A Brief Overview of Church History
Introduction: By "church," the reference is to the church presented in the New Testament. Jesus' church reveals the "manifold wisdom of God" (Eph. 3: 10). The importance of the church is seen in such verses as I Timothy 3: 15, where we learn that the church is "the pillar and ground of the truth."
I. The beginning of the church.
A. Jesus promised to build his church (Matt. 16: 18, 19, Jesus gave his life for the church, Acts 20: 28).
B. The church became a reality in Acts 2, in Jerusalem, as was prophesied (ca. AD 30, Isa, 2: 2, 3).
C. The Book of Acts records the first 30 years of the history and progress of the church.
a. Within just a few years, there were thousands of members of the church in Jerusalem and local churches were established in many cities (Acts 4: 4, 5: 14, 6: 1, 14: 1, 21: 20).
II. The falling away of the church.
A. The scriptures prophesied that there would be an apostasy from the truth and the true church (2 Thes. 2: 1-12, I Tim. 4: 1-3).
B. The falling away was influenced by the very leaders (elders) who were appointed to oversee the local churches (Acts 20: 28-31).
C. It is apparent that the original apostasy was realized in Catholicism. The Lord's church is historically obscure from about AD 600 until the 1800s.
III. The restoration of the Lord's church.
A. Men such as Martin Luther attempted to reform the corrupt Catholic Church (The Reformation, AD 1517 through 1784).
B. Men then realized reformation was not the proper goal and turned their attention to restoring the First Century church (The Restoration, AD 1809 continuing).
a. Men such as Thomas Campbell urged all to speak only the Bible (I Pet. 4: 11).
Conclusion: As a result of the Restoration Movement, the early church was historically re-introduced on a noticeable scale. You can now, in most cities, find a local church that is scriptural in designation, work, and worship. There will continue to be, though, cycles of fidelity and apostasy (I Cor. 11: 19).