The word translated church in the New Testament (ekklesia), means a “called out group” or “assembly.” It is most frequently used of those who are believers in Jesus Christ. In this sense, it is used in three ways:
(1) Of all who have, do, and will believe in Christ during the Church age, the time between Pentecost and the Rapture. This is the Body of Christ.
(2) Its also used of believers who lived during a particular time during the Church age, and
(3) of believers in a particular locality during the Church age.
A question often asked by individuals is, when did the church begin? While there are some who have suggested that the church existed in the Old Testament, the New Testament evidence clearly points to the contrary. In Matthew Jesus stated, “I will build my church,” clearly pointing to a yet future event. His statement clearly indicated that the Church was not in existence when He made that statement.
We also find Jesus stating in Acts 1:5 that believer’s would be baptized “with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (NASB), also indicating that the formation of the Church was something that had not yet happened since at the time of Jesus’ statement, the text implies that the Spirit had not yet begun that work. Acts indicates that the formation of the Church and the baptizing work of the Spirit began at Pentecost with the descent of the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). The words “at the beginning” found in Acts 11:15 in reference to the baptizing work of the Spirit in Cornelius’s house, identifies the beginning point of His work and the beginning of the Church’s formation at Pentecost (Acts 2).