Robert Webber writes in Common Roots,
The most basic definition of the ecclesia in the New Testament is “the people of God in Christ (1 Cor. 1:2).
Several of us have been contemplating the nature of “the church” lately, so I was struck by the two words “in Christ.”
Surely this particular is new; prior to Pentecost no one seemed to realize that the Church was, of necessity, “in Christ.” This revelation, then, identified a body with a new self-understanding of its identity. Surely it was the same body but it undoubtedly had a new awareness of its purpose and character.