The Embryonic Church

How interesting and convenient that as I was perusing Frank Viola’s blog  Reimagining Church that I came across his well-reasoned thoughts on the kingdom vs. church debate

Now, I realize that some may see this as a moot point and others may not even know of the rationale behind it, so I will elaborate just a bit. 

Basically, some people reason that since Jesus only mentions the church (εκκλεσια) a couple times, but mentions the kingdom (βασιλεια) many times in the gospels, that Jesus’ primary focus was the kingdom and not necessarily the church. 

Now, while I see the major premise I miss the minor premise entirely.  But this is probably why I appreciated so much what Frank had to say, and it caused me to realize that over here on ECS (Early Church Studies) perhaps I should put forth my very general thoughts on the church as seen in the gospels. 

I agree with Frank here:

“What is ekklesia (church) in the NT? It’s a community of believers who share a common life in Christ, assembly together regularly, and make Jesus central, supreme, and head over their lives together.”

So, he reasons, the disciples (“the Twelve”) and what Luke calls “the Women” were “the embryonic expression of the ekklesia.”

Further, he writes,

“Consequently, every time you see the Twelve with Jesus (and the Women) in the Gospels, you’re seeing the church.

And virtually every time Jesus spoke to His disciples and used the word ‘you’ …

‘YOU are the light of the world.’

‘YOU are the salt of the earth.’

‘And when the Spirit comes, He will teach YOU all things.’

‘I am the Vine, YOU are the branches’ …

He was referring to the church.

And when John uses the word ‘we,’ he is often speaking of the church …”

So, I thought that this is a very nice way to put it – embryonic church.  And much like the debate centered around the pro-life/pro-choice movement, I suppose there can be debate over when the church is officially considered to be alive, so to speak.  Seems that many place the birth of the church at Pentecost in Acts 2.  At least this is where it is most obviously present.  But I tend to agree with Frank on this, and have done so, at least subconsciously for some time.

Which brings me to the bottom line.  The church is indeed present in the gospel accounts, at least implicitly if not explicitly.  And this is where much of my current interest lies as I slowly plod through the gospel attributed to Mark…the gospel many believe to be the first widely received by the church.

Let’s see what turns up!


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