Where does the Church age fit into biblical history? What is the Church age?
The so-called Church age began on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2); it will last until people who believe in Jesus Christ are raptured out of the world and taken to be with the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:51–57).
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Ages, or eras, are defined by historians based on specific events or ways of looking at past and future events, such as the Middle Ages in a survey of Western Civilization. Though the Bible is broadly divided into the Old and New Testaments representing the age of Law and the age of grace, dispensational theologians have further divided history into seven dispensations.
The Church age, which corresponds with the dispensation of grace, is what we live in today. It is also known, in prophetic history, as between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel (Daniel 9:24–27; Romans 11).
Jesus identified it when He declared He would build the Church (Matthew 16:18). The Church is made up of people who believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord (John 1:12; Acts 9:31), not specific groups of Christians, churches, or denominations. The Greek word used in the New Testament to identify the Church is ekklesia, which means "a called out assembly." Today we talk of this as the "universal Church," which gathers mostly in local churches.
When the Church was established, the Holy Spirit came, and for the first time lived with people permanently (Acts 2; John 14:16). The Holy Spirit has always been at work, and is identified several times in the Old Testament as dwelling with or coming upon people temporarily, as in 1 Samuel 16:13–14.
In the Old Testament God identified His people as the nation of Israel, but in the Church age, He identifies His people as those who have faith in Jesus Christ, some of whom are believing Jews (1 Corinthians 10:32). However, God isn't finished with Israel, as some of His promises are yet to be fulfilled (Ezekiel 34; 37; 45; Jeremiah 30; 33; Matthew 19:28; Revelation 19).
In the meantime, the Church now has assignments. "Therefore, my beloved brothers (and sisters), be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
The Church age will end at the rapture. Sometime thereafter will be the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6–9), the celebration of Jesus coming for His Church (also called the bride of Christ).
What is the definition of the church?
What was God's purpose in establishing the church?
What is the universal church and how is it different from the local church?
The seven dispensations – What are they?
The dispensation of grace – What is it?
Truth about Theology