In Matthew 16:18 Jesus, referring to the fact that He was the Son of God, said, “…upon this rock I will build my church.” And although many religious bodies refer to mere men and the times of those men’s’ lives as their originator and times of origin, all churches built upon “the chief corner stone” share the common beginning referred to by Matthew. Whether a New Testament church meets in Central Texas or Southern Africa, its existence must rest upon Christ and His word.
Christ laid the groundwork for the church and became“the Savior of the body” when He“gave himself for it,”Ephesians 5:23-25. The church consists of people who were once “unrighteous” but who have been “washed … sanctified … justified in the name of the Lord,” I Corinthians 6:9-11, people who have been “purchased”from Satan’s dominion “with his own blood,” Acts 20:28. A passage that well describes Christ’s building of the church is Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
Christ further established the church by sowing the seed of the kingdom, which is the word of God, Luke 8:11. According to Christ’s word the church was to be singular and unified in nature, Romans 12:5, its doctrine was to be truth, I Timothy 3:15 and its membership was to consist of the saved, Acts 2:47. The approved names for the church were plainly designated, Galatians 1:13, Romans 16:16, etc., as were its organization, Philippians 1:1 and government, I Peter 5:4. Additionally, the church was set to the continual tasks of gospel preaching, I Thessalonians 1:8, self-edification, Ephesians 4:11-16 and benevolence, Acts 4:34. By sowing this spiritual seed Christ gave plain definition to the church.
The common origin of all New Testament churches is also seen in the Bible’s account of first century Christianity. Ancient brethren, upon whose heart the word had been “engrafted,” actually played out New Testament prophecies about the future of the church. After being established in Jerusalem in A.D. 33, the church faced the two-pronged problem of persecution from without, II Timothy 3:12, I Peter 4:12, and false brethren from within, Acts 20:29, Jude 4-19. Under the guiding hand of the “apostles and prophets” the church not only survived these trials, but also thrived because of them. In so doing the early church proved the words of Jesus true, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” Matthew 16:18. It is within this promise that Christians of every age find comfort.