Origin of the Church of Christ

Some time ago, we received a very brief but pleasant letter, seeking validation as to whether or not the church of Christ was the only church that could trace its roots and origin all the way back to the New Testament. We will herein seek to very briefly and humbly, but at the same time very Biblically, answer that question…

There are several denominations – biblically condemned divisions (see I Cor. 1:10) from the one, original, Christ promised, purchased, and established New Testament church which we see began on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2 – including especially Catholicism, that claim to follow their roots all the way back to the Bible; but their claims are completely, transparently, and absolutely illegitimate. (With all of the ridiculous “pomp and circumstance” surrounding the selection of the latest pope, this article would seem to be even more needed now than it was when we received the letter!) Consider for instance: Where in the Bible does the Lord God call His church “Catholic?” He doesn’t. That name doesn’t ever occur in the “all-we-need-to-know-to-make-us-complete-to-stand-before-God-Scripture” (2 Tim. 3:14-4:4), any more than do the terms “nun,” “purgatory,” or “pope.” Jesus Christ Himself even at one point, personally placed His earthly mother Mary (who incidentally went on to birth at least six more children after she had Jesus – see Matt. 13:55; Mk. 6:3) on a level below that of the “common folk” who would do His Father’s will (Matt. 12:46-50; Lk. 11:27-28). And many more of that denomination’s particular man-made teachings and practices are specifically and expressly condemned in God’s most holy Word (See: Matt. 23:9; 1 Tim. 2:5, and 4:1-5 for example). A more complete biblical list is included in a very comprehensive bible study on this man-made religious system known as Catholicism, available at: http://www.clevelandcoc.com/?page_id=139.

To begin with, Peter couldn’t have been the first pope. He was never called that in Scripture; was married (Matt. 8:14); had children (being an elder as he was {1 Ptr. 5:1} in the Lord’s church required such {1 Tim. 3:1-5}); and Peter would never allow himself to be worshipped (Acts 10:24-26) as do the popes today. Despite their claims to the contrary, the roots of the Roman Catholic Church are not found in God’s Word, but in Constantine’s reign (313-337 AD).

From the “tares among the wheat” (See Matt. 13:24-30) seeds of this fourth century, Constantine-led departure from the sacred truths and commandments of Scripture (I Cor. 14:33-37) and the “faith once delivered for all the saints” (See Jude 3) a couple of centuries earlier, eventually came the Protestant Reformation, which, instead of seeking to simply go all the way back to the bible and simply do as God had commanded, sought to make some surface reforms to the already biblically-apostate religious system known as Catholicism. But putting a new roof on a structure established on a foundation of sand still doesn’t leave one with a secure spiritual building to safely house his religious hopes in (See Matt. 7:21-27)! Several of these departures from both the “faith once delivered,” as well as Christ’s one New Testament church once established (Acts 2:37-47; Romans 16:16), can be seen in the following list. Please note there are no Biblical footnotes on where to find them in Scripture because they simply aren’t found therein as they exist today. In fact, there is not a single Protestant denomination on the face of this planet that is more than five hundred years old. Check them out:

  • Roman Catholic: 313-337; Rome; Emperor Constantine.
  • Lutheran: 1517: Germany; Martin Luther.
  • Episcopalian: 1534: England; King Henry VIII.
  • Many Protestant Denominations also mix in and follow many of John Calvin’s (1509-1564) man-made doctrines…
  • Congregational: 1550; England; Robert Browne.
  • Baptist: 1607; Holland; John Smyth.
  • Methodist: 1739; England; John Wesley.
  • Mormon: 1830; America; Joseph Smith.
  • Seventh-Day Adventist: 1831; America; William Miller.
  • Christian Science: 1866; America; Mary Baker Eddy.
  • Jehovah’s Witnesses: 1872; America; Charles Russell.
  • The Church of the Nazarene, the Church of God (this name is seen in Scripture, but this denomination and its man-made doctrines aren’t), the Assembly of God, and the Pentecostals all came about as a result of a fracture in the Methodist Church between 1880 and 1910. It was during this time period that a doctrinal schism also occurred which caused the division between the Christian Church and the churches of Christ.
  • The “Community Church,” “Emergent Church” and many others are even younger yet…

Compare those with this… During His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus Christ promised to build His church (singular); He said at that time that Peter would open it up (See Matt. 16:18-19). And indeed Peter did so (some 50 days after the Sabbath that Jesus’ body spent in the tomb), on the Day of Pentecost, 33 A.D. (Acts 2), binding by-faith repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins as the “terms of admittance” into Christ’s saved group of people or “church” (SEE Acts 2:22-47), or the “churches of Christ” as God called its individual congregations in Scripture (Ro. 16:16).

“Church of Christ” is a term of description; it denotes Whom this “called out” or “saved” body of people (that’s what the “church” means – it’s never a physical building in Scripture, but always the people) belongs to. This group of Christ-saved, gospel-obeying, and God-purchased people are also referred to in the Bible by six other very appropriate names as well, all of which also denote their Owner, Head, and just Whose sole authority they follow (See: Acts 20:28; 1 Thess. 2:14; Gal. 1:22; 1 Tim. 3:5, 3:15; Hebs. 12:22-24). While any and all of those biblically-mentioned names are appropriate, can any sincere seeker of Christ possibly believe that God is just as pleased with man-honoring, man-made names (See Acts 4:12) such as Baptist, Lutheran, Catholic, and etc – and the man-made teachings which accompany them of course (Jn. 4:23-24; Matt. 15:7-9; 1 Tim. 4:1-5) – which are nowhere to be seen in God’s Word but came about hundreds and hundreds of years after Christ established His one New Testament church in Acts 2… And in light of such passages as 1 Cor. 1:10, Gal. 1:6-10, and Eph. 1:22-23 w/chapter 4:4-6?

The conclusion of the matter then is this… Not only do we “trace our roots” back to New Testament times, but we clearly see the church of Christ named (Romans 16:16) and in existence there throughout (Acts 2 forward). Come and experience the Lord’s church; the one the apostles worked and worshipped in; the one in the Book.




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