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It's Beginning Point

The Beginning Point of the Church
(by  Bob Pulliam)
 

What was the point of beginning for the church? Was John the baptist in the church? Was Moses in the church? This lesson will explore the question of when the church began.

The Church did not Begin Before It "Was at Hand"...

We have already discussed the fact that the church and the kingdom are the same entity in the New Testament (see lessons two and three). At the beginning of Jesus' ministry, the kingdom was still "at hand". In Matthew 3:2 John came proclaiming that the kingdom "was at hand". In Mark 9:1 Jesus told the people that the kingdom would come within that generation. This being true, then the church also was still "at hand" and not yet in existence.

The Church did not Begin Before Jesus Built It...

Jesus said that he would build His church (Mt 16:18). Obviously, the church was still to be built when He uttered these words. Such would have to be accomplished in His death if the gates of Hades would not prevail against it. Jesus death was necessary to build the church. We know this because He purchased it with His own blood (Acts 20:28). We also know that the church is made up of the saved (Acts 2:47), and we are saved by Jesus' blood (Rom 5:9).

Some argue that the kingdom had to be in place before Matthew 16. They point to "the sons of the kingdom" in Matthew 8:12. The word "sons" here has the significance of one who is destined for, rather than a partaker. Matthew 23:15 is a good example of this use. Then they also point to "the kingdom of heaven" in Matthew 11:12. We have a parallel passage in Luke 16:16 that help us understand Jesus' intention. Jesus said that the kingdom has been preached and that people are pressing into it (what has been preached). The kingdom was in preparation from the time of John's ministry. We might, then, liken this to a building under construction. While only the pad may be poured, one would refer to the site as "my new house". It is an expression of certainty that such will be true in the near future.

Some like to quibble about the "church in the wilderness" in Acts 7:38. The word translated church in this passage is from the word ekklesia (see lesson two). The word does not always mean "church". Acts 19:32 is a very good example of this. The word assembly is the word translated church in other passages. Stephen, therefore, was not saying that the church existed in the wilderness. He was using a very common word that meant "the called out".

The Church did not Begin After Pentecost in Acts 2...

The church had to be in existence on the first Pentecost after Jesus' resurrection, recorded in Acts 2. In v41 we learn that about three thousand souls were added to the church. In v47 we find that souls were added to the church. You cannot be adding to something that did not yet exist. Acts 2 is the only focal point we can see in the scriptures for the beginning of the church. The Church was in Full Bloom After the Events of Acts 2.

- Acts 5:11 Great fear came upon the church.
- Acts 8:1-3 Paul persecuted the church.
- Acts 11:22ff Relief for saints in the churches of Judea.
- Acts 13:1 Paul and Barnabas sent forth by the church.
- And the complete list would fill this page...

Conclusion...

The beginning point for the church came after the death of Jesus. Jesus' death was the means by which the church was established. We could also expect that beginning point to be noteworthy in scripture. Acts 2 is the only noteworthy event that satisfies the time frame established by a comparison of scriptures. That first Pentecost after Jesus' resurrection was the beginning point of Jesus Christ's church.