Denominations give all kinds of different dates as to when “their” church(es) were established. Members of the churches of Christ need only to be concerned with one church – the church that Jesus built. Therefore, let us take a look at when the church of Christ was established.
Jesus Stated that His Church Would Be Built
In Matthew 16:18 Jesus clearly stated to Peter: “upon this rock I will build my church…” When Jesus stated this, His church had not yet been built because He said “I will build” not “I have built”. So we know that it was His church that was to be built at some future time as stated by Jesus Himself.
In A.D. 32 is when Jesus said “I will build my church” and His church was realized in A.D. 33 on the day of Pentecost when people were “added to the church.” It was then that Jesus’ church had been built and the “Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).
Paul References that the Church Is Built
In the writings of the apostle Paul we can see clearly that the church of Christ had been built. In Ephesians 2:20 he says: “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” Paul’s reference to “are built” occurred after Pentecost when the Lord’s church was established.
For one to be in the church that Jesus built it has to rest on His foundation – not man’s! Paul stated: “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 3:11). To lay a foundation is the first work in the erection of a building. What did Paul do first when he went to Corinth? He laid down the foundation of Jesus. He told them: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Before one can build upon the word of God the foundation must first be laid. This basic foundation was also laid down at Pentecost when the Lord’s church was established (Acts 2).
Jesus Was Made Head of His Church After He Was Raised
In Acts 4:10-11 we read: “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.”
Here are some basic facts that we can learn about the church that Jesus Christ built and is now head of:
- The church couldn’t be built till the foundation was laid (1 Cor 3:11).
- The foundation could not be laid till the foundation was tried (Isa 28:16 ff; Mk 3:27; 1 Cor 15:14-17).
- The Stone could not be tried till rejected (Mk 8:31).
- The Stone was tried and proven in His resurrection (1 Cor 15:3).
It must follow that the church of Christ could not be built before Christ was raised from the dead. Therefore the church of Christ was built after the resurrection of Jesus Christ – not before.