When Did the Church Begin?

  When did the Church start? In Matt. 16:18, Jesus said to Peter “upon this rock I will build my church.” Some count this as the beginning of the church. Others claim it was on the Day of Pentecost. Still others think it began in the Old Testament, claiming Acts 7:38 as a proof text. Our purpose is examine this subject and show that the church began in the New Testament, but before Pentecost.

The website, Jesus is Savior.com gives eleven reasons the church was in existence before Pentecost. They claims the church began with “the first family back in Genesis.” We agree with their reasons the church began before Pentecost, though we do not agree with their conclusion. Notice ten of their eleven reasons:

1. It had a rule of discipline before Pentecost (Matt. 18:17).

2. We read that Jesus sang in the Church (Heb. 2:12).

The only time that Jesus ever sang, so far as we have any record of it, was at the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Mark 14:26). This was before Pentecost.

3. They had a business meeting before the day of Pentecost and elected a successor to take the place of Judas (Acts 1:15-26).

4. The Apostles were in the Church before the day of Pentecost (1 Cor. 12:28). The first ones who were put in the Church were the Apostles, and this was at least three years before the day of Pentecost.

5. The Church had its commission to preach before Pentecost (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15).

6. The Church had its authority to baptize before Pentecost (John 4:2).

7. The Church had the Lord’s Supper before Pentecost (Matt. 26:30).

8. The keys of the Kingdom were given to it before Pentecost (Matthew 16:19).

9. It had a church roll before Pentecost with names on the roll (Acts 1:15).

10. To this church there were about 3,000 “added” on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:42).

In Mark 3:13-14 we read, “And he goeth up into a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach.” Here we see that Jesus ordains those He had previously called so He might send them forth. Providence Baptist Ministries refers to this as an “ordination service,” and adds “Before Mark 3 and Matthew 16 Christ had an assembly of baptized disciples. He was their Head and they were following Him and serving Him. What else is necessary before a group is an “ekklesia?”



 Davenport, Josh. “When Did the Church Start?” Baptist History & Doctrine. 29 March, 2009. 29 March, 2013. <http://baptistbyconviction.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/when-the-church-started/>

Jesus Is Savior.com. 29 March, 2013. <http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Believer’s%20Corner/Doctrines/church_start.htm>

Origin of the Church, The.” Baptist History Throughout the Ages. Providence Baptist Ministries. 29 March, 2013. <http://www.pbministries.org/History/Origin%20and%20Perpetuity/origin_01.htm>