12 reasons I believe that there was a church in existence before the day of Pentecost:
1. The church is referred to before Pentecost, both by the word "church" (Matthew 16:18; 18:17) and by its figurative names - flock, bride, house, etc. (Luke 12:32, cf. I Pet. 5:2; John 3:29, cf. Ephesians 5:22-31; Mark 13:33-36, cf. I Timothy 3:15).
2. The English word "church" is a translation of the Greek word "ekklesia", which means a called-out assembly. Jesus' disciples were both called-out and assembling with Him before the day of Pentecost (e.g. Matthew 4:19; John 1:35ff).
3. Apostles were set in the church (I Corinthians 12:28) before Pentecost (Matthew 10:1-2; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:13). The gospel was preached by them before Pentecost (e.g. Luke 9:6).
4. Ordinances were instituted and observed before Pentecost (John 4:1-2; Matthew 26:26-30).
5. John the Baptist prepared a people ready for the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 1:17), not for the day of Pentecost. Mark 1:1ff. indicates the gospel age began with John's ministry. Cf. also Matthew 11:13 and Luke 16:16.
6. The church was commissioned before Pentecost: first the limited commission of Matthew 10:1-4 and then the extended commission of Matthew 28:18-20.
7. Jesus sang in the church before Pentecost (Hebrews 2:12; Matthew 26:30).
8. The last days refer to the church age, and the last days were in existence during Jesus' ministry (Hebrews 1:2).
9. There was church discipline before the day of Pentecost (Matthew 18:17).
10. The church had a business meeting before Pentecost (Acts 1:15-26).
11. The Lord added to the church on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41-47), so there had to exist a church for people to have been added to it.
12. There is no reason to suppose that the church could not exist with her visible Head present. Nothing in scripture says the church was or had to be started on Pentecost.
These reasons may seem fairly simplistic, but the Bible does not say this has to be difficult. One possible stumbling-block for some is that this view seems to involve a brief chronological time overlap of the Old and New Testaments/Covenants. I am aware of no biblical reason that they cannot overlap.
[From R. L. Vaughn @ http://baptistsearch.blogspot.com/ - Used with permission. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
More on Various Baptist Subjects
Baptist History Homepage