The Church Started Before Acts 2 - Pros and Cons

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Puritan Board Freshman
This post is in response to material on the Ariel Ministries website concerning the church not starting until after Acts 2. I come from a Reformed background and would be very interested in feedback to the response given below.
In Christ,
Herb Kraker

Ariel Ministries' Statement

In this passage Jesus says, ". . . upon this rock I will build my church.”
At the time that Yeshua made this statement, the building of the church was still future. Jesus did not say, "I am building a Church" or "I am continuing to build my Church" or "I have been building my Church." Rather, He said, "I will build my church." Thus, the beginning of the universal church had to be sometime in the future to Matthew 16:18, because Yeshua used the future tense. It is a tense that cannot be interpreted as referring to a church already in existence.

The Statement is correct in its assertion that the verb in this verse is in the future tense. There are additional aspects about this verb that need to be taken into account. The word oikodomeo by New Testament times already had a history of being used in the Septuagint to build up the house of Israel. In the LXX we find the expression oikodomein tina, which is important for the NT. "To plant" and "to build" are here related concepts (opp. "to root up," "to tear down," "to destroy"). God can build, plant, setup or convert Israel, and in judgment He can also overthrow and destroy His work. (Kittel, Vol. V, page 137) The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised by Harold K. Moulton gives a definition for oikodomeo to be among other things "to repair, embellish, and amplify a building." In this connection it lists Matthew 23:29 (page 284). Kittel also states that ancient temples, like medieval cathedrals constantly needed to be built up (Ibid., page 144).Therefore, from this we see that the term used in Matthew 16:18 has an established history of being used to describe God's work in building up Israel. Since the term also means to repair and/or amplify a building it is apparent that Christ could use the verb in the verse under consideration in the future tense but still be referring to a house that is already in existence. Paul uses the term to mean edify. That usage fits right in with the explanation given here. Even though grammatically Matthew 16:18 does not read “I will continue to build,” we can see from the context of the entire Bible that is really the sense Christ meant when He made the statement. Perhaps the best way to evaluate this section of the Statement is to mark it Inconclusive. Given the particular verb used it is not appropriate to conclude that the Church must be future to the verse under consideration.
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