and requiring another group to be born-again appears to be a double standard on God’s behalf. Since God’s is always constant, then there must be something we’ve overlooked that causing it to appear to be a discrepancy between the requirements of the Church and the requirements for the House of Israel.


The Strong’s number for Jacob is #3290, and it means “heel catcher.” He was named Jacob (heel catcher) merely because he held his twin brother Esau’s heel when he was born. Later God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. The meanings of Biblical names are paramount. At birth, children are usually named based on an incident happening in the life of the parents or something significant about the birth. A name change at a later date signifies that individual has undergone a lifestyle change, and their new name describes his new character.


The Strong’s number for Israel is #3478, and it mean “he will rule as God.” Exo. 32:28 states, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.” God changed Jacob’s name to Israel because God now saw him as a prince, a new man, and a new creation. Although he was the same individual, God’s expectation of Jacob was to begin to live a lifestyle that reflects God’s character. Technically speaking, Jacob was born-again with his name change to Israel. He was considered to be a prince (the high one) that has overcome the ways of the world.


Just because God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, that does not mean that his children automatically became members of the House of Israel. Yes, they are still members of the house of Jacob, but not necessarily of the House of Israel. Remember, a name change meant a character change. For Jacob’s children to become members of the House of Israel, they also had to voluntarily initiate a character change. The new lifestyle change must reflect the ways of God. At birth, they were born into the house of Jacob, but when they changed their lifestyle to reflect God’s character, they were born-again into the House of Israel.


Because the Church consists of individuals that are born-again and the House of Israel consists of individuals that are born-again, it stands to reason that the Church and the House of Israel are synonymous. The Church is the House of Israel, and the House of Israel is the Church. The House of Israel is the called-out ones, and the Church is the called-out ones. They are all one body. They are the Body of Christ, and they are made up of Hebrews and Gentiles alike, (Heb. 1:16).


In conclusion, the Church in the Greek New Testament and the House of Israel in the Hebrew Old Testament are the same. Either phrase is correct. Whether you choose to use the word Church or the phrase House of Israel, both consists of Hebrews and Gentiles. So when Jesus stated that he only came to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, he was referencing Hebrews and Gentiles alike. The lost sheep of the House of Israel was those individuals that believed in God but somehow lost their way. He came to build His Church (House of Israel) by re-teaching His laws and the interpretation of His laws. Upon acceptance of His teachings, individuals are granted a renewed restoration, and they are re-established as full-fledged members of the House of Israel.