I Will Build My Church: The Use Of ἐκκλησία In The Gospel Of Matthew As Indication Of The Future Establishment Of The Church -- By: Daniel Wiley

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 19:2 (Fall 2015)
Article: I Will Build My Church: The Use Of ἐκκλησία In The Gospel Of Matthew As Indication Of The Future Establishment Of The Church
Author: Daniel Wiley


I Will Build My Church:
The Use Of ἐκκλησία In The Gospel Of Matthew As Indication Of The Future Establishment Of The Church

Daniel Wiley

Adjunct Professor
Summit University
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Introduction

When did the church begin? This seemingly innocent question and its answer firmly places a theological divide within the church. In theological debate, the competing dispensational and covenantal interpretations of Scripture both claim to offer the biblical answer to the question concerning the origin of the church. Covenantalists see a continuity between the people of God in the Old Testament and in the New Testament which results in their viewing the two groups as virtually identical.1 With this understanding, covenantalists hold the inauguration of the church at some point during the time of the Old Testament rather than during the New Testament period.2 In

contrast, dispensationalists argue for a clear distinction between Israel and the church in their origin, purpose, and destiny.3 Concerning origin, traditional dispensationalists believe that the church began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2).4

Dispensationalists offer two very strong arguments for the New Testament origin of the church. The first involves the inception of the work of the Holy Spirit. In his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul argues that the Holy Spirit baptizes believers into the church, a work

known as “Spirit baptism” (cf. 12:13).5 According to Acts, this work of the Holy Spirit began on Pentecost (2:1-4; cf. 1:5). Peter certifies the beginning of this work in his report to the Jews, arguing that the Spirit had come to Gentiles just as he had come upon the Jews "at the beginning" (Acts 11:15), clearly referring to Pentecost. Since the Holy Spirit's baptismal work did not begin until Pentecost, one must argue that the church did not exist until that point.6

However, as effective as the above argument is in defending the dispensationalist position, perhaps the greatest support for the dispensational view on the origin of the church is foun...

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