Q&A: Genesis of the Church

Genesis of the Church

Question

When and where did the Christian Church originate?

Answer

From a sociological and political perspective, generally the "Christian church" is undestood to be the people of God subsequent to Christ's first coming. That is, while it is still the same religion and organization (in many senses) as Judaism prior to the time of Jesus, it took on a new name when Christ came. Not until Jesus were the people of God known as Christians, and not until after his death were they distinguished from the Jews as a separate religion. This distinction was gradual at first -- Paul and others were received into Jewish synagogues to preach many years after Jesus had ascended (Acts 13:5,14,15,43; 14:1; 17:1,10,17; 18:4,7,8,19). Later, however, as animosity grew between the groups, the distinction became more pronounced until it was a complete separation. This was certainly the case by the time of the Neronic persecutions of the church circa A.D. 64.

From a theological perspective, because the Christian church is simply the continuation of the true religion established at creation, the Christian church has been around from the time of Adam and Eve. It was not always called the Christian church, but the faithful remnant of God's people can be traced from the modern Christian church all the way back to creation as one continuing tradition.

Finally, from an ecclesiastical perspective, insofar as the church is understood to be a body of believers organized with a distinct government and structure, the Christian church began to be molded during Christ's earthly ministry and finally came into its own as an identifiable and peculiar entity between the time of the Ascension and the first Pentecost thereafter (Acts 1-2).

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.