The word church, ekklesia, means those called out. The church
Christ established are those called out from a sinful life into a holy
and righteous life of obedience. They strive to live a life following
Christ, the righteous one who had no sin because without holiness no
one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)
Jesus asked his disciples " 'But what about you?' he asked. 'Who
do you say I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son
of the living God.' Jesus replied, 'Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah,
for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my
church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you
the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be
bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven'."
He was more specific about the time: "he said to them, 'I tell
you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before
they see the kingdom of God come with power'." (Mark 9:1). Therefore,
we see Christ would be establishing his church during the lifetime of
some of his hearers.
Following Jesus' ascension to heaven the apostles returned to Jerusalem
as he had commanded them. Many Jews were gathered there, because it
was Pentecost. The great sound of rushing wind brought them to the assembled
Apostles. Peter and the other apostles seized the opportunity to remind
them of what they and their religious leaders had done stating, "
'Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus,
whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.' When the people heard this,
they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles,
'Brothers, what shall we do?' Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized,
every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of
your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise
is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom
the Lord our God will call'." (Acts 2:36-39)
A short time later Luke records "The apostles performed many miraculous
signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet
together in Solomon's Colonnade. No one else dared join them, even though
they were highly regarded by the people. Nevertheless, more and more
men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number."
(Acts 5:12-15) "So the word of God spread. The number of disciples
in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became
obedient to the faith." (Acts 6:7)
But things changed. The Jewish leaders who had rejected Jesus' miracles
and crucified Him now turned against His Church. "... On that
day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and
all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria"
(Acts 8:1). "But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house
to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison."
Note that the church is referred to as already in existence during this
persecution. This persecution resulted in even greater growth as "Those
who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went." (Acts
Paul, previously known as Saul, was now preaching the Gospel in Antioch.
"While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit
said, 'Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have
called them.' So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their
hands on them and sent them off." (Acts 13:2-3)
"From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia."(Acts
13:13a). "On the next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to
hear the word of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled
with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying. Then
Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: 'We had to speak the word of
God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves
worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For this is what
the Lord has commanded us: 'I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. When the Gentiles
heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord." (Acts
"At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue.
There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles
believed" (Acts 14:1). On this and several other trips they preached
in many cities, Lystra, Derbe, Lycaonia, Corinth, Ephesus, Athens, Phillipi
and eventually Rome, the Imperial city, where "For two whole years
Paul stayed there in his own rented house and welcomed all who came
to see him. Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of
God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:30-31). Everywhere
he went he preached the Gospel, the good news about what Jesus did and
taught. It is this Gospel that Paul said "I am not ashamed of the
gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone
who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Romans
God, the Son, intentionally left Heaven, became flesh and lived among
man whom he had created. This Jesus intentionally gave his life as a
sacrifice.The atonement for man's sin, allowing the Roman government
to crucify him. They buried him in a secure grave with guards to prevent
the theft of his physical body. But God, the Father, raised him the
third day before his body decayed, conquering death and the grave. Some
forty days later his return to Heaven was witnessed by the apostles.
The Holy Spirit was sent to guide them in preaching and recording the
Gospel, the power of God unto salvation. Initially many Jews and later
many Gentiles acknowledged Him as God, the Christ (the anointed one).
Many witnesses who had lived with Him while He lived and taught in Judea,
Galilee and Samaria testified of His coming back to life (resurrection)
and His return to Heaven (ascension).
It is of grave importance for mankind to know what His Gospel (the power
of God unto salvation) instructs us to do. God adds to His church those
being called out of a life of sin by putting their trust in Him and obeying based upon knowledge through faith that Gospel
and doing what it [He] requires. These called out people are His Church,
His Body, His Kingdom, ekklesia.
He built a community of changed people and referred to them as His
body. He did not build an unorganized group of people without direction.
He called these people His body, having many functions and compared
it to the human body. Each person (member) has something to do, their
function, in the spiritual body. But Jesus is the head of that organization,
giving it direction. (Ephesians 5:23)